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Why Are Vintage Gretsch Guitars Cheaper than Gibson and Fender?

Messages
120
I understand their is more demand for vintage Gibson and Fender than Gretsch which would increase their market value, but I see Gretsch Tennessean/Country Gentlemen guitars on Reverb for $2-3,000.
This is significantly cheaper than a 60s Fender or Gibson guitar and I was wondering if anyone had some insight into why this is so?

Also, I'm considering buying an Eastman T58 which is basically a Gretsch, but wondering if it would be worth spending a few hundred dollars more for a vintage Gretsch...
 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,763
Gretsch guitars in the 50s and 60s often have problems. Many need neck resets, binding crumbles, and more, plus they simply don't have the appeal of gibbys and fenders.

For my money the current Gretsch guitars are the best that have been produced. Lots of great models to choose from and excellent quality. This also kills the market for vintage.
 

toomanyamps

Member
Messages
1,894
I understand their is more demand for vintage Gibson and Fender than Gretsch which would increase their market value, but I see Gretsch Tennessean/Country Gentlemen guitars on Reverb for $2-3,000.
This is significantly cheaper than a 60s Fender or Gibson guitar and I was wondering if anyone had some insight into why this is so?

Also, I'm considering buying an Eastman T58 which is basically a Gretsch, but wondering if it would be worth spending a few hundred dollars more for a vintage Gretsch...
In the early 60s Gretsch outsold Gibson and Fender because of the Beatles influence , so there more of them around.

After the Beatles I would bet most guitarists can't name 3 players who played Gretsch.
 
Messages
348
I have a '63 6120 (orange double cutaway) that I just love; however, it isn't the most versatile instrument one could play. When it's right, it is really right. Into a Vox or a Matchless it can be pretty amazing. I agree with the issues of binding, other construction issues, etc. They weren't made that well but they are extremely cool.

They force you (well, me...) to slow down and make every note and chord count.

Best...H
 
Messages
348
Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Malcom Young, various bands in the 90's, Brian Setzer, Tom Petty, but I get the idea. Lotttttssss more Fender and Gibson players.
 

deytookerjaabs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,363
I'm not really a vintage snob by any means....

But, for some reason I think Gretsch's and the Sears guitars (airline, supro, danelectro) better made reissues aren't as hip as the originals in terms of "tone." Whereas, Fenders and Gibsons I think are 99+% there.

The Gretsch reissues in particular are, before plugging in, a brighter and more airy/articulate proper archtop sound. The ridiculously shallow neck angle, half arsed neck joint, and overall construction of the old ones make for a bit duller guitar acoustically. BUT, taking that edge off makes a real difference when plugging in. The old ones sound more noticeably different, to my ears, than other guitar brands in terms of the new vs reissue comparisons.
 

aldocello

Member
Messages
461
I don't think the Gretsch guitars were built as well as Gibsons. They had painted purfling over some really bad finishes. I personally think the pickups were also inferior. Gretsch was a drum company trying to make guitars.
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,404
While I agree in general, it depends on the model. A vintage LP jr is cheaper than a Penguin (for a ridiculous example). Late 50s 6120s and Falcons are probably comparable to Teles ($10-20k)?
 

Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,198
My experiences of Gretsch are mostly with the cheaper models so I don't know how White Falcons and the likes compare to equivalent era Gibsons in terms of build quality. I do have a '67 Rally and a '65 Clipper in the collection.

With something like a Tennessean, they're cool guitars and they have a unique sound and personality but in the same way that Danelectros, Supros, upper end Harmonys etc are cool, so for most of us that buy them it's a somewhat leftfield addition to the collection rather than something you're going to play all the time. They're a lot quirkier in design than Gibson which is often to the detriment of the player - for example my Rally has no less than four volumes but only the rather useless switch for tone, and a ridiculous heel that makes access past the 14th fret hard going even though from the front there appear to be 19 frets clear of the body.

There's also the fact that they weren't made as well as Gibson to begin with and they're old guitars now so, as others have already pointed out, there are often issues with them. There are some very well made modern versions that aren't too expensive so if you want the Gretsch look and aren't irredeemably attached to the idea of owning an old one there are other options. Personally a vintage Tennerssean, Anniversary or Rally is a fun guitar that's well worth having in the collection but I wouldn't want to be paying more than the cost of a reissue for one given the quality level.

The Eastman T58 is a great guitar by the way, easily as good as a Japanese Gretsch reissue.
 

sws1

Member
Messages
12,235
I understand their is more demand for vintage Gibson and Fender than Gretsch which would increase their market value, but I see Gretsch Tennessean/Country Gentlemen guitars on Reverb for $2-3,000.
This is significantly cheaper than a 60s Fender or Gibson guitar and I was wondering if anyone had some insight into why this is so?
You answered your own question. End of story.
 

Laurent Brondel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,439
The Jaguar was top of the line at Fender when it came out, more expensive than a Strat or a Tele. Vintage prices now don't reflect that at all, there's just a much lower demand.

Gretsch is known mostly for its hollow bodies, it's already a niche market with few signature players, and guitars that are not versatile like a Strat, a Tele or a LesPaul. That being said original White Falcons, 6120's and Duo Jets fetch pretty good prices…
 

Kiwi

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,096
You can head over to The Gretsch Pages .com for a full discussion, and learn a lot, about the vintage Gretsches. Great folks over there.

They're quite open about the problems that 1950s/60s Gretsches have. The binding on the necks and bodies is usually crumbling by now, and repairing that is tricky and expensive. Necks needing re-sets are not uncommon. Other stuff. They haven't aged well.

The major thing, for me, is that the current Gretsches coming out of Japan's Terada factory are just astonishly good instruments, easily the equivalent of Fender or Gibson Custom Shop. That's kept me out of the vintage market.

Not a knock on the old ones - I've played a few and they have their own charms - but you'd asked why the market isn't as high priced as F or G for 50 and 60 year old instruments.

=K
 

jdogric12

Member
Messages
2,583
I'm very excited about a '66 or '67 6120 I've got coming my way soon. I know they're not the best, but for the money I think they're still a great deal. Found a guy in Iowa who will redo the binding for under $350... not too bad! So end of day that's under $2K for a playable cool vintage Gretsch with a Bigsby. I'll take it!
 

theanalogdream

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,483
because Bonamassa slash and EC dont play them
For the win^
I wouldn't buy an Eastwood when you want a Gretsch... just save and buy the right thing. It's better than getting the next best thing and always comparing in your head. The Eastwood resale is awful, too.
 

DrumBob

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,755
Gretsch guitars in the 50s and 60s often have problems. Many need neck resets, binding crumbles, and more, plus they simply don't have the appeal of gibbys and fenders.

For my money the current Gretsch guitars are the best that have been produced. Lots of great models to choose from and excellent quality. This also kills the market for vintage.
This exactly. Old Gretsches had issues as described above. Truth is, they weren't particularly sturdy guitars in the first place, nor were they always well made. Gretsch players are a cult in some ways. I mean no offense to anyone when I say that. The same thing exists for Rickenbacker guitars. Some guys love Gretsches and some don't. I'm in the latter category. I had six or seven recent pro line Gretsches and sold them all. They were all very well made instruments; I just couldn't bond with them, even though I tried hard. Gretsch players are usually lumped into the rockabilly bag, and there's quite a bit of truth to that, but not always. Brian Setzer fans often seem to play Gretsches, and a lot of current rockabilly guys have copied Setzer. Finally, Gretsch guitars just don't have the universal appeal of a Strat or Les Paul.
 

Bgillon

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
74
You can head over to The Gretsch Pages .com for a full discussion, and learn a lot, about the vintage Gretsches. Great folks over there.

They're quite open about the problems that 1950s/60s Gretsches have. The binding on the necks and bodies is usually crumbling by now, and repairing that is tricky and expensive. Necks needing re-sets are not uncommon. Other stuff. They haven't aged well.

The major thing, for me, is that the current Gretsches coming out of Japan's Terada factory are just astonishly good instruments, easily the equivalent of Fender or Gibson Custom Shop. That's kept me out of the vintage market.

Not a knock on the old ones - I've played a few and they have their own charms - but you'd asked why the market isn't as high priced as F or G for 50 and 60 year old instruments.

=K
I also think Kiwi nailed it. Gretsch manufacturing moved around from the 50s to the 60s to the 70s, with the 70s manufacturing considered especially unpredictable. Some 50s models and some 60s models can be great, really unique instruments (a 1955 Roundup can be a pretty expensive guitar), but later vintage can be very suspect. I also agree with several posts that modern era Japanese Gretsch guitars are wonderful. I like 'em a lot.
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,576
the simple fact is that old gretsches were just not very good guitars. george gruhn famously even excludes them from his pantheon of "golden age" american guitar companies because they never had that period of "vintage greatness" like fender (pre '65) gibson (ted mcCarty years) or martin (pre-war).

they've also aged badly, with problems like separating necks and crumbling binding, things that are just ugly and expensive to fix.

new japanese gretsches are better-built than the originals ever were.
 




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