Other Guitars

Beautiful not-new Maliblue Manhattan Special from Guild (But a sham…

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Somehow I completely missed that thread.

Sorry to repeat. I’d take the thread down if it didn’t have posts.

It’s true there’s nothing wrong with DeArmond pickups - but by no stretch of the imagination are these related (except in surface-mount footprint and top appearance) to the DeArmond 2000-series of the 50s, which Gretsch trade-named first Fidela-Tone and then Dynasonic .

I vastly prefer “real” Dynasonics to the anemic impostors in the blue Guild. Cordoba should be ashamed of further muddying the already turgid waters of Dyna-looking pickup identification. Original 2000/Fidela-Tone/Dynasonic, early 21st century 2000s and 2Ks, now these new “Dynasonics” which ain’t...

Enough confusion already. Apparently it’s now enough that a pickup LOOK like the original from the top, never mind its construction - or tone. (GFS Surf 90s - which are visibly much different - sound more like “real” Dynas than any of the modern 2000s / 2K / Whateversonics.)

And yet Cordoba’s marketing compounds the mess by describing these as “authentic.” Do they not know better, or do they intend to deceive those who don’t? Or do they mean “authentic” as in “reissue of a 20-year-old pickup, not that antique 65-year-old pickup which first used the name”?

It would be like Ford deciding to “reissue” the Thunderbird, and using the early-2000s inspired-by rather than the 50s original as a reference.

Maybe Gretsch should go back to “Fidela-Tone” to differentiate the original design from the pack of anemic imitators.

Other than the gorgeous blueness, I’ve realized this guitar has little to recommend it to me. I have a 17” spruce-topped ride with real Dynas. And given the finish and construction details GAD points out in the review Walter linked to, the faux pickups, and the proud premium price for a Korean build, ol’ Manhattan Blue is off my lustlist.

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Still a sweet guitar but yeah, if I wanted a Dyna guitar it would likely be a Gretsch.

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i like the DeArmond 2000s in my Special Jet. i call them "85% Dynas." but i expect better in a guitar at this price point.

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The Manhattan Special looks like a very nice instrument, I echo the author of the review, Charles Saulfey's sentiment about wishing they came in a gloss option. I love the Malibu Blue, but personally, would prefer it in gloss.

I don't have any concerns about it being made in Korea. The Korean guitars of the past decade (or so), especially the Gretsch Electromatic guitars, are made extremely well. My 5422 is flawless, both in build and fit and finish (I finally have all the parts on hand to swap out the pickups and wiring harness with TV Jones Gold Classic 's and the TV Jones pot harness and gold switch tip. I bought the tubing installation kit as well).

It looks like, for all intents and purposes, that the Korean guitar factories have really stepped up their game. They are beginning to approach the quality level of the Japanese instruments, but at half the price. After the modifications, I'll have about $1300 into my 5422 (plus $180 for the Deluxe Hardshell Gretsch Case). It's a very good way to get into a high quality Gretsch hollow body guitar at about half the cost of the 6122. I'd rather have a 6122 mostly because it will hold its value much better than a 5422.

EDIT : Breakdown of my total investment into my 5422 after the modification, in case anyone is interested in doing the same thing to their 5422 or 5420 :

$140 x2 = $280 (pickups).

$106 for the wiring harness.

$10 for the switch tip

$6 for the tubing kit.

Total = $402.00

My total investment in the 5422, including the case is :

$1000 - $200 ( GC Guitar a Thon discount) = $800

$160 for the Deluxe Gretsch case. ($20 GC Guitar a Thon discount from $180)

$402 for the modification

Total after the modification is $1362.00 + applicable tax.

I got 20% off simply holding off buying new, until one of the many sales available each year came along. I seldom pay list price for new gear, patients is definitely a virtue, and with all the holiday sales available, you really don't need to wait very long for a good deal on new gear.

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I have ZERO concerns about it's being made in Korea. I've been buying Korean guitars since the late 80s, and quality-fit-finish have almost always been superlative - even right from the beginning, but especially since the turn of the century. I have concerns about the price of this guitar for a Korean build. (And I don't think it's that Korean builders have upped their game - I think it's that Gretsch has progressively upgraded and refined the spec of the Electromatics.)

No doubt Electros can be flawless - at hundreds of dollars less than this Cordobaguild. The usual Korean price point lets you put 300.00 into upgraded pickups, and still come in at a lower overall price than you'd have paid for a "Professional Collection" Japanese-built Gretsch.

At 1,500.00 for Blue Manhattan - plus upgraded pickups - I'd be within hailing distance of the street price for the Terada Gretsch.

I also have no concern with guitars made in China or Indonesia. People everywhere are capable of building great instruments. But I don't expect to pay Japanese-build (and low-end American-build) prices for them.

In fact, if brands are going to charge high money for the various tiers of Asian build, I have to think they're taking the difference as profit - and it's great for them if they can command it. But when guitars coming from sources we've known (from the last 40 years of guitar history) for lower labor costs approach the price of high-end Japanese or mid-range American guitars, it seems they're either saying those sources build BETTER guitars...or that they prefer corporate profit over employing American craftspeople.

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You could surely be looking at worse things to want. It’s a good looking yoke, and you don’t see a lot of big blue hollowbodies kicking around.

– Tsar Nicholas

Ahem.

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And if I could get the Blue Manhattan for what you paid for that one...I'd be much more interested.

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At 1,500.00 for Blue Manhattan - plus upgraded pickups - I'd be within hailing distance of the street price for the Terada Gretsch.

without playing one--which neither of us have done--how do you know you won't like the pickups? though admittedly i'd prefer Franz P-90s in one.

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I had the early 00s version in my first Gretsch Hollowbody, an Electro 5127.

I liked them, but I kept digging for more out of them: more low end, more vibrancy and response, more moreness. After I brought home a 6120 with Dynas and heard it, the clouds parted and I was transfigured.

I've never thought what I need is a more delicate Dynasonic.


Also, when I heard and responded to Bollinger's demo, I was thinking (because Cordoba said the pickups were "authentic Dynasonics like the 50s") that the guitar had the real thing and either John or his setup just weren't getting to the real voodoo. After learning Blue has the DynaNOTics, I realize I was hearing the exact character of the guitar - pretty much how my 5127 sounded. And it's NOT a bad sound. I like it! I just like Fidela-Tones better.

By the same logic, I now discount how marvelous RJ Ronquillo makes them sound, because...RJ Ronquillo. I've already bought a guitar based on how he made it sound, and I couldn't get near it. (And I'm pretty confident if I heard RJ play my spruce-topped Country Club with Gretsch/Tokiwa Dynasonics - not to mention something with Seymour Dynas or T-Armonds - and then play Manny Blue, I'd hear the difference.)

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i have guitars with Dynas and D'A 2000s, and i like both. i don't expect Dyna tone from a 2000, but their tone and response work fine for me. they're just different. both fill adjacent but not identical positions on the spectrum of pickups i currently have. that part of the continuum goes Dynas->2000s->Gibson P-90->Franz P-90. not trying to tell you what you should like, just stating a different opinion. i may like 2000s more than you do because mine are in a Special Jet, where they fit with a mahogany slab much better than they probably would on a full hollowbody.

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i would not choose them over Dynas, to be sure. but you couldn't fit Dynas in a slab. and mahogany slabs are my favorite configuration bar none. and one thing i like about 2000s is that they're not exactly like real Dynas. two Dyna guitars would be redundant at this point.

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Oh, no argument with any of that. I agree with your reasoning.

If we differ, it's because RealDynas are so much my instinctive voice that I want them in every platform, from chambered solid up through 17" full hollow.

In principle, I love mahogany slabs too. My first good electric was a Melody Maker I bought as a husk, then finished hogging out pickup cavities (started by the previous owner) to put a Gibson bucker at the neck and a DiMarzio Fat Strat at the bridge. (This in 1976.) I played that guitar for years - still have it, now with a vintage Dano lipstick tube at the neck, and a great Hagstrom fat single-coil at the bridge. (Though it's possible the ultra-light, ultra-thinbodied MM is too bantam-weight to qualify as a slab.)

I also have a recent Les Paul double-cut slab with P90s and a CVT with its (really marvelous) "Mega'Trons." Also two honorary mahogaslabs (both, while solid mahogany, have carved/arched tops a la LP practice): a screamin' Dean Evo with P90s and a wonderful all-mahog Agile Paul with their AlNiCo buckers.

That's in principle. In practice, I play either something with Dynas or whatever new toy I've recently landed. In the past 18 months or so, that's been a number of Teles and Telelikes - it's a phase - the 262something Streamliner with P90s, various baritones, and the Agile 8-string.

To get as close as reasonable to Dynas, I put Surf 90s in one of the baritones.

And I emailed TV begging him to make Filter'Trons and T-Armonds in 8-string versions, but so far he hasn't responded.

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Of course you could pay even bigger bucks for a well-built Korean guitar by buying a Duesenberg.

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Of course you could pay even bigger bucks for a well-built Korean guitar by buying a Duesenberg.

Now that'ere's hilarious. And it makes my point. The higher a Korean-built guitar is priced (by reference to the range of Korean-built prices we're accustomed to across the industry), the funnier and more insulting it becomes.

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Okay- so if I buy a mid-range Korean instrument, toss out the pups and maybe the tuners, add a better nut and maybe upgrade to some decent Switchcraft bits and pieces, toss in a Tru-Arc and a couple of straplocks, how much have I spent, and what might I have picked up for the same size pile of filthy lucre?

Hmm....

Of course (he said to forstall the inevitable parts bin comments), this presumes that all of the above need to be purchased at or close to retail. Inveterate tinkerers who have acquired a bin (or bins) of parts over the years are free to roam about their work benches at will.

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You shouldn't count the Tru-Arc in that equation, because the only new guitars it comes on are the 6120DE and the Steve Wariner Nashville Gentleman. (And Custom Shop guitars with bar bridges.)

It's an upgrade even from stock Terada Pro-lines!


But to do the math, specify which mid-range Korean, and how/where you're buying it. ("Street price" from Sweetwater, Zzounds, and whatever other big etailers survive should be a good reference point - though the Rockin' Rocky Street SOUNDS price is probably better.)

Pickups...wide range, depending on your preferred flavor. I go TV Jones in Gretschs.

Depending on which guitar, it may not need tuners, or even a nut. (But if you need a properly fitted nut, figure 75.00, I figure.) The pots and wires in current Electromatics are OK.

For some guitars, don't forget the Bigsby - you may not like the licensed version. Also, it's a small thing - but for any Electromatic or Streamliner just figure on 10 bucks for a Reverend soft spring.

Obviously, how many of these things you feel you need to do determines what the reasonable tipping point is. If the guitar is in the Gretsch realm, and in the end you're sure you want TVJ pickups, a bone nut, Switchcraft, premium tuners, and a pro nut...you are probably better off searching for a bargain on a new or used Terada-built guitar.

That is, if the base specs (shape, woods, ply, build, scale, geometry, etc) are comparable across both lines. But they aren't always. Some Electromatics - even Streamliners - have base specs you can't find in the pro line (and, clearly, vice versa). In that case, if you mostly like what the Electro/Streamer has to offer, you buy that and upgrade as you feel necessary after getting familiar with the guitar.

The only argument for buying down-range when you KNOW you want all the bespoke componentry of the high end is that you can upgrade gradually, if and as budget allows.

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i see what you did there.

Ha! Good for me.


I imagine Eddie "Blue" Ball already has one on order.

– Proteus

Well it's clearly the right color! But I'm still paying off my latest blue muse... so no cash for a Guild.

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Too rich for my blood, though it would look great next to my fairlane blue 5420.

What I hope most about this is that they will start selling the DeArmond 2000s separately. I had a 5129 with them, modified it with a few filters, and eventually real Dynas. Then I missed the 2000s so much I bought a 5124. Sold the 5129 later down the road and still have the 5124. Dynas aren't quite the pickup for me, but the 2000s are in a lot of ways (depending on the guitar and the end goal). I would absolutely love to build a few guitars with the 2000s, and maybe even slap them in my franken strat. Here's hoping.

The Guild is cool, but I think like so many great guitars, they missed the price point. I'd love to play one, but I don't think there is a dealer within 300 miles.

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is it at all clear whether or not the current "Dynasonics" are like the D'A 2000s? has anyone tried them?


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