Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Cool old Gretsch - “1931 possible proto 35”

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I'm not sure if any of that is so, but a pretty cool guitar that needs some love.

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Nope... she’s a 1941/42 Synchromatic 100. Don’t see a lot of these pre-war Synchro 100s.

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Nope... she’s a 1941/42 Synchromatic 100. Don’t see a lot of these pre-war Synchro 100s.

– kc_eddie_b

Well Ed, it seemed to be determined awhile ago that mine and Tartan's Synchros - blonde with the tort binding - were 100's and not 115's. With this also a 100 I'm confused, with the differences between our guitars and mine only 11 s/ns' apart, mine at 2301. Does this mean that one of ours isn't a 100? The headstock inlay on this guitar is from an earlier period than my late '41 - just script - from what we've seen around here. Please clarify if you can, thanks.

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I've been in communication with the seller... he's quoting the GDP serial # info as justification for this guitar being a 1934 example. That's a whole different issue. But Dave... you are correct. The headstock on this Facebook guitar (#2312) is the earlier design, and was replaced with the more traditional Synchromatic logo, in the last model year before the discontinuation. Why this earlier headstock and fretboard pops up later than yours (and others I've documented) is a reasonable question... and I can't explain that. As far as the model 100 vs. model 115... I am only aware of the model 115 reference during the war years production. I'm not sure there was a differentiation of model designation for different finishes on the pre-war guitars. Maybe... but I can't find evidence of that. Attached is the 1939 catalog excerpt for the Synchromatic model 100... and there's no mention of a natural option.

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Having said all that... there are documented examples of this era Model 100(?) in the natural finish (note the early headstock logo and fretboard inlays).

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Thanks Ed. So it remains a bit of a mystery, seeing both guitars being called a 100. I remember reading awhile back when the discussion arose about which model Rob's and mine fell under, and the 115 played by a cowboy/country artist. I believe, but I'm not sure where I read it, that the 115 mentions a natural finish and IIRC, the tort binding. It was some other reason I believe that our guitars weren't put into that model #. I always thought that the 115 was an upgraded 100, which our guitars certainly are, given the natural finish and the tort binding/pickguard.

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Having said all that... there are documented examples of this era Model 100(?) in the natural finish (note the early headstock logo and fretboard inlays).

– kc_eddie_b

Well that's our body but different/earlier neck and headstock inlays! I kind of like my scripty headstock inlays but these neck inlays are appealing! Ours have the plain large block inlays. Looks like it may be a situation at the factory of some builders putting [on the same body] the newer neck like mine while still using necks they already had on hand, till they were used up.

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Mine's always in the chair next to mine when watching TV so it gets played every day. Used it at a few gigs awhile ago and it always got comments on it's beauty from everyone and its tone from other players. I have the Miniflex model 4, dual microphone system in it so it faithfully produces the normal acoustic sound rather than the jazzier sound of surface mounted and suspended pups, but I can get a food darker sound if I want, as I run it through a Fishman Pro EQII pre-amp.

When I got it I installed medium brass strings but they were too bright and extremely noisy so I switched to D'Addario Flat Tops which quieted things down nicely and gives it a lovely tone.

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Is there a mention of a Synchro 115 before the post-war Red River Dave ad? Because the ad copy mentions the guitar as blonde, not natural, as does the other ad for the post-war Synchro 115 featuring one of Red River Dave's sidemen, Texas Bill Whitley. There is no grain to be seen in those ads; I suspect these 115's are faux blonde models, basically a cream/yellow finish. Ed, didn't you and The Polecats recently see a Synchro 160 that had an opaque or semi-opaque finish?

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lx... yes, the cream-colored finish is typically what I think of when we think about the "Synchro 115". Here's one...

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But that same cream-color has appeared on other Synchro models... this one is from the same war-time or early post-war era.

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Even higher end examples from the late pre-war time-frame have surfaced with this finish. This one is from circa 1941.

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The earliest mention I have of the Synchro 115 is this ad, which appeared throughout 1946 in Metronome magazine.

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Yeah, even though not "real" blondes, that finish with the tort binding looks lovely.

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The earliest mention I have of the Synchro 115 is this ad, which appeared throughout 1946 in Metronome magazine.

– kc_eddie_b

So the 115 is several years later than my 100. That cream 'blonde' finish differentiates it from mine of course with most other features identical. I do notice in this pic that the headstock shape is different and IMO a downgrade from mine. This one looks more to me like the Orchestra model, being very plain & rounded off as opposed to sculpted.

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That’s the dumbing down of the Synchro 100 guitars for the war-time era Dave.

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Sadly you're right, Ed. I'm guessing this model was the last to get the tort binding too. The lovely Art Deco base gave way to a straight across affair and the tuners received plastic buttons instead of the solid brass open back Grovers that mine has.

That headstock shape, here and on the Orchestra models to me are quite ugly as they sort of match the plainness of Martin headstocks which I've never thought had any style whatsoever.


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