Vintage Gretsch Guitars

57 Headstock Question

1

Did Gretsch ever paint the back of the headstock black - as in the pic of this '57 6120?

3

The back of my '57 6190's headstock is black...don't have pictures on my work computer.

4

That may be original, but that's often how broken headstock repairs are disguised (mostly on Gibsons)

5

I've never seen one on a 6120. And it doesn't look like factory work anyway. The overwhelming odds are that it's covering up repair work.

To my knowledge, Gretsch (at least by this time) only used stingers on blonde guitars. I don't count Dinks' 6190, because it's sunburst and normal for it to shade to black at the headstock, but it's not a stinger.

6

I agree with Afire's assessment. No 6120 with factory stinger headstocks, but my natural finished 6191 Streamliner has one!

7

+1 for Afire and Eddie's posts. Look at those crooked tuners too - I wouldn't mind betting that stinger is hiding some ugly tuner work.

8

I've seen at least one Gretsch blonde from the late '40's early '50's without a stinger but blondes had them as standard issue by the mid '50's. Still, a stinger on a 6120 looks great, even if not original. Gretsch would do custom work back then, but we've not seen any documented examples of 6120's with stingers.

10

The back of my 58 6120 was black and it was never repaired!

12

This has been buggin' me, so I just had to look this up. For ever, I have only heard the term stringer (with an R) used to describe the line down the back of the neck. Is this only if inlaid and not painted?

neck stringer: an inlay, or lamination, down the center of the neck of an acoustic instrument

13

Stringer = the laminated piece in the neck. A 3-piece neck has a single stringer. I've never heard of a surface painted (faux) line.

Stinger = the painted back of a (usually blonde) headstock as on the above post #6.

14

So based on that clarification... would it be accurate to describe the 5-piece neck examples we find on some vintage Gretsch examples as having a “double stringer”?

15

Sounds right. The first time I heard the term was regarding surfboard construction where the stringer has the same function as on a guitar neck: added strength. And "double stringer" is exactly what it's called with surfboards. If there's a more guitar-centered term, I'd like to know it. Perhaps it's an old woodworking term.

16

I remember taking a woodshop class a long, long, time ago.

Part of the class was wood turning, and one fellow was already a master turner.

He would glue thin pieces of dark or light colored wood between thicker sections of wood before turning. Sometimes he would use thin sheets of plastic between the larger wood pieces.

His creations were outstanding. The instructor stated that this method was called adding "stringers" for a decorative/aesthetic purpose.

So.............

17

Calling it a "stringer" is not nearly so colorful or imaginative as calling it a "skunk stripe"... Which is a more frequently used street term.. although "skunk stripe" can also refer to an inlay, which is not technically a functional part of the neck build.

18

Well now, that's very interesting. At the risk of quoting myself (see the thread re Sting Recommendations) I always assumed it was called a stinger as it resembled the thing an angry insect may use to jab you somewhere.

That being said, while there is ample evidence here of an inlay or sandwich of wood being called a stringer, I've only ever seen stinger refer specifically to the black painted headstock narrowing to a pinstripe - I've never seen it refer to an actual piece of wood, either on a guitar or anything else.

So maybe stinger is a colloquial pun/slang term for the paint - it looks like a stringer (but it really isn't one), and also looks like a wasp stinger.

I've only seen skunk stripe refer to the inlay on a Fender type neck that has a maple fingerboard (the inlay was originally used to insert the truss rod as the original Fenders had no separate fingerboard; it couldn't go in under there so it had to go in via the back).

19

lx is correct. Single stringer, double stringer, no stringer. For the guitar neck, it's skunk stripe.

20

I find it hilarious that I’ve been fairly focused on “guitar stuff” for the past 20 years or so, and only just now learning this!

21

lx is correct. Single stringer, double stringer, no stringer. For the guitar neck, it's skunk stripe.

– Jams

I'll now refer to these strips used to laminate a guitar's neck as stringers....thanks to the clarification, but never as a skunk stripe!!! To me, that's a stupid expression and one I've never even heard of it! And besides, it isn't even white! Anyone ever seen a white stripe against a black finished neck?

22

Sunburst or orange 6120?

– Joe Desperado (aka: Jack Daniels)

Orange Sir.

23

So based on that clarification... would it be accurate to describe the 5-piece neck examples we find on some vintage Gretsch examples as having a “double stringer”?

– kc_eddie_b

And what of my Imperator "C" with a 7 piece neck? A double, double?

24

So if "skunk stripe" is out, how about "skid mark?"

25

I've only heard the term "skunk stripe" on guitars when referring to the back of Neil Young's Old Black Les Paul which had a huge painted white stripe on the back of the neck (and body?). Which was somewhat ironic considering that Les Pauls always had a one-piece (no stringer) mahogany neck.


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