Vintage Gretsch Guitars

40’s Synchromatic question

26

I have a question. How does it sound?

It really is beautiful.

– Caliban335

Caliban335, I wish it sounded as great as it looks! It actually has a pretty nice sound, better than I had expected given the low esteem the Synchros are held in by archtop lovers. It has a punchy midrange sound, slightly like a J-45, should be useful for recording situations. Lots of fun to play and I like the "miracle neck", pretty comfy. But if you were after a superb-sounding jazz archtop there are better ones out there I'm sure.

27

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.

– lx

This bridge was on the guitar when I got it and has some age to it with tarnished wheels and general wear. But I think the bridge wood usually matched the fretboard, so this guitar probably had a rosewood bridge originally? This one seems to be ebony.

I agree that the 2nd string is as you say, not such a radical compensation on my bridge as photos show on original bridges. I wonder what era this bridge does come from, as I say it really doesn't seem new at all.

29

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.

– lx

Here's a pic of my '41 Synchro's bridge and base. It shows the radical offset for the second string's compensation and how there aren't any sharp corners anywhere. I consider these thumbwheels to be small, compared to those from the '60's onward, but they're original to my guitar - I'm the second owner who has played this guitar. The original owner willed it to his grandson who didn't play, who sold it through a dealer online and I got it.

30

Couple of things to comment on Kazoo [& other contributors ] and this will cover a few comments in the 8 year old thread as well.

One thing to bear in mind regarding feature and or appointments, is in general, that following the war, many features were downgraded in quality, the most important being that when the laminating process became refined and cheap, tops went quickly away from being carved, to a pressed laminate. This applied to both acoustics and the [newer] electrics as they began being assimilated into the lineup, the exceptions being the custom ordered only acoustic Fleetwood and Eldorado in the '50's. Regarding your statement that Synchros were inferior guitars as viewed by the jazz community, I beg to differ as all models made through the war that had the carved top, were very comparable to Gibson's offerings. When the model designation changed after the war and had switched to the laminate top, your observations certainly apply.

A quick observation on archtop tops. In Gretsch's early archtops, from what I've read in their catalogues, all tops were carved. It had nothing to do with reserving this feature for high end guitars but rather that that was the only method of manufacturing tops! My Synchro is a 100, the lowest model, but has the same carved top as the coveted 400.....and also every appointment is high end. This guitar/model has a very strong voice with excellent tone as well. Tops in the late '30's and into the '40's till the war's end, are stated as being carved. After the war, things changed as laminate tops came into vogue, mainly as a way to cut manufacturing costs, and once electrics came along, they basically did away with the need for a carved top. As electrics came in, archtops lost favor severely across the board along with using the more costly and time consuming carved tops. Only 2 models remained as mentioned above.

Compare your bridge/base to the pic of mine. The true 'vintage' art deco bridge/bases, and I've see a few, were all rosewood (probably Brazilian) and were very dark, almost looking like ebony. I've never seen or heard of one of these vintage ones ever having been made from ebony but ISTBC. Yours looks like rosewood to me. And they're all very smoothed off - not a sharp edge anywhere. Don't know when the clean edge versions showed up but I always had the impression the first change was to go with a very uninspiring looking straight lines base but yours has the original style base and a modified bridge compensation risers, albeit both are the sharper edged versions, so I don't know it's origin.

On the issue of the material used for the neck inlays & headstock logos, you reference abalone and as far as I know, the only production Gretsch ever to use abalone is the Super Chet. The early Gretsches used MOP or some type of ivoroid but never abalone, unless someone can show us it mentioned in the literature. Someone else can also tell us when ivoroid came into vogue. If your Synchro does in fact have abalone IMO it had to be either a special [expensive!] custom order or a replacement. If the rest of the Synchro line didn't have abalone, I don't see why it appears on one guitar, second lowest model at being a 160.

I believe your guitar is from that era when two things were at play: model names/designations were in flux and material acquisition still wasn't solid following the war, so they were still using what they had on hand, which with all records destroyed, muddies identification over half a century later.


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