Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1958 Gretsch Country Club / natural with spruce top

1

I asked a question regarding the Bigsby on this in another thread but the topic name doesn't lead to the guitar. As I could use some help and opinions I'd like to open this one.

I am offered a 1958 Country Club with spruce top in natural finish. Bigsby is not original (G-cut tailpiece not included) but I have a period correct B6.

The guitar has some issues. The bridge sits as low as it can with the string action not yet low enough to be comfortable. The neck is fat but NOT very wide (43mm = 1.75") and that adds to the playability factor. Seems like it is in need of a neck reset. The binding at the neck heel starts to split. I took it to a luthier and he says that in addition to the reset the neck block in the body needs to be reglued.

The frets - no idea whether they're original or not - are put in quite sloppy and the guitar would profit a lot from new ones. All in all that adds some serious cost and I wonder if it is worth it. Please keep in mind I'm in the E.U. and have no chance to send it to Curt which would be my first choice.

The guitar in its current state will not be cheap if I'd buy it but you don't come across many over here. So what to do?

Thanks.

Sascha

7

Regluing the block in a '58 would be expensive as there is a lot of wood with the early heavy trestle bracing; you should have a large mortise block that butts up against the trestles and you'd have to pull the top off. The factory red side dot markers on Gretsches of this year typically had two widely spaced dots on the twelfth fret; newer ones usually don't. Balancing the cost of the work with the price of the Club is your dilemma. I would think that there are talented luthiers in Europe who might be up to the job. It sure looks lovely.

8

Sascha I appreciate that's actually a tough call - a really rare a beautiful vintage Gretsch that you feel would be very playable for you when fixed.

Did you get a quote from the luthier on the work required?

Reason I ask is that if this was a guitar I really want then I'd be setting myself a maximum total price I'm prepared to pay including quoted repairs. The total would be higher than the selling price of a 'good' example that you might see in the USA, but the natural finish adds a premium on top again for me. Then make an offer to the seller according to that total less repair costs. I don't know the market in Europe so I'd only be guessing an offer around 3,000 Euro as is...maybe a bit more since I don't know where the exchange rate is these days?

9

The exchange rate is close to 1:1 these days. I also think that 3000 is a fair offer as is. The luthier takes ~€600 for fixing everything up. Including new frets.

10

That's actually not too bad Sascha. The luthier's price is pretty good for a neck reset and a refret on a bound neck.

11

I agree with WB...

You just work through the issues...It's a keeper!

12

If the neck joint is solid, and you don't mind a different bridge, you could make something lower work out from the looks of that good break angle. I did this on one of my old Annies, I custom machined the bottom of a tuneomatic style bridge, works great, and the pickup height worked out fine. Total string height to the top was only .800" on the bass side.

13

I agree with JBJ. It looks like there enough angle to work with and clearance over the pickups that a lower bridge would do the trick.

That said, I wouldn't be able to do it. I'd feel compelled to get the block fixed or it would never stop bugging me. And one thing I'd talk to the luthier about is whether the neck reset is definitely necessary, or whether getting the block back into proper position might solve the shallow neck angle problem?

Anyway, it sounds like you're fortunate to have a very reasonably priced luthier. €3000 for the guitar plus €600 to get everything just as it should be doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all. That doesn't even sound unreasonable by US standards.

14

I too have a '58 blonde Club, and I know another friend with another one. They're awesome guitars, really underrated (and undervalued). Not too many of the natural finish ones out there.

15

I'd like to buy the CC in a bundle with a '59 Duo Jet which has the wrong Bigsby (B7) on it. Since this means two screw holes in the top it's more of a player's guitar, too. Sellers don't like to hear this and have a hard time including this in their expectations. But to make it clear: The conversation so far has been very friendly and open. I made a good offer and will see how it turns out. Since I know about the neck issues on the CC I want it to get fixed as I could never get that out of my mind.

I'd love to keep both guitars. They are lovely, sound great and would have a good home. But I neither can't or want to overpay.

16

I too have a '58 blonde Club, and I know another friend with another one. They're awesome guitars, really underrated (and undervalued). Not too many of the natural finish ones out there.

– apossibleworld

Do those guitars also have the fat neck? I mean they are not only big for a Gretsch but the fattest I ever played on an electrified guitar.

17

That is a wonderful looking guitar.

18

Sascha, I realize of course that while it isn't a vintage CC, the one Stewtom is selling for $2K on another thread is a blond, and certainly doesn't have the neck issues of the vintage one. Perhaps this could be an option for you. Take it out of the case, tune it up and play.

I haven't done the math but would the exchange rate and shipping not be at least close enough to not have to deal with the extensive neck issue repairs and refret? Just a suggestion.

19

Great looking guitar! What make your guitar fixer think there's a neck block issue? That's really a rare problem and even more so on a wide club, there's a lot of glue surface.

20

Dave, I wasn't really in the market for a Club (more looking around for an old Jet) but suddenly this came up for sale locally. And when I tried it I couldn't deny there's something about those old Gretsches. Sitting on my lap it said: "Save me!" Loud and clear.

Shipping a guitar from the U.S. is not much less expensive. You can add at least 25% extra cost to the price of the item. Plus there's the CITES hassle going on since the beginning of 2017. But thanks for trying to save me some bucks.

21

Great looking guitar! What make your guitar fixer think there's a neck block issue? That's really a rare problem and even more so on a wide club, there's a lot of glue surface.

– Curt Wilson

Thanks for joining the thread, Curt. I don't know what makes him think this. He tapped the area and it sounded a bit different in certain spots than in others. Fixing the block or not is a 100 bucks difference that I'd be more than happy to save since it gets a little out of hand.

Is there anything else to consider I might have overlooked?

22

From the pic it almost looks like one of the laminated side plys pulled a bit, and the binding followed? Sure looks solid, but I'd have to see it. I did notice a few of my guitars have the binding doing the same thing in the same area, and they are solid. YMMV

23

From the pic it almost looks like one of the laminated side plys pulled a bit, and the binding followed? Sure looks solid, but I'd have to see it. I did notice a few of my guitars have the binding doing the same thing in the same area, and they are solid. YMMV

– JazzBoxJunky

Thanks, JBJ. Would it make sense if I sent you a larger version of the pic via email?

24

Not really, you and your Luthier are going to have to make that call. You can tell a a lot by pushing around carefully on the neck and see if the tuning changes pitch, assuming of course it's a guitar that stays in pitch first of all.

25

He pushed the neck quite hard and it moved very slightly. I think I just have to trust him. Thanks.


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