Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch American Flat-top With Strange Badge



A flat-top with a strange Gretsch badge and mysterious serial numbers on top of the headstock. The seller says that it came originally with a tailpiece and he changed it over to a standard bridge. Pretty decent sound too. I thought there was a four digit serial number on top (which, if I'm reading Ed Ball's '50's Book correctly would put this at 1949) but I think the last digit is an "s." I've no idea what the large "2" is.

Gretsch did make a round soundhole special order option on the Model 50 and 100 archtops in the '30's (still waiting to see what Paul Pigat is playing) but there are no catalog shots of a flat-top with tailpiece. The body shape certainly looks like a Gretsch of the era -- maybe like a Model 40 Hawaiian. And there's that badge.

Maybe this is the first time Gretsch used a headstock badge?


I'm traveling the moment and not able to access my research. The "Gretsch American" sub-brand actually predates the American Orchestra brand ('33-39) in the Gretsch lineage. This guitar may be an early 30s example. I'll share more info in a couple of days.


That is a nice Guitar...and I can attest, those serial numbers stamped on the top of the headstock are hard to’s definitely magnifying glass territory


So here's what I know... the "Gretsch American" brand was the first of the serial numbered Gretsch stringed instruments. These came out in 1927, and the badge was often found on banjos of the era as well.

I've documented a number of "Castilian" and model 220/230 parlor style acoustic flat-tops that comprised this product line. But the serial numbering system seems to fade around #1500.

However... I have seen one other flat-top example (depicted) like the one in the OP post. It's not as nice, and probably stripped of it's original finish, and has a non-original (AO) guard. The cool part is the serial number is 3645, only two guitars away from the Reverb specimen! I've had this other one in my records for years noted as an anomaly. But now that there are two, that would suggest that several were made, AND that the Gretsch American serial numbering sequence goes substantially higher than I thought! Cool find, in pretty great condition. I'd guess the vintage of these guitars is circa 1930/31.


Here's the serial # on the "other" example...


Here's a blow-up of the Reverb example's serial number. I read it as #3643. I have no idea what the "2" is for. It's a different size and style of font, and upside-down to the serial number, so there's a chance it could have been introduced at a later time.


The Reverb guitar (#3645)... pretty nice for a guitar that's pushing 90 years old!


Here's a collection of early Gretsch banjos that display the same "Gretsch American" plaque.

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