Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1951 Bacon Belmont update

26

The vintage archtops almost exclusively sound best with the rosewood or ebony bridge. If it's an acoustic then it's a no-brainer wood is the only route to go. Some of the early electrics work fine with the Melita or Bigsby bridge but a lot still like the wood, especially if the pup is of the floating variety.

27

Maybe I can find one of these.

– Bob Howard

Before you get too excited about an early Gretsch cutaway Bob, listen up. Gretsch didn't have a clue how to build them! The '55 Fleetwood archtop I picked up had a non-original crappy neck that was detached from the neck block. When I set the neck in place it was very clear what the issue was with the cutaway. The purpose of a cutaway is to gain access to the upper frets and the edge of the cutaway should be flush with the neck. Mine and other Gretsches aren't! The penny didn't drop with the designers until the 6120 came along. What they mistakenly did, was to leave some of the top and side protruding past the edge of the neck which is just asinine!! On mine it was 1/4" where the curve approaches the neck and widens even further to 3/8" at the end of the cutaway. Really weird and you can it showing in the above pick.

My Fleetwood needs a new neck which my luthier Nicole is making and because the neck block is such a mess she trashed it when she took the back off. She's making another one and the big job on this guitar isn't making the new neck it's fixing that stupid 'hand-catcher' she dubbed the crude attempt at a cutaway. It'll necessitate steaming the curved side piece to stretch it and pull it over to be glued to the new neck block. This will cause the end to come up short of the neck's heel so she'll slave in a short piece to take up the space.

I've looked at a lot of pics of these older Gretsches and without exception they all, to a greater or lesser extent show this mistake. I've seen some early Epiphones with this condition as well. When I went on the hunt for a Fleetwood I wasn't aware of this hateful mistake but I was looking for a basket case guitar I could get cheap enough from the US so that my restoration costs I'd have done would be in Cdn dollars, not up front for a restored guitar. I'd have had a stroke if I'd gotten an expensive guitar fully restore and had this truly weird feature!! In searching pics of other guitars with the cutaway, everyone cleverly photographs these guitars so as not to show this weird feature. Gretsch apparently didn't think they'd done anything wrong as they made a few of them. In the case of the Fleetwood and Eldorado which were already a custom order guitar, they came minus the cutaway which was a $75 option. At least mine will be unique as possibly one of the only cutaway vintage Gretsch acoustic archtops with the cutaway done properly.

I'm just giving you a head's up on something important to look for if you go after a vintage Gretsch archtop cutaway.

28

Thanks Dave. The whole cutaway notion was a joke from Proteus that I just responded to. I have no plans or money to nab one of these, but thanks for the heads up and the history lesson.

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Hey guys, I've been a member here for some years but I haven't visited the site for some time.

I was just changing the strings on my 1964 Cadillac Green Country Club (ser #65016)and noticed written inside the body "W BACON"......

I know I saw it before and kinda shrugged it off but this time I thought to myself....how the hell could anyone but the builder have written that in there? That lead me to do a google search and 18 hours later....here I am. I know the Bacon's were a Brooklyn guitar making outfit a long time ago but did they make Gretsch guitars?

I'm sure most of you folks are just like me and if you came across a name written inside your guitar you'd also be overwhelmed with curiosity I'm really curious if anyone has any info. Thanks in advance.......

30

that is a beauty! the dynasonics and spruce top must sound righteous! DONT CHANGE A THING!! unless its broke.

31

If anyone is interested, my 1958, 6120 had a reverse black headstock with a stinger. If there was damage to be covered up it happened at the factory. I have seen others of that era with this feature also.


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