Electromatics vs Fender MIM Strat vs Epi Dot and Les Paul , my observations

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by budglo, Nov 29, 2021.

  1. budglo

    budglo Electromatic

    70
    Feb 26, 2019
    Ohio
    So as I’ve purchased my second Gretsch after test driving others and owning a more recent Players strat . I’ve also owned several Epis , but not in the last 5 years. Here are my observations….

    The MIM Strat out of the box needed quite a bit of fretwork . Sharp fret ends and I needed to polish frets and intonate. Everything else was fine including pickups.

    Epi … I had 2 Dots and a Les Paul custom. Both needed extensive nut work and a full setup. Still could have gutted the electronics , but decided it wasn’t worth it for me. To be fair, I know they’ve gotten better since.

    Gretsch Electromatics …

    This is my second MIK Gretsch in 3 years. Like the first one , this one was flawless right out of the box . No flaws in the body, stays in tune great and after rechecking my intonation a few days after I received it, everything is great. Unlike the MIM , I feel the Gretsch is a more gig worthy instrument right out of the box . Action and relief were set great for me at 4/64 at the 12 fret with .009 of relief. Comparing the Fender and Electromatic at similar price points , I feel Gretsch AKorea does a better job at the finished product and it isn’t even close. JMO.
     
  2. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    The issues you raise are all setup things - except for sharp fret edges.

    That all depends on whether the retailer did pro setups on the guitars prior to sale. It's not an indication of QA/QC at the factory.

    I own an MiM Tele (plus Gibsons and Epi's previously) and I've never had the issues you raise on any of em cos I make sure my guitars have pro setups done in the store prior to me taking them home.

    But for other reasons I do think Gretsch Electromatic 54 and 56 series are the best value for $$ mid priced guitars made today :D
     
    Runamok, Duo Slinger and sgarnett like this.
  3. budglo

    budglo Electromatic

    70
    Feb 26, 2019
    Ohio
    I agree with you . I’ve also had an Epi that came with a high fret . I do my own setups , so these things USUALLY get sorted out by a setup. Crappy electronics are just that. A cost saving measure trying to sell to a certain price point , but most manufacturers have upped their game as of late.

    I did get a good deal on a Gibson 335 thinking all it needed was a good setup , but it had other issues and got returned . However most Gibson’s and Fenders I’ve gotten have been flawless.
     
    Duo Slinger and Waxhead like this.
  4. Stingray70

    Stingray70 Electromatic

    29
    Oct 18, 2021
    Michigan
    FWIW, the fretwork on my 2019 mim player strat was very good. I made minor setup adjustments to suit my personal preferences and it plays great... The fretwork on my new Gretsch was good as well but required a little more set up then the Fender did...
     
    budglo likes this.
  5. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    406
    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    It seems like the more recent Epi's and Electromatics, starting around 2013, both made huge jumps in overall quality. So don't let earlier models concern you. As far as Fender, I have several MIM models that are great, but I had to play quite a few models to get ones that came home.
     
  6. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    My Epi Sheraton and my 5120 are both made by Samick and both are perfect.
     
  7. Jelly Roll Horton

    Jelly Roll Horton Country Gent

    Nov 10, 2017
    Portland, OR
    I’m not really a strat player; I like my Tele and love my Gretsches. They fit my rockabilly RnB country blues interests. But I was tempted into buying a like new 2019 MIM a couple months ago by its ridiculous price and undeniable quality. It is a beautiful work of art and music. Sometimes "that sound" is just what I want to work on away from my usual material, and it never disappoints. No doubt the precious owner had done some work on it, but whatever it may have needed, it turned out perfect for all I could see and hear. Even if a MIM gitter needs some tweaking out of the box, the foundation is solid and they seem to come up nicely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
  8. budglo

    budglo Electromatic

    70
    Feb 26, 2019
    Ohio
    I think the fact that everyone has upped their game is a great thing for the guitar player . Many more choices and even a “starter “ guitar isn’t bad. My first electric was a Hondo semi hollow and one of my first acoustics was a Sigma that wasn’t very good .

    After some fretwork my MIM Strat is on a similar level as my old MIA that I had maybe 10 years ago. My Gretsch is about as good of workmanship as I’ve seen including the fretwork . I must admit , I do like those pickups as well . Judging what I see I’m local music stores , they must sell a decent amount of Electromatics compared to prolines.
     
    Axis39 likes this.
  9. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    813
    Apr 14, 2020
    Kentucky
    The most disappointing guitar I’ve ever owned was the MIA American Original Strat. I won’t rehash all the flaws here (disclosed in detail in a sale thread here before I sold it on Reverb), but the fretwork was so bad that it was unplayable. I had to have the frets pressed, glued, and leveled,

    The two MIM Roadworn 60’s Strats I’ve had were actually much nicer (in a rustic way). Yes, the frets were left rough after leveling, but at least they had been leveled. All they really needed was a few minutes of playing bends all over the neck to burnish the fret tops, and it was fine. Granted, some of the fake wear was pretty cheesy, and relics aren’t really my thing, but I still have one of them.

    I have to agree that Gretsch quality raises the bar. My MIJ Proline is very nearly a custom shop guitar, but even the MIC Electros and MII Streamliners have been excellent. Really interesting when you consider that FMIC handles mfg and distribution.
     
  10. jvin248

    jvin248 Electromatic

    82
    May 16, 2017
    Near Detroit
    .

    What months were your guitars built and when did you receive them? Often you can figure that out from the serial number as many start with 'YYMMxxxxx'

    Many Asian and Mexican import guitars built in the super humid summer months then bought in North America after the winter heaters have been on a while at the retailer or your house will reveal sharp fret ends. Less of a problem if the guitar was built in their local region's dry winter months.

    However, sharp fret ends are an easy one-time fix if you file them in January, or whatever is your local driest period. Any more I look at sharp frets as a general maintenance item for a new guitar, like changing the oil and filter in a new car after the first three thousand miles.

    .
     
    new6659 likes this.
  11. If that is the case, I wonder about neck bindings.

    Should one expect a guitar to be gig-worthy out of the box when buying mailorder?

    Makes me also wonder about quality shortcuts in guitars built now, after shutdowns when manufacturer’s are under the gun to provide product in quick turnaround at premium prices.
     
  12. budglo

    budglo Electromatic

    70
    Feb 26, 2019
    Ohio
    I know my MIM Strat was purchased in the late summer an had been there for 6 months . It was the second purchased ever of a guitar with sharp frets . The first was my Gibson Tribute . For a guitar that price I find it a bit unacceptable , but not a deal breaker as I do most of my own fretwork anyways . Previous to that I had purchased a bunch of Strats and Gibson’s over the years as well as Epiphones and never had an issue with sharp frets . Last time I was at GC I handled all of the MIMs and they all had sharp ends.

    My last purchase was a 70th Anniversary Broadcaster and it is as good as any Custom Shop I’ve ever played. Just amazing the fretwork and build quality.

    My Gretsches have been as good as any guitar I’ve had when it comes to build and fretwork. Setup actually was pretty good right out of the box.
     
  13. Perhaps we could take a lesson from Daylight Savings Time & move gift-giving holidays to the summer months.
     
  14. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Careful comparing a 300 dollar Dot with a 1000 dollar Electromatic…
    Guitars at these budgets are designed by accountants… :cool:
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
    sgarnett, new6659, Runamok and 3 others like this.
  15. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    yes well you need to enquire before buying if the guitar will get a pro set up and exactly what that includes. I wouldn't buy the guitar unless I have this commitment and details on what they'll do.

    Then after you've bought (and before shipping) you need to remind them of their setup commitment and to ensure it's done before shipping :)

    Then 3rd must do is to only buy from reputable retailers with great reputation like Street Sounds and Sweetwater. From what I've heard of GC I wouldn't buy a pick off them. Fortunately we don't have any music retailers that bad in Australia. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
  16. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    I can vouch for the Epi vs. Fender situation. I've set up many a friends' Epis and even Gibsons. They don't do very much setup from the factory. My son owned both a MIM Strat and Tele and I was impressed with what they provided for the money straight from the factory. The Telecaster was especially great although the body was a bit squared off and less comfortable than US made ones.
     
    budglo likes this.
  17. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    How many retailers see a pro setup on an Epiphone as part of their job prior to sale? I think very few.
     
  18. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Maybe in Atlanta it is.
    Normal practice in Australia.

    And I've bought 8 used guitars from the USA and got them shipped here too.
    None of the US retailers I bought from argued about it.
    Wouldn't have bought them unless they had pro setup.

    All I'm saying is that I wouldn't buy any guitar that doesn't get a pro setup.
    And never have :D
     
  19. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    That's the way to push!

    The phrase "pro setup" is semper gumby over here in my experience. Pro? Not usually. I'd rather most of these guys just leave it alone and I'll do it myself. I only know of two luthiers in this town I'd trust anyhow. But to that point, I know a lot of people who buy new guitars from places like Guitar Center and they didn't know they could get a setup, didn't ask. Would it have been pro? Iffy.
     
    sgarnett and Waxhead like this.
  20. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    yeah I agree the term "pro setup" can mean different things to different people.
    That's why I ask em to explain exactly what'll they'll do :)

    If they avoid the question or get vague I just say... "hey no problem. No sale for you."

    Last guitar I bought in Australia was an Epi "inspired by Gibson" SG - 18 months ago from a local store called "Musos Corner". I tested out a store demo model that was great.

    The store offers "pro setup" on all guitars and provides a list of exactly what that includes. They offered to give me a new non demo guitar and when I went to pick it up it was set up perfect. Got it home and checked intonation and even that was perfect :D
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.