Watering down the product?

Bradford

Electromatic
Jan 21, 2016
18
Metro Detroit
The more accessible ranges don't mean that the brand is stigmatised. Gretsch is still very high end and is still just as great as ever. Who else is making s guitar in China and can get away with charging a grand for it and have it be considered an entry to mid level guitar. Their QC is better than its ever been. They're great guitars and I don't see them losing their shine at all.

Entry level guitars are an affordable way to break into a brand. So we get in there and want more. The next level is gonna be even better. You spend more and more and create more customers. A proline Gretsch just isn't a guitar one always sees for sale either. Not in any local markets. I mean they're out there. I usu as lky cone across electronics though, about 5 or 6 of those to every 1 proline. Reverb likely has many used prolines for sale too.

I play offsets mostly (I love my Gretsch though) and when they started getting popular it didn't water down anything that made them special. They're still quirky and unique and produce sounds unlike anything else. If there is a problem with Gretsch guitars and their inherent value or importance I believe the problem lies solely with your perception.
 

Bradford

Electromatic
Jan 21, 2016
18
Metro Detroit
High end guitars, new and used, are disappearing from showroom floors. The one showroom near me where there were Proline Gretches is now closed. The Music Zoo has become an on line retailer. There’s no longer anyplace to try Collings or high end Martin or Taylor either. The pandemic had a lot to do with that but I think the steady rise in quality of work a day guitars takes its share of the blame. I read about folks wanting to upgrade a 5420 but I don’t find real complaints. How is that not a good thing? At 72, I’m an admitted snob. You won’t find a Squier, Epiphone, or Streamliner in my music room but I already own more than I need. I’m just not in the market. And yes, @dspellman , I haven’t repurposed funds, but I have a more rational purpose for them than buying one more guitar. I still have room in my passport to add to the stamp collection.

So nothing has been diluted. If anything, some of the goodness in Proline and other professional level instruments had been passed down the line making seriously good instruments widely available. I see plenty of good in that.
I agree with you here, for sure, that the trickle down affect is real.

I appreciate your admittance to bring a snob. I think we all have a little bit if that in us. I did. Got done Gibson and american Fender guitars. The Epi plays better and sounds better. Now I've found that you have to get a good one. A **** Gibson is not a good guitar. It isn't better than a **** Epi either, they're equal in terms of suck. Just dead blocks of wood with nothing in them. I've come across both from both brands. Fender, eh, I just traded my American Professional II Jazzmaster for a TVL Jazzmaster which is MIM. Quality is identical. Feel is identical. The price is identical (when you factor the price difference of the case that comes with each.) My Squiers, a 40th CV and other CV models feel identical and plays just as well as my higher end Fenders. This is what I noticed. My mind said one thing but closing my eyes and playing told me another.

My daughter is 11. She can shred. Legitimately. She's really good. Knows nothing about guitars. She doesn't care if it's Fender or Squier. I let her play the AmProII JM and the Squier 40th. She kept going back to the Squier. I set them both up, identically. She just prefered the Squier. It's what most people I come across that are objective and don't care about COO come to as well. It's obviously subjective and our own opinions all count. Not dissing yours just explaining that I've tried your approach and it lead me down a deep rabbit hole of money. I have nice guitars now and have been working on dien sizing. Oddly, I'm keeping more of the Squiers, they play better and feel better.

I have one Streamliner, it was a gift for my birthday in early 2015 (whenever they came out) and it was an amazing example of a guitar. It's been modded by now, but it had the best set up of any Gretsch I've ever had at any price point out of the box. None of my others can take a set up to be as close to that Streamliner in ease of playability. Close but just not quite there. It's ultra resonant too, the whole thing wiggles when you strum and nothing stiff about it. I've played stiff and dull Streamliners in GC though. No guitar, high end or budget is immune to being a poor specimen.

One more example... Haha. I was acoustic shopping and set a very modest, for an acoustic, budget of $1500. I looked at Mary n and Taylor and Yamaha and Gretsch and Breedlove and several other brands. While there was a really nice Taylor with Walnut back and sides I found that they weren't all that. I ended up coming home with a $550 Epiphone EJ-160. Got it at a price match for $350. Ended up buying a killer Fender Acoustic amp too. That acoustic had a fionnas low as a electric but wasn't stiff and just sang. It projected big-time and also had a solid top like the others. Grade of wood may have been different but in tone and feel it was superior. I guarantee if you closed your eyes and played you'd have chosen the Epi as well. I even played a $15,000 Martin too. My local GC had one. It was from a eey limited series and quite a story on why it was in their store. I played it and it was one of the worst acoustics I've ever strummed. Lifeless and quiet and super stiff. Looked amazing though and unlike anything you'd ever see again. As a piece of art it was amazing. As a guitar it was ****.

And Epiphone,. They have several models that are Epiphone only, never existed as a Gibson. The Sheraton is one of them. Casino too. Many professional musicians play with as well. I'm glad I listened to my ears and hands instead of my eyes and mind.
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
2,021
Portland, OR
Why do people think this is a ghost thread? The original post says,

Yeah, mine says 6:59am, but I'm in the Pacific Time Zone. I think somebody's confusing Uncle Daddy's "Join Date" of 2012 with the thread date. Post #1: Yesterday.

The posts themselves give it away. Post #3 references the Players Edition stuff. That didn't exist 12 years ago!

Anyway, lots of good comments throughout. I think Fender's involvement with Gretsch has overall been a good thing for the brand, but it's had it's effect on it as it gets "Fenderized". Look what they've been doing with Teles and Strats for decades. One for every price point, every conceivable flavor. They're just doing the same thing with Gretsch. They're experts at tweaking old designs to make 'em seem new.

As far as a shortage of Prolines, I think retailers are just putting their buying dollars to the most cost effective use. They've got a budget of XYZ dollars to stock the shelves - you wanna buy one guitar with that or five?

General Motors sells a lot more Chevys than Cadillacs. It's kind of the same thing.
 

skrobichaud

Newbie
Mar 7, 2022
3
Edmonton
I would never sell my 2007 Japanese 6120, simply because I would not be able to afford a modern Proline model.
I believe Gretsch continues to be a great guitar brand, regardless of country of origin.
I think it is unfortunate that professional level guitars from all brands are increasing in price to the point where only the Doctor and Lawyer guitar enthusiasts can afford them:(
If I were in the market for a new guitar, I would not hesitate to purchase an entry level Gretsch if the tone, playability, and fit and finish worked for me.
 

sgarnett

Synchromatic
Apr 14, 2020
943
Kentucky
Can we say that all US factory-built instruments are superior to foreign made ones?

A machinist, or “machine operator” perhaps more correctly, running a CNC doing the same thing all day can be standing on US soil, or elsewhere & still carve a nice instrument body—the slab. Both can be exemplary employees.

Does Gretsch build guitars in the US at all?
The most disappointing guitar I’ve ever purchased was an American Original 60s Strat. The quality was worse the junk that used to come from Asia in the early days. I bought it absolutely mint but with no warranty. Long story short, by the time I put enough money into it to make it playable (including re-pressing and gluing all the poorly-seated frets, along with many other issues), the magic was gone for me. I sold it to help fund a Smoke, and kept a Mexican Road Worn Strat with far better craftsmanship.

At GC, the high-end guitars are high on the wall and locked, and I don’t see the inventory changing. The guitars people try and buy are the inexpensive but now excellent Asian models.

Fwiw, I tried a few real Gibsons before buying my first Gretsch, a Streamliner. Price wasn’t even the deciding factor. My hands chose.
 

WAM999317

Electromatic
Dec 30, 2011
6
long island new york
I'm starting to feel that with the advent of so many "entry level" and budget Gretsch models on sale now, and the difficulty finding new or used Prolines to try, that "Gretsch" doesn't seem to carry the mystique of years ago. I understand a business is to make money, and things move on, but the marque is starting to look a bit devalued, to me at least.
Unquestionably, unless you go to a boutique or vintage instrument store its highly unlikely you will run into any new or used top of the line Gretsch guitars any more. Their introductory models are very watered down, the achilles heal being the Electromatic pickups and the lower grade wood selections. I don't have any way of knowing to what extent their profits are resulting in this latest push to market cheap instruments, they look great but they are not the senior line . You can certainly blame Fender for it since they now own Gretsch, and its undoubtedly at their direction. Remember Fender was really the first to market a "student" line of guitars starting I would guess at the Fender Mustang and then the Squire Line. Gibson followed suit years later by taking the Epiphone which at the time was so similar to a Gibson, many could not tell them apart, and for marketing purposes, in the late 70s felt there was no reason for two Brands under their banner to compete, so they started watering down the Epiphone line as their "student: model. Blame it on the bean counters who can't play.
 

BohemianLikeMe

Synchromatic
Apr 18, 2020
696
Prague, CZ
The most disappointing guitar I’ve ever purchased was an American Original 60s Strat. The quality was worse the junk that used to come from Asia in the early days. I bought it absolutely mint but with no warranty. Long story short, by the time I put enough money into it to make it playable (including re-pressing and gluing all the poorly-seated frets, along with many other issues), the magic was gone for me. I sold it to help fund a Smoke, and kept a Mexican Road Worn Strat with far better craftsmanship.

At GC, the high-end guitars are high on the wall and locked, and I don’t see the inventory changing. The guitars people try and buy are the inexpensive but now excellent Asian models.

Fwiw, I tried a few real Gibsons before buying my first Gretsch, a Streamliner. Price wasn’t even the deciding factor. My hands chose.
Yeah, I had a bunch of MIA California Fenders in the late 90s early 2000s and they were all pretty much horrible. I remember selling my beloved '93 MIJ Jazzmaster (one of the best sounding Jazzies I've ever heard to date, even if it was not at all vintage spec) to fund a move to a "vintage correct" AVRI Jaguar that was made in America... and just being crushed at how BAD the American guitar was. Horrible.

Other MIA guitars that were disappointing:
1999 Gibson Firebird V? Great guitar, terrible electronics, sold it to move overseas.
2000 American Standard Tele-- had all the resonance of a hunk of wet cat fur. Needed a full fret dressing out of the box and some tech voodoo with the truss rod.
2002 AVRI 62 Jazzmaster- better pots than my MIJ 66RI, but still needed a neck shimming and better pickups. Ended up trading it for a mid 60s AC-50 which always blew up but was a better deal in the end.
2002 Les Paul standard gold top... woof.

etc.
 

G5422T

Country Gent
May 24, 2012
4,070
usa
Marketing and "Watering Down" are two different things.

They unfortunately can work together well, or not.

Gretsch has done both.

Good Marketing has kept the name viable in a large sea of competition, and Gretsch has expanded its lineup.

"Watered down," the White Falcon name. It was always that over the top bling, showbiz type of Gretsch. Unobtainable to most, wanted by many, mystical to virtually all. The top of the line model.

Enter Marketing. Expand sales by offering a White Falcon in various Gretsch models.

I guess it worked, as many folks now have a White Falcon version of a particular model.

Is this good or bad? A whole different subject! 😆 🤣 😂

My biggest disappointment was that Gretsch, including the Custom Shop, didn't get, and don't get the binding right.

Vintage White Falcon binding is a beautiful thing in its own special way. It was that "icing on the cake."

For me, it's one of those things that once you "see it," it never leaves your mind, and a White Falcon has to have it.

Just an old farts thoughts, and I don't matter. 😀
 

ronjazz

Electromatic
Feb 22, 2022
14
Connecticut
Are you sure? Fender sure hasn’t.

And I’ll also say that while you could be correct about the lower end secondary market, I have a feeling a lot of it is folks get a lower end Gretsch to see what they think. And the lower end offerings are quite frankly EXCELLENT for lower end offerings. Maybe excellent enough for people after a bit to say “okay, I really like this Gretsch thing. Let me sell this and move up the ladder a bit”. Just a thought.
Agreed. I bought my first Gretsch (50 years into my pro career) because of a GC "Pick of the Day" sale: a Streamliner Jr. for $400US. It was a nice guitar, but not Gretschy enough for me (I had tired of the PAF sound), so I took it back within 45 days, got full value on a trade-in for a very slightly used 5420 selling for $650, and fell in love. I soon after picked up another mint condition used 5422 for $675 (with case!), and the joy of electric guitar has returned in full force. Very nice instruments, fully professional quality, and eventually they will lead me to a high-end Gretsch just for kicks, unless I go the upgrade route, which will save me a couple grand and probably produce a superior sonic quality and dependability. I figure with TV Jones upgrades to pickups and wiring harness I will end up with two high-end Gretsch guitars for about $2500.00 US.
 

TSims1

Gretschified
Jun 18, 2013
12,540
Atlanta
Agreed. I bought my first Gretsch (50 years into my pro career) because of a GC "Pick of the Day" sale: a Streamliner Jr. for $400US. It was a nice guitar, but not Gretschy enough for me (I had tired of the PAF sound), so I took it back within 45 days, got full value on a trade-in for a very slightly used 5420 selling for $650, and fell in love. I soon after picked up another mint condition used 5422 for $675 (with case!), and the joy of electric guitar has returned in full force. Very nice instruments, fully professional quality, and eventually they will lead me to a high-end Gretsch just for kicks, unless I go the upgrade route, which will save me a couple grand and probably produce a superior sonic quality and dependability. I figure with TV Jones upgrades to pickups and wiring harness I will end up with two high-end Gretsch guitars for about $2500.00 US.

OR consider selling both and moving into Proline land. Do you NEED to? Heck no! Electros are great! Are Prolines even better? Yep. They are. Worth it? Only you can say. One of my fave guitars to track with currently is an Electro 5427, and I’ve owned TONS of Gretsches(including lots of Prolines).

That’s what I’m saying with Gretsch. They set the standard high. They start OUT great and keep getting better n better the higher you go.
 

pblanton

Electromatic
May 12, 2021
13
Black Forest, Colorado
I'm starting to feel that with the advent of so many "entry level" and budget Gretsch models on sale now, and the difficulty finding new or used Prolines to try, that "Gretsch" doesn't seem to carry the mystique of years ago. I understand a business is to make money, and things move on, but the marque is starting to look a bit devalued, to me at least.

I agree. The money in new guitars seems to pool up in two areas, entry-mid level guitars at volume, and very high end guitars. Gibson has staked out their place in the ridiculously expensive guitar segment and are ignoring the entry-mid level range completely, while Gretsch seems to be moving their offerings down to the upper entry-level segment. What's seemingly being left out completely is the middle-ground.

To Gibson's credit they are investing more heavily in their Epiphone line and Epiphone is building some really nice mid-level guitars, but there is just a certain intangible quality - what the French call a "je ne sais quoi" - that is missing from an Epiphone branded guitar.

Like you, I wish that Gretsch would focus a little more strongly on this middle-ground and build some really high quality guitars in that price range.
 

BohemianLikeMe

Synchromatic
Apr 18, 2020
696
Prague, CZ
I could never justify a $5000 guitar. Not gigging, and nowhere near talented enough to warrant such a treasure. I'm not sure that I'm even worthy of a $500 guitar.
Yeah, the only time I've spent over $1000 was my 6120, and that wasn't that much more. It's nothing against people who play $5000+ guitars, it's just I can't feel comfortable with one worth that much and gigging.
 

BohemianLikeMe

Synchromatic
Apr 18, 2020
696
Prague, CZ
Also, I'm pretty sure the Electromatics I've played were lightyears better than a lot of low-end Gibson semi hollows and hollows like the ES-125, ES-135, and so forth. This isn't to bag on them, or anything, I tend to think of that as part of the charm, but now that the prices are like $1500+ for a used ES-135 and $2500 for any of the ES-125 variants, I don't think they're nearly as charming.
 

Runamok

Country Gent
Guitar envy. Doesn’t matter the brand or price.
See a video all up about a guitar & you think its the ONE.

Easier to feel that way when you can’t get your hands on it to form your own first impression.

Bargaining with yourself. It never, or rarely works. No matter if its guitars, cameras, you name it.

Will you always feel slighted if you don’t pay dearly for it?
Maybe you just need to pay triple for a Streamliner to feel great about it?
 

sgarnett

Synchromatic
Apr 14, 2020
943
Kentucky
Up until two years ago, I thought of Gretsch as a junk brand trading on the reputation earned decades ago. The only examples I had seen in person were from the Baldwin 70s. If I saw one after that, I dismissed it like any other pawnshop brand.

At the beginning of a global event that shall not be named, I was in a GC just days before the shutdown, and happened to pick up a Streamliner that knocked the socks off everything else I tried. That was my gateway Gretsch, and I still have it.

I did snap up a Smoke that was too good of a deal to pass up, but it’s really way out of my league. It’s spectacular, no doubt about it.

Really though, the current Electromatic line is the “sweet spot”. People DO upgrade them, but don’t NEED to. They play and sound great as-is.
 

LesB3

Gretschie
Aug 17, 2021
163
Philadelphia, PA
I agree. The money in new guitars seems to pool up in two areas, entry-mid level guitars at volume, and very high end guitars. Gibson has staked out their place in the ridiculously expensive guitar segment and are ignoring the entry-mid level range completely, while Gretsch seems to be moving their offerings down to the upper entry-level segment. What's seemingly being left out completely is the middle-ground.
I don't know, I regularly see sales for new Les Paul Classics @ $1800 - $1900, and that's basically a "real" LP as far as I'm concerned. Similar thing with the "Trad Pro" models (which are very similar). I picked up a "used" LPC for $1500 and it has coil splits / phase / etc. And SG's are (almost) always cheap. Honestly, the Gibson guitar I'm most excited about is this:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...bson-les-paul-special-tribute-p-90-worn-white

...though I'm a sucker for white guitars and P90's. At $999, probably the cheapest Gibby you can buy...
 


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