Modern Gretsch Guitars

synchromatic harp tailpiece cracking- fix or replace?

1

so the tailpiece on my g400 is starting to separate on the bass side. or crack, if you like, where the two pieces meet (the harpy base and the block where the strings go through).

so is this something that can be fixed? i reached out to some brass instrument repair shops and havent heard back. is this something a tech can handle?

a quick peek at our sponsors and other vendors didn't turn up any new ones. not sure how long ago they stopped making gold ones.

so, thoughts? how should i proceed? buy the chrome one and have it plated? get this one fixed? send it out somewhere? reach out to gretsch?

2

As a long-time fan -- and one-time owner -- of the Synchro 400, I'm sad to hear of this happening. However, this happened a lot to the vintage ones too. Gretsch stopped production of the 400 a while back and no longer offer it.

I would:

A) get a chrome one as the harp pieces are probably no longer being made and a spare is good; you may be able to gold-plate it.

B) take the old one to a jeweler or metal shop where they can determine how best to fix it. Could you post a few pics of this? Yours may be one of the first that has this happening.

3

Can you post a pic? Not being intimately familiar with that tailpiece I can't picture the failure, but I am a machinist, welder and fabricator in the auto restoration trade and can offer ideas on how I would repair it.

4

I am a machinist, welder and fabricator in the auto restoration trade

Uh oh. You're in for it now. There are a few car guys on the site who just might have questions for you from time to time...

Where are you based?

5

Eugene Oregon

www.vintageunderground.us

We specialize in Italian, british and German cars but do pretty much any European and even some American stuff. Mostly prewar "classics" like Packards

6

Sounds like the same thing is happening to my G400C. Does it look something like this:

It's also starting on the treble side:

As well as on the hinge:

And here's the entire guitar for good measure!

I have had this guitar for about eight years now and I'm really starting to play it more and more the last two years. I have also been thinking to replace the tailpiece but haven't come across one when I was looking for it. I'm thinking a Cadillac tailpiece would look great also, but they're a bit pricey and this guitar has been modded with an endpin jack. A new tailpiece would need to be modded too. I'll be following this thread to see if there are more solutions coming up.

7

yeah, pretty much. except mine isn't as bad as yours, yet (from what i've noticed). if anything, i'm heartened that the tailpiece still has a ways to go before it fails.

would love to hear (and hear more about) that pickup. sometimes i wonder about changing mine. i love it (it's a floating usa kent armstrong) but i wonder about dynas and stuff every now and again.

8

The guitar already had the pickup installed by the previous owner and I can't remember what kind or brand it is. I only play the guitar acoustic at home since it's loud enough so it doesn't really get plugged in. I know it works cause I tested it, but that's all I can tell about it for now.

Haha, when I bought the guitar I was also thinking Dyna's would be great. Now I'm glad I didn't because I love the guitar as an acoustic.

By putting a mirror under the tailpiece, well pie shovel actually, I can see three screws attached in the tailpiece, so hopefully that will hold everything together. I'd hate to see the tailpiece explode under tension...

9

So it is soldered CNC cut brass. If it were in my hands I would attempt to remove the screws, hoping they were not soldered as well and then heat the joint until it released. At that point I would clean off the residue, sand it to bare brass, apply flux at the joint and re-solder it with a silver solder. I would only use a propane torch. Any discoloration in the brass could be polished out.

About an hour of work.

Note: in that pic directly above, that discoloration is due to improperly cleaning the flux residue. It is acidic and corrodes the metal when not removed or neutralized.

10

I'm not looking to get it fixed for now but thank you very much for the good info! I'll see how long it'll hold up and if it ever moves, becomes unstable or breaks I'll have it sorted or replaced. The screws seems to be plated into the tailpiece, not sure if they're easily removed.

11

so you're saying this is worth fixing? who should we take it to and what do you suppose it'll run? would it need to be replated afterward? and will it fail eventually, or will it continue to hold?

just trying to figure out which actions are needed, and what the options are here. because it is starting to sound a little pricey, not that there are many other options out there.

12

I am a machinist, welder and fabricator in the auto restoration trade

Uh oh. You're in for it now. There are a few car guys on the site who just might have questions for you from time to time...

Where are you based?

– Proteus

This is gonna be fun.

13

I can't say whether it is "worth fixing" or not. I can say it IS fixable and if it showed up on my work bench at my shop rate it would have a bill of about 90 to 125 dollars provided no plating was needed. Those pics looked like brass to me, not gold plate.

Chrome and nickel plate are expensive. Well not so much with a basic nickel plate, but the shiny high gloss guitar finish version is. And then the gold on top of that is a whole separate thing. It is a very time and labor intensive process involving multiple copper layers which are filed and smoothed to be the perfect smooth and glossy base to which the final chrome or nickel layer is applied.

14

For instance this box of small bits just back from the chrome shop cost us between 700 and 900 dollars!

15

These delicate script badges run around 150 to make look new again.

Which is why this one hasn't been redone

With chrome shops it is either good, fast or reasonably priced and you only get two of the three. Cheap shops that do decent work take sometimes years to get the stuff back and often lose bits in the process. Quality work with a quick turnaround is expensive


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