Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1950’s Silver Jet body restoration


Well, many of you that follow Ebay sales for Gretsch guitars, may remember this body listed. It’s a 50's Silver Jet body that someone ripped the back off of in a cruel and usually death. I am trying to nail down the date based on size in another post, so maybe you all can help with that as well.

This came from the estate of Leo Quan and was listed on ebay for a week or so. I actually looked at it many times during that week and deemed it not the project for me. Fast forward a week or two a client of mine reached out to me to say he bought it. We discussed it for a while and eventually he sent it to a furniture shop to have the wood work done. Several months later and no work completed, he picked it up from the furniture shop and asked if I would do the wood work for him. I accepted the challenge… then fell in love..

After I started the repair, I ended working a deal to buy it from him and keep it for myself.


And the back. It’s worse than it looks too.


Here is some shots as I tried to figure out the approach. With the back off, it had started to curl like a potato chip which cracked the wood at the output jack as well. If you are not aware, the Jet is chambered from the front of the body slab and hollowed out with several internal structures left to support the bridge and arch. As you see above and below, you can not remove the back...


Next was to create a jig to hold in flat and in shape to help facilitate the repair


The center rod is pushing the ends down causing the sides to drop down to pads that will level out the body twisting etc.


Next is to remove the worst section that is lower than the rest of the repairs. I use a router and jig to move a flat area that will be replaced.


Here is a close up of how the body cracked and started to curl and cracked in other places


To send it through the large drum sander, I had to remove the top hold down wood and brace it lower so that the sander would go over the top and only sand the guitar.


Now secured to the board and braced in the right shape, we can sand it completely flat. The idea is to only sand down to the thickness of the original back. This will make the rest of the repair easier (we don't want a back thickness when done to be thicker than it was stock.)


Here it is sanded flat, removing just the thickness of the original back. I left some areas of the patch wider to keep it from collapsing until the back went on.


Yeah! Another great build post to follow! I'm excited to see this one to completion.


Now, its important to know what the inside of a Jet is supposed to look like. Without these internal structures, the guitar would collapse from the string pressure. Here is a look at what it should have looked like with the top removed. I need to make the new back have those same features.


Here is the new back with all the vintage correct internal bracings etc ready to be glued together.


correct bridge/tail piece bracing with correct shape seen from cavity


top view of the block between the pickups. Interesting enough, I have never seen a jet where that block actually touches the top…


We have all seen this, but worth sharing as we see how important the placement of those internal blocks were…


Wow! Did Pete Townsend own this thing?


Well, that’s a sorry looking guitar for sure, but she’s in absolutely the right hands.

Nice work Joe, as always.

Register Sign in to join the conversation