Modern Gretsch Guitars

“Made in Japan” stamp on SSLVO

26

Japanese manufacturing employs a very advanced quality control system (Mura or Muda) and is based on American engineer William Deming's 14 point TQM model. It really advanced with Toyota and Honda production in the early '80s and spread as to all manufacturing in Japan as part of their manufacturing culture. Plus....

Tom Waits knows Gretsch is a big guitar so why not Japan?

27

I know I keep saying this but I’ll risk it again. For some of us there’s a Brooklyn heritage thing which is location but also the sonic nuances. The MIJ guitars are fantastic builds I just don’t like that they’re third party builds that aren’t built by Gretsch employees. With that said you can get an American/Stern built guitar which are amazing.

28

Ill add to this that I had a silver jet that I sold to Bob Howard, and a new 53 reissue Jet, both Japanese. Between those I had a US made Les Paul classic Goldtop, $2199 paid, and while the quality of the wood was nice, the attention to details on the "US" guitar was laughable; the Jets have been impeccable down to the last detail, no flaws at all, nothing crooked, everything clean and precisely in place

29

I have to add that I'm not bashing Gibson, it was a great guitar, but to be unplayable out of the box at that price, to have to do a week's worth of setting up to get it going, is ridiculous to me. Gretsch just needs tuning up and its ready to go in my experience

30

I'm not 100% on this, but I think by Law ,Goods are supposed to be stamped with a Country of Origin on a visible location so as to not deceive the consumer. ( I cant remember where I read it) So they stamp it "Made In Japan" on the headstock and not hidden in a label in the body cavity.

I understand the whole "American Icon" Company ,with a Product Made in a Foreign Country argument thing. I would prefer to buy a Gretsch made in the the U.S.A. myself, but I also know the Gretsch Story and how the Brand was resurrected from the ashes. So Im good with a Japanese made guitar.

31

I have to add that I'm not bashing Gibson, it was a great guitar, but to be unplayable out of the box at that price, to have to do a week's worth of setting up to get it going, is ridiculous to me. Gretsch just needs tuning up and its ready to go in my experience

– Chmason85

Luckily, I did not have that issue with my '14 Gibson LP Traditional. It was of the highest level of quality equalling, if not even surpassing my Tokai LS-135 LP copy (made in Terada).

My Edwards LP has upgrades but is a model of high quality too.

32

I don't see anything wrong with that font. It's simple clear, legible and not overly "fussy."

Any font they chose would probably meet with disapproval from someone. You can't please everyone no matter what you do, so the choice of a simple font makes perfect sense.

If it bothers you that much, you can send the guitar to me and it will no longer offend your delicate aesthetic sensibilities!

33

I wish the USA would start making decent products again. But I see no reason to dislike a MIJ Gretsch. Be proud to acknowledge that you own one the finest guitars made in the world, and yes it’s made in Japan by amazing craftsman. I wish the MIJ label was bigger and right under the Gretsch logo on the headstock.

34

Nole, I expected a giant Made in Japan font that was in your face so to speak but it’s reasonable looking. But maybe that’s just me. I understand you prefer it not be there. I know you don’t take issue with the quality but it’s an American icon and it would be nice to see Made in America on it. When I first found out Gretsch were made in Japan I was surprised because 10 years after Gretsch started making guitars again I found out. All those years I thought they were USA made. I saw a White Falcon with protective paper on the pick guard with Japanese writing on which indicated Japanese Made. I thought for the price they are charging it’s too much for a foreign Made guitar. I since changed my mind on that because lots of hours by skilled luthiers are required to make a Gretsch. Also we are talking Japan not China. They don’t work for pennies on the dollar like China workers do. I believe Japanese salaries and standard of living is on par with us in the USA.

Noel you certainly didn’t offend me and I doubt you offended anyone.

Interesting what NJ posted about Deming I remember studying about Deming in Operation Management in college. Good point NJ.

NJ posted “Big In Japan” by Tom Waits. I prefer this one. That Tom Waits is a bit in your face noisy. I prefer these lads from Germany. This is more fitting as the original Fred Gretsch was from Germany and Gretsch is such a German name.

35

Do I wish Gretsch guitars were made in USA ...in a word ..no..not in today's day..maybe if they all were made by Stephen Stern's team...then yes, of course...but that would not happen in all reality...I am American and am very proud of it but Japan is making the best guitars right now. They are true experts at the build, fit and finish. Also I recall, since we are talking about origin and serial number stamp, that Gretsch guitars when in Baldwins hands were made in the USA...they were stamp engraved and looked very sloppy on the back of headstock...I find the Japanese stamp low profile and classy enough and I will say that the modern Gretsch Japanese prolines are way better built than any of the vintage Gretsch guitars hands down. You won't see the binding rotting or neck pooping out of the joint that's for sure. But it was a different time and it's kind of unfair to compare them but you get what I'm saying.

36

Often today "made in USA" guitars feature parts made elsewhere and just assembled in the US anyway. But, I think the OP was talking aesthetics and perception and not much else. I had a similar moment of pondering with the Guild M-75 Aristocrat, which has a dandy Korean version flanked by an American custom shop version with the SAME SPECS at 4x the price.

Couldn't justify the math, so bought the Korean version and paid a luthier $150 to make it perfect.

37

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.

– Nolefinity

To me, this ID doesn't appear to be stamped into the wood, but rather just embossed on the wood with the poly or nitro over it. Assuming that's the case, with it bothering you so much, why don't you just remove the "Made In Japan" part and touch up the finish, leaving the S/N alone?

Let me ask you a hypothetical question here. Leaving everything the same in this manufacturing equation but change the origin of manufacturing to read "Made In Canada" [people's looks being indistinguishable and speaking the same language], would you be just as annoyed? I know you've stated it's the, in your opinion offensively poor quality of the font, not the country of manufacture that sticks in your craw as it were. The very, to most of us subtle & innocuous appearance and placement of this identification is difficult to grasp and I find your level of offense at just the font quality being the issue along with the placement, a tad hard to swallow. Your profession notwithstanding, the font itself or placement hasn't bothered anyone following this thread. And this isn't a departure from Gretsch's practice of ID placement on the back of the headstock since the mid-60's.

Wanting Gretsch to build all its guitars in the USA - the expensive Custom Shop few can afford being the exception - while a nice sentiment, is today only an unrealistic pipedream at best.

I see your solution is to find an earlier USA built guitar and have your luthier touch up or modify anything you desire. Problem solved, no?

38

I'm not 100% on this, but I think by Law ,Goods are supposed to be stamped with a Country of Origin on a visible location so as to not deceive the consumer. ( I cant remember where I read it) So they stamp it "Made In Japan" on the headstock and not hidden in a label in the body cavity.

I understand the whole "American Icon" Company ,with a Product Made in a Foreign Country argument thing. I would prefer to buy a Gretsch made in the the U.S.A. myself, but I also know the Gretsch Story and how the Brand was resurrected from the ashes. So Im good with a Japanese made guitar.

– LA_Manny

I agree Manny. It's just a matter of international trade law, the country of origin must be displayed on any product.

I think the loss of USA dominance in manufacturing is due to the lack of investments in efforts to increase quality in the 1970's for short term profits. I cannot have more disgust for the guy that wrote "Quality is Free". It is not. If he just wrote a book called "Quality is the Best Investment You can Make", the world would be much better.

Because of this, the craft is lost and will not return easily.

Lee

40

I was just looking that up. Philip B Crosby, one-time president of Martin (guessing that would now be called "Lockheed Martin".

Seems his principle was simple on the outside- install good quality management and have "zero defects" as your target, thus quality will follow..

Sounds to me like "do it right the first time", as noted in the Wiki article, but I have not read the book.

41

I know I keep saying this but I’ll risk it again. For some of us there’s a Brooklyn heritage thing which is location but also the sonic nuances. The MIJ guitars are fantastic builds I just don’t like that they’re third party builds that aren’t built by Gretsch employees. With that said you can get an American/Stern built guitar which are amazing.

– Curt Wilson

I don't understand this.. Can Gretsch employees only be from the USA?? What is a 'Gretsch Employee' anyway? Isn't anyone who gets paid money to build Gretsch guitars, a Gretsch employee?? I really like the older Gretsch's, have a few and pretty well play them exclusively, but I can't pretend they're a really high end guitar made by master craftsmen. From having seen many they're clearly banged together by factory workers with quotas. However I will admit, to me, that's part of their charm. I'd be just as happy if they were made in Siberia as long as they looked as cool and sounded decent.

42

I don't understand this.. Can Gretsch employees only be from the USA?? What is a 'Gretsch Employee' anyway? Isn't anyone who gets paid money to build Gretsch guitars, a Gretsch employee?? I really like the older Gretsch's, have a few and pretty well play them exclusively, but I can't pretend they're a really high end guitar made by master craftsmen. From having seen many they're clearly banged together by factory workers with quotas. However I will admit, to me, that's part of their charm. I'd be just as happy if they were made in Siberia as long as they looked as cool and sounded decent.

– Toxophilite

No it has nothing to do with location but everything to do with 3rd party. The same people building for Gretsch this month will change their hats and start building Epiphone guitars next month.

It’s the new world and I don’t like it. It comes down to pride in your work and passion. They build great guitars for Gretsch and it’s an efficient process and I guess it’s what has to be done to compete in today’s market but I don’t have to like it do I?

43

I’m not that good of a player, so I spend most of my time looking at the fretboard and not the back of the headstock

44

WRT the font, I believe the "MADE IN JAPAN" stamp uses the same font/placement as the "MADE IN USA" stamp of the vintage Gretsch guitars. I always thought that was a neat detail.

The best instruments I've ever had were made in Japan.

45

A few years back I had a nice US Strat. Never could bond with it. a couple a years after, I got a MIM Strat. It is sooo much better in all ways! Depends on the person I guess. Also, My chinese wife has a Made in China stamp on her bottom,,, Gotta know where you buns are buttered!!!!

46

No it has nothing to do with location but everything to do with 3rd party. The same people building for Gretsch this month will change their hats and start building Epiphone guitars next month.

It’s the new world and I don’t like it. It comes down to pride in your work and passion. They build great guitars for Gretsch and it’s an efficient process and I guess it’s what has to be done to compete in today’s market but I don’t have to like it do I?

– Curt Wilson

I think I understand and in many ways I agree with you regarding individual craftsmanship and pride in ones work from beginning to end. And of course you don't have to like it.

I was more questioning the emphasis on things being 'made in USA' as I don't at all feel the USA has any more old world craftsmanship, passion and pride in ones work than anywhere else worldwide. The Japanese are passionate master craffsman and have always been for thousands of years, long before anyone in the USA even thought of being the USA. They tend to make an art out of everything they do.

Generally it's large consumer societies that drive the need for mass produced products. So ultimately, we, as the consumers, are to blame.

In the case of Gretsch, my understanding is that, for the most part they were always factory built guitars. I imagine there were some top dollar instruments that might've seen the same craftsman from beginning to end but likely any given instrument changed hands many times and as factory jobs areusually broken down into many small simplified parts, there was probably a degree of turnover at the factory. In the end , it would seem to come to almost the same thing.

I worked at Larrivee for a while 18 years ago and I came there with luthier training. Despite producing high end solid wood acoustic instruments, it was very much a factory with 100+ employees and the build process broken down into many little bite sized pieces. Larrivee preferred to hire unskilled people that could be quickly trained to a particular job, as they generally valued having the job more and tended to stick around.

47

I still think you're missing Curt's point. Terada is not a Gretsch factory. They are a contact manufacturer and build guitars for many companies. While they build a quality product and the workers may have pride in their work, they have no more emotional tie to Gretsch then they do to Epiphone, King Snake, or any other brand built there. A worker, no matter what his discipline or specialty, could be working on a different brand guitar any given period.

48

I still think you're missing Curt's point. Terada is not a Gretsch factory. They are a contact manufacturer and build guitars for many companies. While they build a quality product and the workers may have pride in their work, they have no more emotional tie to Gretsch then they do to Epiphone, King Snake, or any other brand built there. A worker, no matter what his discipline or specialty, could be working on a different brand guitar any given period.

– Charlie Vegas

I'm betting that for 95% of Gretsch's workers , it was a job, not a passion. It was a factory. I've worked in an instrument factory making fancy acoustic instruments. I went in with luthier training. It was very much ' a job' more interesting to tell other people about that many jobs, but still just a job. My heart did not swell with pride in Larivees product despite knowing they were fine acoustic guitars. From knowing most of the employees that's how it was with them too.

Anyway if most of my vintage Gretsch's are examples I don't think Gretsch employees were filled with passion and unusually skilled craftsme/women. Wonky slapdash craftsmanship is pretty well a byword for vintage Gretsch instruments. I love them, but there wasn't really a 'good old days' for Gretsch instruments as far as quality goes. Beautiful though!

49

I still think you're missing Curt's point. Terada is not a Gretsch factory. They are a contact manufacturer and build guitars for many companies. While they build a quality product and the workers may have pride in their work, they have no more emotional tie to Gretsch then they do to Epiphone, King Snake, or any other brand built there. A worker, no matter what his discipline or specialty, could be working on a different brand guitar any given period.

– Charlie Vegas

I agree 100%, but the main difference is that The Gretsch Guys ,from what Im told and have heard, have stricter Q.A. controls over the Pro Line Gretsch's being made at the Terada factory. That being the case, Gretsch Guitars "should" be better than the rest. From the looks and playability of my 2 "Made In Japan" Grestch's, I would say thats true.

Either way the Japanese have been pumping out some very high quality guitars for decades now. Buying Foreign is the new norm, We dont have to like it or agree with it ,but there is no alternative so We dont have much of a choice anymore.

50

It's all foreign to me. . .


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