Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Sal Salvador FS at Cream City


Given the lengthy chat we had recently regarding whether the Sal Salvador model changed from a laminate top to a carved top - I don't believe it did, based on the original price - when the Convertible - laminate top - became the SS model, my question is, does someone know Cream City's luthier who can pull a pup to examine the edge of the top to confirm it's laminate or solid?

I believe CC is just using the write up in the original catalogue to describe this guitar and that info says its a carved top which I have to have proved to me to believe it.


I just added this to Toxo's thread; this Sal has some other weird stuff too.


Wish there was a serial number... this is a late one.


They say it's a 24.6" scale but it looks to be the longer one. Look at the bracket on the left of the HiLo -- was that standard? The HiLo has been flipped around. I wonder if the pickguard is original. Bookmatched spruce top. Are the Cream City folks amenable to solving the solid/laminate mystery?


I think it's incumbent on Cream City to solve the mystery from the standpoint that they're advertising a feature for this guitar that it in fact, unless completely verified, is false information and not good for their reputation.

I'm sure someone here knows the folks that matter at CC and can relate what we've discussed and concluded - the top isn't carved!! - and have them do a quick check and send a close-up photo of the pup cut-out edge so we'll know for sure.

I'd also like to see a pic of the label to see if the model number also says it's a Sal Salvador or at least SS, given that there's nothing on the exterior of the guitar anywhere to indicate the name of the model.


I wrote this on Toxophilite's thread about Converting a Convertible. I mention it here with respect to someone thinking of using a mirror at CC to try to confirm this top is carved.

"A mechanic's mirror, unfortunately as Bernie pointed out earlier in this thread and on my CC thread regarding carved tops, won't be the proof of a solid, carved top. He's seen a laminate top that has spruce as the outside and inside layers being spruce and lined up with the grain running in the same direction but with the center a soft hardwood such as poplar or aspen. We need a close-up pic of the edge of the top at the pup cut-out hole to prove a solid top.

And going back to the catalogue price issue, when the Convertible was renamed the Sal Salvador model, there was no increase in price commensurate with the newly re-named guitar now having a carved top. It's a laminate till proven otherwise. "


I contacted them through ebay. We'll see if they reply. I contacted them as interested from an information viewpoint so they may blow me off. It probably would've been better to pretend I was a keenly interested buyer. I can't remember if these had a hole under the hilotron. Nice pickup on this guitar!!


I used to experiment w/ turning HLos around. Pretty cool piece!


The '61 catalog shows it with a Filter; no mention in the '63 catalog but in '65 it shows a HiLo with the poles neckward and gold hardware. Still claims to have a carved top and now with 22 frets!


For me, a carved top for this model is a myth. No one has produced one proving a carved top so hopefully the kind folds at Cream City will remove a pup and photograph the top's edge so we can put this issue to way or the other. It's in their best interests to verify the claim of a carved top.


It's a floating pickup. I assume there is no hole.


It's a floating pickup. I assume there is no hole.

– hammerhands

Oh there's probably a hole alright. Toxophilite has a convertible he's shown us on his thread and shows the required hole for the long DeArmond poles for the Convertible and the re-named Sal Salvador. I know this one shows a Hilotron and is later than this and the original literature says this model has a Filtertron but no one has ever seen one. I've been saying the hole was a stupid idea since I learned of it.


It's a floating pickup. I assume there is no hole.

– hammerhands

I've emailed and asked. Let's see what they say.


I know the amp tech at Cream City Music, perhaps I should ask him to take a sneak peek...then again perhaps I should wait a couple of day to see if there's a response from the first query.


It's a floating pickup. I assume there is no hole.

– hammerhands

That would explain the four extra screws on the pick guard.


I received a reply from Dan at Cream City and he said there is no hole in the top as it has a floating pup. I thanked him and said I'd asked due to the Convertible this guitar came from had with a DeArmond pup. Not to impune his answer but if the pup is very close to the top, a hole wouldn't be seen on a cursory inspection.

As I don't know, does a HiLo protrude below the bottom of the housing? This would help with this quandary.


I asked and got this answer

"The top certainly appears to be solid, as advertised by Gretsch."

the fellow also claimed there was no hole beneath the pickup. HIlotrons don't have anywhere near the crazy mechanism the hangs under a Dearmond, probably only about 1/4" at most is need, if that . So it's entirely possible there is no hole and thus no way to see the tops edge. Personally this isn't a conundrum, mystery or quandary to me even though this debate started on my Converting a Convertible thread.

The previous models are laminates, as shown by the pickup hole and confirmed by their price compared to the strictly acoustic carved top gretschs of the same years even though the catalogue claimed the convertibles had "close grained choice spruce tops" The San Salvadors have no price bump up to indicate a carved top and they don't look any better appointed than the earlier models. Oh and ALL the convertibles had floating pickups mounted by 4 screws to the pickguard and holes underneath the Dearmonds to accommodate the pole assembly.


Well Bernie, your response also indicates there's no hole beneath the pup of this particular guitar. With the f-holes being bound, it would appear there isn't an edge available anywhere on the top to see the edge to reveal the top is solid (and possibly carved) or a laminate.

I still wonder if the label, beyond having the numerical designation, has the name Sal Salvador or SS on it?


I've bought a couple of guitars from them. They were really nice and very accommodating. I think they'd be willing to sort out the solid or laminated top issue. I would venture to say the top is solid as why would Gretsch laminate spruce. All the spruce top guitars I've ever seen from Gretsch were solid. Almost all laminated guitars I've seen are Maple Tops.. I don't think, given the nature of spruce, that it's worth the effort to laminate.


All this back and forth with the seller and nobody has asked about a serial number yet? You guys are slipping.


I'm certain the folks at Cream City are great and totally honest but without an edge to view, it's impossible to ascertain if the top is carved, pressed solid or laminate. They took their description from the vintage Gretsch catalogue, not an inspection, which as I said isn't possible.

"All the spruce top guitars I've ever seen from Gretsch were solid."

Sorry, the discussions we've had here in several threads show the complete opposite to be true, Don. Gretsch uses spruce ONLY as veneer for the laminate tops of their hollow/semi-hollowbody electrics. My other threads have exhausted the subject of top construction! Even the re-issue Synchromatic 100's had a laminate spruce top but at least the literature said so. In the case of the CC, their literature wrongly says its solid when we've proved it's a laminate. The re-issue acoustic New Yorker has a solid top, but that's the only proven example.

What guitars have you examined that you feel are a solid top?? Spruce tops are laminates and so are the maple tops. For electrics, a laminate makes a stronger and more serviceable top. Laminate tops on Gretsches go back to the earliest hollow/semi-hollowbodies. Gibson's Super 400 and L5 CES that Paolo just received have a solid, carved top but you have to lay out 5 figures for one of those!!


In the other (slightly derailed) thread on the Convertible conversion there are pictures of 3-4 laminate mid 50s Convertible tops,3 ply, spruce inside and outside laminate. They look EXACTlY like spruce tops otherwise and their owners were convinced they wer solid carved Spruce tops. The catalogue even says 'Choice Spruce tops'). I also have a mid 60s country club. Looks like a solid spruce top. Look at the edge of the pickup hole, 3 ply with spruce inside and outside laminates. Gretsch did this ALL the time. I've NEVER seen a solid spruce electric Gretsch guiatr though I've been told their older high end, fully acoustic guitars were solid spruce tops. I'm trained as a luthier so the difference is very easy for me to see, but anyone can tell looking at the edge of a top.


My '41 Synchro 100 and '55 Fleetwood are both carved tops and the literature on both says so. Gretsch it would appear, realized in the early days of their beginning to make electric hollowbodies, that using a carved top for these new guitars was an added cost that wasn't needed or served any advantage, now that these guitars were electrified. This policy has been the same since the laminates came into vogue.


Gretsch aside . There are so many laminated Spruce tops out there. Many many acoustics have them.Now and in the past. It's referred to as 'select spruce' I have a 74 Yamaha AE-18 archtop with a 5 ply laminate spruce top and I used to have a 60s Hofner archtop acoustic with a laminate spruce top. Both looked like solid spruce. People want to see a spruce top on guitars and that's what was traditional. It's a selling point. There is plenty of reasons to laminate spruce, all speculation about Gretsch's motives aside.


Regarding how to tell if the Sal's top is solid spruce, in the absence of a pickup hole then a good look at the underside of the top through an f-hole could show whether the grain matches the top grain. I believe there should be some consistencies between top and underside surely if it's a solid spruce top, following the actual pattern not just seeing whether it's spruce underneath.

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