Vintage Gretsch Guitars

55 6120 resto - botched??

26

Wow! I fail to see what's wrong with this guitar Has it ben refinished? I would see that as the biggest problem as it then looks like a new guitar and as such, to me, well kind of boring.

I realize that via Brian Setzer and Chet Atkins these guitars are now commanding prices far beyond their actual build worth, but essentially it's still a factory made, mass produced plywood electric archtop, yes? This is not something made out of select tonewoods and the product of hundreds of hours of fine luthiery.

I mostly see that the fretboard markers have been reshaped and I agree that the brace destruction should be attended to for structural reasons. Though I've seen this alot with Gretsch's , even with right out of the factory modern electromatic archtops.(thus 'soundposts') Not surprising, and fixable.

I think it's fine somebody made it their own if they wanted to. Why not??

I feel old amps and guitars are being treated too much like museum pieces. They are instruments and should be played and used. They should develop naturally with the people that play them. They shouldn't be time capsules carefully preserved for future generations and subsequently priced out of the hands of players who will make music on them.

If this is a functional and still attractive electric guitar that plays well bravo! I feel the price is too high but then I think all these guitars are over-priced. For the price of a decent 6120 I could get a few really good quality beautiful sounding handmade acoustic guitars from smaller business luthiers.

27

Tox, I take your point, but to a point.

Yes, it's factory-built, non-exclusive example, but it's of a vintage that commands a great deal attention, at least among those of us that care.

The fret markers are no big deal, because I don't feel they we done to 'this' guitar - they were done to a neck that was clearly added after the main build so it really doesn't matter. What matters is they are durn' ugly and are in no way in-keeping with what was originally intended, and are therefore incongruous to the rest of the guitar - they just flat-out don't work.

So why should we care? Well I think it behooves anyone who knows anything about this stuff to point out these inconsistencies as we see them, lest someone with less experience dumps a truckload of cash thinking they were buying something they were not.

Also, it's kinda fun...

28

Hmm, the seller is paying attention to us.

The listing now reads '55 instead of '56 as it first appeared. I think the neck is a '58 due to the wider headstock wings and as Walter pointed out, the logo and horseshoe. The seller needs to finish the update to include the fact that the pickups, neck and well, pretty much everything else is not original. You could leave the fretboard, remove the weird inlays, re-rout and install vintage correct sized ones without too much trouble....

29

Hmm, the seller is paying attention to us.

The listing now reads '55 instead of '56 as it first appeared. I think the neck is a '58 due to the wider headstock wings and as Walter pointed out, the logo and horseshoe. The seller needs to finish the update to include the fact that the pickups, neck and well, pretty much everything else is not original. You could leave the fretboard, remove the weird inlays, re-rout and install vintage correct sized ones without too much trouble....

– lx

I've been in contact with the seller. He took the news that all the hardware with the exception of the control knobs is replaced pretty well. I shared my opinion of the neck as well. I've apparently interacted with him before (he recalls me at least). He used to be affiliated with Chicago Music Exchange. He seems like a straight shooter, not trying to get anything over on us. He also speaks glowingly of this guitars playability and tone... says it's a spectacular player.

30

Truthfully, none of the non-original parts (including the neck) really bother me from a functional or historical standpoint. There's a case to be made that modifications made along the way to an instrument are really part of its history, and just as - if not more - authentic as a very recent "restoration" of a modded guitar back to a (faux) original state.

As they say, it's only original once - and we might consider in-the-day repairs and mods to be "original" (for that instrument). I don't suppose examples with severe celebrity provenance are really comparable, but of course Lennon's Rick & Casino, Eddie Cochran's 6120, and Malcolm's Jet are all worth far more in their modified conditions than unmolested originals from that era. But as Joey the C says, "every guitar has a story," and if that story includes repairs, hot-rodding, un-hot-rodding, or other mods, so be it.

I think the longer ago such stuff was done, the more a part of the guitar's story it is. If somehow one had the original hardware for this VERY guitar - and if the braces hadn't been hacked, and the neck replaced - it might then be possible to put it back to the original original way it was. But no "correct" resto on it now can return it to a pristine unmolested state.

Of course these repairs and mods (unless done for or by a Famous Player of sufficient status to make the guitar More Important because it absorbed his DNA) reduce the value of the guitar as a vintage collector piece. If it's recognized for what it is, good enough. As long as the story is disclosed (as far as it can be known), and the guitar's eventual market value reflects all parties' shared understanding of that, there's no problem. That they might make the guitar a "player-grade" instrument in the eyes of the market - and therefore more affordable - is kind of a bonus, in a way.

What DOES bother me about this guitar are two things, both purely cosmetic: the G-brand ("correct" for this vintage, but goofy from the git-go) and the really ugly fret markers. If I could bring myself to tolerate the brand (and so far I haven't been able to, except on knotty pine Roundups), I'd still have the markers replaced if this were mine.

If the current neck itself is stable, I'd be happy with it. I know Curt whips 'em off and glues'em back on with no more trepidation than I would have in swapping a Tele neck, but to me a glued-in neck replacement - even when perfectly executed - is major surgery which makes the guitar a different instrument than when it left the factory. It's kinda like a head transplant. I wouldn't have it done again on a guitar if the neck in place worked. And where you gonna get an authentic '55 donor neck anyway?

31

I'm with the reneck. The board is ebony. So its a 58' wide head neck, no zero fret. And this would have a heel dowel too.

I think the horseshoe nail markers are a home made. they dont look anything like the factory ones we've seen.

The bracing being routed ?? Is that for filters??

the frets look really big too.

Id love to get my hands on that one and do it up right.

Id fix her up right and the play along to Bertha Lou :)

32

On neck resets, I’ve never done one that hasn’t improved the guitars sound and sustain. The neck joint is like a transmission on a car, if it’s a slippin then there’s not much going on.

Think about it, if there’s play and not much contact the notes die on contact.

33

Think about it, if there’s play and not much contact the notes die on contact.

Of course. I'd have no hesitation about replacing a neck for functional reasons. Just not purely for cosmetics.

34

You can always pop the fretboard off and stick a new one on with some glue.

– Curt Wilson

Good idea! What kinda glue?

35

Mistakes were made. But it still makes my big toe stand up in my boot.

37

Oops. Sorry, Deke.

38

I’m kidding, all is good.

Now if you’d mistake my playing for Walter’s I’d be your friend for life

39

I’m kidding, all is good.

Now if you’d mistake my playing for Walter’s I’d be your friend for life

– Deke Martin

likewise....

40

It's the equivalent of a resto-rod...

41

Tox, I take your point, but to a point.

Yes, it's factory-built, non-exclusive example, but it's of a vintage that commands a great deal attention, at least among those of us that care.

The fret markers are no big deal, because I don't feel they we done to 'this' guitar - they were done to a neck that was clearly added after the main build so it really doesn't matter. What matters is they are durn' ugly and are in no way in-keeping with what was originally intended, and are therefore incongruous to the rest of the guitar - they just flat-out don't work.

So why should we care? Well I think it behooves anyone who knows anything about this stuff to point out these inconsistencies as we see them, lest someone with less experience dumps a truckload of cash thinking they were buying something they were not.

Also, it's kinda fun...

– Deke Martin

I can certainly understand the kind of fun part. The fret markers are kind of weird shaped, I agree, one wonders why, but there is no accounting for taste. They look a little too Teutonic to me, and the finish looks a little too orange.

Somebody was likely taking the restoration opportunity to try aesthetic ideas out. The brace mangling is all too common.

My Tennessean when I bought it had been routed for a humbucker!! Ye gods! Just imagine a big square humbucker in a shapely tennessean and the hole created. I patched it and the surround hides it. That was 30 years ago almost. Many would cringe at some of the repairs etc. but it is solid, plays great and still has a road worn beauty to it.

42

Think about it, if there’s play and not much contact the notes die on contact.

Of course. I'd have no hesitation about replacing a neck for functional reasons. Just not purely for cosmetics.

– Proteus

yep I get it, I think I was referring more to you saying that a neck reset makes it a different instrument than when it left the factory and I would argue that a reset is performed to bring it back to factory specs.

43

I agree. But my comments pertained to a neck replacement, not a reset of the existing neck.

And I’m not even saying a re-neck, done well, hurts a guitar functionally - just that, from the point of view of historical authenticity, it’s no longer the same guitar that left the factory.


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