Vintage Gretsch Guitars

NGD— 1942 Synchrolicious!


I'd say that would be right Rob. Pre-war Synchro 100.

These things are so great. I kick myself for not buying knavel's but the timing was just bad for me.


Rob... I appreciate your interest in getting this model attribution right. I've got a ton data on this era and the Synchro guitar line, but they pre-date the period that my books are associated to, so threads like this as well as the GDP database are the primary place that we can begin to bring clarity to the Gretsch fog of the pre-Golden Era period.


Here another stab at the Red River Dave ad text... more legible? (Dec. '46 ad)


One other thing worth pointing out with both our guitars, Rob is that ours have the prettiest tortoiseshell binding ever made!! The other pics showing a tort binding shows a color so dark it almost looks black. Same with tort guards, both vintage and recent.

– Windsordave

I agree... best binding ever!


In that case, I'm moving mine to the "100" category. Thanks Ed, for all the clarification on this somewhat confusing issue.

– Tartan Phantom

Okay, I'll move mine to the 100 category too. I do hope this thread has pic'd the interest of members other than the fellows with you at Carters, enough to begin looking for one of these guitars.

The first time I played mine out of the house was for a get-together thrown by Blue Dog Guitars for their customers so there were a lot of good guitar players in attendance. My Synchro sure got a lot of interest after everyone played. It suited every style the guys played on it and most couldn't believe the volume and tone it produced.


Nice guitar, Tartan Phantom. User it with joy!



Lucky man! It was great hanging with you in Nashville!


Wow, how could I have missed this? That's a beauty! Congratulations, Rob!


Rob, that old girl projects sound really well. Nice score, and you never stopped smiling whenever you held it.


Well Rob & Ed, yesterday, while looking for a book in my library, I ran across a book I forgot I'd had as it wasn't in my music related section. It was the '91 published Gruhn's Guide To Vintage Guitars. I looked up Gretsch and specifically our model.....the 100 or according to Gruhn, although somewhat contradictory in places, the 115.

I'm putting forth the info from his book as further food for thought, regarding what model we have. Maybe this or some of this adds to our discussion.

Beginning on pg 188, he makes an error regarding Synchromatic S/N style and placement, saying they all - up to '49 - have the number stamped on the inside of the back. Wrong as ours are stamped into the top of the headstock.

On pg 189 there's a key that identifies the following:

Non-cutaway Rectangular inlay Synchromatic on peghead Tortoise grain binding = Synchromatic 115

Pg 193 under the heading of Synchromatic Models and Other 17" - and 18" - wide models:

Synchromatic 115: 16" wide, f-holes, stairstep bridge, harp tailpiece, tortoise grain top and back binding, tortoise grain fingerboard binding, block inlay, unbound peghead, Synchromatic on peghead above A - and B - string posts, translucent blond finish.

Notice it says the peghead (headstock) is unbound, whereas we know this model, by virtue of yours, mine and Knavel's do in fact have the tortoiseshell binding continue from the neck to include the headstock (peghead).

So, what do you think Ed, in terms of what should be the model number of our guys? Jay Scott doesn't name it the 115 but calls it a sub-Synchromatic, denoting it to be less of a Synchromatic than the 160 through 400. Tony Bacon's book doesn't address it and the recent Gretsch Bible doesn't go back that far. George's book does throw some interesting info into the mix.


I would think the Scott book, published in '92, would have better information than the Gruhn guide, published in '91.


In hindsight, you would think that Jay's book, being a specialty for Gretsch guitars would be more indepth, but in fairness, information was extremely hard to come by for his research, just as it was for Ed to amass what he did to write his excellent books. With the two books coming out so close together, I doubt Jay would've benefitted from George's book's info prior to him publishing his.


Gruhn has never characterized himself as a Gretsch authority, at least not to the degree that he is accepted on topics related to Gibson and Martin.

Gretsch prewar history has always been under documented. In the early 90's it was non-existent until Jay Scott started to publish in Century 21 guitar mag, and of course with the release of his seminole book effort.

Because the guitar's that Dave and Rob have were made so close to WWII, they deviate from the standard catalog descriptions of models in the line. There was a lot of variability in guitars in this period, so nailing down the exact model of some specimens is a challenge.

We know that the Synchro 115 was a cream finished model during the wartime period through the Red River Dave ads. I have documented prewar Synchros with cream finish as well. So if the standard sunburst finish equates to the model 100, and the cream finish relates to the model 115... what model designation is the natural finish? There in lies the question.


Gruhn has never characterized himself as a Gretsch authority, at least not to the degree that he is accepted on topics related to Gibson and Martin.

That's what I remember from the scuttlebutt from the old days on the GDP fifteen plus years ago.


True, but I'm not trying to refute what's been discussed here previously, just that he had to have gotten his info from somewhere. I just tossed out what I found to add to the mix.


True, but I'm not trying to refute what's been discussed here previously, just that he had to have gotten his info from somewhere. I just tossed out what I found to add to the mix.

– Windsordave

I would imagine that (like Jay Scott) George got his info from actual Gretsch examples he had seen, sold, and/or worked on. But there's no evidence that George had access to any Gretsch company history, catalogs, or insider info that the rest of us haven't had access to over the past couple of decades. In my interactions with him, he's never surfaced any such resources.


That's about what I figured Ed, thanks. Couldn't imagine he had information you didn't. The one faux pas aside, that being as regards the headstock not being bound, his description of the 115 gives the impression it's its own model, not an just an upgrade on the 100 so does this change how we should look at what model our guitars are?


Hey Rob, here's a video of Chet, and his rhythm player behind him is playing our guitar.

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