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Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Darren1982, May 9, 2019.
How did you get on?!
Full report tomorrow!
OK, so here’s the scoop.
First of all, a bit of disappointment. While they had all their CS Fenders on the wall they were all locked in so one couldn’t take guitars off the wall and play them. Can’t say I blame them I suppose. The second thing is that the Gretsch CS guitars were nowhere to be seen, kept in the back. I also tried a few Collings Guitars and they were kept in the back as well. So between the guitars being inaccessible and the salesman being busy with different things I didn’t get to compare between the Gretsches at all, and had to inspect the Fenders as they hung on the wall. So these limitations resulted in my actually playing only 5 guitars, a CS Tele I was interested in, one CS Duo Jet, two Collings and a CS Les Paul but I was allowed to take as long as I wanted with all of the guitars, and I spent quite a long time playing each of these. Luckily the store was quiet and I didn't have to compete in any volume war. Great customer service by Daniel over at Rainbow Guitars.
First the Fenders:
Even though I couldn’t take them off the hanger, I was able to inspect them while hanging, such as it was. I focused on the Tele’s. I strummed the strings. They were uniformly pretty loud acoustically, some more than others, but uniformly very resonant sounding, kind of surprised me how loud they were acoustically across the board (it was very quiet in the store luckily). The Neck to Pocket fit seemed very good, I don’t think I saw any sloppy joints or the hint of any shims. One thing is, most had sharp fret ends. Spoke to Daniel, very nice salesman there at Rainbow Guitars, very customer oriented guy, about this. I asked him: “Tucson dryness?” And he said most definitely. They apparently keep a guy there to take the fret ends down and polish them pretty much full time. I guess they don’t do it until someone buys the guitar however. This is a bit risky as someone may find this a total deal breaker, especially someone not familiar with guitar tweaks and set ups.
I played a NOS CS Double Esquire that I was highly interested in (Tele with the two usual p/u’s plus the Broadcaster type wiring with the blend pot). Other than the fret ends it was a pretty much impeccable tele. Sounded killer. Loved the blend feature already and I have my tele wired up that way. I almost walked away with it and they offered to fix the fret ends right there and then. This was one of the few Tele’s that wasn’t Reliced.
May sound weird but, the tele is such a damn simple guitar, and especially with the NOS finish, that I decided that $3650 + tax was just too much for a Tele, CS or not. Plus I sort of wanted the frets done before I payed for it! But since I had other plans for my money I didn’t press that issue, but it seems like if you tell them to fix the frets and then you’ll consider it, I think they’d do it, they were very eager to please.
Most of the rest of the Teles were Relic’ed. Overall they looked pretty legit. I think the relic jobs were quite realistic looking actually, however most were relic’ed too much for my taste. I would have considered like a light relic or like a closet classic job, but once they grind finger wear into the fretboard, I’m out. So I ended up not playing any other tele as I wasn’t interested. But they seemed to be very good quality guitars across the board with relic jobs that lots of people would probably like, and I could see the extra cost for a well relic’ed and playing/sounding guitar if that’s your bag.
For a NOS type guitar like that Double Esquire however, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that much money for it.
Quality seemed very consistent, at least in that store. I really think the sharp fret ends is a desert thing and not a quality control issue you would normally be worried about..anyway, if it is a killer guitar, that is so easily remedied that I don’t consider it a big deal, but if you order online you need a shop that will address that before sending the guitar out, most definitely.
Next the Gretsch:
So…bummer…but I only got to play one CS Gretsch, the Tahitian Coral Duo Jet. The rest of the CS shop guitars were not displayed and I wasn't interested in them so I decided to focus on what I was considering buying. But that CS Duo Jet is a stunning guitar. I’ll describe it more in the other thread at some point. But very nicely made guitar. Sounded killer. Initial set up was disappointing with a super low, like abnormally low, action and a buzzing low E string. I had their tech raise the action cause the relief was good, and played it for a good 45 minutes. The guitar had a TOM bridge with locking post screws kind of like the tone-pros bridges so I couldn’t raise the bridge myself.
But the build quality, feel, tone, and big time mojo did not disappoint with this particular Duo Jet. Stunning guitar. Compared to my Proline MIJ Falcon, what can I say, it is like comparing guitars in two different universes. The Proline is basically flawless but feels like a different beast, a much more banal one to be honest. The CS model felt like an old instrument dripping with rocknroll vibes. It just felt great, hard to describe really. It had an amazing neck feel (chunkier than my Proline Falcon) and this superb resonance. It had a very “real” vibe about it, and again I think in large part it is the polyurethane used on the Prolines which is somewhat at fault for the less "legit" feel. For the lack of a better way of putting it the Proline has a bit of a muted, “plastic” vibe about it, and the CS guitar felt completely real and alive, if you get what I mean.
But alas, I wasn’t able to handle any other CS Gretsches to get a feel for consistency…I have failed you!
However, I think that the potential promise of a greatly heightened vintage playing experience that the nicely relic’ed CS Gretsches can deliver is real. I wasn’t able to gauge any data concerning consistency since I could only play the one guitar, but the experience of playing just one of these guitars has made a big impression on me. I didn’t go for this particular one for a few reasons that I’ll mention in my other thread about it (mainly the price versus features I would like a little differently and not wanting to compromise since it is so expensive), but I will most likely take the chance and order one..the one I played has made me a believer and I think that I’ve been bitten by the CS Gretsch snake!
BTW, I also played two Collings 360 LT M’s which were amazingly good playing and sounding guitars, but with a decidedly "modern" vibe and feel, and a 2019 Les Paul R8 cherry burst that was also a fantastic guitar (and only 8lbs 1 oz!)…but once I played that CS Gretsch I knew I needed to keep my greens in my pocket to eventually get a CS Gretsch.
I really hope this helps.
Typed in a hurry so please forgive typos/grammatical foibles.
So . . . U gonna get the gretsch or what?!?!?
I think so. I am waiting for a quote from Rainbow. I've already got a quote from Wildwood, but I need to update it to add gold sparkle binding and a matching headstock. Delivery time was cited at 6 months by both Wildwood and Rainbow.
Thanks for the in-depth description @RocknRollShakeUp
If i was spending that sort of money you should revisit the shop again but say i want to all the guitars that you did list? There might be certain specs on each of the CS Gretsch you like?
What specs have you gone for? I think if you are spending that money get something that you really want!
Well I got to play everything I was interested in myself, but I wish that all the guitars were hanging and available to play so that I could take them off the wall and also play them, albeit just acoustically so that I could report on general build/playability consistency, especially the other CS Gretsch’s, even though I wasn’t interested in them (they had two Penguins and a duo Jet without a Bigsby, all with Tuneomatic bridges, with no specs I wanted to see).
I’ll be likely going with a Duo Jet, Tahitian coral or Daphne Blue top, matching headstock, white back, gold sparkle binding, TV Armonds, Bigsby, Rocking Bar Bridge or Synchrosonic Bridge.
Exactly my feelings. As a dyed-in-the-wool vintage Gretsch fanatic, the new ones have always left me a little cold. Flawless, well made guitars, but just lacking the liveliness of a good old one. When they started the Custom Shop, I really didn't have any particular expectations. But when I got a chance to play some of them, I was stunned. They absolutely nailed the feel of the old ones. A lot of people don't seem interested in believing this, but the difference is not particularly subtle. And I can imagine some people probably would prefer the very solid and tidy feel and look of the Prolines. But the difference is very real. I will have a CS Gretsch one of these days. My problem is that I'm a traditionalist and not interested in their more creative imaginings. And I just won't buy new. Straighforward CS recreations of classic models are relatively scarce on the secondhand market.
I've been to both the Fender and Gretsch Custom Shops, though it's been about 5 years since then (Fender used to do VIP tours for their bigger dealers and I got to tag along on one). The Gretsch shop is a completely separate operation, upstairs from the Fender shop and is quite a bit smaller. The Jackson Custom Shop is next door and may be a little smaller than the Gretsch shop (I was kind of dazed from seeing all that custom Gretschiness so close up I didn't pay much attention to Jackson). The Gretsch shop is almost all hand work, and the builders have their own work areas, Fender's more open and as I recall, uses more power tools, though not the CNC automation of the regular production floor. While I was there Mike Lewis was in one of the (Gretsch) work areas having a lengthy discussion with the builder, out of earshot so I don't know what it was about, but cool to see him so involved in the business. At the end of the tour we got to order our own Fender guitar made the way we wanted it. For me, that was the highlight of the day. Like most of the guys (I don't think there were any women in our group), I ordered a Tele, technically not a Custom Shop model but they had to get some of the parts, like the Nocaster neck, from the Custom Shop, and it's a thing of beauty, but my favorite part is the neck plate:
I've recently played a couple of Masterbuilt Jet-sized guitars, one a black Duo Jet and one a relic'd White Penguin. The Penguin just resonates in your hands and feels like a nicer guitar (likely because it is) than any of my Terada-made Gretsches. The sticker price was north of $6,000 but it didn't seem exorbitant for what it was. The Duo Jet was equally nice, though the relic job, while realistic, was unnecessary on either one.
Yes, I wonder ... I think I read it somewhere, probably in "The Gretsch Bible" Vintage Guitar magazine special issue.
But things may have changed since then, or I'm wrong !
That said, I would prefer a Gretsch CS guitar over a Fender CS guitar, like I would prefer a Gretsch over a Fender...
But it's me, OK ?