Vintage Gretsch Guitars

53/‘54 Blonde Constellation PSA

1

No Affiliation With Seller.

Sweet looking and clean with the exception of a Grover Imperial switched out for a Sta-tite. I think I see some neck heel separation and some headstock wing separation, but with no bid minimum this could be a real deal. Tweed case too. Dig the neck angle!

2

Has a little binding separation, but the weird thing for me is the laminate inside the guitar looks like dark wood, Walnut? Or perhaps it’s just dirty?

3

Beautiful guitar but does need a neck reset by the looks of it. This was Gretsch's production model [laminate top] archtop, below the custom ordered only, [carved top] Fleetwood and Eldorado. It has very nice appointments, in particular, the full binding, including f-holes. It has the same size body as the Fleetwood at 17", with the Eldo at 18".

It would be nice to pick up for cheap but I think this lovely blonde old gal will top $1K. For those who were with Rob when he picked up the beautiful Synchro 100 recently during the Nashville Roundup and may be looking for a similar one, this may be a viable alternative. On the negative side it doesn't have a carved top but on the plus side, it's a 1" wider body and the neck inlays are a bit nicer being humpblocks. It's a real looker!

This guitar would be a good candidate for a [reissue] Rhythm Chief monkey(or2)-on-a-stick pup or a similar Kent Armstrong pup.

I agree the inside of the back appears quite dark and from a smoker's home or not, it wouldn't darken the inside of a guitar to anywhere near this extent. Besides, there's some darker chocolate colored strips which I equate to what's seen with walnut. Mahogany would appear more red and not have this striping.

4

Oh, I like this one very much, thanks

5

Go for it Norm! A nice upgrade from that early archtop you restored, no?

6

I've got one of these and it's a great guitar. Miracle neck, really comfortable to play. And, as WindsorDave suggests, it's a perfect platform for dual Rhythm Chiefs, even a Bigsby!

7

Go for it Norm! A nice upgrade from that early archtop you restored, no?

– Windsordave

Yes Sir it most certainly is, I'm watchin'

8

I've got one of these and it's a great guitar. Miracle neck, really comfortable to play. And, as WindsorDave suggests, it's a perfect platform for dual Rhythm Chiefs, even a Bigsby!

– Mel Waldorf

That looks quite awesome Mel!

I'm curious though; is that the original pickguard, or at least the original style and color?

9

Windsordave -- Look in the catalog section of The Gretsch Pages as a Constellation is pictured in color on the cover of the 1955 catalog. Look in the database and you'll see a picture of my 1954 Tobacco burst Constellation. It is minus the pickguard but otherwise in almost mint condition. And my Constellation came with original Kluson waffleback tuners and large mother of pearl block inlays. Grover Imperials were added around 1955 or so as were humpblock inlays and the model was discontinued in September of 1959

10

I've got one of these and it's a great guitar. Miracle neck, really comfortable to play. And, as WindsorDave suggests, it's a perfect platform for dual Rhythm Chiefs, even a Bigsby!

– Mel Waldorf

Mel, what a beauty!

How´s the Bigsby interacting with the pickup? No problems with the attachment on the strings? I´d love to install a Bigsby on my Synchromatic but I´m afraid of messing up with the tuning...

https://scontent.fcgh14-1.f...

Do you guys know if the Constellation´s top is thinner than what I have on my 6014?

11

Mel, what a beauty!

How´s the Bigsby interacting with the pickup? No problems with the attachment on the strings? I´d love to install a Bigsby on my Synchromatic but I´m afraid of messing up with the tuning...

https://scontent.fcgh14-1.f...

Do you guys know if the Constellation´s top is thinner than what I have on my 6014?

– João Erbetta

It's the standard 3-ply Gretsch top; same as the 6014. Essentially,it's the same guitar as Toxophile's recent 6199 Custom Convertible.

12

It's the standard 3-ply Gretsch top; same as the 6014. Essentially,it's the same guitar as Toxophile's recent 6199 Custom Convertible.

– lx

Thanks!

13

Windsordave -- Look in the catalog section of The Gretsch Pages as a Constellation is pictured in color on the cover of the 1955 catalog. Look in the database and you'll see a picture of my 1954 Tobacco burst Constellation. It is minus the pickguard but otherwise in almost mint condition. And my Constellation came with original Kluson waffleback tuners and large mother of pearl block inlays. Grover Imperials were added around 1955 or so as were humpblock inlays and the model was discontinued in September of 1959

– ewkewk

I have that catalogue and that's a beauty for sure! Interesting about the feature changes over the years. The other thing that changed around the same '55 period was the logo changing from script style to the new T-roof design. At some point didn't it also get the thumbprint neck inlays?

14

It's the standard 3-ply Gretsch top; same as the 6014. Essentially,it's the same guitar as Toxophile's recent 6199 Custom Convertible.

– lx

Being a laminate top, it'll take a Bigsby - Toxo did - as long as the neck joint is strong.

15

This calendar year '53/model year '54 is from the first batch of Constellations with humps and a t-roof logo. According to Ed's book there aren't any more batches of them; it seems they were ganged up with other 17" models as with the epic 233xx batch of '57 featuring Convertibles, Fleetwoods, Constellation(s), and the two proto-Country Gents. This was also the first appearance of the neo markers. "No fewer than 350 made."

16

Thanks for the correction Lx! I'd mis-read from Ed's book. It was the early versions that had the script style logo. This one also was from the earlier batch of those changes in that it has a fret marker on the first fret which was later dropped. Appears as though there weren't many made with a humpblock inlay at the first fret.

17

Being a laminate top, it'll take a Bigsby - Toxo did - as long as the neck joint is strong.

– Windsordave

If you're going with a Bigsby on one of these beauties, it needs to be a vintage (if not period correct) unit!

18

Do you mean for the visual look Ed, or is there a structural difference to be considered?

19

Well, mine's not a vintage Bigsby, but I knew I'd have to drill holes in it to mount the Rhythm Chief control box so I wanted a new one.

I've got it strung with acoustic bronze 12s and the tuning with the Bigsby is fine. The whole monkey on a stick set up moves back and forth a bit when the vibrato is used. The monkey on a stick and Chet arm really complement each other visually, too.

The pickguard isn't original, again because I was planning to modify it to put the pickup selector switch on. The pickguard that was on it when I got it might have been original but it had been painted black and cut for clearance of what was probably a full size surface mount pickup - there are some plugged screw holes in the top.

All in all, it's the kind of guitar that makes me want to learn to play better, if that makes sense.

Ed, do you know, was there a structural difference the Constellation and the Country Club?

20

Windsordave and kc_eddie_b, this Constellation pictured above is interesting me more and more because my Constellation has a serial number of 12321 -- only 55 guitars earlier than the one pictured above-- but the differences between the two are fairly stark: Mine has block inlays versus the hump blocks on this one. Mine has Kluson "wafflebacks" versus Grover Imperials on this one. Mine has an ebonized headstock overlay versus what appears to be a pear wood overlay on this one. Mine was originally purchased on March 21, 1955 by the original owner but -- and Ed would know this more precisely -- I believe mine was made at the very end of 1954

21

Interesting, ewkewk. FWIW, mine is within 10 after the Connie in the reverb ad.

22

Windsordave and kc_eddie_b, this Constellation pictured above is interesting me more and more because my Constellation has a serial number of 12321 -- only 55 guitars earlier than the one pictured above-- but the differences between the two are fairly stark: Mine has block inlays versus the hump blocks on this one. Mine has Kluson "wafflebacks" versus Grover Imperials on this one. Mine has an ebonized headstock overlay versus what appears to be a pear wood overlay on this one. Mine was originally purchased on March 21, 1955 by the original owner but -- and Ed would know this more precisely -- I believe mine was made at the very end of 1954

– ewkewk

Actually ewkewk... I believe your guitar (#12321) to have been made in late '53. So perhaps it sat around the music shop for over a year before being bought?

Here's why I think yours is earlier than late '54.

1) debut batch of scripty Jets was at #11900-12050, and these are confirmed as being made between Aug and Sept 1953.

2) Country Club #12563 has a date stamp of 9/24/53 in it's neck pocket.

3) Round-up #13134 has a date stamp of 1/9/54 in it's neck pocket.

I could go on... but you get the picture. Hope that helps!

23

Do you mean for the visual look Ed, or is there a structural difference to be considered?

– Windsordave

Purely aesthetic Dave... old guitars just look better with old components. The great part is that the original Bigsby units work exactly the same way as the brand new one's.

24

Mel... I really can't speak to the construction differences or similarities between the Country Club and Constellation models. Sorry.

25

kc_eddie-b -- THANKS! I had no idea my Constellation was that darn old! Best estimation is that my guitar must have been made in from early to mid-September of 1953


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