Vintage Gretsch Guitars

I need help identifying this old gretsch

1

I’m trying to help a friend identify his fathers old guitar. I’ve found many similar models but nothing with this headstock. The only numbers found are on top of the headstock 4244. Is that 1951? But it’s not a New Yorker?

2

I’m struggling to add more than one photo. I have a few photos

9

That is a Gretsch American Orchestra model 35 (unless it lacks top binding... in which case it's a 25). The serial number puts it in the 1937 timeframe. That extra motif on the face of the headstock is unusual but not unheard of. I collect photos of old Gretsch guitars and over the years I've seen that "funnel" graphic before. No idea why it pops up periodically. Maybe one guy of the factory floor liked adding that, or maybe one retailer asked to have that added. I dunno. This was a lower-end model within the American Orchestra line of acoustic archtops, and the guitar you've posted looks to have endured the ravages of 70+ years of life on this planet.

10

That is a Gretsch American Orchestra model 35 (unless it lacks top binding... in which case it's a 25). The serial number puts it in the 1937 timeframe. That extra motif on the face of the headstock is unusual but not unheard of. I collect photos of old Gretsch guitars and over the years I've seen that "funnel" graphic before. No idea why it pops up periodically. Maybe one guy of the factory floor liked adding that, or maybe one retailer asked to have that added. I dunno. This was a lower-end model within the American Orchestra line of acoustic archtops, and the guitar you've posted looks to have endured the ravages of 70+ years of life on this planet.

– kc_eddie_b

I really appreciate this info. It has obviously not lived a easy life. I’m confused by the dating. How can you tell it’s from 1937? I saw where serial numbers between 4000-5000 were supposed to be 1951 so I’m a little confused. I certainly believe you but I’m trying to learn.

11

I really appreciate this info. It has obviously not lived a easy life. I’m confused by the dating. How can you tell it’s from 1937? I saw where serial numbers between 4000-5000 were supposed to be 1951 so I’m a little confused. I certainly believe you but I’m trying to learn.

– Loudguitartech

The serial number info on this site is not as accurate as it could be. There were several sequential serialization systems employed at Gretsch. Your guitar is a pre-war example, and you can satisfy yourself on that by purusing the catalogs that are available on this site.

12

The serial number info on this site is not as accurate as it could be. There were several sequential serialization systems employed at Gretsch. Your guitar is a pre-war example, and you can satisfy yourself on that by purusing the catalogs that are available on this site.

– kc_eddie_b

Awesome thanks for the info. I think it must be a model 25 then as there’s no headstock binding. It’s still the only example I’ve seen with that type headstock. It’s in bad shape but being that old and not stored in a case it’s amazing it survived.

13

I think it must be a model 25 then as there’s no headstock binding. - Loudguitartech

Actually, neither model had a bound headstock.

If you look at the Model 35 in the 1936 and 1939 catalogs, you can see that Ed's 1937 estimate lines up in terms of the evolution of that model. In the 1936 catalog, it has the older style diagonal banner logo, and a cheaper tailpiece, thin binding and tri-burst finish.

In the 1939 catalog, it shows your logo, the upgraded Grover tailpiece, a standard sunburst* and thicker binding.

So, each of those features changed between 1936 and 1939. Based on your example, it would appear that the tailpiece and logo were the first to be changed, and the thick binding and standard sunburst came later.

*But we've seen examples with consecutive serial numbers with different burst styles, so it's hard to say with certainty what was going on there. Maybe a change was made, maybe they did both styles concurrently.

14

Here's a few more headstocks from guitars in the same serial number range with that "funnel" motif.

4362...
17

And #5053...

– kc_eddie_b

Great info. Thank you. This is fun to learn. I’ve not had many pre war guitars in my hands to learn from.

18

I’m not sure that’s a funnel. I propose stemware. Ed’s post #14 clearly has an olive in that martini glass! The bigger question is, have you drained your glass or are you waiting for the second round to arrive?

19

I would guess it's an old timey trumpet

20

I would guess it's an old timey trumpet

– Otter

You and I think the same.

My first thought is that It looks like a graphic representation of a heraldic trumpet to me.


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