Vintage Gretsch Guitars

A couple of old Chets


Dave and I met up today, he gave me a gold Chet arm and I'm making him a new bridge base. Our guitars are both June 1972 but his is 009 and mine is the 241. Both guitars are somewhat modified, Dave's more so. I kind of like the Jolly red of Dave's Super a little better but I enjoy the deeper port wine red of my Deluxe. I recently used a paint pen to folly up some gold trim on my pickguard but still need a couple more gold knobs.


As you can see mine is much more roadworn than Dave and as it is a Deluxe it has less fancy trim


These show the difference in colour better.


Fabulous shots Bernie! Our 'cousins' look pretty good together, don't they? And they're set off nicely by both having Chet arms.

Bernie measured the output of Ray Butts pups and the neck is 12.5 and the bridge is 13.8. It looks at first blush that the bridge pup is a single coil but Bernie had a look underneath and though potted, appears to be a 'bucker as well although of a somewhat different design. But Ray was after all an innovator so nothing comes as a surprise.


Both of them are looking good!


They are both beautiful. I really like Baldwin era Gretsch guitars and these two are great examples.

Congratulations to both of you.


Two beautiful guitars !

Great job on the gold painted guard too Toxo,looks great.


BTW, we were playing through my '66 Pro Reverb - what a superb combination! We had fun with myself playing continuously while Bernie changed inputs, bright switch settings and controls to hear the differences.


I think it's prudent to add, as I did on the latest thread regarding the Van Epps for sale, that neither of these guitars from '72 are exhibiting any signs of binding rot.

The Baldwin era guitars of the late '60's that fall under Baldwin's ownership were a continuation of the manufacturing methods being used when Gretsch sold the company. When the changes - pickguard shape, pup covers & Burn's Box style truss rod - appeared on all models by early '72 - I think we can assume there was a simultaneous change in the glue used. Curt has educated us to the fact that binding rot originates with the glue and when the manufacturing facilities moved to Boonsville, there had to be a change in the glue used, even though no one has been able to verify that. I claim there was, using extrapolation of the fact that rot seemed for the most part, [decades later] to not be an issue after the move.


Somebody once said they opened up their Super Chet and it looked like it had been soldered together by a 12 year old (I'm assuming an inept 12 year old) My deluxe looks like that and it looks like they had too much coaxial cable lying around the shop so they put a bunch more to use it up. There are no less than 6 coaxial wires coming of the 3 way pickup selector switch???!!!!! Crazy!. The more I look at this guitar (though it is beautiful, plays well and sounds good) The less I'm impressed by the quality control exihibited. Mind you the 60s gretsch's weren't much better if at all. A few points - weird bridge block not attached to equally weird back braces -large square top braces that look like they could support a dumptruck - a bridge base pretty well designed to warp under the pressure of the strings and have the lifting screws dig into the top. -crappy wiring - Drunken F-hole binding..I could probably do a better job blindfolded


Since the site won't let me edit in a picture here's a picture of the guts removed . I had to take them all out because one Coax hot wire came off the switch and damned if I can see where it's supposed to go. I'll probably streamline the mess.


Holy crap Bernie!.....looks like around 2 lbs of paraphernalia was stuffed in there!! No doubt it'll sound as it should once you streamline that mess! BTW, now that you've got it all apart and I assume starting pretty much from scratch, are you going to retain the same controls on the lower bout, the volume and tone controls for each pup?

The good news about this mess is that it's readily fixable. Poor quality control no doubt but I'd rather see this as an issue than say a poor neck joint requiring a re-set, or f-holes cut wrong or tuners inaccurately drilled.

This guitar is winner and once the electrics get sorted out, will be better than the original. Your workmanship and attention to detail Berne is far superior to what we frequently see in some vintage Gretches and all your guitars play and look wonderful.


I don't imagine there will be any sonic difference once streamlined. That wouldn't be why I'm doing it. I was looking at it as it was crapping/cutting out last rehearsal. It's just a wasteful messy way to lay it out. The pots look nice though. I'll be putting all new coax in. I'm not into corroded old wire with stiffened plastic sheathing. There's no magic voodoo tone mojo hooey in that stuff.


Here's a couple of happier Chets Dave's got a refurbished ebony bridge base (pictures to follow) and mine had the wiring harness streamlined and renewed.


Sanding the base of Dave's bridge to exactly fit the top was a colourful affair on a sunny day


This is a properly fitted bridge(albeit prior to final sanding). The original Chet bridge bases came from the factory with the piece of ebony between the 'feet' being only 1.5mm thick so you could flex it using one finger. NOT the way to make an archtop bridge. ON dave's the feet weren't fitted properly to the top, So I added a 3.75mm thickness to the top of the bridge bass (with holes drilled for the lifter screws) and then sanded the feet on which had had some ebony added in an earlier 'fix'. As I'm test fitting the bridge it hasn't been final sanded so you can still see a bit of the line between the two parts right in the middle of the bass. Also the ebony I had was very very black and dense!


A wonderful job by Bernie!! My utmost thanks! Now we have a nice pair of old Chets the way they should've come from the factory! New wiring & frets for Bernie's Deluxe and a whole host of improvements for my Super I had done finished off with Bernie's craftsmanship to correct the poorly made original bridge base. It's already to go now!

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