Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Interested in this ‘73 Gretsch Chet Atkins Nashville on Reverb, but…

1

I've heard people say bad things about Baldwin era Gretsch. I've heard about binding rot. The truth is, I have no experience with vintage Gretsch, only modern ones. I thought y'all might be able to offer informed opinions. Are there any gotcha's I should be aware of with Gretsch Nashville models of the era? Anything I should be aware of? I'd appreciate any opinions y'all can offer.

https://reverb.com/item/271...

2

First, I'd like to know the S/N to confirm the year, but it's definitely post-'71 as evidenced by the Baldwin changes brought in in early '72. Once those changes were implemented, the binding rot that was quite prevalent beginning around '66, seems to have almost completely gone away; not entirely, but in most cases and this guitar seems free of it. What you've heard of a negative nature has been proven to be BS for quite awhile now, early binding rot notwithstanding.

There's actually two separate Baldwin eras. The first is from when they bought the company and maintained the same features through to early '71 when they changed things. The main changes consisted of a different shape pickguard, the trussrod switched to a Burns Box and the pickup covers (only the covers) switched to blackface. Later on the resistance changed as well.

Around here, these second gen Baldwin guitars are well thought of and amongst those of us who own one - mine's a '72 Super Chet & a '76 Super Axe - highly regarded.

Aside from the replaced tuners, not a big deal for these guitars, this guitar looks to be in nice shape and a pretty good price.

3

I would look at the serial number because I don't recall the 1973 Chet Atkins Nashville having the redder finish, the chrome pickup surrounds, and the silver pickguard. In 1973 those appointments were much closer to the mid-60's 6120 double cutaway. My guesstimate is that this guitar is 1976 to 1978 vintage. Having said that, I utterly and completely agree with Windsordave about the build quality of late Baldwin era guitars. The workmanship and quality of those guitars was MUCH superior to mid-60's Gretsches and the best Gretsch quality since the very early 50's.

4

Makes you wonder if the 1970 move to Boonville was when they started changing things... or the move had nothing to do w/ changes. My binding rot theory was when Baldwin bought them in '67 the cost cutters took charge (just like CBS at Fender) and they were buying diffferent/cheaper binding. The worst binding years from what I have seen were 68/69. Still true that many/most of Baldwin Gretsch were ok, just somewhat different in appearance.

5

I can't give any opinion on 70s Baldwin guitars I've never played one let alone owned one. I only comment because I have heard they tend to be heavy. If that is a trait of Baldwins it might be worth asking the seller the guitar's weight.

PS This guitar is first presented by the seller as all original, then presented as having had the tuners changed only. That being, looking at the pictures, I didn't know that a die (as in dice) stand-by switch was an original Gretsch feature

The workmanship and quality of those guitars was MUCH superior to mid-60's Gretsches and the best Gretsch quality since the very early 50's.

I very much disagree with this assessment of mid-60s Gretsches. I could discuss at length why this is the case but it's not the topic here.

I think the 70s Nashville in question looks good. If I were the one buying I would ask about the weight as I'm not super into guitars on the heavier side.

6

The '72 Chet Atkins catalog shows the 7660 Nashville having gold plated parts with polished Bigsby and chrome Adjustamatic and a gold pickguard. The '75 and '78 catalogs show all chrome parts and silver pickguard. As Baldwin bought Gretsch in '66 when the instruments were still made at the Brooklyn plant, I refer to the 1972 and later Gretsches as Booneville-era. This guitar would have been built in good old Booneville, Arkansas USA. These later design Gretsches do tend to be heavier, but the construction is rock-solid and very very playable. A lot of the older Gretsch players I know (who aren't caught up in the '50s mystique) seem to prefer the Booneville Gretsch guitars.

7

Until about 10 years ago I gigged with a mid-70s Baldwin Country Club which I'd bought in 1990. Yep, a bit on the heavy side but it balanced OK on a strap and so the weight wasn't really an issue. It was very well made, played well and there was absolutely no sign of binding rot. The only thing that bugged me a little was the plasticky knobs but I expect it's no big deal to change them these days.

8

Thank you for the input of everyone here. I was hoping one of two people would reply, but I definitely got a lot of great opinions. I'm asking for the weight and the serial number.

9

Bonneville built Gretsch guitars are fine instruments and imo are as good as any of the Brooklyn built guitars. My only criticism is that they are heavy.

10

Looks like 8lbs and the serial is 23068. Looking up serial numbers that sounds weird.

11

That computes to Feb '73, 68th guitar made. Weight doesn't sound too bad. My SC is about the same and well balanced. Toxo hasn't replied yet and he has a Boonsville made Deluxe Chet he likes.

12

I always heard that Baldwin bought Gretsch in 1967 but then the Gruhn book isn't right about everything

13

Looks like 8lbs and the serial is 23068. Looking up serial numbers that sounds weird.

– Golem

There's a reason for that serial number sounding weird... It's an anomaly for certain '73-'74 Gretsch guitars.

See this thread for more info:

Link

14

Looks like 8lbs and the serial is 23068. Looking up serial numbers that sounds weird.

– Golem

Is the S/N stamped on the back of the headstock or on a paper label inside the body?

15

There's a reason for that serial number sounding weird... It's an anomaly for certain '73-'74 Gretsch guitars.

See this thread for more info:

Link

– Tartan Phantom

You are correct Tartan Phantom... this is another example of the short-lived Gretsch drum label, modified to work in guitars in the '73 period.

16

Is the S/N stamped on the back of the headstock or on a paper label inside the body?

– Windsordave

It's not stamped on the headstock. I can't see the serial in the pictures. I still haven't bought it yet, but I know the price is negotiable so if someone wants to grab it before I do... I won't complain.

17

I love the look of those reddish Baldwin Nashvilles, but the tuners just look "wrong" and it will be difficult to fit a suitable HSC.

18

They do look odd. Never heard of issues with the original tuners so perhaps someone just preferred the look of the pseudo MOP. I'm wondering if the tuners are original and just the knobs changed.

19

I can't give any opinion on 70s Baldwin guitars I've never played one let alone owned one. I only comment because I have heard they tend to be heavy. If that is a trait of Baldwins it might be worth asking the seller the guitar's weight.

PS This guitar is first presented by the seller as all original, then presented as having had the tuners changed only. That being, looking at the pictures, I didn't know that a die (as in dice) stand-by switch was an original Gretsch feature

The workmanship and quality of those guitars was MUCH superior to mid-60's Gretsches and the best Gretsch quality since the very early 50's.

I very much disagree with this assessment of mid-60s Gretsches. I could discuss at length why this is the case but it's not the topic here.

I think the 70s Nashville in question looks good. If I were the one buying I would ask about the weight as I'm not super into guitars on the heavier side.

– knavel

Yeah I can attest that my ‘76 Country Gent was really heavy. Bit of a skinny neck too but a well built guitar.

20

Gretsch used these Höfner doghouse machines on all of their mid to lower end guitars in the '70s. The buttons are not removable. These do hold up well, so no telling why someone would change them out.

21

I had a 75 Gent that wasn't heavy. It had two soundposts and a Burns gearbox. I thought it was a better built guitar than my Astro Jet and the double Annie that I had. It was a nice guitar, but the tone switch and butt-load of volume pots (master volume AND a kill switch? Wtf) was just worthless to me. I'd buy it and put some locking tuners on it and call it a day, namean? ;-D

22

The only things I disliked about the Baldwin/Boonesville guitars were the metal pickup surrounds and the squared off pickguard. I had a’71 Tennessean and a ‘77 Atkins Axe. Both were excellent playing guitars. I did swap out the pickups in my Atkins Axe for a pair of Bill Lawerence XL500’s! It had those crappy Japanese humbuckings..

23

The only things I disliked about the Baldwin/Boonesville guitars were the metal pickup surrounds and the squared off pickguard. I had a’71 Tennessean and a ‘77 Atkins Axe. Both were excellent playing guitars. I did swap out the pickups in my Atkins Axe for a pair of Bill Lawerence XL500’s! It had those crappy Japanese humbuckings..

– Don Butler aka: Toneman

"It had those crappy Japanese humbuckings" Huh? The Super and Atkins Axe had Dimarzio, made in America, humbuckers. Nothing wrong with the pair in my/Chet's prototype.


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