Sub-$1,000 Advice: Battle of the Gretsch vs. Telecaster

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by tenthstreet, May 10, 2021.

  1. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    I don't think I was clear in my first post but I would get a Gretsch. First.

    Everyone needs a Tele for the rugged simplicity and playability and unique sound, but it is (as they say) only a plank with a neck. You can get a pretty good Tele for not much money at all and there are a bazillion for sale out there.
    I believe the Strat and Tele are so different they can't replace the other, each is unique.

    Get the Gretsch, keep your eyes open for a good Tele you can afford and there you go.
    Then an SG. And you're down the rabbit hole.
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
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  2. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    It's pretty clear from this burst that you are not a Telecaster guy.

    Electric guitars have only been around for some 60 years. The Telecaster has been there all that time.
    The violin/fiddle has been around for hundreds of years. There have been attempts to introduce a more modern shapes, innovative bridge systems and electronic pickups. Modern timbers have been tried but in the end the original perfection prevails.

    When the electric guitar has been around for two hundred years the instrument will be a Telecaster. Gretsch and other distractions will be seen as ripples on the stream of development.

    Buy the Telecaster and get with the strength. Many "stars ' have started with Gretsch but in the end played something else - usually a Telecaster. :eek::p:D
    Ricochet likes this.
  3. Robbie

    Robbie Friend of Fred

    Jun 17, 2013
    Sarnia Ontario Canada
    Suggest you grab a Tele. The Squier CV50 punches WAY above its weight class. I just bought one a could not bond with it. After a few tweaks I really like it.
    As others have said, look carefully and you could get both for what you want to spend. Just be prepared to invest a little TLC into them.
  4. Downsman

    Downsman Electromatic

    Dec 9, 2020
    East Sussex
    I have a 5422, and a Tele. And a Jag, a Mustang, a Strat, and since a couple of weeks ago a Jazzmaster.

    If for some reason I was forced to only have one guitar, once I'd stopped crying, right now I'd pick the Jazzmaster.

    Okay, maybe because it's new and still the honeymoon period, but once you realise you're allowed to turn the tone and volume knobs, and admittedly after I added a push pull pot to add a Series/Parallel option, I'm finding it can play just about anything. Surf, Shoegaze, grunge, 50s rock n roll, Indie, blues. There seems to be a setting or pickup choice that does it. And a very stable tremolo. And it's comfortable and looks cool (to me). I just thought I'd be that guy who when asked to choose between A and B, picks C :)

    Luckily I'm in a position now where I don't have to choose only one. And I agree with people that a Tele and Gretsch are very different. My Gretsch is the most distinctive sounding and looking guitar I own. And the Tele is iconic for a reason. So good luck with your choice.
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  5. All Thumbs

    All Thumbs Electromatic

    Dec 20, 2020
    The 5422 and the Tele have such different body and neck shapes. I find a 5422 comfy and a Tele awkward to play. Others find it the opposite. Others don't care. If I were buying a guitar for the next decade I'd want one that felt right. You can always try different pickups later.

    A guy with $1000 burning a hole in his pocket probably doesn't want to hear about Classic Vibes, but the fit and finish of my CV Jazzmaster was a step up from a Player Tele I bought and returned last year. I haven't tried a Vintera, but you might want to compare them to the Player series. They might be worth the extra cash.

    I went Gretsch. I think you should go Tele, but if (when) you do go Gretsch, get the 5422, not the 5622. Hollow body, Filter'Trons, much better Bigsby (I have no tuning issues), Korean craftsmanship. Whatever you get, enjoy.
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  6. hippdog

    hippdog Electromatic

    Jul 23, 2013
    NW Arkansas
    I'm having an affair with my Gretsch Broadkaster, but I'm married to my Tele (nashville 3 pup design)(Cp Thornton Hot Rod II). Most Gretsches are 3 switch tonal options, but the 3-pup Tele is a 5 switch tonal option. I use them all.
  7. Bobstephens

    Bobstephens Electromatic

    Feb 14, 2021
    Tehachapi, California
    Since you already have a strat, which has a similar (but not identical) sound with single coil pickups, guitar feel and scale, you would have a broader guitar sound palate with a Gretsch hollowbody. It would be ideal to have the tele, strat and the Gretsch, but your budget does not allow for that luxury. The disadvantage to the Gretsch hollowbody is the difficulty of playing above the 12th fret, but the full bodied sound is well worth it. I love my Gretsch Tennessee Rose. My advice is whichever guitar you choose, buy the highest quality guitar that you can afford. If the guitar does not come with locking tuners, reserve $80 to add them, as they make it easier to change strings and provide more tuning stability.
  8. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    The irony of this statement is funny to me.
    I wrote what I did because I have five Teles: three G&L ASATs and two Squiers.
    An ASAT Classic with SS, a Special with their fantastic MFDs, a Bluesboy with HS. My Squiers are a Standard Tele with SS and then a Contemporary with HH.

    The Tele is important, nothing can substitute and everyone needs to own one. These Squiers and G&Ls are fantastic guitars for not much money and buying the more expensive Gretsch now may make it easier to save up a little and grab a decent Tele later.
    All new, I paid $300, $400, $325, $230 and $375 for the list above, less than half the $800 or so the Gretsch might cost.
    Others say the G&Ls are as good as the MIM Fenders, which is very good and I wouldn't argue with that. The Squiers, once you get above the bullet and affinity series are very good for the money too.
    My $230 Squier Standard is as good as the G&Ls and the CVs, was an FSR made in Indonesia and the quality for such a low price is probably the reason they discontinued that line in 2019.

    15 G&L ASAT Tribute Ash.jpg 6 G&L ASAT Tribute Special Irish Ale.jpg
    16 G&L ASAT Bluesboy.jpg
    7 Squier Standard Telecaster  Antique Burst.jpg
    2 Squier Contemporary HH Dark Metallic Red.jpg
    Another quick point, I never intended to collect so many but MF keeps making the G&Ls the SDOTD for crazy low prices. They all retail at around $500 but as I said I paid, $300, $400 and $325.
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
  9. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    And just to finish the thought, the Squier Contemporary Tele is an excellent HH guitar for around $400. I didn't like the white pickguard so replaced mine with black and down the road I may swap out the pickups for some GFS where I can split the coils. I love the bright red too.
    Squier Contemporary Tele 2A.JPG
  10. slickfaster

    slickfaster Country Gent

    Dec 29, 2009
    I picked up a used...BSHR for 12$ and a beautiful used RR BSHR for 17$
    Unless you go pro line I think the Tele will give ya more bang for the buck...
  11. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    You nailed it Rich :D

    For US$1000 the OP could get an excellent used MIM Tele and a MIK 5422, or other Gretsch hollowbody 54 series guitar.

    And he's in Philly so can easy go test some Gretsch there and see if he likes em.

    I own both Tele and hollowbody Gretsch.
    They are apples and oranges I use for different music styles.

    Both are equally versatile and useful imo but I agree with others that there's much more value for $$ in a 54 series hollowbody than an MIM Tele. They are just a slab of wood with electrics :)
    Last edited: May 14, 2021
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  12. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia

    Yes my post was tongue in cheek and I can see that you really like the Telecaster shape.
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
  13. GAMBLER1234

    GAMBLER1234 Gretschie

    Jan 18, 2018
    Henderson Nevada
    I own both inexpensive and expensive guitars and these days what I've seen happening as far as bodies and necks go is that paying more no longer gets you that much more if anything at all. A Tele is a Tele. They're all CNC produced and other than cosmetics, pick ups and electronics they're all pretty much the same stuff. I also own guitars made in Mexico, Korea, Indonesia and China. They are all excellent and a few of them came with even better specs than some of my American and Japanese guitars and for a lot less money. So yes, get both if you can swing it. Just try to ignore the myth, legend and tone wood folks, find a set of bones that you like, don't overpay and have the electronics upgraded later if you think you need to.
    Last edited: May 16, 2021
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  14. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Country Gent

    Feb 17, 2020
    It's the sound more than the shape. The first G&L in my post has their modern copies of the classic pickups in a Swamp Ash body. Sounds fantastic, classic with lots of brightness, sharpness (ice pick?) that can be dialed back. The Squier Standard has comparable pickups, also with Alnico magnets, still classic goodness, I love them both.
    The others are just popular variations.

    I really wanted a $700+ MIM Fender Tele (I love my MIM Strat) and was planning to get one when I got my first G&L and decided it probably wasn't worth the extra for the Fender.
    Gretschmen65 likes this.
  15. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet Electromatic

    May 10, 2021
    Thanks for the replies and advice, everyone. The guitar I chose arrived earlier today, and is acclimating before I open it up (thanks to the sticker from Sweetwater warning me of such) tomorrow morning.

    It was tough, but I went for the Fender Player Telecaster in butterscotch blonde, with the idea that I'll use it as a base for some modifications—already bought an original vintage bridge to swap out, going to add some vintage tuners, and bring it to a sort of modern-meets-vintage setup with some nice blackguard-style pickups. Bought some equipment, and going to try to do the setup and intonation myself to learn all of this rather than taking it to the shop like I'd normally do.

    The 5422TG (love the snow crest white with gold hardware) is something I have my eye on, and if for any reason I'm not satisfied with the Telecaster, I think I'm going to go for that. But I thought I'd regret not getting the Tele more if I didn't give it a go first, and I'm playing a lot of blues rock right now, which seems very Tele-like to me.

    Deciding factor was that with the young kids at home, I sort of want a low maintenance "beat it to hell" guitar that I won't have to worry about, which seems like it's encouraged with the Telecaster and probably less so with a hollow body. I love my Rickenbacker, for example, but it's always in its case when I'm not playing it, and I always feel like I need to baby it a bit vs. my Strat—with the Strat, I don't have a minor heart attack every time it knocks into anything.

    Thanks again—I'll report on shortly on how I like it!
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
  16. Gretschmen65

    Gretschmen65 Country Gent

    May 20, 2016
    QLD Australia
    You've made a good choice.
    If you are going to the expense and effort to change pickups already give consideration to a four way switch and include series bridge and neck in addition to to the normal three positions. I don't know anyone who has tried it not liking it.
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  17. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet Electromatic

    May 10, 2021
    Thanks so much! I'm definitely going for the four way switch - also because I have a Strat that I modded years ago and has a single-coil sized humbucker in there. With a "humbucker" in my Tele with the series, I'm going to get some new pickups for the old Strat, too, and bring it back to its full single-coil glory (the 4th position on this Strat isn't very satisfying with the humbucker in there).

    One bummer is that there's some definite open string buzz on the A string on the new Tele, so I've got to take it to a real guitar tech to check out the nut. While I'm there, I'll ask him to install the vintage bridge and brass saddles for me, too!
    Gretschmen65 likes this.
  18. snowey1210

    snowey1210 Newbie

    May 27, 2011
    Not that it matters so much now, but I thought I’d weigh in on the discussion.

    I’ve got a Player Telecaster and a Gretsch Annie.

    For under a grand I’d be going with the Telecaster. I think in terms of bang for your buck and versatility a Player Telecaster is hard to beat. A big thing for me would be feel of the guitar. In terms of necks the playability of the Player Teles is fantastic.

    Mine required a bit of setting up. I recommend checking the fret ends higher up the neck and using some fine sandpaper as this could be causing some of the fret buzz.

    The pickups in the Player Teles are pretty hot. I’ve found that I’m often turning back the tone knob a bit to tame the high end. I’m considering putting some TV Jones Starwood Pickups in mine, so I think if you’re after that Gretsch twang/chime there are still some good options for you.

    That said I’d be putting some pennies towards a Gretsch in future. My Annie is my desert island guitar.
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  19. AZBrahma

    AZBrahma Gretschie

    Dec 18, 2020
    I'm late to the party and I'm gonna say something weird. (This is the byline to my life)

    After playing a ton of Teles at all price points, I think there is a magical Tele formula. That formula is a very lightweight body and big burly neck. These two things seem to make a Tele catch fire. I don't know the reason, but it seems to always work. When I finally got a chance to buy one like that I did. Mine is a custom shop Schecter PT with a super-light ash body and a telephone pole for a neck. It is percussive and punchy and dynamic, and just raunchy and sweet and nasty and gentle. Crazy guitar.
  20. tenthstreet

    tenthstreet Electromatic

    May 10, 2021
    Thanks for all this! I really love the feel of the Player Telecaster so far. Neck is real nice, as is the satin finish. Feels more substantial than the C shaped neck on my old MIM Strat.

    It definitely needs some setup. Getting some open string buzz and fret buzz up the neck, too, and I also like mediums strings, so it’ll need some adjusting for sure. Bringing it into the shop on Thursday, and also got a vintage bridge and compensated saddles I’ll ask to have installed for me.

    Very much agree on the pickups being hot and needing to roll back the tone a bit. I was a bit surprised. I think I’m going to be swapping out the pickups, but I’ll give it a chance for a bit. The folks at TDPRI mentioned a winder making a variety of vintage 50s-style pickups, and I’m looking at a slightly overwound Alnico 3 model right now. Looking for more of a classic sound, and this is what I definitely had in mind - it sounds a lot like Mike Campbell’s Broadcaster.

    Overall, it seems like a great model with some solid bones, and something I can modify to exactly what I’m looking for, which is sort of a “modern blackguard.”
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