Vintage Gretsch Guitars

NGD: ‘69 Gent in Rally Green… and Left-Handed

1

There's a new toy in town, arriving in Charm City from Portland, Oregon yesterday. It's a 1969 Gretsch Country Gentleman, left-handed, with Rally Green finish. It has to be the only one like it that Gretsch ever made. It has a few issues, advanced binding necrosis being the most significant, but that's fixable.

I always hold my breath when buying old guitars without having checked them out in person, because any number of age-and-use calamities could have worn them down to a useless state, or a money-pitiful mess. And in those days, quality control at the factory was not always in control. I anticipated that this one might require new frets or a neck reset, based on photos the seller sent me. But the action is great and the frets have little wear (it is possible that the guitar has been re-fretted). It. Plays. Superbly. And it has that robust vintage Gretsch sound. So it's a heck of a guitar in those functional respects, its unicorny-ness aside.

I became aware of this guitar a year ago: it was brought to the attention of Curt Wilson, who in turn let your left-handed correspondent know about it. It was a widow-seeking-to-sell-deceased-husband's-prized-guitar story, and she'd gotten some decent advice about it, but her advisors overestimated its value a bit, because of the crumbling binding. I had a few nice conversations with the seller and liked her well enough, but we couldn't agree on a price back then.

But when a very clean lefty '64 Gent showed up locally several weeks ago and a delusional $10K asking price was floated by me, I decided to revisit this one. I e-mailed the widow and asked if she still had the guitar. She wrote back almost immediately, saying that she did, and that just an hour before receiving my e-mail she'd made a decision to get it sold as soon as possible. She was talking "fate" and I was listening. This time around, we agreed on the price instantly. Yay!

Crazy-cool bonus (no, not the "Psychedelic Sound" sticker on the pick guard): the case is left-handed... Yes, it is. Look at how the lid opens. I'll be confused by it for months.

Paul/FF909

2

Sweet! Keep us informed on the archaeology. Is this a Burns Box one?

3

Fabulous, Paul! Congrats. Hope to see it in person soon.

4

Now that's a completely cool story in every respect, and well told. Kudos and congratulations. Maybe Curt will get right on the binding and you'll bring it to Fwench Wick Nov 11?

5

Congrats, Paul! It's a beauty!

6

Glad to see it all worked out well. Hope the widow realizes it went to a good home. Congrats!

7

So cool, people don't realize how hard it is to find left-handed stuff...Let me know any leads out their..

8

Good things come to those who wait. Congrats, Paul. This tops off your collection nicely.

9

Fabulous! Congrats, Paul.

11

Glad you got this rare beauty and that the widow/seller is happy with the price....and your story is fascinating. Congrats! Let us know what it's going to need once it arrives.

DC: I see the upper screw and faint outline of a truss rod cover so it wouldn't appear to have the Burns Box.

12

@Proteus: Curt has a long line of customers, so I don't know about getting it done that quickly, although another project of mine is somewhere in that line. I could substitute the Gent in, but that would be the third or fourth time I've bumped that one to the back of the line.

@Bob Howard: let's see––'60s Gent, left-handed; custom color; lefty case (I've never encountered another)... OK, I'll go with "top," but I reserve the right to fill in the slots below it.

@Windsordave: it arrived on Monday. "Needs" include re-binding, some touch-up work (gotta consult with Curt on what would be appropriate and right-looking), a re-engineering of the bridge (base has been glued down and post holes wallowed out; it works, but...), and perhaps some hardware replating; the hardware is disproportionately ugly compared to the finish. The plating is all but gone on everything, and some parts have that turquoise shmutz on them.

Paul/FF909

13

Congratulations, Paul !! That is super cool ! Feel free to post some close up pictures of that beauty!

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* Frequent Flyer 909

@Proteus: Curt has a long line of customers, so I don't know about getting it done that quickly *

Just call him relentlessly and tell him it's a rush job. He loves that.

BTW...cool new ride!

15

Congratulations -- a wonderful story which will link great memories with this guitar in the years ahead. Also, the guitar itself looks fabulous!

Have to say -- I've never seen or heard of a left-handed case!! Didn't know there was such a thing.... I assume it must be a very rare item and have its own collectors' value -- ???

17

@Proteus: Curt has a long line of customers, so I don't know about getting it done that quickly, although another project of mine is somewhere in that line. I could substitute the Gent in, but that would be the third or fourth time I've bumped that one to the back of the line.

@Bob Howard: let's see––'60s Gent, left-handed; custom color; lefty case (I've never encountered another)... OK, I'll go with "top," but I reserve the right to fill in the slots below it.

@Windsordave: it arrived on Monday. "Needs" include re-binding, some touch-up work (gotta consult with Curt on what would be appropriate and right-looking), a re-engineering of the bridge (base has been glued down and post holes wallowed out; it works, but...), and perhaps some hardware replating; the hardware is disproportionately ugly compared to the finish. The plating is all but gone on everything, and some parts have that turquoise shmutz on them.

Paul/FF909

– Frequent Flyer 909

Thanks for that report Paul. A few issues indeed. The bridge sounds like someone got carried away! and that shmutz is definitely nasty. I like your thought to replate the gold hardware. What color is this guitar? It doesn't look the 'normal' gent shade.

I'm sure it's going to look terrific when Curt's finished with it!

18

Wow, that's a find! Congrats! Nice that the case has a custom handle too!

19

I've encountered dozens of vintage left-handed Gretsches over the years. This is the first left-handed case I've seen. It is possibly the only one extant, but that speculation is based strictly on what I've observed. Eighteen months ago, I would have speculated that none had ever been made, you know?

I do not know what other manufacturers offer as regards lefty-cases, except for the Weber mandolin folks, who do have them.

Winsordave: near as we can discern, the color is the opaque version of the green that was used on some Rallys in the latter half of the '60s. (A translucent green was also used, but it were awfully ugly; most Rallys were Bamboo Yellow/Coppermist). It does not look like any iteration of Cadillac Green that I've ever seen, and the guitar has held its color very well––the area under the Bigsby is not darker, so no fading has occurred.

Cam, that handle is an improvised replacement for the original, which broke off long ago. It is quite a comfortable thing to grip, as it turns out.

Paul/FF909

20

Rally Green is a great shade. Purposeful, military, utilitarian.

Wear it with a Beatles Candlestick Park jacket and you'll look tops.

21

Wear it with a Beatles Candlestick Park jacket and you'll look tops.

True. But hopefully it won't make it your last live gig!

22

Cool acquisition Paul,congrats sir!

23

I've encountered dozens of vintage left-handed Gretsches over the years. This is the first left-handed case I've seen. It is possibly the only one extant, but that speculation is based strictly on what I've observed. Eighteen months ago, I would have speculated that none had ever been made, you know?

I do not know what other manufacturers offer as regards lefty-cases, except for the Weber mandolin folks, who do have them.

Winsordave: near as we can discern, the color is the opaque version of the green that was used on some Rallys in the latter half of the '60s. (A translucent green was also used, but it were awfully ugly; most Rallys were Bamboo Yellow/Coppermist). It does not look like any iteration of Cadillac Green that I've ever seen, and the guitar has held its color very well––the area under the Bigsby is not darker, so no fading has occurred.

Cam, that handle is an improvised replacement for the original, which broke off long ago. It is quite a comfortable thing to grip, as it turns out.

Paul/FF909

– Frequent Flyer 909

Thanks for the clarification on the finish color. It's always a good indicator of how a guitar's been looked after when the Bigsby covered area isn't darker. I look forward to seeing the finished product when it's under gone it's refurbishment.

24

I've encountered dozens of vintage left-handed Gretsches over the years. This is the first left-handed case I've seen. It is possibly the only one extant, but that speculation is based strictly on what I've observed.

I could have stared at that picture for 24 hours straight and not noticed that. Right now is the first time it's ever occurred to me that there would be such a thing as a left handed case.

25

I'm pretty sure they aren't all that necessary, John... and if anyone would want such an accommodation, you know it would be me.

Paul/FF909


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