Modern Gretsch Guitars

“Made in Japan” stamp on SSLVO

1

I imagine most everyone here will think this is stupid or frivolous

But the one thing that I can’t stand about my 2014 Setzer lacquer vintage orange 6120 is the lame “Made in Japan” gold type on the back of the headstock.

First of all, I wish the guitar was made in the USA, and the prominent reminder isn’t my preference.

Second, why did they put it on the headstock, instead of the sticker on the inside of the body (like other hollowbody electrics and most acoustics)?

And worst… Why did they have to pick such a lame font? It’s like they spent 100 hours crafting a magnificent work of art, including excellent graphic design and fonts on the label inside the body, and when they were done admiring it… They sent it to a big robot-filled room that stamped “Made in Japan“ in the same exact font and style that they put on 50 Cent crappy kids toys.

Anyone else notice or care? (Please don’t rip me up too bad

2

Nole what's wrong with it being made in Japan?

The MIJ is on the back of the headstock anyway so how often would you look at that. Maybe put a decal over it if you are bothered by it.

Japanese make great guitars. For our economy I wish it was made in USA but it's not so as far as Japanese made Gretsch I will just accept that and take it for what it is, it's a great guitar. Mine was made in Brooklyn in 1965.

Gretsch makes Made in US models if you prefer a Made In America model.

3

Good questions and points here. Thanks for writing. I think I just love a good ol made in the USA guitar, and because I am in the marketing and graphic design industry, I sort of can’t believe they did that to such an expensive guitar. It truly is a sign that the director of the project forgot to close the very last loop of quality, in my opinion. Seriously… It’s sort of like Apple launching the latest iPhone and letting them stamp “made in China” on it in a generic font on the back. Apple would never let that happen.

4

Because the Japanese currently build the best guitars in the world. Be proud of it!

5

Why is "Made in the USA" something to be proud of, and "made in Japan" something to be embarrassed of?

For the record, I'm not an American, but this vaguely smells nationalistic... or worse. I don't mean to be a jerk, but you might not want to assume that everyone who reads the Gretsch Pages shares your heritage and nationality.

6

Nole, I see your point. I think you are fine with Japanese guitars but just would like a classic American guitar made here. I can understand that thought.

When Fred Gretsch started making guitars again he wanted to make them here but he had no factory and if understand it he even approached Gibson to contract them out but they declined so Fred Gretsch thought how about Japan since they know their stuff and the rest is modern history. Gibson should have taken Fred Gretsch up on the business proposition.

9

Unfortunately with Gibson quality control could have been an issue at an even higher price point which might have finished off Gretsch forever. The Japanese made Gretsches, especially after FMIC got involved, may be the best mass produced hollowbodies/archtops today. To be honest, there aren't many Japanese made guitars available in the US anymore. Most Asian imports are from China, Indonesia, Taiwan and of course Korea. Unless you are talking about a Pro Series Gretsch, a couple ESP models, Ibanez Prestige model or a small brand like John Page Classics the only way to get a Tokai, Edwards, Bacchus, Fender Japan non-export model, etc is to buy from Japan which is getting much harder due to CITES regs. The truth is, all the big Japanese companies like Ibanez and Yamaha have moved production to other Asian countries where labor is much cheaper except for their top of the line models.

10

Don't count a guitar's quality out simply because of where it was made. You might miss something quite good.

I recently sold my 9yr old MIJ Strat. The baby held her own against a MIM or Stateside one, and was certainly better than ones I looked at with Indonesian markings at the time I bought it.

Then, last week someone handed me a new, fresh-off-the-boat Indonesian-made Strat (in a off-putting "pink burst" color).

Straight out of the box I was actually impressed by the fit and finish. Even the metal and care used for the tuners (which I replaced on my own Strat) seems to have come up a peg or two in the nine years since I last looked at one. The bridge assembly seemed solid and free of casting "extras", the plate was on straight and well-anchored.

Meantime, the frets did not feel clunky or sharp-edged and the maple neck (which held what I am told is a pressed paper laminate fretboard -like some wood-look flooring) was contoured nicely, and felt very much like my MIJ neck did. As a consumer-level guitar, it was hardly cheap feeling. Yes, it needed a professional setup. Still, I was confident that Mario (the tech who has done my setups since the early 90s) would be able to make it sing quite easily. But the color reminded me too much of Pepto-Bismol, so for that and some other reasons, I passed.

Personally, the idea that so-called "entry level" guitars are now light-years ahead of the MIJ beasts I used in the 60's and beyond can't be anything but a benefit. How many wanna-be rock (and folk) gods found themselves put off by the extra effort required to play a so-so or worse instrument with no intonation, a bridge height measured in inches and a flexible neck with frets applied seemingly at random and unlike those of us here, simply quit. I had more than one guitar in my teens that had one or more of those issues when I was first starting out. My first decent guitars (an Aria and a Fender Coronado) were a revelation about what a guitar really could be, and my playing was immediately elevated simply because they made it much easier (and somewhat less painful!) to play.

In order to keep the price point low enough using to ensure adequate volume, manufacturers of most anything must farm out the making of their things to venues where wages are low enough to keep costs down. Otherwise, consider what an i-Phone would cost you if it was totally 100% made in Cupertino. Or for that matter, how much your new vehicle would be if had to be 100% made using domestic-source parts instead parts imported from other countries and assembled in Detroit, Bowling Green or Windsor, for that matter (shout out to Dave!).

Unless and until the cost of living equalizes on a global basis (highly unlikely) it will always be the case that to keep the cost of everything from shirt buttons to SSLVO's down to where us regular folks can afford 'em, manufacturers will continue to source their material (and sometimes the assembly of same) offshore. So long as Quality Control is kept up to snuff, it really is not a 'bad' thing.

Plus it keeps a bunch of folks gainfully employed in other countries. Better employment leads to less restiveness in the populace, leads to more stability, less conflict, and in the end, more time for us to play our guitars, which I happen to think is not a bad thing.

11

In the 50's & 60's, when Japan was still recovering from WWII, Made In Japan usually meant cheap and second rate, but that was a long time ago. Made in USA usually meant it was the best there was, but that was a long time ago too.

12

Great points here! Thoughtful good responses.

I’m definitely not against Japanese-made products; I just prefer ones made in the USA. I admit that’s nationalism, and I expect and value anyone to be proud of their own country, whichever one they may live in.

Anyway, it’s more about the placement and font. I just think it looks cheap on a stellar instrument. Someone at Gretsch should simply question why that info isn’t tastefully added to the interior label. (See Fender’s new California series acoustics for example, or Taylor acoustics.)

13

50-60 years ago, "Made in Japan" was something to be avoided. The "Made In USAs" meant quality, tho that was due also to the fact that all of our allies and enemies had nearly been bombed back to the Stone Age. Now,due to the difference in wages, lots of things are made overseas as labor costs here would make things totally unaffordable for the masses. Why pay someone $40/hr. when you can pay someone $40/wk.?

I'd prefer Made in America myself, but, I'm perfectly happy with imports. I'd be happier if tariffs were the same both ways. You can get Custom Shop, or older Made in America instruments if it's that important to you.

14

Nole, could you please post a photo of this Made In Japan logo on the back of your headstock. I'm curious about how this looks.

I am nationalistic but I have no issue with guitars made overseas. I do understand your point about wanting a Made In USA Gretsch. I am understanding of it but when I first saw your post I thought you meant Japanese Gretsch guitars weren't good but I know now you don't mean that.

15

Just to clarify. I hope when people are saying 'nationalism' they really mean 'patriotism' as nationalism is actually a negative thing that is disturbingly on the rise worldwide.

The Difference Between patriotism and nationalism is that the patriot is proud of his country for what it does , and the nationalist is proud of his country no matter what it does ; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility while the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to a war .

For example Hitler gained power largely by tapping into nationalistic feelings in Germany and amplifying them. https://www.libraryofsocial...

About guitars:

I think I want to own the best made and coolest guitars there are... but I actually own some 50s and 60s, made in USA Gretschs, which fall into the 'coolest' category but definitely not the 'best made' category. In fact in some cases they're laughably sloppily made. Definitely a cash in sort of mentality rather than a pride in work mentality. I still like them though, but not at all because of where they are made. I have a early 70s Japanese archtop (excellent build quality and a lovely guitar and a late 80s Japanese archtop, also excellent build quality) I think the modern Japanese Gretschs are probably better built than the vintage US ones. I would own one but I like old things.

A fine guitar is a fine guitar regardless of where it's made. Be proud of the fine Japanese craftsmanship that went into your guitar.

16

Toxo as for me I am nationalistic and I am talking about patriotic or patriotism.

17

Nationalism and patriotism are definitely different

Nationalism is not at all a good thing and is usually the root cause of needless wars.

There is nothing wrong with patriotism

http://www.differencebetwee...

With guitars it's obviously a little less weighted. I think it was suggested that not liking something simply because it was made outside your own country(whatever that country may be), regardless of the quality of the object, sounds like nationalism . Nationalism tends towards an arrogant assumption of superiority regardless of actual facts or reality worldwide.

I'm pointing it out because people started chiming in that they were nationalistic and I was hoping that they were just using the wrong terminology. Especially as I also hope this form isn't just centred in one culture, It would make it less interesting and rich in ideas.

I'm proud of my country for the good things it does. I'm not proud of the bad things it can or has done. Nor do I think the people/products of my country are inherently better than or superior to people/products from other countries.

I don't mind at all that some of my guitars say 'Made in USA' on them

18

Nolefinity said: "I imagine most everyone here will think this is stupid or frivolous. First of all, I wish the guitar was made in the USA, and the prominent reminder isn’t my preference."

I'm sorry you feel that way. its PROUDLY made in Japan by these wonderful men

overseen by Gretsch in Japan (Mike Lewis was in charge of this) directed by Fred Gretsch III, Fred Gretsch being an immigrant from Germany. *"Dr. Mark Kuo, right, watches as Mike Lewis, left, and Ritchie Fliegler, both from The Gretsch Company, remove the hardware from a 1961 Gretsch 6120 guitar at Scottsdale Medical Imaging Ltd., Monday, May 12, 2003, in Scottsdale, Ariz. A CAT scan was performed on the guitar, owned by The Gretsch Company, in order to determine how the instrument's bracing was assembled. The Gretsch model 6120 was made with unique bracing from 1959-1961 but was discontinued for no apparent reason. Legendary rockabilly guitarist Brian Setzer requested the reintroduction of the bracing for his Gretsch signature series 6120 guitar, which prompted the CAT scan rather than disassembling the guitar to study how it was built." These are built in Japan. proudly!

19

First of all, I apologize if I offended anyone. I had no idea it could come off that way. I definitely mean I’m patriotic about the USA, not nationalistic, just like industries like farming proudly encourage people to buy American (just like I would expect Japanese citizens to prefer to buy a Japanese-made products).

Anyway ... back to fonts and placement. After seeing those pictures of the MRI machine and more, it only underscores my point: why was everything so meticulous except for the back of the headstock? As a designer who has put the finishing touches on websites, annual reports, and more ... I really bet the country/serial stamp decision slipped through the cracks. See my Apple example above.

20

Looking at the pics here, I now even see that the “Made ...” phrase is actually crooked compared to the line above it! The M in “Made” is lower than the N in “Japan.”

That’s my main point here. In my opinion, it’s just a lack of putting that final finishing touch on a splendidly made guitar.

21

Pretend that you're a rock star with another "endorsement". Stick a piece of black tape over it and play the heck out of it.

If it's really driving you that nuts, move on and get a Custom Shop instrument.

22

Probably its just me, but I prefer it that way. Subtle and not screaming MADE IN...

It doesn’t bother me at all, a good product is good regardless of the country it’s made of.

23

Because the Japanese currently build the best guitars in the world. Be proud of it!

– Billy Zoom

My Jet is made in Japan. I discovered my early 2000s Strat is. And Squier Super Sonic too. I am proud of it. Getting the Custom shop is the best choice for made in the USA.

24

There seems to be a fair amount of ignorance concerning where current GreTsch guitars are made. In the past while selling pro line GreTsch guitars, some prospective buyers were surprised and occasionally put off to learn they are made in Japan and some were not finished with lacquer. Most assumed they were made in the USA. I usually try to educate them by explaining the quality of the Japan made guitars is superb. I also let them know a USA made guitar is available from the custom shop at around 2 to 3 times the price of a Japan made guitar. Some get over it and others just couldn't wrap their heads around paying thousands of dollars for a guitar made in Japan. The strange thing is, I have seen some of these guys hop in their $40,000 or more Lexus, Acura etc., and drive off.

25

I think that what Nolefinity might be getting at could be very simple. Maybe Gretsch should use the nice classy script "Crafted In Japan" or "Handcrafted In Japan" that was on Fender Japan and Ibanez guitars. Even my Guild Newark St X175B has "Handcrafted In Korea" on the back of the headstock. It would also be accurate as the Terada factory utilizes much more old school handwork than you might think in producing Gretsch guitars.


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