Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Another Streamliner Question

1

For you Streamliner owners, how do the necks on the ones from the 1950s compare with the modern Gretsch necks in size and feel?

2

Vintage 50s Streamliners benefit from the "miracle neck" feature. This is an asymmetric shape which makes for an ergonomically comfortable experience. In my opinion this is not a gimmick. It's a reason I bonded with my first Streamliner.

The modern necks are probably more consistent to each other... but don't have the asymmetric profile as far as I know.

3

Vintage 50s Streamliners benefit from the "miracle neck" feature. This is an asymmetric shape which makes for an ergonomically comfortable experience. In my opinion this is not a gimmick. It's a reason I bonded with my first Streamliner.

The modern necks are probably more consistent to each other... but don't have the asymmetric profile as far as I know.

– kc_eddie_b

That's interesting. Is it a compound radius on the fingerboard or in the neck progile?

4

As a generalization, Gretsch has always had very comfortable, and arguably modern feeling necks, at least going back to the early '50s. Mostly moderate to slightly slim C profiles. The only somewhat debatable necks would be some early Jets (pre 1956, but not all of them). Some of those can be a bit clubby, but still fine for my tastes.

Given how much neck profile tastes have changed over the years, it always makes me chuckle a bit when I think if how a 15 year old me with a 1965 Country Gentleman was practically mocked by my fellow guitar-playing high schoolers with their Ibanez, Charvel, and Jackson guitars. In 1990, people thought my Gent had an absurdly beefy neck. By 2015 standards, most people would think it was on the slim side.

5

That's interesting. Is it a compound radius on the fingerboard or in the neck progile?

– Journeyman

Look at the Gretsch 7-points of Supremecy stuff from the pre-war catalogs, where it flaunts the "non-pressure" neck feature... which later was re-named the "miracle neck". It shows the neck profiles being asymmetrical.

6

I thought the asymmetrical necks were done by the mid 50's? My 57 Streamliners is quite normal, and I'd say slightly on the big clubby side.

7

My 56 is normal too.

Now my 40's synchromatic is a different story!

 photo GretschSS.jpg  photo 6014neck.jpg

8

Really...? We can check the ephemera to see how long they marketed the miracle neck. My '56 6190 has it, but my '58 6120 does not.

edit: The last mention of the "miracle neck" feature is in the '56 Guitars for Moderns catalog. "For instance, every Gretsch guitars has the slim Miracle Neck that lets you play longer without tiring your hands". No mention of it in the '58 brochure announcing the Project-O-Sonic technology/6122/6119/Annie models. So JBJ is correct, the guitars in the back half of the 50s probably don't have that feature.

9

My '58 has the most exquisite slim D shape. It also has an ebony humpblock flat radiused board and a mortise-tenon joint. One '57 I tried had the slim D shape, another had a more normal neck. The '57 6187 I have has a hint of the asymmetric miracle neck. The modern necks (I haven't tried out a Duane Eddy yet) feel a little too slim. I like the heft the D shape has near the sides of the neck. The back of my hand just relaxes while playing; the new models not so much.

10

My '41 Synchro 100 has the asymmetric neck - thickest part of the neck in Setzer's pic above is to the right of the centreline. It is somewhat comfortable but even with the neck the normal width at the nut, the extra bulk is a bit more than I prefer for fretting with my thumb. If this wasn't a wonderful vintage guitar, I'd have that bias taken down so both sides are even with the thickest part now dead center.....and the overall profile a 'gentle' Vee.

11

LX can you post a pic of your neck joint? It would be very unusual to have a Mortise and Tenon joint on any body deeper than 2-1/4" in 58

12

Wow; I had no idea. Thanks for the great info guys!

13

JBJ, I haven't had the patience to figure out how to upload etc. My 6189 is from the #266xx batch, last of the humpblocks (or maybe the next batch was mixed in with neo-frets, tip o' the hat to the Ball Manual.) The tenon starts at just below the 18th fret. The mortise box is quite visible from the bass f-hole. It butts up against the upper trestles and may be made of mahogany (very dark). Standard 2.75" depth and approx. 15.75" wide body with heel dowel. Someone here had an excellent illustration of trestles. Other info: first generation Space Cadet bridge, thick lucite filtertron surround painted silver, blank chrome top f'tron. Square cut (for Dearmond) gold (not copper mist, dangit!) guard slung low like the color illustration for "57 Streamliner" in the color section of the Scott book. It's definitely not the dovetail from Crowbone's thread. I assumed all filtertron '58's had the heavy trestle and mortise/tenon construction.

I think the problem with Bigsby's and dovetail necks is that the long term application of releasing tension and returning to the original tension will tend to make the dovetail rock.This is the only explanation I have for my '58 6187 conversion's slight neck separation even though the dovetail joint has a heel dowel. I've had her for 15 years and the separation is happening. But that Bigsby will never come off.

14

There is a Streamliner from the same batch as mine on reverb, but yummy blonde instead of bamboo yellow and copper mist. I don't think the "copper mist" concept worked too well in Germany.

15

That one on Reverb looks like a standard dovetail joint with screw and plug, are you sure yours wasn't reset and modified at some point?

16

No doubt about it. They look the same until you look up close and start examining with mirrors, lights and probe. Ed has a filter Streamliner; maybe he could chime in? Can't get the link to work....

17

The fretboard extension over the top should look quite different on a Mortise and Tenon?

18

lx: Warning, grumpy repair geek post to follow.

There is no "problem" with Bigsbys and dovetail joints. A properly fit dovetail won't "rock". A sloppily fit one will rely on glue to fill the voids--the "fit"--and that glue may eventually give it up for a variety of reasons. Hide glue basically doesn't have very much cohesive strength, and gets soft with moderate heat.

Think about it. A classic dovetail joint is designed to work sans glue. If there is movement in the joint, it's not fit properly, period. There are presumably plenty of repair guys out there (hell even factories back in the day) who throw a plane shaving and a bunch of glue in there and hope for the best. I was trained to first true up all surfaces of the joint (must be FLAT), reworking where necessary, and fit hardwood shims with a handplane to about 90% coverage using slips of transfer paper in the joint. I'm not sure how many people do it this way, but tedium aside I can't imagine there's a better way to do it. Fit in this manner, a dovetailed neck can be strung up to full tension with no glue, no problem--after taking on the tension of a full set of strings, a little wiggle of the whammy bar is really no big deal.

Sorry you had a bad time with yours, but for all the loose neck joints out there, cause attributed to whatever, there are plenty more holding steady. It's not a design issue, it's execution. Or, put another way, most of the guitars I see with separation in the joint, by a very wide margin, DON'T EVEN HAVE BIGSBYS ON THEM. Go figure.

19

No doubt about it. They look the same until you look up close and start examining with mirrors, lights and probe. Ed has a filter Streamliner; maybe he could chime in? Can't get the link to work....

– lx

Streamliner from the #271xx batch... no heel dowel that I can perceive.

20

Other side... (and no... it wasn't me who put the strap knob on the heel).

21

Fretboard overhang... (maybe not the best photo, sorry).

22

56 with Dyna / top bracing

 photo BodyNeckheal.jpg

 photo BodyNeckext.jpg

 photo Bodytop1.jpg

23

Just one guy's opinion, but if the screw/plug is in the heel, then it's a dovetail. With mortise and tenon joints, the screw went in the cutaway or the back, because that's the direct route to "join" the block and tenon. Through the heel would be a rather odd choice. The fact that there's a big block in there doesn't really mean that it's a mortise and tenon joint. And we know that other single cutaway trestle braced 2 1/2"-2 3/4" deep Gretsches continued to use dovetail joints for many years. Of course late '57 would be an appropriate time for something odd to turn up, but it would surprise me.

24

Other side... (and no... it wasn't me who put the strap knob on the heel).

– kc_eddie_b

Your observation Ed, begs the question, on some models, where the hell did they expect you to hook the other end of the strap? If not on the lower portion of the neck or on the side....wrapped around the headstock back of the nut and under the strings like many did with acoustic guitars?

25

Same thing on my 57 Ed, maybe a precursor to the heel dowel?


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