Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Help identifying this Gretsch

1

Picked up this guitar from my aunt. It was my grandpa’s. I would like to know if it would be worth restoring. It’s pretty rough. Any help you can give me would be appreciated. Can’t find much on it on the internet except for one like it on eBay.

Thanks.

Adam

2

I will defer to the experts we have here in that era, but they will want more pix.

3

Looks to be a Model 65 from the '30's judging from the headstock inlay as can be seen in the Gretschpages Catalog section. There may be numbers stamped on the tip of the headstock/numbers written on the inside to peg the date better.

5

Sorry, for some reason I couldn’t add more than one pic. There is a number on the headstock — 5126. Didn’t see any numbers inside. I’ll try adding more pics.

8

Looks to be a Model 65 from the '30's judging from the headstock inlay as can be seen in the Gretschpages Catalog section. There may be numbers stamped on the tip of the headstock/numbers written on the inside to peg the date better.

– lx

Thank you Ix, for the quick response and the information. It does look to be a model 65 from the 30s.

Now the question is if it is worth restoring. The tail piece is broken and there’s no bridge. There is also a split in the body. Also the heel looks to have cracked once upon a time and was fixed by drilling a hole from the top of the fret board down through the heel and screwed together.

I'm told my grandpa took it on the back of his motorcycle on a trip from Wisconsin to California and back in the 30s. It'd be a cool piece to restore and keep in the family.

Not looking to have a museum quality piece, just something that is structurally sound and playable. I will add more pics later tonight.

9

That era had solid carved spruce tops but thanks to Gretsch's typical for the time ugly dark sunburst, you don't get to see or appreciate the nice grain. Original style parts can be had or you can upgrade the tailpiece with a Chromatic harp version and go with the Art Deco bridge/base that came along in the prewar era. Guys around here can make a nice repro pickguard for you as well. What shape are the tuners in? Replacing them if they're kacked is easy enough too. A good once over, particularly to check the neck, by a competent luthier will let you know if it's worth putting money into it.

10

Hi Adam, First let me say it's a beautiful piece. I would love to see close ups of the head stock and clear pix of the rear of the head stock as well. Not to mention some nice closeups of the front and rear body and neck.

I think Ix is right though. The head stock has very unique shape and ornamentation. The shape of your head stock looks different than a Gretsch head stock, but over a period of 90 years whose to say? That's why better better pix are needed.

The ornamentation dimple that looks like the " { " where the neck and body meet is also unique. the 1930's Gretsch Guitars don't have that type ornamentation.

I would not restore the guitar in the sense of doing any refinishing work. Refinishing will kill the sound and and detract from the guitar's original value. In other words, the older the wood gets better in sound. That guitar is probably real wood not a laminate.

Believe it or not that guitar will probably sound marvelous once you put all the missing pieces on.

It appears you may have crack at the "F" hole. That would be wise to repair, but other wise just wipe the guitar down with a very lightly dampened rag well rung out, and you will be surprised at how nicely the guitar will com back aestheically.

11

That screw that goes through the fretboard is evidence of what may be a very crude neck re-set. On the other hand, it may also be a very stable neck re-set, since it doesn't depend on glue.

12

There are other Gretsch American Orchestra models with the “open book” fretboard termination. The model 50 and the high-end model 150 for example.

13

Great piece of Family history. I think the story of your Grandpa's trip is really cool, that's a long ride, great example of the Vagabond American & Gretsch Spirit . Lots of good information here. IMO (as mentioned), don't have it restored....think of every bruise and bump as a chapter in your Grandfather's story, just clean it up and have a good Luthier make it playable again for a new generation or two. A bridge, tail piece, maybe a new set of tuners, strings and a set up is probably all it needs, couple hundred bucks most likely. I have a similar model that I had fixed up that plays fine.

14

Hi Adam, First let me say it's a beautiful piece. I would love to see close ups of the head stock and clear pix of the rear of the head stock as well. Not to mention some nice closeups of the front and rear body and neck.

I think Ix is right though. The head stock has very unique shape and ornamentation. The shape of your head stock looks different than a Gretsch head stock, but over a period of 90 years whose to say? That's why better better pix are needed.

The ornamentation dimple that looks like the " { " where the neck and body meet is also unique. the 1930's Gretsch Guitars don't have that type ornamentation.

I would not restore the guitar in the sense of doing any refinishing work. Refinishing will kill the sound and and detract from the guitar's original value. In other words, the older the wood gets better in sound. That guitar is probably real wood not a laminate.

Believe it or not that guitar will probably sound marvelous once you put all the missing pieces on.

It appears you may have crack at the "F" hole. That would be wise to repair, but other wise just wipe the guitar down with a very lightly dampened rag well rung out, and you will be surprised at how nicely the guitar will com back aestheically.

– Gretch Place

" Refinishing will kill the sound". I'd like to know how you come to that conclusion, as a blanket statement. No one around here has ever, with a proper refinish, IIRC, touted that claim. Sure, if you slap on a heavy coat of paint it can negatively influence the sound production, but otherwise, I don't believe so.

15

Don't be insulted by Windsordave's tendency to categorically dismiss as "wrong" things that don't suit his taste. That finish is unique to that era of Gretsch, and some find it quite more appealing than another boring blonde.

Whether anything is "worth" restoring really depends on what you want out of it. To get this guitar in tip-top shape, like it was fresh from the factory, would undoubtedly cost far more than it could ever be sold for. To get it in functional playing condition would be far less expensive, but possibly still a money losing proposition. Unless the neck set really is solid and all it needs is $40 in parts for an acceptable tailpiece and bridge and a set of strings. So, there's a whole continuum of what it might need at a minimum, what you might choose to do above and beyond that, and how much any of those actions might satisfy your wishes for an instrument with family history.

To get a real answer, you'll probably have to start shopping around for a luthier who can actually inspect it and estimate how much it needs or could be done and how much it will cost. Then it's up to you to decide whether or how much to invest in it.

16

It's true that no one can tell what the guitar needs just by looking at photos. You definitely need to have a qualified person look at the guitar. It should only take a few minutes to come up with a range of solutions and prices, and you should be there while it's being inspected.

17

Thanks for all the comments. They’ve been super interesting and helpful. I actually didn’t realize the comments were still coming in. Life has gotten in the way — 3 kids under 4 — so I haven’t been able to do anything with the guitar yet. I live in northern Michigan and don’t have many choices when it comes to guitar repairs. I have located a reputable Luthier down in Lansing so hopefully soon I will have some updates.

Thanks again for all the help!

Adam


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