Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1950’s Silver Jet body restoration

27

Sorry, no spare Neck here. Have to say I really enjoy these posts Joe, Great Work !

28

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

Nice work Joe, as always.

– Deke Martin

Thanks Deke. I guess it goes to show, almost anything is salvageable. It opened my eyes to what is possible…and I was the one doing the work!

Really happy with the results so far on this one. To be honest, this is one of those projects that it would not be cost effective for someone to be paying me to do. Which is one of the reason I wanted to buy it. The hours that go into this… and when done… its still a reworked, renecked Gretsch.

29

Sorry, no spare Neck here. Have to say I really enjoy these posts Joe, Great Work !

– 949Norm

Thanks Norm. The neck will be the next project in this series..

I always like to share these projects down to some pretty low level details. I think it makes people more aware of the vintage construction as well as the effort and skill it takes to revive some of these, but also that with some ingenuity and thought, almost anything is repairable.

I passed on this project twice (the first time when it was for sale..). When I was contacted to do the work this last time, I slept on it (like I always do) to think about my approach. Before it even showed up on my door step, I pretty much had a game plan of how to fix it. I can't really say it was all that difficult with the right plan (and tools) in place. The rest is just finding the time..

30

So cool! That's some killer woodworking skills there - and problem solving abilities.

31

Leo Quan! That's badass!

(Someone had to.)


I would not have believed the carcass of that butchery was worth the effort, but it looks like it's going to be fine - though, when done, I imagine the new components, by weight, will be more than the original remains. So yes - DIY was the only way to go.


So: is this your next? http://gretschpages.com/for...

32

On my Jets, that block between the pickups doesn't touch the top. Only those two squares under the bridge touch.

33

Thanks for the confirmation Billy. I have had about 10 of these on my bench and that is my experience too.

34

Great work! You have to wonder how the guitar got into that shape to begin with. My guess is that it had a hole punched in it.

35

Leo Quan! That's badass!

(Someone had to.)


I would not have believed the carcass of that butchery was worth the effort, but it looks like it's going to be fine - though, when done, I imagine the new components, by weight, will be more than the original remains. So yes - DIY was the only way to go.


So: is this your next? http://gretschpages.com/for...

– Proteus

From the Howard Carter estate? Formerly owned by an Egyptian dignitary who died young?

36

Wow, that is an amazing rescue! Thanks for sharing this, very cool to see the progress in your pictures! I'm looking forward to the neck work!

38

Thanks Billy. I saved that X-ray too. Yours and this one are very important to understanding what makes a Jet so special as well as the design elements that keep it from collapsing. This X-ray helps to see the placement of the bridge and bigsby support when equipped.

39

Thanks for posting them together like this! It's interesting how a few areas, particularly around the "waist" of Billy's seem a bit bulkier in side thickness.

40

Here is something cool. I made a negative of the X-ray

41

I'm already doing the KETO diet....be nice!

42

I'm already doing the KETO diet....be nice!

– Billy Zoom

I need to.....

43

Wow Joe, I completely missed this. What an amazing resurrection! Great work!

44

What an incredible salvage operation, Joe. You really are proving that in the right hands, and with the right tools, anything is repairable. I would have thought that this old carcass was firewood, but you are breathing new life back into it. Thanks for posting this saga, and good luck with finding a neck, and finishing up the project.

45

On my Jets, that block between the pickups doesn't touch the top. Only those two squares under the bridge touch.

– Billy Zoom

Then what's the point of the block?

46

Then what's the point of the block?

– crowbone

If I had to guess, I would say to help route the wiring.

47

Ahh...ok.

This is a great revival, BTW!

48

Well y'know, it sets a man to thinkin', it does.

Obviously Gretsch believed in hollowbodies pretty hard, to go to the trouble of making their entry into the new solidbody market...hollow. I'd like to think someone there was just that tone-wise, and that determined to build a prime example of what would, in the long run, become a relative rarity on the mass guitar market - the fully enclosed thin hollowbody.

But in the context of the times, I think they actually thought they were playing it safe - and maybe upholding the standards of New York/European/jazz guitar luthiery. They weren't ready to commit to the primitive, build-it-cheap savagery of those...those California guitars, or even those guitars from Michigan they (that is, Gretsch) would appear to be emulating.

Maybe building hollowbodies was what they knew, and they weren't sure the market - or their customers - would accept slab solidbodies. It wasn't obvious in 1953 that those things were going to be The Thing. At the time, they were pretty much played only by California cowboys and transplanted hillbillies.

Lots of other makers in the 50s hedged their bets in the same way - make it thin like a solidbody, but holler it out so it's a proper a-COUStical guitar. The trend persisted into the 60s, alongside deep hollowbodies, slabs and solid sandwiches, and then the compromise centerblocked thinlines.

But when a lot of us came of age, through the 70s-80s-90s, the fully enclosed thin hollowbody was a rare and seemingly extinct bird.

Of course everything old is new again, and readily available on the market today, at various price points to suit all levels of interest and commitment. Even at that, the build that must have seemed so obvious to so many in the 50s is in a distinct minority now.

Such was the power of the all-conquering bolt-on slab, and its cousin the solid sandwich.

Funny how all that turned out.

49

Then what's the point of the block?

– crowbone

I dunno if the block was to help wiring. I say this as someone who spent a long afternoon threading a harness into my '57. Likewise the peninsula of the "island" that supports the bridge. Looking at the x-rays, yeah, it looks that it would support the Bigsby. But every one I've seen has only the two supports for the bridge (as BZ said) and no support for the Bigsby or anything else.

The weird block and peninsula seem to do nothing but really get in the way of harness installation. The Rambler (aka Mono Jet) had a simple square island that the bridge supports rested on. I love that Gretsch is now routing the Jets vintage correct, but you could further eliminate some wood and get an even more hollow Jet.

Oh yeah; Jets were ten bucks more than a Lester when they first came out. Air is expensive.

50

I would make an assumption that the chambering was done because they wanted to retain the arch-top but keep it from being so "Les Paul" heavy. JMO. Also, IMO, Jets are way sexier then LP's.


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