Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1964 Black Country Gentleman


First timer here...

What do you all make of this? Neck pickup has been changed. Knobs look Baldwin era. Space control bridge seems an odd choice. No zero fret. Non-OHSC. Is this really a factory custom finish 1964 Gent? What Frankenstein's monster did I just buy?!

Thanks for your help!


At least in this pic, the paint looks spectacularly fresh, with more of a surface sheen than I would expect for a lacquer job circa 1964.

Binding all looks pristine as well. Modern refin might explain a lot.

Then there are these infamous modern reproductive of the “black” Gent that lived only in our misinterpretation of what we saw on our b&w TVs on 2/9/64:

Though why anyone would bother changing out hardware on one of these escapes me.


I posted while you were putting up additional pics. The tuners, nameplate, and condition of the Bigsby sure look vintage, not EdRomanesque.

How did the seller represent the guitar? Must’ve been some story about provenance.


He just said the original owner has had it since his teens and he was in his late 40s (which means he acquired it in the mid-80s). From a dealer - said he was positive it was an original black finish. I'm no expert though - I cannot tell from a photo.


Ah, you haven’t got it yet? Bought but not received?

There are considerably more acute vintage experts, who will surely weigh in soon. Specific details of hardware, spec, materials, and build will help determine what it is, as particular combinations would only have occurred in narrow windows of production.

For comparison, here’s another “factory custom” black Gretsch from the 60s:

And its condition looks more like typical 60s survivorship.

Whatever you have, though, it’s quite handsome!


Pickguard on yours looks pretty wrong - no cutouts for pickups, and too long.


Agreed. The pick guard and knobs def can't be original. The bridge looks suspect too.

That black though - got me with the online lust buy!

I paid much less than that link you just sent and I will say the black finish looks very similar. Its hard to tell on the photos uploaded here, since they are smaller in size.


It does have the double mutes though.

My thought was real 64 factory black w/neck pickup changed, pick guard, knobs, possibly bridge, and zero fret removed (or maybe no zero fret was part of the custom order)?


Too many changes to make me think factory. But it sure is a beauty. Is the end of the fingerboard rounded? Also, factory f-holes were silkscreened on; modern might reveal pixillation under a 10X lens.


Welcome to the GDP, bobeele, that's a lovely instrument! As Proteus mentioned, there are a some vintage Gretsch experts here that will be able to assess exactly what you have there. I'm fairly new to the Gretsch community, and I'm still learning. This site is a huge depository of knowledge about the brand, and has an excellent community of knowledgeable people. Welcome aboard, I'm glad you're here!


It does appear rounded. Do you think the neck was changed?!


I meant the fret side of the fingerboard.


Yeah, I figured that's what you meant - I also realized I had a back shot of the neck joint - so posted that too!

But yes the bottom of the fingerboard near the neck pickup appears to be rounded.


I'd say you have a beautifully modded Gent. Never seen a rounded fretboard and I don't recall the lack of a zero fret on any Atkins guitars.

22 fret removed (or maybe no zero fret was part of the custom order)?... Do you think the neck was changed?!... But yes the bottom of the fingerboard near the neck pickup appears to be rounded.

I don't think the neck has been changed, but I do believe that the fingerboard has been. In addition to the lack of zero fret and rounded end, the thumbnail inlays look larger than they should.

As for the rest of it, I would agree that the pickguard, knobs, neck pickup and likely bridge are not original.

So the big question is the finish. I guess all we can say definitively is that Gretsch did do custom orders so it could be original. But, the more other things have been changed, the more likely it would seem that the finish has been changed as well. Maybe once you have it in your hands, it will become clearer that it is a refinish. If not, then I think the best you can settle for is a possibly original custom finish. I think lx's suggestion is a good one, to see if you can find any evidence that the f-holes are decals rather than silk-screened.


It looks very cool, whatever it’s provenance. If it was a factory model they could have called it the City Gentleman.


You might find evidence of an earlier finish under areas normally hidden by hardware - like under the pickup surrounds or - especially - the trap door under the genuine faux vinyl leatherette backpad. If I really wanted to know, I'd even be willing to scrape a little where it wouldn't show under hardware.


And wait! That padded faux vinyl leatherette backpad shows crease lines from FOLDING. I don't remember ever having seen that, and I would think such fold lines would be highly unlikely to have survived from the 60s.

Doesn't prove anything about the age of the body, but it does suggest it's another recently-refreshed part, right outta the shipping bag.

And yeah, thumbnails too big. I knew something was amiss there.

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