Watering down the product?

Runamok

Country Gent
I once beloved to a forum, where they had a Custom Shop area. One guy had a number of identical Strats, in assorted colors. I could understand two identical guitars, but this guy had 6 or 7, IIRC. A total waste of money.
Green guitars are best when played in the summer, between the hours of 4 & 8 AM.

Uniqueness is being different—just like everybody else.

Marketshare depends on enough people liking the unique sound, then copying everybody else until nobody cares.
 
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VintageRules

Electromatic
Mar 6, 2019
4
Ontario, Canada
I think the basic flaw in the op comment is, ""Gretsch" doesn't seem to carry the mystique of years ago..." and the use of "marque". Gretsch isn't Stradivarius or Faberge, nor has it ever been a boutique instrument builder. It has had some limited cache at times, thanks to players such as Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer later, for example, but never any "mystique". It was just another brand of instrument and there are no secrets about the instruments or the company's history. It is no different than Fender, Gibson or other instrument brands/models in that regard. The brand was "watered down" for a certain period of time in the mid 1960's, not today (almost exactly the same time Fender was 'watered down', due to the sale of the company to CBS). In both cases it is very well documented.
The company has also been manufacturing and/or selling student model and lower price point instruments since about 1900. That isn't a new thing and the lower price point models have always outnumbered the higher tier ones, for obvious reasons. I own a late 1930's student model myself. The 1939 catalogue page that contains my model states, "Minimum - Priced Guitars For Students", as its header, to further emphasize that fact.
 

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VintageRules

Electromatic
Mar 6, 2019
4
Ontario, Canada
Green guitars are best when played in the summer, between the hours of 4 & 8 AM.

Uniqueness is being different—just like everybody else.

Marketshare depends on enough people liking the unique sound, then copying everybody else until nobody cares.
Within certain parts of the industry (the part I belong to), that particular "custom shop", is considered to be a 'custom shop' in name only. It is just a marketing gimmick to jack up the price on what are otherwise mass production instruments that pass through it and get a (very little), bit of extra attention.
That particular company was established to mass produce instruments, beginning with patenting an instrument invented by someone else (the electric lap steel), and they made their name on quantity, not quality, Model T's, not Mercedes or Rolls Royce's. The 'Precision' bass was also invented by the same person who invented the electric lap steel but failed to register a patent for either, in the mid 1930's.
 

The Mosh

Electromatic
Mar 14, 2022
7
Costa Mesa CA
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?
it's hard to beat the made in japan models. They are simply amazing .
 

Jim Krause

Electromatic
May 2, 2022
77
Lawrence, Kansas
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.
You can't play mystique. I bought my 5120 because it didn't sound like a Gibson, nor a Stratocaster. Although I have to admit, Mystique sounds like a cool title for a guitar instrumental.
 

ACL-Gretsch

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
113
Seattle
Several problems with this one... I would prefer a riding angle similar to the one used on the 1950's model. And I don't like the grabbiness of the disc brakes, preferring the spongy, subtle action of drums. Aesthetically speaking, the hidden suspension / swing arm is a bit too sleek for my liking and would have preferred it if they went with the dual coils they used to use on the model I had as a kid. Can't say I like the black hardware either. What happened to all of the chrome?

Here you go my friend; spongy drums and all!

GretschCycle3b.jpg
 

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,792
Savannah, GA
I once beloved to a forum, where they had a Custom Shop area. One guy had a number of identical Strats, in assorted colors. I could understand two identical guitars, but this guy had 6 or 7, IIRC. A total waste of money.
I could so be that guy if I had money.

For me there are very few things as beautiful as a Stratocaster and I love almost all the classic colors.

I would at least put a variety of pickups in them if that would satisfy you?
 

ACL-Gretsch

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
113
Seattle
it's hard to beat the made in japan models. They are simply amazing .

I'll agree with you there. Based on my G6228FM, the fit, finish, sound, weight and whatever magic sauce they soaked it in, I've never had a better electric guitar. Even my persnickety guitar tech said it's one of the nicest new guitars he's seen these days.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
Within certain parts of the industry (the part I belong to), that particular "custom shop", is considered to be a 'custom shop' in name only. It is just a marketing gimmick to jack up the price on what are otherwise mass production instruments that pass through it and get a (very little), bit of extra attention.

I‘m not too impressed with that. Custom Shop. I had a Fender Custom Shop guitar, a number of years ago, which arrived poorly setup and the QC was significantly below what I would expect on an entry level instrument. IMHO, it’s more of a Custom-Paint Shop.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
I could so be that guy if I had money.

For me there are very few things as beautiful as a Stratocaster and I love almost all the classic colors.

I would at least put a variety of pickups in them if that would satisfy you?
Well … I suppose so. :)
 

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,792
Savannah, GA
I‘m not too impressed with that. Custom Shop. I had a Fender Custom Shop guitar, a number of years ago, which arrived poorly setup and the QC was significantly below what I would expect on an entry level instrument. IMHO, it’s more of a Custom-Paint Shop.
Yeah…even with the cash I see no advantage to a Fender Custom Shop model. Not that I would turn one down for any arbitrary reason either.
I’m fine with used guitars and even beat-up looking guitars but not with artificially over-aged guitars. They mostly look unconvincing and ridiculous to my eye.
Now Stephen Stern has a better eye to my taste and I like a lot of the Gretsch Custom Shop offerings.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
Yeah…even with the cash I see no advantage to a Fender Custom Shop model. Not that I would turn one down for any arbitrary reason either.
I’m fine with used guitars and even beat-up looking guitars but not with artificially over-aged guitars. They mostly look unconvincing and ridiculous to my eye.
Now Stephen Stern has a better eye to my taste and I like a lot of the Gretsch Custom Shop offerings.
IMHO, the CS is a great way to maximize profits, for very little difference, beyond the finish.

Stern, from what I know, is actually a luthier, and makes some great guitars. Likewise, in the “Masterbuilt” shop at Fender, some true skill is shown, but the Fender CS is just doing what has been known for decades as “Special Orders”. Before the term Custom Shop came into common use, if you wanted a new guitar with a special finish, or some unusual feature, you did a special order, paid a little extra, and got what you wanted. My old friend, Dale Bruning did a special order ES-175 with a single pickup and an bound headstock. It was the first 175 I actually played, and I didn’t realize that not all 175s had that binding. But my point is, these were not labeled as “Custom Shop”, in any way. You might pay a few extra bucks for a certain finish, or some feature, but it wasn’t a big deal, or some source of bragging rights.
 

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,792
Savannah, GA
I don’t doubt that some of those finishing techniques are very labor-intensive.
I bet it was fun and challenging to get the aging just right for the first 6-7 months, but after relicing a couple hundred guitars I think as a guitar builder, I’d rather turn that screwdriver into my own eyesocket.
 

ACL-Gretsch

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
113
Seattle
I don’t doubt that some of those finishing techniques are very labor-intensive.
I bet it was fun and challenging to get the aging just right for the first 6-7 months, but after relicing a couple hundred guitars I think as a guitar builder, I’d rather turn that screwdriver into my own eyesocket.
Too funny! I've always wondered what it's like when big companies "relic" their guitars. For example is there a step by step spec sheet they follow on how to "ruin" a beautiful new guitar? 🤣
 

Bertotti

Friend of Fred
Jul 20, 2017
9,765
South Dakota
Too funny! I've always wondered what it's like when big companies "relic" their guitars. For example is there a step by step spec sheet they follow on how to "ruin" a beautiful new guitar? 🤣
There was a video on YouTube that showed a reliving process. Maybe I can find it again. I know some people like a relives guitar but when I spend my cash it better be shiny brand spanking new when I get it!
 

blueruins

Country Gent
May 28, 2013
4,792
Savannah, GA
Too funny! I've always wondered what it's like when big companies "relic" their guitars. For example is there a step by step spec sheet they follow on how to "ruin" a beautiful new guitar? 🤣
🤣 that’s funny right there🤣

There must be a list because they all seem to “age” in almost the exact same manner. That banana shaped place where the wood shows through and the patch on the back where the pretend “buckle” dug around some. Don’t forget to sand down the back of the neck and rub some 2A pencil lead up in there real good.

I envision these poor guitars shackled to the stone prison walls and flogged with chains for no good reason.

B8944492-971D-44CB-9FE3-2410AB92D938.jpeg
 

ACL-Gretsch

Gretschie
May 16, 2017
113
Seattle
There was a video on YouTube that showed a reliving process. Maybe I can find it again. I know some people like a relives guitar but when I spend my cash it better be shiny brand spanking new when I get it!

Same here.

I know, it reminds me of when I was a kid and we would get our new converse shoes. We would always scuff 'em up so we didn't look like newbs to our friends! 😂

Although, I absolutely love seeing a truly old, road worn axe that a musician's played forever like Bruce's Tele (I actually got to see him play that one live years ago before he changed it out for replicas on the road) or Clapton's old Strat for example!
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,386
Tucson
I know, it reminds me of when I was a kid and we would get our new converse shoes. We would always scuff 'em up so we didn't look like newbs to our friends! 😂

Although, I absolutely love seeing a truly old, road worn axe that a musician's played forever like Bruce's Tele (I actually got to see him play that one live years ago before he changed it out for replicas on the road) or Clapton's old Strat for example!
I have no problem with natural wear, but I can’t stand the thought of deliberately damaging a finish. Some of those Road Worn Fenders looked awful.
 


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