Watering down the product?

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,392
Savannah, GA
Whatever the case, Gretsch has been taken from a has-been fringe brand to a respected contender in the last decade.
They managed to be in the sweet spot during what may be the last golden age for the electric guitar.
There’s a lot of great music coming out right now and a lot of kids taking it up but I don’t hear the kind of innovation that can sustain a decades worth of excitement.
Then again, I just knew that rap music wouldn’t last more than 15 years.
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Jun 22, 2020
1,397
Ontario Canada
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.

UD,

You have to follow the money.

Old Gretsch passed away due to the fact, there was not enough market for the original ''expensive for the era brand"

In 1965, Ontario Canada, a new Country Gentleman (George style) was $800. that was a hell of a lot of money for a guitar, any guitar.

New Gretsch, re-immerged thanks to Randy Bachmann, George Harrison, and Tom Petty.

New Gretsch startup capital came from the sale of the Travelling Wilbury's guitar, which was modeled after an old Dano, which Tom Petty had. The guitar sold for a little less than three years. It was the first new era Gretsch.

MIC/MIJ was decided upon because of cost savings

Gretsch as a stand alone brand is long gone.

Fender is now the owner of the brand, and they've been saving millions for decades by building offshore.

If you like Gretsch, and we all do, that's why we're here, we have to be satisfied with what we get.

Because, what we get...is all we have!

That ''Great Gretsch Sound'' is a myth that we believe in because we choose to do so!

Best,

BIB

George Harrison with Wilbury's Gretsch.jpg
 

Frequent Flyer 909

Electromatic
Apr 7, 2010
17
Baltimore
You can certainly blame Fender for it since they now own Gretsch, and its undoubtedly at their direction.
While it is, indeed, undoubtedly at Fender's bean counters' direction, Fender only has a marketing/distribution and manufacturing agreement with Gretsch. They do not own the brand.

What's happening now is more or less what we all feared would happen when that agreement was reached in late 2002 (dilution of the brand, cheaper guitars, neglect of the classic models and designs, etc.). Mike Lewis and Joe Carducci (God bless 'em both!) forfended against that mindset and brought the brand (back) to the top tier of high-quality guitar manufacturers. When the bean counters were installed at the top of the management pyramid around 2014 or so, decisions started to get very bottom-line oriented, and our guy was ultimately marginalized. And now they can't even get Cadillac Green right.

I'm very thankful for the 2003-2015 Lewis/Carducci era. Not only did it yield the best-quality guitars ever built by Gretsch, but it was also fun, because they tapped into and involved the community (such as it is) of Gretsch enthusiasts.
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Jun 22, 2020
1,397
Ontario Canada
Fender doesn't own Gretsch.

They Do!

They are the sole licensed user. No Fender...no Gretsch.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gretsch Jr. are fluff, whom without the Fender crutch, would fall down.

The only thing that keeps any business/business person viable is cash flow...no cash flow, no business. Gretsch never did have cash flow, which has been the heart of their problem for over 60 years.

If I operate under your cash flow, under your Corporate Umbrella, using your premises, under your direction...who owns my company, you or me?

Do you think for a minute, Fred Jr. is ever going to say...''I think I'll take my business elsewhere??

Best,

BIB.
 

G5422T

Country Gent
May 24, 2012
4,063
usa
They Do!

They are the sole licensed user. No Fender...no Gretsch.

Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gretsch Jr. are fluff, whom without the Fender crutch, would fall down.

The only thing that keeps any business/business person viable is cash flow...no cash flow, no business. Gretsch never did have cash flow, which has been the heart of their problem for over 60 years.

If I operate under your cash flow, under your Corporate Umbrella, using your premises, under your direction...who owns my company, you or me?

Do you think for a minute, Fred Jr. is ever going to say...''I think I'll take my business elsewhere??

Best,

BIB.
Well fact vs attitude are two different things.

Fred could say "For Sale."
 

Back in Black

Country Gent
Jun 22, 2020
1,397
Ontario Canada
Well fact vs attitude are two different things.

Fred could say "For Sale."

He sure could, unfortunately with the industry in less than ideal condition, and a couple of the major players teetering on oblivion, that's not likely to happen any time soon.

If you or I had the money to buy Gretsch, make it viable and completely stand alone, we would have made a very poor investment. Spending millions to make hundreds.

Especially right now, with COVID still rampant in Asia, and offshore shipping warehouses filled to overflowing, nothing is moving. Primary reason that shops in the Western world whose bread and butter rely on Asian imports, have empty display walls, with no sign things are going to get better any time soon.

Fender is taking all the risk, Fred Jr. takes a share of profits made, when there are any., Sitting pretty, doing nothing, living off the name of his ancestors. You don't sell the cow, when the milk is free.

Best,

BIB
 

BuddyHollywood

Gretschie
Sep 11, 2009
489
Venice, CA
I was playing some 5220s in Guitar Center recently and if I didn't already have a 6128 I would buy one of those and install some TV Jones pickups, CTS pots and Switchcraft toggle and jack. It's all it would need to capture the same level of sound that my 6128 has. The neck already feels very similar. It would most likely be a more stable instrument in a live setting too. My Duo Jet takes a while to acclimate to a new environment before it settles. I'm betting the 5220 is more stable and reliable because it incorporates Gretsch PE style aka Gibson style construction. I don't really get nostalgic or sentimental over instruments though. I just want them to sound good, feel good and if possible look good too.
 

AZBrahma

Synchromatic
Dec 18, 2020
557
Arizona
I find it quite funny that the 'CNC' argument always comes up when discussing tiers of guitar quality. To hear most tell it, you throw a handful of wood, plastic and metal into an enclosure and a guitar comes out at the end of the operation.

The fact is that post-CNC human skill represents about 70% of the build process. In super-automated volume shops it is still well over 50%. People build guitars, not CNC machines, and typically to the level which they are contracted to provide or, if made by the company themselves, to the level they deem necessary to maintain their reputation and/or justify their pricing.

My favorite shop uses CNC machines and produces around 40 guitars a month. They have some of the best and most experienced talent in the industry and the quality they produce is also some of the best in the industry. A $500 CNC import will not have that quality, because it can't - even discounting materials and time, the experience and skill set of the work force doesn't have the tenure and experience to get it done no matter how much time you give them, compared to the guys who have been doing it in the highest end shops for decades.

A CNC is no panacea and no substitute for the human factor. It is up to the individual to decide if the difference is worth it to them.
 

Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,709
Petaluma
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'm a snob too I must admit, which is why you won't find a Streamliner, Fender or Gibson (except maybe the Johnny A some day) in my collection.
 

LesB3

Gretschie
Aug 17, 2021
158
Philadelphia, PA
I was playing some 5220s in Guitar Center recently and if I didn't already have a 6128 I would buy one of those and install some TV Jones pickups, CTS pots and Switchcraft toggle and jack. It's all it would need to capture the same level of sound that my 6128 has. The neck already feels very similar. It would most likely be a more stable instrument in a live setting too. My Duo Jet takes a while to acclimate to a new environment before it settles. I'm betting the 5220 is more stable and reliable because it incorporates Gretsch PE style aka Gibson style construction. I don't really get nostalgic or sentimental over instruments though. I just want them to sound good, feel good and if possible look good too.

I have a 5222 that I got used from a GC (less than $400, included a case) that I bought thinking the same thing... nope. Despite the previous owner's upgrades (TV Classics, CTS h/w, etc.), it still sounds / feels "cheap" and isn't at all like my 6129 or 6131. I don't know if its the cheap wood, stop-tail, or what, and I often wonder whether it sounded *better* with the BT's in there instead...

I bought it anyway ("for the parts") but, to be honest, its been in my basement, unplayed, pretty much since I bought it.
 

gentlemanbass

Electromatic
Aug 28, 2011
91
mactier
Gretsch should have gone the other way. Anyone wanting to buy one should have had to fill out a questionnaire- and then if accepted - a 3 judge panel would do an in person interview - and then if and only if the panel approves you can you go into the showroom.

Once a model is picked the same process should be repeated.

I can see them lining up
 

Bertotti

Friend of Fred
Jul 20, 2017
9,480
South Dakota
I think they've moved to compete more squarely with Epiphone on the low end. They also watered down the Proline when they introduced the PE's. I kinda get it, the "modern" take, but for me they made a number of backward steps there. When the PE's arrived suddenly their were less "traditional" Prolines in the line-up.

But it's business and you go where the money is.
A Gretsch with the tension bar Bigsby and flatter top will never be a proline to me irregardless of Gretsch calls it or places it in the line up. Even worse, for me, is seeing master built Gretsch with these modern design flaws.
 

Mr Swisher

Country Gent
Jun 12, 2012
1,261
England
A Gretsch with the tension bar Bigsby and flatter top will never be a proline to me irregardless of Gretsch calls it or places it in the line up. Even worse, for me, is seeing master built Gretsch with these modern design flaws.

Each to their own. I don't like them either, for no other reason than in my experience, they 'cause more issues. To be honest though, my Gretsches have always had the least whammy use of my guitars. I save the divebombs for my Strat's!
 

stevo

Friend of Fred
May 1, 2012
7,075
Atlanta
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 think it actually elevates the pro and custom lines and is designed to get people into the brand. It's kind of like the Epiphone play with Gibson. Gibson hasn't been watered down by Epiphone so much although some might argue that their own quality issues have watered them down.

I will say that Fender has blurred the line between top and mid with the MIM line. I've seen some really nice ones that could sway me over a USA model.
 

Uncle Daddy

Friend of Fred
Jan 19, 2012
5,911
Maldon UK
I think it actually elevates the pro and custom lines and is designed to get people into the brand. It's kind of like the Epiphone play with Gibson. Gibson hasn't been watered down by Epiphone so much although some might argue that their own quality issues have watered them down.

I will say that Fender has blurred the line between top and mid with the MIM line. I've seen some really nice ones that could sway me over a USA model.
I would never buy an Epiphone if what I really wanted was a Gibson.
 

Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
18,709
Petaluma
I would never buy an Epiphone if what I really wanted was a Gibson.
Absolutely. But not everyone is looking for "Gibson", some people are interested in a Les Paul, SG, etc. And they can find a good one with the Epiphone label.

There are people who won't settle for the lower price range (I will admit, I am only really interested in proline Gretsch). But that is exactly why manufacturers create different models at different price points, to capture as much consumer surplus as possible. You don't want to sell someone with Gibson money an Ephiphone. AND you don't want to lose a customer that only had Epiphone money. You want ALL the money.
 
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