Vintage Gretsch Guitars

60’s Viking lefty conversion


You guys blow me away! I've got some woodworking skills, and I've done abalone and hardwood inlays for cigar humidor and jewelry box lids. It's simply tacking the two layers together (the inlay material on the bottom), and cutting the pattern out at an angle, on a scroll saw. The bottom layer then fits perfectly into the top layer cutout. But I've never tried to do the binding on a guitar. My hats off to all of you Luthiers!


Still making the inlays Paul FF909, when Curt made your conversion, did he made ebony inlays to fill the righty inlays ??? Because my MOP is white and the old ones are yellow

– petit professeur

Curt didn't do that part of the guitar; it was done at Philtone Guitars in Baltimore. But the answer is "Yes" on making fill inlays where the right-hand thumbnails were.

Getting a perfect cut and seamless fit is nigh unto impossible, for imperceptibility's sake. You might be better off making a new set of righty MOP inlays and going double-thumbnail, as was common on lefty necks back then.

This project is looking great, by the way!



Wade, thank you, it’s not perfect now but with the advices of the members of the forum I hope I will make it a guitar again :)

Paul, thanks for your answer, I will go for double thumbnail, but I guess I will leave the old righty MOP i’m scared of putting them off, they seem to be well glued... When I will sand the neck I hope they will turn lighter....


I glued the inlays today, it took me a long time to have them almost flush on the fingerboard


I also glued the bindings, i will need to sand them later....


I began to sand the fretboard, some glue remains but it’s quite nice I need to sand more and then i will put the frets


Hello everyone ! Back after the summer break, it’s raining now so it’s time to finish this project The old thumbnails were too yellow compared to the new MOP, so I decided to go for inlay removal and new MOP inlays


I discovered than the old inlays have very different thickness so i will need to fill some of the deepest holes.. and one of the inlay is very thin... The first inlay is almost done, when all of them will be done I will do the refret and then the touchup finish


Dremel was my friend to deepen the second inlay hole, still a little bit to drill but it seems possible


Two more inlays rought cut today after work, it’s faster with the Dremel (the opposite side was made only with manual files and sandpaper).


It’s raining in Marseille, so I fitted the other inlays and the new mother of pearl dots Tomorrow if I’m not too lazy I will fine tune them and glue everything


At last, all the inlays are glued I still have to glue the side dots... Next week I will refret the guitar, i need to watch tutorials first


Are you anticipating any issues with the angled upper frets? I'm assuming this guitar had them.


Hello Afire ! The angled upper frets are after the 12th fret if i'm correct, so I hope it won't bother me too much... The neck seems to be straight and is not moving, but there is a very little "ski jump" on the upper frets, so after playing the guitar a little bit I will decide if it's ok, and then continue to convert it to a lefty, if either the ski jump or the angled frets are a problem I will build the old lady as a guest guitar for my righty friends, or a slide guitar... It's my first project, so I'm not ready now for a neck reset but it's fun and I learn a lot by making it


Today I worked on the frets, bend them and cut the tang on the side because of the binding... Next I will put them with a fret hammer, and will glue them too with titebond I think.... On the upper frets I will sand a little bit the tangs as I was told on tutorials, to avoid hammering the extension of the fingerboard


I'm enjoying watching your progress.


Thanks Mr Tubs ! I have a question about tailpiece, I just found me a lefty tailpiece to go on the Viking, I know there was different models during the 50, 60 and 70´s, do you know what model I have ? Thanks !


So it’s period correct on this 64/65 Viking I’m glad !


So it’s period correct on this 64/65 Viking I’m glad !

– petit professeur

Technically no. That tailpiece would be period correct for other Gretsch models from '64/65, but the Viking was a vibrato equipped guitar.


You’re right but let’s imagine it’s a special order :)

I tried to refret today, but the slots are a little too wide so it was difficult for the frets to seat well on the slots... so I will mill the tangs and will glue all the frets with cyanolite, like I planned to do with the upper frets...


Tonight almost all the frets are radiused and milled... Tomorrow I will glue them with CA


Did you clip the tang off the ends so the frets can overhang the binding?


Yes WindsorDave, i did but the fretboard slots are a little too wide so the fret is nor firmly hammered in, neither just slide in the slot... so when I hammered the frets it flattens a bit the radius of the frets and the ends pop out because of poor retention... with a little grinding of the side of the frets I can gently tap them on the fretboard, this way I can adjust the radius since it’s perfectly the same as the fretboard.. I saw that Dan from Stewmac used to mill the tangs and glue with epoxy in the 90’s so I guess it can be done.... I will go for CA this way the frets can be put of with a little heat if it turns bad and I need a professional refret... Then the luthier will either go for larger or modified tangs, or fill the slots and reslot the fingerboard...


I also made a mistake sanding the binding a little more than the fretboard radius, so I need to bend a little bit more the end of the frets.... It was written as a common mistake on the Benedetto book, I wish I studied more this part

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