Unsolicited opinions on the G5230T and Gretsch as a whole.

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by danielktdoranie, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. Warning the following is a rambling diatribe and ultimately a waste of your time. You were warned!

    So I am recent forum member and I haven't owned a Gretsch since the mid-1990s. My last Gretsch was a Duane Eddy model, made in the U.S.A. It was a good guitar but way to nice for a punk like me so I traded it in for something else plus some cash to me.

    Fast forward to 2021. I am looking for a guitar for my 7 year old daughter who loves to play guitar and is learning. I shop around... I was hoping for a used Gibson SG Special, and I had bought them before for anywhere from €400 to €600 so I figured I could get one again for that price... however as the guitar market is under strain due to the extreme delay with shipping boats waiting to be processed apparently used guitars are shooting up in price.

    So I decided to shop around for new. In Europe you can't really get any thing made in USA for a €1000 and I didn't want to spend that much on a first guitar for herself.

    The G5230T... it's nicer than a modern Chinese made Epiphone and less expensive here. Out of the box the setup was great, intonated, good action, no sharp frets. I am impressed.

    However, I was so impressed I wanted to get a Duo Jet for me. I am disappointed to find out that if you want a new Gretsch made in the in the USA and with a nitrocellulose finish you need to spend €5500 on the low end. Crazy money.

    I resent that you spend €2500 and you get a Japanese made guitar with a poly finish: that's bull****. I am shocked that Gretsch don't at least offer a new guitar for €1500 with a nitrocellulose finish: Gibson offers a new USA made guitar with a nitrocellulose finish for €922 https://www.musicstore.com/en_IE/EU...l-Tribute-P-90-Ebony-Satin/art-GIT0051799-000

    However, I don't need another Gibson, I have 3 LOL. I want a Duo Jet, made in the USA with a nitrocellulose finish that cost €1500 to €2000: and it doesn't exist. I am really not happy with "Gretsch" decisions post FMIC ownership. I have always hated poly. It makes the guitar feel cheap and dipped in plastic. In fact isn't that what "fullerplast" is?

    So why did I buy my daughter a Chinese Gretsch. Well, I figured it will be a good learner guitar and I bought it before I knew one couldn't get a USA Made Gretsch w/ Nitro for under €5500. Had I known that I probably just would have spent the extra money and bough my kid the Gibson (although she'd probably just end up snapping the headstock off! LOL) I could return it, but it would be a massive hassle. I'll just buy her a Gibson next year for Xmas if she sticks with it.

    So I was toying with the idea of buying a new Chinese made Gretsch and having my luthier dazzle dazzle it but, ya know, I resent having to do that. I will spend €1500 in total and at then end have an investment not worth much more than a regular Chinese made Gretsch. In short, this whole thing is kinda shitty.

    So what will I do to scratch this Gretsch itch? Well I will look on the used market for USA Made Gretsch guitars made in the early 90s or earlier, or find a luthier who can make me an early 50s Gretsch. Someone like Randy Parsons or someone who can keep it under €2000 (LOL, probably not Randy Parsons given his name recognition, I think he'd want a lot more)


    If you like paying a ton of money for Japanese made guitar and don't mind poly: that's cool. I am not trying to piss in your cornflakes. This isn't an attack on you, and I don't mean to offend you either, it's just not my thing. let's respect each other's opinions.

    Anyway my unsolicited bitching and moaning is over. Thanks for reading!

    Attached Files:

    Ando and pmac11 like this.
  2. Lockupyourfatdog

    Lockupyourfatdog Synchromatic

    Aug 8, 2016
    Everett wa
    Phil Knight did a story a while back on why the mij models cost so much. It made sense after seeing it. I don’t see the stigma attached to them being from Japan. Japan doesn’t equal low quality. In a lot of ways the Japanese gretsch are better than the ones from the US. I do think they cut corners lately. My new copper falcon seems to have had one coat of paint and no primer and the paint is flaking off. But before this issue I’ve had 6 Japanese models and they’re some of the best guitars I’ve ever played. My issue with gretsch is fender’s crap customer service. That’s what’s making me switch brands. You got a problem you’d better figure it out yourself cuz fender doesn’t have your back
  3. Viking Power

    Viking Power Synchromatic

    Jun 11, 2018
    Mountlake Terrace, WA
    What brand are you switching to?

    To answer the TS - I have a Korean made Gretsch and a Japanese made Gretsch. Both well made but the Japanese unit stands out as a high quality instrument. I get what you’re saying about the poly finish though. I kind of hate it and do think it seems plasticky (if that’s a word). I have nitro finished Fenders and I highly prefer it.
    Tubes, Duo Slinger and Mr Swisher like this.
  4. Lockupyourfatdog

    Lockupyourfatdog Synchromatic

    Aug 8, 2016
    Everett wa
    I have the players edition 6120 with the dynas on order. Supposed to be delivered next month. I think I’m going to switch that order to a guild Manhattan and give that a try.
    Viking Power likes this.
  5. Back in Black

    Back in Black Country Gent

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada

    Just my opinion...but any guitar for a ''seven year old'' over $100. is far too much money, period!

    Top of the line/US made Gretsch, with nitro finish is US based Gretsch Custom Shop, and although I hate the expression...''it is what it is"...and the retail price for these instruments can be debated and remain unresolved indefinitely!

    Nitro-cellulose based products were primarily withdrawn in the western world because of the extreme health/fire hazard associated with them. Besides, there is nothing special about nitro finish. Any material can be applied ''thin skin'' and polished without using a clear top coat.

    When Gretsch made a re-entry into the market-place, with the help of George Harrison, Tom Petty and Randy Bachmann, the decision was made for the ''Bread and Butter'' products to be made ''off-shore''. The reason was simple...cheap production!

    The first ''New Gretsch'' re-entry, The Travelling Wilbury's Guitar, based on an old DE, belonging to Tom Petty, was fabricated in Korea. This little guitar was produced in order to raise ''Start-Up Capital''.

    I own four Gretsch guitars, all Jets, all keepers. Having said that, Rickenbacker has remained my number one guitar of choice, always has, always will. One premium/professional line, made in America, with the same proprietary finish system that has been used forever.

    You get what you pay for...offshore is offshore.

    To me, ''real brands'', still mean something, compromised/offshore, branded products...not so much.

    We as a western society have come to settle for less...and less is what we got. Throw-away products, with little to no value...now or in the future.

    Just my TSW!


    George Harrison with Wilbury's Gretsch.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  6. It’s not “for a seven year old” it’s for my daughter, who is seven now but won’t always be seven. It’s to last her until she is a teenager. It’s for person, not an age.

    $100 guitars don’t intonate well, have bad action, sharp frets and I think discourage those trying to learn versus encouraging them. They also have no resale value if the person learning decides they no longer want to play/learn.

    In the 1950s and 1960s you’d buy your kid a Fender Mustang, or a Les Paul Jr. Made in the USA, proper instruments. When you account for inflation they cost about a “thousand” back then too.
    I invest in our kids and hope it pays off, but if they move on to a different passion that’s cool too and we can sell that guitar and get more or less what we paid for it.
  7. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    Japanese made guitars, flat out one of the best production guitars made……
  8. J Bird

    J Bird Synchromatic

    I've probably never handled a nitro finished guitar, so I can't weigh in on that debate. I can say that a few swipes of a grey and/or white Scotch-brite pad can do wonders for a sticky neck.

    Nor am I in a position to compare Japanese pro-line and US made custom shop guitars. I am very familiar with making compromises, though. Despite the different finishes, I can't imagine that a pro-line is too much of a compromise, at least for me.

    Good luck on your search. You may find a vintage Gretsch that comes in below your price point and checks all the other boxes, too.
    Craig Encinitas and Duo Slinger like this.
  9. Back in Black

    Back in Black Country Gent

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada
    More or less...but likely less. Using your logic...you could also buy her a car/boat/home. Bet she's love a new Harley.

    Hope is a wonderful thing!

    Please carry on...

    birddog, Duo Slinger and Waxhead like this.
  10. rcboals

    rcboals Country Gent

    Nov 21, 2008
    Springfield Oregon
    These first world problems are really getting hard to deal with for me on a daily basis. I am now going to go decide which one of my 13 guitars I am going to play as I create a song on my Digitech Trio+.
  11. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Country Gent

    Oct 17, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    There were at least two Made in Japan proline Jets with nitro finishes. These are not current models but date from the 2003-2008 or so period:
    G6128 DSV

    If you can find one of these, they may turn out to be just good enough.

    If you really want a USA made Gretsch that's not a Custom Shop, then I think you either have to go 50s, 60s vintage or Baldwin era. Gretsch started making their reissues in Japan in 1986 so you need to look at guitars that are older than that.

    Baldwins have their own issues as do the vintage Gretschs.
  12. NJDevil

    NJDevil Country Gent

    Jul 9, 2014
    Commack, NY
    I believe my '07 Gretsch Black Phoenix is finished in nitro BUT "has to" have a poly coat over it. Why Does it have to have that poly coat? It has a thick "dipped in glue" shine and feel. However, I have yet to find a more resonant guitar unplugged and once hooked into my amp is pure tone, feel and quality. The same can be said for my '08 5126 Electromatic and is the best in my herd for consistent intonation and holding the tuning over periods of not playing it.

    I also want a Jet and install some T-Armonds. However, the price is a reality that has kept this from happening. I use my 2014 LP Traditional as the price benchmark and is one of 3 of favorite guitars I own and picked it up for $2,400 new. So to see that the least expensive of any Dyna-equipped jet priced just south of $3k is quite disconcerting.

    My gripe on Gretsch prices though equal that of most new Fender Teles and Strats.....$1500 for a new American Professional II Tele? Not for me. Love the guitar but price is tough for me to accept. Throw in many recent gripes about Fender QC and the skepticism grows. I'm a tone chaser for sure but, as Clint said in one of the "Dirty Harry" movies, "a man's got to know his limitations". Current prices exceed the limitations.
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  13. bluenote23

    bluenote23 Country Gent

    Oct 17, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    One other thing about Japanese Gretschs. Don't confuse these with modern Epiphones or Squiers. This is not a budget line. They don't make compromises. No scarf joints, no plywood blocks and braces. No '-designed' pickups.

    You may not think that Japanese craftsmen have what it takes but they don't compromise on quality in this line.
  14. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    I Have no confidence in any mass produced guitars (thousands) in the USA. I will take Japan or S. Korea. They just have the industry and experience that doesn't exist here anymore. I'm talking about anything under $3000 or os.

    One offs or customs and boutique dealers (like Collings) are a different matter.

    Reverend is a brand that imo seems to take the best capabilities across the world to produce unique, well made and affordable professional instruments.
  15. GlenP

    GlenP Country Gent

    Jul 23, 2019
    It really helps that you are a guitar player when selecting a guitar for a beginner in the family. There are some basic playability issues that you can evaluate on their behalf so that the guitar is a good size fit and is playable and adjusted properly. You can still find some good budget options, but if the guitar does not meet those basic requirements then a beginner may give up thinking that all guitars might be that uncomfortable and hard to play. So, for a youngster with smaller hands the shorter scale lengths are good options, but still might be a tad too large. Guitars are not something you grow into, it really should fit the players hands comfortably. But, as a guitar player, you know all this already.

    When I was getting a nylon string 3/4 size student guitar for my son some years ago, I was planning on getting the Yamaha. Those are pretty dependable and good value. But after playing a few of the options they had in the store, I was surprised that they had a Hohner model that actually sounded better, so I got that one. His teacher commented on how nice that student guitar sounded during a recital in a concert hall, I was surprised myself.
    Archtops and radd like this.
  16. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    If i remember correctly someone said that Joe Carduci said something along the lines about gretsch players wanting 'nitro finishes on gretsches until the have them, then they don't want them anymore', if that is true then maybe the vast majority of players prefer the ploy to keep the guitar looking nicer longer, not sure on this just speculating but any way.

    Gretsch does doe some models in the proline as nitro finishes but not a lot, i think all of them are hollowbodies currently.

    Yes the cheaper gretsch models much like the epiphones and any other brand of guitar under $1000 AUD do have a thick coating on them that make them feel a bit plastic, the prolines don't do this as much, there is a difference between the finish of the two so before casting them out completely have a try of one first and see what you think.

    As for the whole Made in USA/Australia/Europe vs made in china/Indonesia etc, i don't buy into all that nonsense as to which is better, to me it's plain and simple, it's not where it's made it's who it's made by, i know some things made in AUS and USA that aren't worth the packaging they come in and have had stuff that's made offshore that feels like it should cost 3x what it does as it is that good of a product, i have played my 09 penguin and a mates Gibson 2012 les paul standard and both of us said that hands down the penguin was the better of the two in almost every aspect and my mate is not a gretsch fan, he was after that day though, also my affinity squier tele in feel alone has not been beaten buy any of the new Mexican or usa made teles i have tried recently and that thing cost me $200 AUD.

    I guess what im trying to say is whie i understand where your coming from don't write the brand off because of it, I hate all things gibson by means of guitars I've played and the whole brand itself but it hasn't stopped me from trying all the ones i can in hope to maybe find one that i actually like.

    Best of luck in the hunt for your gretsch.
  17. Waxhead

    Waxhead Friend of Fred

    Aug 30, 2014
    Hi Daniel - no offence taken :)

    I'm just one of many 1000s who...

    a) Prefer the MIJ post 2003 made Gretsch - best guitars they've ever made.

    b) Prefer to have a Poly finish - looks great and has no audible effect on tone.
    Nitrocellulose finish products have unnacceptable health and environmental impacts and should be an unlawful manufacturing process in every country - if they are not already :)

    c) Not interested in anything vintage - there was just as much garbage made then as there is now imo.

    d) Spent $600 on a new MIK (not chinese) 5422 and spent an addtional $300 to mod it up to near MIJ proline standard. No idea where you've got this 1500 Euro number for a MIC from.

    Also the 5230 is not a Duo Jet. Big difference to the MIJ Proline Duo Jet.
    I'm not a fan of the current MIC 5230 myself and wouldn't buy one.

    But if you do I suggest you go for a used MIK 5230 from about 2015 when they were made in Korea. They are cheaper and better than the new MIC versions imo.
    Can get them online used for around $300 :)

    Add on another $300 to upgrade pups, electrics, nut and you've got a fantastic value for $$ guitar for around $700. Imo Epiphone, Squire, nor any other mid priced competitor, can compete with this on value for money.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  18. Intoamartian

    Intoamartian Electromatic

    Feb 10, 2021
    I’ve found my Japanese made G6228 higher in quality than my USA Gibson SG standard though both are excellent.

    Japan is a first rate manufacturer in many things and guitars have become one of them. I don’t mind the cost being around USA prices.
  19. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    It has changed a lot in my lifetime. When I started playing it was "Ugh, made in Japan?'.

    Then all low end production moved to China, Korea and etc and Japan became perfectly fine.

    By now, all of them can make perfectly fine instruments. Personally for me USA made guitars or UK made amps still are in higher regard, but not sure how realistic that really is.

    If you'd have a $5k guitar made in China, I think you likely would not be able to see the difference to $5k US made. They have learned a lot over there. But irrational me would still take the US made...
    danielktdoranie likes this.
  20. Glaw

    Glaw Gretschie

    Aug 30, 2017
    If you like/love the Proline Gretsch sound, Japan is where that sound has been coming from for over a quarter century. That’s what makes them so expensive. If they were junk they’d be way cheaper. I have three but waited until it was at a price I was comfortable with. Supply -demand = market clearing price.
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