Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1964 Black Country Gentleman

26

I’m no expert, but because of all of the changes agree with lx that it is a beautifully modded Gent. Since you paid a lot less than the other referenced guitar, I’d say you probably did okay for yourself, especially given what looks to be binding in very good condition. Please be sure to keep it out of the case in order to reduce binding deterioration. Congrats

27

What city or area was this found?

The fingerboard inlays look like the ones I had made and have sold a few sets of. Mine were made slightly oversized. They are the correct diameter, but cut in half instead of a third so you can trim them off the side,of the fingerboard after installing. This allows for a bound neck verses an unbound in a single size. But if you don’t understand that and try to inlay the entire piece, they look ( and are) oversized. Not saying these are from my stash, but look like them.

28

Too many 'odd' things IMO for this to be a factory black finish, let alone an original model. A low price would be the only reason you could probably resell it down the road and get your money out of it, even revealing the changes. For me, I'm thinking it was a basket case and got a new [imperfect] fingerboard along with new binding and refinish.

S/N seems high for a double mute Gent though.

29

I think it looks bad ass and if priced right should be a everything a player should be.

30

This was a Reverb grab. A dealer in Rocky Mountain, VA. $3800.

I like the look of it. But I don't want to overpay. I could probably still back out of this. Payment hasn't gone through.

What do you guys think? I don't care about all original, but definitely don't want to overpay.

Thanks for all your help!

31

Personally, I think that is too much for this particular guitar. I own several players, and I think this is a $2700-3000 guitar. If the fretboard would have been vintage correct in execution, then more.

I am sure someone will say $1000 or something low but the parts are worth more than that alone. If it has case even more not counting the husk

32

Here is one for $3900 and binding looks pretty good to compare.

33

Here is one for $3900 and binding looks pretty good to compare.

– Joe Desperado

Was there a pic or link? Don't see anything.

35

https://reverb.com/item/289...

– Joe Desperado

Thanks for sharing.

I was assuming a custom black gent would go for more than a walnut - so with the changed parts put it in a comparable price range. I do prefer the black over walnut.

I definitely missed the fretboard being changed - that didn't even occur to me. Pickguard, knobs, etc wasn't a big deal.

I supposed the jury is still out on whether that finish is original. I may not take that chance.

Bummer, it looks so cool.

36

Unless confirmed, I would assume the black is a refin. So take that in account with changed parts... looses about 30-40% from retail. The fretboard is the issue. To change it would be several hundred and could affect black finish.

37

Unless confirmed, I would assume the black is a refin. So take that in account with changed parts... looses about 30-40% from retail. The fretboard is the issue. To change it would be several hundred and could affect black finish.

– Joe Desperado

Understood. Thanks for the wisdom.

Knowing the fretboard and other parts changed, do you think $3800 is still too much if finish is original?

38

IMO. If black is original the price was fair.

39

IMO. If black is original the price was fair.

– Joe Desperado

Thanks Joe,

Wish I could determine if that finish was original from these photos.

The transaction is over, but payment hasn't been finalized. So I could still back out.

I don't mind all the changes. Don't wanna overpay for a refin with lots of mods though.

The dealer was not very forthcoming with info only that "the owner said it was an original black 1964". Which isn't very reassuring.

40

If you have an inspection period, take that time to inspect deeply. Open the back cover and look at the insides to see if paint got inside. Generally, these a pretty clean inside. Check around the mutes for paint or signs of replaced felt etc. And for paint on binding etc.

Good luck.

41

So the situation asks you for a judgment call. I just see nothing in any of the pictures which suggests the finish is original, even allowing that it might have been done as late as the late 70s (after which it couldn't have been done by Gretsch). It just all looks too flawless, with too much surface gloss, and not a hint of "vintage" patina.

All the binding looks equally pristine. Not just fine - because not every 60s Gretsch has deteriorated binding - but new.

And had Gretsch had anything to do with the fingerboard, it would not have oversized markers.

I can't weigh in on whether the body and neck are 60s vintage - or whether they might instead be modern. I think we all agree that all the hardware is vintage, though seemingly not all from the same era. But those three things - the modern look of the finish, the purity of the binding, and the oversized thumbnails - suggest strongly to me that the guitar has been restored/modded/cobbled together. It is possible the work was done in the 80s, I suppose. Supernaturally flat and durable finishes did come of age in that decade.

A dealer passing along what the owner (or any third party) said could be either scrupulous honesty on his part - or a slippery way of passing along misinformation without taking personal responsibility for it. One thing a dealer should do, if he wants to play in the vintage arena at all, is authenticate through his own knowledge and research what he's selling. Otherwise, he's either admitting he knows no more than his customer - or pretending to know less than he does.

There are all kinds of dealers, more's the pity. And I realize that, with the press of business, there may not be time for every dealer to know as much as he should about the guitars that pass through his hands. I even recognize that 3,800.00 isn't much in the vintage guitar domain. But it's a lot to me, and if I was peddling something at that price, I'd feel responsible to learn and disclose all I possibly could about it.

Especially since the guitar is represented as something exceptional. As the saying goes, exceptional claims require exceptional verification.

IF the finish could be conclusively proven to be original to 1964, the guitar may be worth somewhere in the vicinity of its sale price. Much of the hardware would seem not to be, and that hurts it. But even so, a verified factory black Gent from 1964 would be a special thing. A refin with a hodgepodge of parts...still a nice piece, but not worth a premium.

I don't think you can know till you have it in hand either exactly what you have (IF it can be determined then) - or how nice the guitar is, considered simply on its own terms as an instrument.

A nice enough instrument, regardless the provenance, can be worth whatever you determine it to be worth. (Market values notwithstanding.)

If the dealer allows a return period (as I think a reputable and conscientious dealer would), you might know more after you get the guitar. If he doesn't, your decision gets harder and more urgent.

Unless - again - you're going to be happy with what the guitar is, solely as a playable instrument, at the price you paid, regardless market perceptions.

42

Those thumbnail inlays immediately jumped out at me as well. Then there are the changed parts you've observed, knobs, bridge, guard, potentially changed tuners (I don't know the exact point of switch from stairsteps to kidney beans). New looking back pad. F-holes with white outline (of course they'd have to be that way to set them off). The F holes look more Gretsch to me than the neck though.

Don't forget that the felt around the base of the mutes when a guitar with that serial number would have been made were red. Black felt came more circa 1966. I have a 1965 Gretsch in the 70-thousands s/n range and the felt is still red.

The supertron didn't hit the neck slot I think till circa 1965--so that could be OK; Ed would know. You could check the underside of the pickups to see whether they are vintage. The Bigsby is vintage.

No Gretsch case either. Finish looks somewhat fresh to me as well.

It took me a bit of time to squeeze the equivalent of $2600-700 out of my all original 1967 CG when I sold it this past January--no rot, all original with original case. With double cut CGs, I've only ever seen them go in the $4K zone if they are bang on original 1962/3s with full George Harrison specs.

There is nothing wrong with a black CG--they are cool and my brother has a black 67 CG that was refinished at some point. It's a great guitar, but it still was priced accordingly when he got it.

Were it me, I would be more than inclined to send it back and after the refund comes in say to the seller he's welcome to call me when the price is circa $2000-2200. It has to be deemed a refinish and valued accordingly. The burden of proof to show otherwise is on the seller not the buyer.

43

So the situation asks you for a judgment call. I just see nothing in any of the pictures which suggests the finish is original, even allowing that it might have been done as late as the late 70s (after which it couldn't have been done by Gretsch). It just all looks too flawless, with too much surface gloss, and not a hint of "vintage" patina.

All the binding looks equally pristine. Not just fine - because not every 60s Gretsch has deteriorated binding - but new.

And had Gretsch had anything to do with the fingerboard, it would not have oversized markers.

I can't weigh in on whether the body and neck are 60s vintage - or whether they might instead be modern. I think we all agree that all the hardware is vintage, though seemingly not all from the same era. But those three things - the modern look of the finish, the purity of the binding, and the oversized thumbnails - suggest strongly to me that the guitar has been restored/modded/cobbled together. It is possible the work was done in the 80s, I suppose. Supernaturally flat and durable finishes did come of age in that decade.

A dealer passing along what the owner (or any third party) said could be either scrupulous honesty on his part - or a slippery way of passing along misinformation without taking personal responsibility for it. One thing a dealer should do, if he wants to play in the vintage arena at all, is authenticate through his own knowledge and research what he's selling. Otherwise, he's either admitting he knows no more than his customer - or pretending to know less than he does.

There are all kinds of dealers, more's the pity. And I realize that, with the press of business, there may not be time for every dealer to know as much as he should about the guitars that pass through his hands. I even recognize that 3,800.00 isn't much in the vintage guitar domain. But it's a lot to me, and if I was peddling something at that price, I'd feel responsible to learn and disclose all I possibly could about it.

Especially since the guitar is represented as something exceptional. As the saying goes, exceptional claims require exceptional verification.

IF the finish could be conclusively proven to be original to 1964, the guitar may be worth somewhere in the vicinity of its sale price. Much of the hardware would seem not to be, and that hurts it. But even so, a verified factory black Gent from 1964 would be a special thing. A refin with a hodgepodge of parts...still a nice piece, but not worth a premium.

I don't think you can know till you have it in hand either exactly what you have (IF it can be determined then) - or how nice the guitar is, considered simply on its own terms as an instrument.

A nice enough instrument, regardless the provenance, can be worth whatever you determine it to be worth. (Market values notwithstanding.)

If the dealer allows a return period (as I think a reputable and conscientious dealer would), you might know more after you get the guitar. If he doesn't, your decision gets harder and more urgent.

Unless - again - you're going to be happy with what the guitar is, solely as a playable instrument, at the price you paid, regardless market perceptions.

– Proteus

This is my thinking exactly. The dealer has been very low with information. I put in the bid as an offer through Reverb. In a message with the offer I asked if it would be possible to return the guitar if I determined it wasn't an original 1964 factory finish. He said, the finish is original - No returns and then excepted my bid. I haven't actually paid, so as of now, it's not a loss.

I agree there are many red flags. I'm not too much of a purist. I'd take a cool guitar with mods. As long as I'm paying fair value - $3800 isn't nothing to me. If the guitar is worth only $2k, then I'd rather have it for that.

44

Is this photo a clue? Looks to me like some light colored wood under the chipped black paint.

Looks similar to the chipping on this black 1962: https://www.gbase.com/gear/...

45

The finish looks nice, just not sure it’s original. The chipping is common for any color. The color of the binding looks good too... but even I have perfected that aging so that might not be a clue.

The “No returns” is the red flag. Especially after you made that part of your offer. Do what you feel is best for you, but I think I would back out if it were me. Only you know what you feels is best for you.

46

If the originality of the finish is a decision point - and it seems to be, plus your communication with the seller has specifically made it an issue - before just "refusing to pay" (in which case seller makes stink), you might contact Reverb via the "Need Help?" bubble in the lower right corner of the screeen.

Get a Reverber into a chat, and let him know what's up: that the originality of the finish is extremely important to you - in fact it goes a long way to supporting the price you agreed to pay - and that the buyer claims it is, but seems unwilling to work with you to prove it, and that therefore you're having second thoughts about going through with the deal.

Reverb may then get in the conversation and encourage the seller either to accept a return if you're not convinced when you get it - or to provide more definitive proof (and maybe third-party authentication).

Or if not, at least you've established with Reverb that you're straight up about your misgivings, and have some buffer between you and a possibly annoyed seller. (Though if he knows - or even suspects - he's misrepresenting the guitar, he's unlikely to get too noisy about it. And, at this point, he's not out anything if you back out.) So it shouldn't be a disaster.

Thinking about it, his expressed conviction that the paint is original seems at odds with his original claim that "that's what the guy I got it from said."

At very least, as the finish is now a question, dealer ought to be motivated to provide very high resolution images, and some shots under the hardware - like inside the rear hatch, etc. - to support his contention.

47

One last comment. .... I really would like this to be an original finish black Gent...but

The picture of the finish that looks most odd to me is the back of the headstock. That seems very shiny...which seems to highlight something going on with the space near the top of the headstock in the center. Is that the imprint of a serial number under the finish? A serial number on the back started in 66 and was on top of the finish. Maybe that is just a shadow or was it painted over? Maybe the neck only was repainted after the fingerboard repair?

48

Understood. Thanks for the wisdom.

Knowing the fretboard and other parts changed, do you think $3800 is still too much if finish is original?

– bobeele

With all the other changes to this guitar I don't believe there's a snowballs chance in hell the finish was factory. And that being the case, I'd peg this at no more than $2500.

49

Wish I could determine if that finish was original from these photos.

There's no way to tell if that finish is original, period. Even with the guitar in hand the most you could ever say is that it's well done, poorly done, old, recent, an obvious refin, or plausibly original. Absent documentation, there's really not much more you could conclude. And given the major modifications to this guitar, I suspect that very few potential future buyers would be willing to take the leap of faith to assume that the black finish is the one thing that actually is original.

The “No returns” is the red flag.

Run away. In 30 years of being involved with vintage guitars, I've only ever bought on those terms once, and it's the only time I ever took a bath on a guitar. "No returns" means "I have a problem, and I'd like to make it your problem permanently."

50

Even with the guitar in hand the most you could ever say is that it's well done, poorly done, old, recent, an obvious refin, or plausibly original.

Acknowledged. I thought if it got to the point where a feller could scrape lightly at some paint in a covered area (like under the backpad) - IF the guitar hadn't been properly stripped and prepped for a refin, you might find some evidence of past lives.


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