Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Frettin’ over my 1964 Tennessean


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later! My dear ol' '64 needs new frets! Been doing a LOT of research trying to decide what size fret wire is closest to the originals. I would say they are "short and skinny". Just want all you Gretsch folks' opinion. Wanna do it right the first time. I've had this guitar for 49 years. Bought it from the original owner back in 1971. So it's an "old friend"!! Looking forward to your recommendations! Thanks, Steve


One reason I went off vintage guitars around the turn of the century was the small, even tiny frets they mostly all have. Back in my young life I did not notice or care... but now, toxic.

The so called medium jumbo are a good place to start. Someone here will know what the original spec was. I would not go to original spec if you really want something larger just for the originality factor. Huge frets would be out of place on something like that tho, and for taller frets often the nut has to be adjusted/raised.

I use .53.x.110 now on everything.

BTW that era Tennessean is my favorite Gretsch ever.


Dunlop 6105s are almost as skinny as vintage and are quite comfortable. But I hear you on wanting to keep the original style on a favorite: the original frets on my '57 Clipper are down to nothing and the bass side of the 22nd fret has popped up. I'll keep putting off the inevitable as long as I can, then it's a round-trip ticket to Curt.


Frets are a wear out (just takes longer) item, just like strings. I recommend you put on whatever suits your style. If you're used to low frets perhaps taller ones won't make you happy. I myself won't have them on any of my guitars as they don't suit my fingerstyle playing. New frets, regardless of what you put on won't affect the value of the guitar, contrary to what some folks claim....they're a wear out item and not expected to live forever so put on whatever you like. Any luthier can tell you what size those original frets were.


I agree with lx, I think 6105 are as close to original-spec as is available. If you liked how it played before, then that's probably a good choice.

I haven't had a zero fret guitar refretted in ages, but I think if I ever did again, I would seriously consider a stainless steel zero fret.


23 years ago i had my mid 60's 6120 refretted with what ever Fender were using for the vintage series,i have no idea what they were using back then though, but it felt ok.


I have owned my 1965 Tennessean since 1967 and understand where you are coming from. It was refretted a few years ago. I don’t know what they are but they are a little bigger than the originals and are perfectly fine. I had thought about keeping the guitar as original as possible but have lost no sleep over this.

Your top priority should be determining what frets are comfortable for you and go with them. Maybe go to a store and try various guitars if possible or compare other guitars that you may have. The value in this model is more in the enjoyment you get from it rather than monetary if that is what your concern is. Good luck. They’re great guitars!


I agree with the sentiments expressed above regarding fitting fret wire that you like and that facilitates your playing style.

However, you will need wire that has a tang depth and width that is compatible with the existing fret slots.

Getting the right tang depth is pretty much essential when a guitar has a bound fretboard because you cannot deepen the slots without removing the binding - a totally unnecessary and expensive complication.

Tang width is crucial too because if it's too thin for the slots, the frets won't stay in situ without being glued in. If the width is too great for the slots, a neck can be forced into a back bow - something that cannot be corrected using a vintage style single action trussrod.

I would suggest having a luthier remove just one of the frets to measure its dimensions - and the depth and width of the empty fret slot.

Armed with those measurements, you can browse the fret wire supplied by Stewart MacDonald and or Allparts to make a shortlist of the available fret wires that are compatible with your guitar.

That's the point at which you can start making a decision about crown height and width.


I use StewMac #141 wire on all my personal guitars! I think also, everyone glue frets in these days. I do. I know Gibson back in the `50's-70's used "Fish Glue" to glue their frets in. These days thin Super Glue is pretty much standard! PRS uses it to fret every guitar they make.


I thought 6190 wire was close to the original skinny frets?? No??

On a 57 6120 what is the closest modern wire that compares to the original?

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