Vintage Gretsch Guitars

40’s Synchromatic question

1

I recently picked up a Synchromatic model, and had some questions about it.

It is 17" wide, with triple binding on body, neck, headstock and cat's-eye holes. Fretboard is rosewood with block abalone inlays, some very colorful. I believe the gold tuners and tailpiece are original. It has a penciled serial # inside (888) and faded stamp "GRETSCH" "SUPER STRUCTURE".

I believe it would be a 1947 model, the appointments seem to match Gruhn's "6012" except he specifies quadruple binding and this is only triple bound. Otherwise it seems to be a match.

But I can't find any info on the 6012 model anywhere except Gruhn's book, and an old thread here that seems to indicate it is the same as a 175 model?

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

4

Check out model "D" (Synchro 160) from the '48 catalog.

5

The text... Note the reference to model 6029. This catalog captures the Gretsch model line in mid-transition from the old model references (Synchromatic 160) to the new system of model designation (#6029).

6

Here's an easier look at the text...

7

Very nice find. Do you have the original pickguard for it?

8

The bridge (and possibly the tailpiece) may be modern as Gretsch reintroduced a version of this guitar around 1990. More close-up pics would tell. The pickguard as used on the modern version would probably work well for your Synchro; there is a local poster (Paul Setzer) who makes excellent reproductions too.

9

Oooo, Vintage sweetness! Nice. Congrats!

10

The bridge (and possibly the tailpiece) may be modern as Gretsch reintroduced a version of this guitar around 1990. More close-up pics would tell. The pickguard as used on the modern version would probably work well for your Synchro; there is a local poster (Paul Setzer) who makes excellent reproductions too.

– lx

I'm of the opinion the bridge/base and tailpiece are original. The bridge base because like mine on my '42, they have no sharp corners, but are rounded off heavily. Modern ones I've seen don't show this feature and the newer ones aren't the darker aged color of the vintage ones. From the general and aged look of the tailpiece, it looks to have aged like mine. Another pic of the tailpiece may help.

The pickguard needed for this guitar has a lovely bound edge and while Paul makes great pickguards, he doesn't do any binding work on them. I contacted him to rebind mine and he told me this and referred me to Frank in the Netherlands who did a fantastic job on mine. If needed, he has the identical looking tortoise shell to make the entire pickguard as well. Here's mine.

11

Thanks everyone for the congrats and info. The pick guard is missing, but I kind of like it without the guard covering one hole so I will probably leave it as is for now.

kc_eddie_b , thanks for the catalog listing and info. I'm not sure if I understand, do you think this is a 160/6028? I thought with the triple-binding everywhere (w/b/w), gold hardware and abalone inlays it would not be a 160. I know catalogs are not always 100% accurate in their specs but I have seen many 160s as described in the catalog listings here, with single-bound holes, pearloid inlays and silver hardware.

So my question is what is the source for Gruhn's listing of model 6012, which DOES match my guitar 100% with the exception of quadruple binding instead of triple? Is there a catalog which lists the 6012? I have come across a couple other specimens on the internet that match my guitar's specs and seem to have 3-digit penciled serial numbers as well. They perhaps were the equivalent of the 16" "wartime" models which were I believe uncatalogued?

Its a cool guitar and in the end the exact year/model # is not that important, but I love this stuff and would like to know as much as possible about it.

12

kc_eddie_b , thanks for the catalog listing and info. I'm not sure if I understand, do you think this is a 160/6028? I thought with the triple-binding everywhere (w/b/w), gold hardware and abalone inlays it would not be a 160. I know catalogs are not always 100% accurate in their specs but I have seen many 160s as described in the catalog listings here, with single-bound holes, pearloid inlays and silver hardware.

I was wondering about that too when I was reading Ed's post, and the catalog description. I've seen a lot of guitars described as 160s that are not as nicely appointed as yours. But the 1948 catalog description does indeed appear to be a match to yours. Either people are frequently misidentifying lower end Synchros as 160s, or they were getting lower-grade appointments in some years.

13

As Ed has pointed out in previous thread, guitars produced after the war tend to have downgraded appointments. My late '41 Synchro 100, the lowest on the Synchro totem pole - the only one in the model line with regular f-holes - has the natural finish - more expensive - the identical bridge/base & tailpiece as this guitar of yours Kazoo. The entire body, heel cap, neck and headstock has beautiful tort binding. Tuners were solid brass Grovers. And as I showed above, a triple bound tort guard. Oh, and the top is book-matched, carved spruce.

After the war, Gretsch began going away from having carved tops as the laminate process had evolved and was cheaper.

Your guitar has retained the appointments of the pre-war ones, especially the bound cates-eyes - mine are unbound - so I consider your guitar to be an upscale model. Remember too Kazoo, that during the war and for awhile afterwards, They used whatever they still had to get guitars out the door so it's possible to see a mish-mash of appointments during the period around which your guitar was built. Seeing different appointments from any catalogue isn't abnormal at all so pinning down an exact model may be challenging.

14

Just wanted to add this pic showing the triple binding inside the cat's-eye holes. Would love if anyone has info to answer my questions above about the 6012 model.

15

Sounds like George Gruhn is going to have to be your source on the 6012 model kazoo. He's never been considered the authority on Gretsch product line history (like he is for Martin and Gibson) but since he put it in his book, he must have had a source.

16

My pickguard is triple bound but not the sound holes? They both seem to be about the same age. Serial number is 2987. I believe the neck has been rebound but it is a great job!

17

I just did a deep dive into my files and pulled out the circa 1948 Trade Price List which has provided some insight...

18

Here's the lower-end Synchromatic guitars at the bottom of page 3. Note the model 100 is referenced as the 6013. The model 160 is 6006. Sorry for the blurry enlarged pix.

19

Here's the interesting revelation... at the top of page 4, the "blond" version of the tear-drop sound hole model is referenced as the Synchro 175, and model indicator 6075. I believe that THIS is the correct model reference for kazoo's guitar.

EDIT: Oops... somehow I was thinking that Kazoo had a blond Synchro, but clearly his photos show the sunburst finish, so it would appear it is a Synchro 160, not 175. My bad!

I'm electing to leave the info in my post instead of updating it, in case someone is searching for Synchro 160/175 info in the future.

20

Thanks so much for that info, those catalog pages are great! The Synchros in general seem to be an area of Gretsch history with not a lot of solid information.

I don't see a 6012 listed anywhere so maybe there was a 1947 catalog or price list that Gruhn is aware of, that listed a model 6012 ? I know he is not a big on Gretsches but I'm sure there is some basis for that model being listed in his book.

All of the 160s that I'm aware of have nickel hardware, regular pearloid block markers and single binding in the cat's eye holes. Did 160s ever come with multiple-bindings, gold hardware and abalone block markers? I would have thought that was a 200, but that model is not listed in the 1948 catalog either ....

21

No post war Synchro 200s to my knowledge.

22

Just wanted to add this pic showing the triple binding inside the cat's-eye holes. Would love if anyone has info to answer my questions above about the 6012 model.

– kazoo

This is a modern bridge.

23

How do you conclude it's 'modern'. Does that mean the re-issue era?

24

I have a question. How does it sound?

It really is beautiful.

25

How do you conclude it's 'modern'. Does that mean the re-issue era?

– Windsordave

Small thumbwheels, top isn't bevelled and the compensation for the 2nd string isn't as radically compensated as on vintage. I lived with one for ten years and know it well. I wouldn't be too surprised if the tailpiece was modern as it is quite shiny.


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