Should a brand new $2500 Gretsch Players Edition guitar be unplayable out of the box?

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Snow, May 22, 2020.

  1. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    6659-mine.jpg

    Should a brand new $2500 Gretsch Players Edition guitar be unplayable out of the box?

    If anyone is curious, the guitar came from the retailer that aggressively promotes an exclusive 55 point inspection process. All guitars above a specific price point supposedly pass this inspection process before being shipped to customers.

    Two days ago, from the same retailer, I received a 1/4 the cost Gretsch Electromatic version of this same Gretsch design (but different color). The lower cost Gretsch had surface blemishes and was disappointing (yet also 'passed' the magical 55 point inspection process). I have been trying to accept that such visual (and feelable) defects may be part of the bargain with a new $700 Gretsch (though I do not think a $700 guitar is a low priced guitar, and I also believe such a guitar should not have substantial blemishes).

    If you are not playing along at home yet, I will explain that I ordered the Chinese-made 5655 Electromatic (~$700) and Japanese-made 6659 'professional' Players Edition (~$2500) from the selection of thin body 'Jr.' semi-hollow guitars sold by Gretsch, to compare and choose between the two models.

    It was immediately evident that the pro model 6659 has superior accoutrements, but it was disheartening to discover its low E string buzzing like an angry murder hornet. Incidentally, the 1/4 the cost Electromatic version was playable out of the box. And it was literally IN a box (no case of any kind with that model).

    I am a beginner, but I presume some may suggest I bust open the truss rod cover and start tinkering with the truss rod on the 6659. I have never done that before, and of course, it is something that I should learn to do. Or, maybe I should tinker with 'stuff' at the other end of the guitar, which I have also never done before, and also probably should learn how to do. I presume all of this is not too difficult to do. Still, am I supposed to need to do this on a brand new $2500 Gretsch Players Edition? Do I want to tinker with and possibly accidentally mark up a $2500 guitar that might have unknown additional issues contributing to its problem, causing me to need to return the guitar anyway?

    At this point, I wonder if a 55 point inspection on a pro model Players Edition might be more questionable than the inspection of a lower-priced Electromatic because SW staff might start the inspection process presuming the pro models are all perfect already. Maybe they just visually scan the body and make sure no scratches are apparent before checking off their '55 point' list with a Players Edition. (I would call that a 1 point inspection.) Of course, Gretsch's manufacturers and Gretsch's overall quality control is undoubtedly to blame as much or more than SW, especially with the blemishes on the 5655.

    After allowing the guitars to temperature adjust upon arrival, I opened them primarily to put humidity packs inside the 6659's case, and to move the Electromatic to a humidified case, since it comes with no case. I only very briefly examined and played a few notes unplugged on each instrument. The guitars are now closed up tight to finish quarantining for a few more days, so I can play them freely without any worry of catching Covid-19. Yes, I washed my hands and clothing after my brief initial inspection and humidification steps. Thank you for your concern. :)

    Somewhat amusingly, the questionable SW 55 point inspections with both of these guitars are why I have to leave the guitars in quarantine. If SW hadn't opened the guitars and handled them for their inspection process, the guitars would have had weeks of safe quarantining already inside their shipping boxes after they left Gretsch's Asian manufacturing facilities.

    Unfortunately, quality control problems like this can be par for the course in a world with products made by and sold by humans who don't always care so much about their work. I am not shocked that both guitars arrived with issues. I hope this post does not portray me as angry or upset. I am just a little disappointed.

    I will leave both guitars to sit a few more days and age out of any possible coronavirus contamination risk while I think about what to do next.

    Thank you for reading another one of my book-length posts.
    Suggestions are welcome.
    --
    P.S. I forgot to ask, "Is neck dive common with all Gretsch guitars?" It doesn't seem extreme, but it was quite noticeable with both of the guitars that arrived this week.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  2. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Just put the guitars Oman stand in the sun for a little bit. I don’t worry about this corona contamination stuff like others apparently that aside the proline may have had a great set up when it was done but I expect they probably sit a lot longer before a sale more so than the more affordable electro. The question I would ask is how bad is the set up and when is the 55 point set up done. If SW Dow’s it before they ship it should have been close but the environment these items ship in is all over the place or do they do them when they are received from the manufacture then touched up before shipping. With some places locked down it may be it was initially set up but not tweaked before shipping.
     
  3. TV the Wired Turtle

    TV the Wired Turtle Gretschified

    Jul 25, 2009
    so cal
    if the low E was buzzing, shouldnt a quick turn of the bridge adjustment wheel on the E side that was buzzing, raise it up just enough to stop the buzz?
     
  4. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    SW received the guitar from Gretsch just before shipping it to me. SW didn't have it in stock and had to special order the guitar. The SW inspection card included with the guitar doesn't have a date on it, but the 'inspection process' took place within the last few days, immediately prior to shipping the guitar to me. SW shipped the guitar almost immediately after receiving it from Gretsch.
    --
    Thanks for the advice about UV for sterilizing guitars. However, the length of time for UV efficacy regarding the destruction of the virus is not well-studied. I wouldn't want to risk negatively affecting the finish of a guitar anyway. Plus UV only works 'line of sight'. There are lots of nooks and crannies on guitars. :) Time is the safest 'absolutely certain' and 'easy' destroyer of viruses for difficult to wash objects. Unfortunately, some studies indicate shorter times than others and we have to be careful in how we process the many silly news stories about the virus, which are often written or shared verbally by newspersons who are woefully incapable of interpreting the data. I play it safe and choose studies that indicate longer times. :)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
    NJDevil and Bertotti like this.
  5. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    That sounds likes a reasonable idea, but why I am doing this exactly? :)
    Was it too hard for the SW 55 point inspector to do?

    Also, I should emphasize, it is pretty heavy duty buzzing.

    Thank you though; I will investigate this option after quarantine of the instrument.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  6. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Synchromatic

    694
    May 20, 2016
    Australia
    Hey, that is one great looking guitar.

    I figure 10 minutes with that beauty and I would have convinced myself it had to stay. It takes very little climatic change to cause buzz from a well set up guitar.
    Set up is done by a human and subject to that person's judgement. Maybe you hit the strings a bit harder. It doesn't sound serious to me.

    It's good to see Gretsch is getting rid of those darned tone switches in favour of the proper tone knob on most new instruments.
    Enjoy the positives and beauty of those guitars.
     
    BohemianLikeMe likes this.
  7. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    243
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    I like the aesthetics of the of the tone switches, and honestly, given that I generally want either full-bore, or all the way back on the tone knob, so I think that the switches have more usefulness for me and my playing style.
     
    Bertotti, mbkri and MotorCentaur like this.
  8. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    Your words are appreciated and uplifting, and give me hope. :)
     
  9. Wozob

    Wozob Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2014
    The Netherlands
    Every guitar I ever bought used or new needed a setup to my taste. It is indeed advisable to learn how to do that. Yet no guitar should be unplayable out of the box especially after a personal inspection at the shop.
     
  10. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    I bought a Tele from them not long ago and there were no issues . Beautiful guitar BTW
     
  11. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    SW doesn't claim their inspections to be full setups, but as heavily as they hype the advantage of their inspection service, I would hope that service would result in a playable instrument for a Players Edition order and the ability to send out a non-blemished Electromatic guitar.

    I was always a little skeptical of their '55 point inspection' marketing ploy, and obviously now I'm even more skeptical. Ultimately though, I imagine SW is no worse (and no better) than other guitar retailers.
    They are just trying to move product. That's their business.
     
    adauria, Runamok, GlenP and 1 other person like this.
  12. BohemianLikeMe

    BohemianLikeMe Gretschie

    243
    Apr 18, 2020
    Prague, CZ
    Did you have to pay extra for the inspection service? Because that would tip it over the edge from annoying marketing ploy to blood-boiling for me.
     
  13. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    They don't charge for the service. It is their sales 'differentiator'. I'm sure it is pretty effective. Despite my early skepticism, I too was drawn to the 'idea' that they check and make sure a guitar is ok before it is shipped out to a customer.

    If I ever start retailing guitars, I think I will invent at least a '62 point inspection system'. 56 points would not be an impressive enough progression. :)

    Actually, 99 points has a good ring to it. Or 101 points?
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
    BohemianLikeMe likes this.
  14. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    What you can’t complain about with Sweetwater is their return policy. They will pay for the return by sending you a Return shipping label. I have done that a few times. Send the guitars back, move on, enjoy life.
     
    Runamok, LongJohn and Henry like this.
  15. Tadhg

    Tadhg Gretschie

    157
    Aug 8, 2019
    Qld - Australia
    I'm not in the US, haven't purchased anything with the famous 55 point inspection process, but I've listened to several well known and respected online sources (e.g. Phillip McKnight) advising that, in order to expedite shipping, the 55 point inspection process simply hasn't happened recently. And, going from what you've said, it seems to be confirmed.

    I recommend having a look at Know Your Gear or Dylan Talks Tone on YouTube, they've got some decent tutorials on how to check your setup and adjust it, including with Bigsbys.

    What sort of blemishes did you have on your G5655TG? And beyond those finish issues, how do they compare? Is there much difference between the two colours?
    I'm sorry to read you've been disappointed. And even worse that it's twice disappointed... :(
    I do find a tiny bit of neck dive, but not enough to annoy me.
     
    NJDevil likes this.
  16. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    I agree 100%. :)
    I bought both of the guitars with the salesperson's full awareness that I may be returning at least one of the guitars. Online retailers have to make returns easy if they want to compete.

    And they will still make money if I return one (or both) of the guitars. They will likely get a near mint price for the blemished guitar and they will resolve issues with the unplayable guitar and sell it well above their cost.

    I still don't know what I am going to do, but I'm not giving up on the 6659 yet, and I do want to compare the differences between the two guitars, though I doubt I would keep the blemished Electromatic, even if I decide it is good enough performance-wise.
     
  17. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    I will say about the buzzing E string, it is not unreasonable to have to have the truss rod adjusted on a guitar that has been shipped. It may well have been fine in the store but that can easily change due to temperature and humidity changes as a result of shipping.

    truss rids are intended to be adjusted and Sweetwater has an excellent section on guitar maintenance and it includes truss rod adjustments. Do yourself a favor, read the article and consider adjusting the truss rod. Also read about action adjustment on the Sweetwater site.

    goid luck
     
    adauria, snowfall62 and RomanS like this.
  18. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    Short answer, no. Any guitar you buy new should be playable regardless of price point.

    That being said, it's the (exceptionally rare) exception to the rule where there isn't at least 15 minutes of tweakage necessary to get a new guitar right where I want it regardless of price. Likelihood of this goes down distinctly when it's been shipped to me rather than bought in person.

    It's entirely possible the bridge height was spot on when the Proline left Gretsch or Sweetwater & worked it's way down a couple threads in transit. Humidity & temp changes in transit and/or storage can also screw w/ your setup. As far as difference in setup between the two, as mentioned earlier the lower priced models will general move quicker than the more expensive ones & storage isn't always kind to setup especially if it's in a not necessarily all that well climate controlled warehouse.

    Sweetwater might pony up some cash for you to get whichever one you decide to keep setup (or compensate for finish imperfection on the Chinese one, but that might be less likely if it's just a bit rough rather than there being an actual defect) if you ask. I've never bought a guitar from them personally, but they seem pretty interested in providing good customer service in general.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
  19. Snow

    Snow Electromatic

    25
    Apr 14, 2020
    North America
    Thanks for the resource suggestions. I will check those out.

    I have only briefly viewed/touched the guitars at this point. I am going to let them sit in quarantine a few more days before I jump into them deeply. I will post a detailed comparison down the road (as best I can) before I let one or both of these guitars go.

    The 5655 blemishes are a couple of rough spots on edges (binding?). If it was a $200 guitar, I would probably not be bothered much by it. The defects are mostly detected unpleasantly by feel, more than easily observable.

    I ended up going in a completely different color direction for the lower cost 5655, thinking of it in terms of a guitar I could modify (if I chose that one) and make it kind of my own Frankenstein guitar, as opposed to the more elegant green/gold 6659 which I would likely never modify significantly. I still wish I could see the 2 greens of those 2 models side by side, but I do now suspect they are very similar finishes.

    Interestingly, in low light, the green of the 6659 looks black (which I like). It takes a lot of light to bring out the vibrance of the color (which I also like). Does your green 5655 look that dark in low light?
     
  20. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    61
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    FYI @Snow / @radd / @BohemianLikeMe - when I bought my 50's Classic Vibe Squire Tele from SweetWater , I had it shipped to Walgreens , which is something they have a deal with UPS . Very convenient for me as it's only 2 miles away and not sitting at my door step for half a day . When I got it I called a few days later and asked if I purchased an " ash tray cover " would it fit properly without it coming in contact with the strings ? The rep said he would check into it himself and I told him if it did fit , just charge my account and mail it out to me . I recieved a positive email 3 days later and it was shipped that day . Overall great service , but I will now question the 55 point inspection should a NGD be on the horizon .....wink wink hint hint ;);)
     
    BohemianLikeMe likes this.
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