Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1951 Bacon Belmont update

1

I hope it isn't presumptuous of me posting this here in the Vintage Gretsch section, but I think it belongs here, as the following will demonstrate.

Many of you know I recently brought home a 1950 or 1951 Bacon Belmont archtop. I never thought I would be a vintage guy, because collecting is not in my nature. I never thought I would like a fatter neck. I never thought I would break my Filtertron habit and I absolutely never thought I would consider a non Bigsby, unmodified guitar with a wooden bridge anything but a curiosity. But all of these things have happened. After playing this thing for a few months, I am not going back. The neck has become comfortable and is easier on my slightly arthritic joints. It plays like it’s anticipating my every move and those two original Dynasonics are damn powerful, beautifully tuneful and responds to my dynamics like nobody’s business. The overall tone sounds more like the sound in my head than any I have found. It’s changing the way I play like a fine instrument should.

Enough gushing. Down to business. I have a few notions.

Issue one...Is there a way to add this to the data base? It was made on the same Brooklyn bench alongside of the Electros in 1951 like the other Gretschs.

Number 2...I found a 1951 Montgomery Wards catalog with my guitar in it. This is cool.

I noticed in the1951 Gretsch catalog that the headstock came to a point. This may be a feature of the “Miracle Neck” but I doubt it.

And thirdly… When did they start/stop making a stinger on the back of the headstock? This is not mine, but one that looks like mine otherwise and is identified by the seller as a 1952. From what Ed Ball's book says, it looks more like a ’51. What is the point of the stinger.

This one is mine.

So, in closing, I am declaring in front of all of the GDP my everlasting love for this old blond. (Is three months too soon?)

One more thing. The nut has two extra slots in it. I think this is so it could be used on a tenor (4 string) guitar or a regular 6 string. Anyone see this before?

2

Great post, Bob-- I would say add it to the DB as a 6188 model, and then detail it as a Bacon Belmont factory variant in the "Unusual Factory Features" section of the entry. After all, regardless of the the name on the headstock we know it's really a 6188-- it was built at the Gretsch Brooklyn factory.

Of course, I'd run it by Baxter first, as the GDP is his sandbox, he would be the final arbiter-- but I think this should be considered as just as much a Gretsch as a 70's Hagner Musical Instruments HG-1 model-- which coincidentally doesn't have a Gretsch marque on the headstock either-- see pic attached.

3

Take good care of that ol' girl, Bob!

5

Great post, Bob-- I would say add it to the DB as a 6188 model, and then detail it as a Bacon Belmont factory variant in the "Unusual Factory Features" section of the entry. After all, regardless of the the name on the headstock we know it's really a 6188-- it was built at the Gretsch Brooklyn factory.

Of course, I'd run it by Baxter first, as the GDP is his sandbox, he would be the final arbiter-- but I think this should be considered as just as much a Gretsch as a 70's Hagner Musical Instruments HG-1 model-- which coincidentally doesn't have a Gretsch marque on the headstock either-- see pic attached.

– Tartan Phantom

Thanks, Rob I'll drop Tim a PM. To me, my Bacon Belmont is even more Gretsch than that HG-1, but that may be my anti-Baldwin prejudices showing.

6

Regarding that catalog illustration with the pointy headstock, I've always assumed that that was an error on the artist's part. I've never seen one in real life, and by the time that catalog was issued, the standard Gretsch headstock shape was well established.

As to the stinger, it's purely ornamental. I wouldn't be surprised if it originated in some functional practice (like a reinforcing laminate), but obviously the paint isn't doing anything. They were standard on all blonde Gretsches in the 1950s and most of the '60s (maybe before and after too, but that's where my knowledge starts to fade). But I wouldn't let the lack of one on your guitar bother me. There are exceptions to every rule, and exceptions seem all the more likely when the guitar is built to be rebranded.

7

Thanks, Afire. Good theory about the pointy headstock. Glad there are no pointy things in Gretsch's dim and distant closets.

As I thought about the stinger thing. Some in the Gibson community think that the stingers were used on occasstion to cover flaws in the neck or heel area. I think it was just a decoration.

8

OK, Rob. I've heard from Tim and he's all for it. I've added it to the data base where you suggested.

9

OK, Rob. I've heard from Tim and he's all for it. I've added it to the data base where you suggested.

– Bob Howard

cool.

10

So, anyone else see this extra slots in the nut thing before? Along with the two outer strings, the spacing looks like it would be just right for a 4 string setup. Tenor guitars were quite popular in the olden days. My theory is that it (the nut and/or the guitar) was convertible. If this is true, you would see it on other 1940s and early 1950s guitars. So, who has seen this before?

11

So, anyone else see this extra slots in the nut thing before? Along with the two outer strings, the spacing looks like it would be just right for a 4 string setup. Tenor guitars were quite popular in the olden days. My theory is that it (the nut and/or the guitar) was convertible. If this is true, you would see it on other 1940s and early 1950s guitars. So, who has seen this before?

– Bob Howard

Short-scale bass.

13

Long-scale ukulele?

14

So, has anyone of you vintage owners seen the 8 slot nut before?

also

I'm soliciting theories: Why, when so many guitars this old have bad binding rot and shriveling, out-gassed pick guards, is mine in such good shape?

15

I haven't seen many '51/52 model year Gretsch examples with binding rot. The late 50s example are starting to show it, but the really bad examples are from the 60s.

16

Oh, I see. Thanks, Ed. That makes sense.

17

So glad you got this guitar Bob.

18

Me too, Paul. The universe is telling me something. I fell backasswards into this amazing instrument with no effort on my part and it is now the only guitar I play. It is teaching me new sounds and styles and every day is a new lesson. Thanks for encouraging me to make that trade in Balto.

19

Beautiful guitar, Bob. There's nothing there not to love. It's perfect in every way.

You gonna have Curt cut a cutaway into it?

20

He wouldn't even if I wanted him to. It is, as you say, perfect in every way. I tried a truArc on it when I got it home because I never had a guitar I didn't start modding right away and I never was satisfied with an electric until it was properly TruArced, but this one would take no improvements from me. The wood bridge is the only one that sounds righteously woody. Even the electronics are right, though it took a week to get used to it and work out the crackles. I did have my luthier to cut the nut slots down a tad and now it plays like I like, but other than that, it is staying unmodded, a first for me.

21

He wouldn't even if I wanted him to. It is, as you say, perfect in every way. I tried a truArc on it when I got it home because I never had a guitar I didn't start modding right away and I never was satisfied with an electric until it was properly TruArced, but this one would take no improvements from me. The wood bridge is the only one that sounds righteously woody. Even the electronics are right, though it took a week to get used to it and work out the crackles. I did have my luthier to cut the nut slots down a tad and now it plays like I like, but other than that, it is staying unmodded, a first for me.

– Bob Howard

My 3967 didn't take to the TruArc either and I went back to the wood bridge and it sings.

That is one very cool guitar yo have there, Bob H. Glad you're loving it.

22

Thanks, Bob. Isn't it funny how some guitars are like that. Maybe it's because both our guitars are one step away from being an acoustic arch top. Do you travel with the 3967? It looks like a good, quiet hotel plunker.

23

That's a beautiful guitar! Makes me want one (not that it takes much for that!)

24

Beautiful guitar, Bob. There's nothing there not to love. It's perfect in every way.

You gonna have Curt cut a cutaway into it?

– Proteus

Maybe I can find one of these.

25

That's a beautiful guitar! Makes me want one (not that it takes much for that!)

– Jeff H

Thanks Jeff. It's a dream.


Register Sign in to join the conversation