Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Making 50s style headstock Overlays for upcoming projects


Thought you guys would like to see some reproduction parts I am making for upcoming restoration projects.

First up is the headstock overlays. 1954-56 Reverse Serif / Steers head as well as the 57-61 rounded logo and horseshoe. While I was at it, I also made the 60s style overlay but there are still some of those floating around. As far as I know, I have never seen NOS overlays from the 50s. Herve was making steershead inlays but doesn’t appear to be doing them anymore.


Great. How do you get the black lines onto the steerhead? And how do you cut them out so precisely?


Great. How do you get the black lines onto the steerhead? And how do you cut them out so precisely?

– blueflame

I have a small but very accurate (.001) CNC machine that I have created a program to cut these all out. I can make one at a time, or dozens and all will be identical. The steers head was a challenge because there were so much variation in batch to batch. I searched for the most common version and used that as the basis. The black lines are an engraving that is filled with black inlay/engraving ink like the originals. Material is Pearliod (Celluloid) like the originals (or very similar).

I will be making other parts soon too. Spacers, block inlays and western inlays, signpost pickguards etc. All things that I can't find on the open market for restorations.


Joe, are you able to make a batch of "angry steer heads"?


Crowbone, There are several variations of the angry steer head too. Mostly I have seen these on the 54-56 6121 and 6130 Jets. The art work takes a considerable amount of time to create. But I will be adding a version to my library as I had a need for one last year and couldn't find anyone to make it for me.


This might be a bit better picture of the 54-56 overlay.


Wow, that looks really good!


Very impressive.


Those look great! I would love to see a “script” logo overlay!!!


Thanks Frank. This all came about after you mentioned Herves name last year when I was looking for a steers head. He seems to be out of the business (at least at that time). So I started the quest to acquire the machine, materials and knowledge to reproduce them myself.

I am working on SignPost engravings now as I have the artwork, just need to figure out machining. After that will be the pickup spacers, and then western inlays.

I am also make acoustic bridges and other parts for Martin, Guild and Gibson guitars as needed when they come into my shop.


Those look great! I would love to see a “script” logo overlay!!!

– Beallstreet

You read my mind. I want to make those too, but they are not used very often (I don't get a lot of Scriptys in for restoration) so I had to choose what to work on first. The 54-56 Reverse Serif and the 57-61 Rounded logo guitars come through the shop pretty regularly. Enough to make that a priority for repairs etc.


If you was a steer in the herd you would be angry to!!


Joe my friend, these are proper awesome looking things. If you’d had these available 10 years ago that ‘58 Annie could well have become a 6120 conversion

Tell me, does the cnc machine rout the negative out of the veneer as well or is that still hand cut?


Deke mate. Yes CNC does both the pocket and the profile of the inlay. It’s very good. Maybe too good. Working on the signpost engraving now. It’s a bit trickier not to melt the plastic during the machining.

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