Modern Gretsch Guitars

Historic Series G3967 Rescue


I haven't posted anything in a while, but I thought the folks here might get a kick out of what I did on this G3967.

So, here's the list of what I've done to revive this beastie:
- Removed badly worn frets and leveled the fretboard.
- Replaced all frets with medium-jumbos, leveled and dressed.
- Replaced plastic nut with natural bone nut with new setup - dressed for a Bigsby.
- Replaced pitted & worn chrome tuner buttons with ebony buttons.
- Replaced dead Gretsch floating pickup with StewMac Parson's Street P-90 (modern).
- Installed Bigsby with Duane Eddy trem arm.
- Replaced wooden bridge with Compton titanium bar bridge.
- Replaced ugly cream pickguard with identically sized/shaped ebony pickguard.

First, here's a shot of the ebony tuner buttons.


This poor old girl was just dirty all over and everything but the tuning machines had corrosion on it. The frets were just shot, and there was some mild wear on the fretboard itself. The pickup was also just dead, and the wiring harness and pots were also corroded up.

On the other hand, the bones and finish were still in great shape - once all the dirt and grit was cleaned off. There's one finish dink in the bottom side on the lower bout - easily drop-filled. It still shows a bit, but I can live with that. The only other finish defect is that the gold paint doesn't go all the way to the binding on the bottom edge of the neck. I can live with both of these nits.

I've never been a fan of the original cream-colored pickguards on these things. The new pickguard is the same thickness as the old to within a couple of thou, and the edge bevel is a near-perfect match. I used the old pickguard as a routing template. It's also a dead match to the fretboard - got lucky there with a coat of sealing wax on it. Might add more wax and buff to medium gloss. Still deciding. I like how it matches the oiled fretboard now with some grain texture showing through.

Learning to work with the ebony was definitely a trial. Never seen wood shatter and chip like this on the router - so brittle to work with power tools but very forgiving with hand tools.


I've had two of these Historic Series floating pickups end up dead on arrival. Solution for this one: dog-ear P-90...

I've decided that the new pickguard is too pretty to drill and mount vol/tone controls through it. I've just ordered some of the "hidden dial" controls from StewMac that will mount under the edge of the new pickguard instead of through it.

I've got the pickup wired straight to the jack right now, and the StewMac Parson's Street P-90 is a surprising blaster! This pup has some serious grunt. I put the tallest riser I could reasonably find under it to get it the spec distance from the strings. The riser was selected knowing that I was going to need to remove material to mate it to the archtop.

Acoustically, this thing is like a cannon too. Likely the loudest hollow-body Gretsch I own. I might have to install a sound post to control it under amplification.

I'm still contemplating putting a Dynasonic pickup in the bridge position and adding a pickup switch on the upper bout. Will probably just play it this way for a while.

It still has the "setup" strings on it. Once I get the controls wired and everything adjusted to taste, the D'Addario round-wounds will be replaced with Thomastic-Infeld Jazz flats. Might have to swap to a bridge compensated for a wound G.

Like my G3900 that I put a Charlie Christian-style floating pickup onto, this is a seriously fun guitar where 1) I didn't pay a lot of money for it, 2) it presented a few interesting experiences/challenges, and 3) it demonstrates a surprising level of quality in this era of Gretsch guitars.

Bonus: with a 15" lower bout, it's still feels like a "junior"!


Like! Looks great. This is one of NJBob’s favorite models. Congrats


Nicely done! I'd leave it as is. The Historics are the best unknown Gretsch guitars out there. Cat's Eyes make everything sound better.


Like! Looks great. This is one of NJBob’s favorite models. Congrats

– Baba Joe

Yup. I tried a TruArc on it but it went wonky so I put the wood back on.


Tasty. Is the body thickness the same as the 3900? I haven't run across either model but the other Historics I've tried were great -- definitely unsung heroes.


NICE!!!! Great work by you!


Tasty. Is the body thickness the same as the 3900? I haven't run across either model but the other Historics I've tried were great -- definitely unsung heroes.

– lx

Yes, measured at the binding, both the G3900 and the G3967 are 3". Internal construction is nearly identical with the biggest difference being a support block for the Florentine cutaway point (versus the Venetian on the G3900...).


So the pickguard is back off again. I’ve decided to give it another coat of wax on the front and try to buff it out a bit more to bring up some more shine before the new hidden controls go on the back side of it.

Thought you folks might like to see the side-by-side shot on the workbench...

Looking at it this way, my only regret with this work is losing the Gretsch logo.


Cool lookin' wee geet that!


Sorry this looks so dark, but it's actually a bit challenging to show these new hidden controls.

Took about 30 minutes to install. Really digging the fact that I have tone and volume control now - but it sure ain't obvious like knobs would have been!


The controls look great.

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