Unsolicited opinions on the G5230T and Gretsch as a whole.

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

  1. Mr Swisher

    Mr Swisher Country Gent

    Jun 12, 2012
    I have a CS Tele made in the USA, Nitro finish. It's incredible. Inspiring, easy to play.

    I have a Proline Gretsch, Made in Japan, Poly finish. It's incredible, inspiring and easy to play.

    The finishes feel different, The Grestch still looks brand new.. the nitro Tele does not. But in terms of quailty theirs nothing but personal preference to split them.
  2. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    That $5000 guitar is $3000 or less and made by Eastman in China. :D Check em out if you haven't already.
  3. Gretschzilla

    Gretschzilla Gretschie

    Apr 20, 2021
    Saint Paul, MN USA
    My Japanese made Gretsch is the inimitable Brian Setzer 59 Smoke and it is a masterpiece. Made this year, I paid $3,291 (USD) for it in July. Not sure what the exchange rate is (for the OP of this thread). It’s definitely above average in cost. But I consider it an excellent value as it delivers a custom shop experience way below custom shop prices.

    For the same reason, I bought an Eric Johnson signature Strat (Firemist Aqua Lucerne Blueish Watchamacallit) with the rosewood fretboard. It is another custom shop spec guitar made on the normal US production line. I paid $1,949 in June.

    My point is that Japan and the US both make some amazing high end guitars on their normal production lines that fall below the cost of a true custom guitar but rival those customs’ finish, specs, and performance. A Japanese made Gretsch is on par with the best American made guitars.
  4. juks

    juks Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2020
    Fremont, California
    I wasn't aware of them. Well under $3000. And used in reverb starting well under $1000 to little over. I guess resale value is worse than US made, but Eastman does seem like potentially great value. US electronics, hand built and Chinese know how to work wood. Interesting.
    Henry likes this.
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Electromatic

    May 16, 2017
    Near Detroit
    Nitro vs Poly has been a long debate, just like keeping a guitar 'new looking' vs 'Relic!' has been. There's no tone difference, even if Marketing tries to convince you of the nostalgia, and poly is more durable so the resale to (the much wider interest) of 'new looking' guitars is easier and at higher prices. Dinged up nitro looks bad to any player other than those who are chasing relic-styles.

    As far as the guitar target price for your 'person' not 'age' ... The key with any guitar is a proper setup. The '$100' guitars with a fret level job that for the most costs only as much as two setups -- can give you the playability of a Custom Shop guitar. Find the good guitar tech in your area and whatever guitar you take them will play at their skill level. If they are Custom-Shop-Good then you will have a guitar that plays like a Custom Shop instrument. A Plek-machine can get you there too (but this service often costs more than the great tech).

  6. Mr Swisher

    Mr Swisher Country Gent

    Jun 12, 2012
    I can vouch that my Eastman is a very very high quality guitar. The fact it says Eastman on the headstock is the reason it doesn't cost more. The equivalent Gibson 330 is DOUBLE the price.

    The difference is.. that Gibson name will probably guarentee you can get all your money back should you ever sell.
  7. Archtops

    Archtops Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2021
    I have two beautiful Japanese Gretsch G6659T Players Edition Broadkaster Jr.s.
    They are excellent guitars that I’d put up against any guitar made.

    That being said I also have a Jet Club that was $399. Made in China. It has zero issues. Plays as well as my 1993 Les Paul Standard. No fret sprout and no setup needed. All have a poly finish which I prefer.

    I find nitro finishes nasty. Nitrocellulose doesn’t wear well, holds on to odors and a whole list of other problems.
    I think you’d be surprised how great the Jet Club is. I’ll leave a couple of pics.


  8. sgarnett

    sgarnett Synchromatic

    Apr 14, 2020
    I have said many times that there are skilled craftsmen all over the world. Cheap junk exists because there’s a market for it, not because it’s the only option.

    Fwiw though, my Japanese made, nitro-finished 6120 Smoke is top notch all the way.

    Otoh, the USA-made American Original Strat I had for a little while was junk. The fretwork was so unplayaby bad that I had to have all of the frets repressed, glued, and leveled. The fretboard had about as much runout as I’ve seen on rosewood, with tear out on the bass side. The nitro was soft. One of the pickguard holes was drilled in the wrong place (no, it wasn’t a humidity issue). And so on. After putting a pile of money into it, I did get it playable, but by then my enthusiasm was gone. I sold it (with full disclosure of course) to fund the Smoke, and never looked back.

    Frankly, my Mexican Road Worn Strat is better made. Sure, it wasn’t polished, and the hardware wasn’t as good, but it’s a fine, eminently playable guitar.

    There are obviously some fine instruments made in the USA, but it’s not automatically better. The build quality of the Japanese Smoke is excellent by any standard.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
    Henry, new6659 and Craig Encinitas like this.

    GOOBALL JEFF Synchromatic

    Oct 1, 2019
    electromatics are the best in my opinion, I didn't like my Japanese gretsch at all.
  10. Ashley1983

    Ashley1983 Gretschie

    Aug 9, 2020
    I wouldn’t say that this is factual at all Gibson’s are notoriously sketchy on build quality and consistency which are American made… I’ve owned 335’s Go buy a J45 acoustic and you’ll need to test a few to find a nice one! same as Les Pauls!

    MIJ fenders are renowned to be great guitars

    I’ve owned Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Fenders (I’ve owned 2 ‘67 Coronado’s and Telecasters) USA made MIJ and Mexican, Epiphines (including Elitist) and I own a Duo Jet (TSP model) and I there is no way that this is not a premium professional grade guitar

    my first gretsch I bought was a 5230T. It was an impulse buy as my mate said Electromatic range was decent (he had a Korean not a Chinese) and I’ll be honest I found these pretty poor guitars but it was cheap so I can’t moan though I thought the pick ups were good but the bloody thing doesn’t stay in tune so I’ve experienced both sides and it’s not compatible. Don’t waste your money It’s like buying a kit car and expecting it to be a Ferrari
    Henry likes this.
  11. GenghisBomb

    GenghisBomb Electromatic

    Sep 26, 2021
    I get what you are saying. It *does* seem weird that there are *no* affordable US-Made Gretsch's. Even if FMIC had a line similar to their "American Special" Fenders, that were maybe not quite as feature rich as the MIJ Gretsch's, but were available for under $2,000. It's very peculiar that a guitar so firmly entrenched in Americana is not made there, except at the absolute highest price, which is beyond most people's ability to buy.

    At least with a company like Gibson and Fender, you have "stepping stones" to the MIA models. You have the Squiers and Epiphones for $600 and less, and then the MIM Fenders and higher end Epi's in the $800-$1000 range, and then you can get a decent MIA instrument for around $1200, and a great one for $1500. I don't know why FMIC doesn't make the "player tier" Gretschs in the USA.

    That being said, I have heard that the MIJ Gretschs will *melt your face* off! So I don't get TOO caught up in where something is made.


    Regarding playability, I mean, we are living in a halcyon era. If you go grab a high end Squier or Epiphone off the rack, and grab the equivalently featured Fender/Gibson, and have someone cover the headstock logos, you will be hard pressed to tell the difference. I just bought my first two electrics in over 15 years, used MIM Strat, and one of the new 2020 Epiphones.

    That MIM Strat is a Strat. You can give me any American Professional or American Deluxe you like, those are Strats too, and so is my MIM. Obviously, Fender's Mexican plant is not exactly "offshoring", but the point remains. The LP is also a fantastic instrument, and sounds and plays like a LP.

    I could have bought the Gibson "Les Paul Tribute". that has cheap pickups, has so much chambering that it's almost a Gretsch anyway, and is a worse cut of wood, and paid over TWICE what I did for my Epiphone. And for what? So some US worker gets a living wage? There are times for principles, and there are times for reality. When I grab my Epiphone, and it inspires me to play, and encourages me, that's reality for me.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
    kdm1218 likes this.
  12. oneforsorrow

    oneforsorrow Synchromatic

    May 15, 2020
    I’ve got a Korean made Reverend that is a fantastic guitar. It’s as stable and reliable as I could hope for and it has served me well for years. I’ve had my MIJ Country Club for just over a year and it’s also a fantastic guitar.

    I’ve not played a US made Gretsch to compare but I have zero complaints about the two aforementioned guitars.
    NJDevil likes this.
  13. Craig Encinitas

    Craig Encinitas Gretschie

    May 3, 2021
    Encinitas, Ca
    Paraphrase quoting Phillip McKnight:

    “If you were tasked to make 100 top quality guitars, at least a couple are going to come out subpar.

    If you were tasked to make 100 less expensive guitars, at least a couple are going to come out better than the rest.”

    I have begun my search for a nice Gibson Les Paul Standard 60’s. And thanks to the internet blowing things out of proportion, I haven’t bought one yet. Quality control issues (and negativity) are more spoken of than how great something actually is. Which is all opinion based human thought and emotion. o_O

    I do not have a problem purchasing a used, previously owned guitar. Retailers like GC can put a customer’s mind at ease, due to their rather generous return window. Someone I know, returned five of the same guitar until he was satisfied with guitar number six. To me, that is quite excessive, but when you’re paying a couple grand, he was not going to settle for anything less. I would’ve given up long before then.:confused:
    Mr Swisher likes this.
  14. NJDevil

    NJDevil Country Gent

    Jul 9, 2014
    Commack, NY
    I love the Pete Andersen Eastsider T and was one that made my final selection before buying my first Tele. I loved the tone, love the neck and love that many have proclaimed Reverend to be a platinum standard for QC. I then took a chance on an independent maker and it is my favorite guitar so no buyer's remorse.

    I still want a Reverend though for an extremely competitive price for such great quality and love the necks!
    oneforsorrow likes this.
  15. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    Your Gretsch Duane Eddy was a Japanese guitar. American Gretsch production stopped when Baldwin folded it up in the early 80s and didn't begin again till the custom shop started in the 2000's. Duane had a Guild signature model that was USA made before the Gretsch. Duanes actual original Gretsch is a 1957 Chet Atkins model 6120 made in Brooklyn N.Y.
    GreTschocaster and Highroller like this.
  16. wildeman

    wildeman I Bleed Orange

    May 10, 2015
    This! I just watched a honest comparison video where the owner of a 3500.00 Les Paul compared it to a 2000.00 Eastman, it was very clinical and unbiased, he admitted that the Eastman was better in every way except it didn't say Gibson USA on it:D
    Once you've owned all these guitars and can form your own opinion these kind of discussions become sorta moot, my Martin D28 is not better than my Sigma D18 if taken for exactly what they are, my '57 6190 Streamliner is not better than my 5120, are they "cooler"? Hell yes!
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
    Henry and Mr Swisher like this.
  17. oneforsorrow

    oneforsorrow Synchromatic

    May 15, 2020
    I love mine and I’m sure you’ll be happy with one when the time comes. The neck is great. So comfortable. And they’re just so stable and reliable.
    NJDevil likes this.
  18. MichaelRopp

    MichaelRopp Electromatic

    Jan 20, 2021
    Interesting thread. First off: congrats to your daughter. I hope she finds joy in playing for many, many years to come. Seven years old! Wow. That's cool. Start 'em young, man.

    Now, fair warning: I'm not a professional guitarist, so I suspect a lot of folks here are far more sensitive to some of these things than I am. And, of course, so many of these things are totally subjective--for example, poly vs nitro finishes. We each have our own opinions and likely nobody's going to change theirs.

    Having said that: I'm one of these unfortunate souls who has been through a LOT of guitars over the years looking for just the right ones that fit my hands and ears. I've played solid-bodies, semi-hollows, and hollows; probably a dozen and a half combinations of humbuckers and single-coils; C, D, U, modified, slim taper, graduated; a multitude of body, neck and fingerboard woods... you get the idea. I've owned guitars from Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, Heritage, Carvin/Kiesel, Gretsch, Yamaha, Epiphone, Godin, Taylor, and a few others. Most of them have left my collexion over time. (Thank heaven for Reverb! :) )

    FWIW, YMMV, and all that jazz, the guitars that have stood the test of time for me are two USA-made Fenders (a Strat and a Tele), an Epiphone Swingster and Joe Pass, a Godin 5th Avenue Nightclub, and two Gretsches: a G5420T and a G6120T. Most of my playing time is spent on the two Epis and the two Gretsches. Three of these four are those "mid-range" type guitars that are made in Asia and clock in around US$700-US$900. You already know about the compromises that have to be made to hit those price points, so I won't lecture, but I will say that my experience is that in recent years, those mid-range guitars have gotten VERY good. Fit, finish, tone, and playability are all fantastic, and even if the clear coat is poly, it's thin, expertly applied, looks good in either gloss or satin, and protects the guitar forever. I do not miss nitro at all.

    I would also say that at least in the case of the G6120T (MIJ), it's a high-end guitar with a high-end price point (got mine used for about 2/3 of typical new cost), but it truly is something special. I really love my G5420T, but you feel and hear the difference in the G6120T immediately. Those MIJ pro-line Gretsches are FANTASTIC.
    new6659 and Mr Swisher like this.
  19. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    Oct 4, 2020
    I'd buy a MIJ guitar before one made anywhere else. Japan makes, imho, the best guitars in the world.

    I also cannot wrap my head around this weird awe and wonder around nitrocellulose finishes. They're thinner, less durable, they turn yellow with age, and are more prone to cracking/checking. They also cost the same as Poly. It's just a design choice, not like some bizarre high-end option or something. Using poly vs nitro does not imply, in any way, that a guitar is better or worse. Elitism around nitro finishes just feels like snobbery to me.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2021
  20. BuddyHollywood

    BuddyHollywood Gretschie

    Sep 11, 2009
    Venice, CA
    My wife is from Kyoto so I've had the good fortune to be able to visit Japan on multiple occasions over the years. As much as culture shapes attitudes the overall work ethic in Japan is extremely professional and dedicated. The are raised with a different perspective than we are in the USA, Europe or even Australia from what I can tell. The good of the family and community is emphasized over the self promotion and the independent spirit that we are encouraged to embrace. They take craftsmanship very seriously and you can see it in their architecture, their museums and even in their modern designs. It's common for an artisan to humbly submit for years under a master to learn a craft. The Gretsch Pro-Line guitars are great guitars. The Terada factory in Japan is a top tier guitar manufacturer. Japan is also a strong ally with a free market. You should have no hesitation buying a professional grade guitar that was built in Japan.
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