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Diagnosis: Grote

Discussion in 'Other Guitar Discussion' started by Lone Woof, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    All the stories about these great cheapo guitars piqued my interest enough to start looking on Amazon. I had $63 left on a gift card from last Christmas, so that would make the cheap guitar even cheaper.

    The Grote guitars seemed to get pretty good reviews, and I didn’t have a hollowbody archtop, so I landed on what they call the Grote Jazz Guitar at $169. At least I think that’s what it’s called. You would think they could come up with something better, right?

    As I’m ordering it, I get a come on from Amazon to apply for their store card and get an instant $60. Well, okay. I still have no idea what the store card is about and will probably never use it. But with that and the gift card remnant my checkout price is now $49 and some odd cents.

    I bought it on Saturday and figured it would take a slow boat from China to get here. To my surprise, the tracking info said Wednesday. Sure enough, it arrives Wednesday.

    So this is the box it came in:
    62CDFA8E-105B-4923-A9BD-E5283CC3B8AB.jpeg

    Pretty flimsy.

    Opened up to this:

    EB1E1BD6-A345-4338-870B-4CCCC653C5D6.jpeg
    First thought: it’s a miracle it’s not in pieces. It was just the guitar in a foam bag with some half assed blocks of styrofoam.

    B0BD47BD-5F17-44DC-9342-E5AE53D83EC0.jpeg

    No protection on top or back of guitar at all. Headstock was lying against back of the box.

    This came with it:
    E1207800-865A-4630-BA80-BB00F85D0103.jpeg

    Yeah, that’s a Trump pick. The other one has a zebra head on it. Truss rod wrench in the bag, too.

    But what about the guitar?

    Amazingly, no damage other than the bridge being pushed over to one side about a half inch.

    A3102A34-D984-45A6-826C-029F90C58BD9.jpeg

    Note: it came with a black pickguard that I removed about 5 minutes after pulling it out of the bag.

    A thorough inspection revealed:
    A couple paint flubs around the f-holes
    Some black specks on the top edges of the binding
    Some slight waviness in the finish on the body in a couple places

    And that’s it.

    Neck is straight with just a slight relief
    Tuners work smoothly
    No sharp fret edges at all
    Knobs work fine
    No rattling wires inside body

    It came with POS .09 strings. Changed them for .10s and instantly the guitar played better, sounded better and stayed in tune.

    The fretboard had some residue that made my fingers black. Cleaned/conditioned board with bore oil. You can see the black residue on the paper towel.

    A941C9FD-78F0-415F-A8D3-1CD014AAEE9F.jpeg

    About the fretboard. I wasn’t expecting the inlays to be this good. I mean, they are all flawlessly positioned with no gaps and no glue residue.
    E10BB145-4DFA-4E76-AFE3-ECC7BCCE0C81.jpeg

    Front and back:
    AE080368-B2F6-4434-A73E-C94C5E9BAB03.jpeg 8ADAEB6B-2187-4E24-A537-7FC91F6B22F7.jpeg 79AC469F-7CF5-4061-A0E0-5C813206614E.jpeg

    Scale is 25” and the neck is what I’d call semi chunky. Weighs 5 1/2 lbs.

    Tone is thick with fairly quick decay and a little on the muddy side. Brightens up by boosting the treble on the amp.

    I was fully expecting I’d have to return this guitar, but it’s surprisingly good and will be sticking around. It’s obviously a copy of the Epiphone Inspired by 1966 guitar, and I’m real curious to see how it compares to one of those.

    How they can make a guitar this good and ship it here from China and sell it for just $169 is amazing, and I’m having to reevaluate my bias against inexpensive Chinese made guitars.
     
    Nate D, Bowmap, hornpiper and 7 others like this.
  2. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    Oh yeah, the headstock inlay isn’t really an inlay. It’s a foil decal. Very clever of them.
    2394C0B5-0DB0-45C1-8BAC-1E245139D15F.jpeg
     
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  3. Ducerro

    Ducerro Strat-Talker

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    The latest batch of Fireflys have some serious issues - be glad you went with Grote. I've got one of the Firefly FFTH Thinlines and it's so so at best. I'll keep it, but likely won't try for another. I wanted their 335/338 style, but that's the one that's having so many issues now.

    Luckily, I didn't spend anything to get the Firefly - had more than enough points on my AMEX card to have it shipped in for free. Probably a good thing as it appears I got exactly what I paid for it!

    Enjoy the Gorte! It looks killer!
     
  4. Smokey3

    Smokey3 Strat-Talker

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    Hey, the Trump pick is worth that, lol.
     
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  5. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Senior Stratmaster

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    I thought it said “Scrote” when I first saw it. Like the Scrotie McBoogerballs signature model or something. Man do I need new glasses. Dig the trump pick. That’s funny.
     
    Boognish, Lone Woof and StratSounds like this.
  6. Mr C

    Mr C Senior Stratmaster

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    Nice. And a trump pick! The quality looks unimpeachable!
     
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  7. Jesse414

    Jesse414 Strat-O-Master

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    That looks really nice congrats. I can't believe they shipped it with no real protection. Glad yours wasn't damaged.
     
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  8. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    I was actually eying the 335 copies at first, but decided to go for something cheaper and with a P90.

    Isn’t the FFTH a Tele copy? I was real tempted on the orange one, but didn’t see much need for another Tele.
     
  9. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    Yeah, not even a “Fragile” sticker on the box. Ridiculous.
     
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  10. rockon1

    rockon1 Strat-Talker

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    Both my Grote and sister no name came packed the same way and both amazingly had no damage. Congrats on your CANGD and welcome to the club,lol!
     
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  11. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Good looking guitar, congrats.
     
  12. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    Ha, yeah, it was a yuuuge bonus.
     
  13. Ducerro

    Ducerro Strat-Talker

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    Yes - the FFTH is Firefly's version of a Fender Thinline Telecaster. That orange one looks like Creamsickle more so than orange. It's actually a pretty cool looking color. Mine's Matte Black. I sprang for the FFTH as I was hoping for something - when unplugged - that would have more volume than an electric and less than an acoustic... So I could quietly practice or noodle in my office. The FFTH kinda fits the bill. I've gone over mine with a fine tooth comb and there are a couple of issues present that others have reported as well.

    First - The strings SUCK. But really - what would one expect. I don't consider this a true issue as I generally don't like the strings most guitars come with anyway. But these are really cheap - more toy like than anything else.

    Second - The trust rod has goop in the nut. Others have also had the same issue, but it's a fairly easy fix. Just need to get a small screw driver or a paper clip and clean it out. It was a bit easier said than done, but I managed to pull the crud out of the nut and was then able to verify the truss rod worked (it does).

    Third - The bridge "looks" incredibility cheap. Likely more of a visual issue than anything else - but I will be changing it out.

    Fourth - The bridge pickup - in my opinion - is awful. The neck pup is ok, but it's not great either. I keep telling myself it doesn't matter as its intended purpose is not "plugged in", but it does matter. I've been looking at pups and I think I'm going to go with Bootstrap Palo Duro's.

    The rest of the axe is surprisingly good. Frets are fine, no sharp edges, could use a touch of polish - but that's nothing. I'll do that when I change strings. Fit and finish is... well, excellent. It's really not a horrible guitar - especially for $140 - just needs a bit of setup and a couple of hours of finish work.
     
  14. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    I watched an unboxing video of a creamsicle orange one on youtube by 60 Cycle Hum (good channel, BTW). Everything you said about it is in sync with what that guy said -- really thin metal on the bridge, a super cheap looking bridge pickup, cheap plastic nut (same with my Grote, but it functions fine), and overall good fit and finish, except he thought the strings were Daddarios because they had colored ball ends.

    I still haven't checked the truss rod on mine, other than swinging the cloisonné truss rod cover to the side to see that it has one. Guess I ought to do that.
     
  15. Ducerro

    Ducerro Strat-Talker

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    Saw that video as well. The nut is "supposed" to be bone on this run, and mine doesn't look like plastic - but I really don't know. I'll likely wait until the pups are here before I change the strings. I'll replace the bridge at that time as well, polish the frets, and do a full setup. In the end I'll only have $100 cash into the guitar. Hopefully it will be a good player. Oh - I need to sand the neck as well. It's a bit rough. I think it's just clear coat overspray, so it shouldn't take but a couple of passes with a very fine sandpaper to fix that issue.
     
  16. Tuner Sandwich

    Tuner Sandwich Strat-Talker

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  17. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

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    Nice. Interesting model, thinline without the micky mouse ears..ES125 thinline? On the decay/sustain, make sure the action is high enough and there is relief in the neck, and check for high frets around the body joint. Check that the bridge and nut slots aren't pinching strings. Finally, check the pickups aren't too close to the strings, and damping their motion. Last resort, just crank the gain, and enjoy the controlled feedback sustain that is awesome in a hollowbody.
     
  18. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I find that guitar strangely compelling. Some of the jazz guitars are such amazing works of art that I can't really see myself playing in a manner that is worthy of them. This one has some funky to go along with the jazz, which is what would happen if I tried to play jazz. Kinda want one. :D
     
  19. Tuner Sandwich

    Tuner Sandwich Strat-Talker

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    Scratch it with sandpaper and smell it. You'll know if its bone or not.
     
  20. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

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    Ha, that's pretty much how I landed on this one! It's not just for jazz, though. It's probably even better suited for blues, particularly slide playing.
     
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