Modern Gretsch Guitars

First Gretsch, terrible quality

26

I wonder if we passed the test...or failed.

27

Well I'm glad we got all over this one.

– Suprdave

Dave, you know that I've answered tons of Gretsch novice questions over the years here, and still do from time to time... I may not be as verbose or detailed as Proteus, but I don't shy away from honest questions, and I believe we have enough folks here who want to be helpful to Gretsch initiates.

However, my B.S. detector went off the scale on this one.

28

I wonder if we passed the test...or failed.

– Proteus

Well, if the alleged proctor is who we think it is, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it one way or another

29

I wonder if we passed the test...or failed.

– Proteus

30

Meh, this thread could still help others, so no biggie.

31

We like talking about guitars anyway, so no damage done, IMO.

33

Hi, I own a Mercedes AMG an Audi A8 and a Lexus LS ,and this Chevy Spark I just bought is a piece of JUNK,,,what's the deal?

34

Hi, I own a Mercedes AMG an Audi A8 and a Lexus LS ,and this Chevy Spark I just bought is a piece of JUNK,,,what's the deal?

– LA_Manny

Well, Manny... you know what they say about a fool and his money...

35

He doesn’t like it... Hey Mikey. where’d ya go????

37

My Electromatic was a Christmas present from my wife, so I wasn’t gonna return it. But the playability wasn’t very good. Two tuners barely turned, a knob had fallen off and the pot had a wonky shaft. The bridge didn’t work well with the Bigsby. Had I tried it out in a store I wouldn’t have bought it.

I’ve since put Schaller keystones on it, Tim supplied me with a Truarc bridge and Mel installed his Alameda pickups. It’s a sweetheart now, but out of the box no one would ever confuse it with a “high end” guitar.

– Powdog

Ha ha, sounds like user error. The wife's a keeper for sure!

38

Ha ha, sounds like user error. The wife's a keeper for sure!

– Bluecap

Oh yes she is. Definitely “high end”!

39

I think BigJimSlade may have nailed it above.

40

My eyes are so bad I didn't notice the number after mikey's name. That's all I need to know.

What say all? The feeding ends here?

41

My eyes are so bad I didn't notice the number after mikey's name. That's all I need to know.

What say all? The feeding ends here?

– Proteus

It's like he's not even trying anymore...

How's he ever going to defeat S.M.E.R.S.H., S.P.E.C.T.R.E., Blofeld and Goldfinger-- much less Doctor Evil?

42

That may have been true when we were growing up. The fact is, the Chinese have been producing high quality instruments for quite some time.

– Bluecap

Not THAT high-quality...... As a Communist slave-state Mao's China follows V.I. Lenin's diktat about "quantity having a quality all its own". It's as good as it has to be for people whose major concern is price.

43

It's as good as it has to be for people whose major concern is price.

And to clear, those people are us.

That has nothing to do with country of origin. Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia - all have histories and legacies of craftsmanship extending back hundreds of years, to long before the American continent was "settled" by Europeans. They were trading sophisticated goods while Europe was a cluster of warring, eventually nationalistic, tribes.

Every evidence I see convinces me that "they" can build to the highest of standards, with exceptional consistency.

Those places of manufacture are associated with low price for two intricately related reasons.

First, they have populations - or have had populations (decreasingly so in Japan and Korea) who can and/or are willing to work for lower cost per hour in American dollars than Americans. They've become - or went through periods of being - the default low-cost provider with which the already-industrialized west can trade to buy lower-cost products.

This is not a bad or nefarious thing: it's exactly what the US did from the 1880s through at least the first half of the 20th century. That is, industrialized on the labor of populations who were willing to work for the wages offered in order (so the promise went, and it was largely fulfilled) to improve their financial conditions. That's exactly how the USA worked its standard of living up to the point that workers increasingly demanded more pay (in part to buy consumer goods and keep the engine running) - eventually to the point where we were no longer the low-cost producer. No longer willing to work for what The Man would pay.

That's the first part of it.

The other part is that the usually American/European marketeers who operate consumer "brands" across the entire market, tasked with moving ever more product in order to remain profitable, please investors, and pay their employees...use the low-labor-cost offshore manufacturing capacity for inexpensive products. That's what fills Wal-Mart. That's how our remarkable inexhaustible first-world cornucopia of ever-better, ever-cheaper consumer goods is filled at the other end.

Korean, Chinese, Indonesian factories build what we order. When inexpensive woods are spec'ed instead of premium wood, that's what they build with. When bargain hardware is specified, that's what they use. When premium materials and components are specified by stateside and European marketeers, that's what the factories use.

That's why Korea, China, and Indonesia end up being associated with "low-end" products. But I defy you to inspect instruments coming from those countries made for the major brands and find any difference in workmanship, fit, finish, and quality control from the workmanship, fit, finish, and QC of American-built instruments. (Again, materials and components, sure. Those are provided to our specifications.)

But the work underneath is consistently excellent. Along with Electromatics and Streamliners, I'm talking Squire, PRS SE, Reverend, Epiphone, Hagstrom, Eastwood, even Agile - that I have recent hands-on experience with. And yes, there are guitars at the very low end of the market - from those countries - which show less refinement and occasional QC oversights. Those are the guitars in which marketeers are looking for the very cheapest thing they can possibly sell, and reflect those Asian factories' willingness to chase to the bottom with those buyers. (Raise your hand if you remember guitars from Chicago, built on the same principle.)

But once you rise above the very lowest tiers - say over 175.00 - 200.00 retail for a solidbody guitar - you're just hard pressed to find anything on the market which shows anything less than exemplary skill and workmanship on the core attributes of the instrument. (Again, hardware and material - as spec'ed by the vendor - set aside.) That's quality built from the inside out.

Spec premium woods and high-end hardware, and you'll get back world-class instruments - from any of these countries.

And even across the broad midrange, from 300.00 to 1,000.00 or so, I think we get much more than we're paying for. The degree of perfection in execution we get on guitars in this price range is astounding. We're just spoiled by it.

You may have geo-political reasons to reject products originating from one place or another, which is entirely your prerogative. Please don't buy any. But it flies against all evidence to denigrate the inherent quality of products as built in by the workers and managers in those places, people who want what everyone wants - a job to live on - and who invest the products with attributes you can't pay anyone enough to provide: pride in one's work and the determination to consistently do one's best.

I have guitars made in the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Indonesia, across a range of prices and decades. The place of manufacture doesn't even figure into my regard for any of them, or influence my enjoyment of them as musical instruments.

44

Prot,to be clearer, "those people" may be you. NOT me. I did buy a couple of offshores, just to see what the buzz was about. And as I said upthread "for cheap, they're not bad".

One of the things we have seen over the years between Da Golden Age and now is an increasing tendency for the budget and entry- level guitars to impersonate the real-deal pro instruments. In 1959 no one would ever have mistaken a Dano U2 for a Les Paul Standard, likewise a Harmony Stratotone wasn't going to pass muster as a Fender Telecaster. Today, of course, you can do a little woodwork on an Epi Les Paul headstock and have a fair chance of palming it off as a USA Gibson on some unsuspecting rube. Same deal with a little sandpaper and an aftermarket decal on a Squier CV. They're all that close, not to mention the burgeoning trade in Chibsons, Chenders, Chretsches, Chaylors, and Chure mics.

And nobody ever said slaves couldn't do good work. Anyone who survived a V-2 strike on London would doubtless agree that that particular slave-built product did alarmingly well....

I do, however, suspect that much of the offshore instruments' appeal come from them NOT being American. Other than the folks who want to come here so badly they'll pay a coyote, there's quite a lot of prestige attached to anti-American sentiment. Townshend and Hendrix made the destruction of American craftsmanship a BIG part of their stage act.And to "circle back" to Mikey's original post. Seems to me he got double-whammied, first by his 5222 looking better than it was, then by getting a particularly bad one. Condolences!

45

@Proteus Hello Sir. You have made a convincing argument and I couldn't agree more. This topic has already been discussed on many occasions over the years on these pages, even though it seems that some players still hold the view that the sticker "Made in the USA" is a guarantee of sorts. To come back to the OP and the problems he raises, we don't have the whole story, provided he is not a troll. Why would an experienced player who has used 'high-end' instruments ranging from USD 2,000.00 to 5,000.00 over his life buy a G5222 (USD 500.00) ? How and where did he 'pick it up' ? For what purpose ? What was he expecting ? Why is he solely complaining and vindictive on theses pages ?

46

I don't know if any country has a monopoly on the ability to produce quality products nor have I ever heard of any deliberate purchasing of offshore(meaning not north america I guess) products just to not buy American ones. I've heard the opposite sentiment (buy US because it's better etc.) expressed an awful lot though.

I do know that Gretsch had TERRIBLE quality control during their 'Golden Age' . We regularly expect bad neck sets, rotting binding, rough fretboards, off center mounting of parts and a myriad of other oopsies.

47

Not necessarily the country but the factory has always been an issue with me. Would you buy a Ferrari if it was built in a Kia factory by Kia employees? I’m sure some would but it’s this blurring of the lines that continue to make iconic widgets generic. Thankfully Bigsby was bought by FMIC and they are built in Nashville, hopefully that continues.

48

I’m going to relay my negative gretsch experience positively in that the first gretsch I had was an electromatic jet that to this day was still the single worst guitar I’ve ever had in many ways. However, it just made me want the good ones and led me to two pro-line jets, a 6129-57 and 6128-53vs, which were two of the best guitars, if not the best I’ve ever had and make me just want more pro-line gretsch guitars. Getting what you pay for has never applied more to my scenario, and paying for a Japanese gretsch is worth every dime in my opinion.

49

I’m going to relay my negative gretsch experience positively in that the first gretsch I had was an electromatic jet that to this day was still the single worst guitar I’ve ever had in many ways. However, it just made me want the good ones and led me to two pro-line jets, a 6129-57 and 6128-53vs, which were two of the best guitars, if not the best I’ve ever had and make me just want more pro-line gretsch guitars. Getting what you pay for has never applied more to my scenario, and paying for a Japanese gretsch is worth every dime in my opinion.

– Chmason85

Agreed on the MIJ Gretsches. Although they're just a little plastic-ish compared to the Fifties-to-mid-Sixties USA production, they're also decidedly more robust. PLUS, they're a good deal more affordable than the ones they emulate. Once Japan emerged from the post WW2 Occupation, they set about- and succeeded in- delivering quality in manufacturing. I've never gotten hands on a recent USA Custom Shop Gretsch, so all I really know about them is that they're at least as pricey as their Classic-Era counterparts.

While Toxophile has a good point about the fragile nature of Classic-Era Gretsches, it's to be expected that anything built or born six decades ago isn't going to look like it did then. I certainly don't!

50

Prot,to be clearer, "those people" may be you. NOT me. I did buy a couple of offshores, just to see what the buzz was about. And as I said upthread "for cheap, they're not bad".

One of the things we have seen over the years between Da Golden Age and now is an increasing tendency for the budget and entry- level guitars to impersonate the real-deal pro instruments. In 1959 no one would ever have mistaken a Dano U2 for a Les Paul Standard, likewise a Harmony Stratotone wasn't going to pass muster as a Fender Telecaster. Today, of course, you can do a little woodwork on an Epi Les Paul headstock and have a fair chance of palming it off as a USA Gibson on some unsuspecting rube. Same deal with a little sandpaper and an aftermarket decal on a Squier CV. They're all that close, not to mention the burgeoning trade in Chibsons, Chenders, Chretsches, Chaylors, and Chure mics.

And nobody ever said slaves couldn't do good work. Anyone who survived a V-2 strike on London would doubtless agree that that particular slave-built product did alarmingly well....

I do, however, suspect that much of the offshore instruments' appeal come from them NOT being American. Other than the folks who want to come here so badly they'll pay a coyote, there's quite a lot of prestige attached to anti-American sentiment. Townshend and Hendrix made the destruction of American craftsmanship a BIG part of their stage act.And to "circle back" to Mikey's original post. Seems to me he got double-whammied, first by his 5222 looking better than it was, then by getting a particularly bad one. Condolences!

– DaveH

with all due respect, that is one of the most wack takes on the music market and politics I've ever seen. the notion that anti-Americanism has made Asian guitars more popular is hallucinatory. were Black Oak Arkansas being anti-Japanese when they donned their imports for the last song before smashing them into each other over Dandy Jim Mangrum's head? daft.


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