Vintage Gretsch Guitars

String Recommendations

1

Just purchased my first acoustic f-hole archtop. It's a 1952 Synchromatic 100 Corsair. I play mainly blues genre with a flatpick and like to fret and bend the strings. I am considering a floating pickup so I have an amplified option but it will be primarily acoustic. Would like to hear some recommendations on strings (size, material, brands, etc). Appreciate any and all advice.

2

(no affiliation with juststrings.com, but am a customer)

Here’s a link to a set I just put on my Martin. They are a cross of flatwound and roundwound strings. It’s the first time I’ve tried them and am very happy with them.

3

Welcome to all things Gretsch! We do need pics, please. As per archtop.com, they restring all guitars, unless otherwise directed by the seller or buyer, with phosphor bronze roundwound mediums. PB's are a softer tone than bronze. I can attest to this as I have a factory upgraded '41 Synchro 100 with a carved top - yours (Corsair) is a laminate top - and put on bronze when I got it. They were indeed bright and extremely noisy!

I use D'Addario strings exclusively on all my guitars, both acoustic and electric. I play fingerstyle and don't appreciate the noise round wound strings produce so I use D'Addario Flat Tops on all acoustics, both archtop and flat tops. I don't like coated strings. The FT's produce the same fine tone as their round wound counterparts but are very much quieter and do not rough up my right hand fingernails I pick with. Round wounds are really hard on nails!

Archtop.com also comments that an archtop guitar needs at least 12's, or better, 13's (mediums) as the extra tension of mediums is needed to properly 'move' the top for maximum sound production.

Some may recommend using flat wounds if you plan on using the floating pickup and they'll be perfect for a jazz/bluesey tone but will be essentially dead when playing acoustically, especially given the top of your Corsair is not carved.

If you find you want to play both unplugged and plugged but don't want the deadness flats give for acoustic play or want electric strings for plugged play, a great consideration is D's Half Rounds. They're made the same way as the FT's but suited to electric guitars. They'll give you a nice tone for jazzy plugged play and still give a fine tone for unplugged play. I use these for all my electric guitars.

4

(no affiliation with juststrings.com, but am a customer)

Here’s a link to a set I just put on my Martin. They are a cross of flatwound and roundwound strings. It’s the first time I’ve tried them and am very happy with them.

– Matt Vogt

I was writing my post Matt as you submitted mine. Great minds think alike, eh?

5

Not sure if it makes any difference on the type of strings, but an update on my guitar. I just discovered that it is an approximately 1946 Sync 100.

Windsordave, just to clarify, in your last paragraph, are you recommending the strings in the attached pic or are you talking about different strings?

Thanks all!

6

Those are the ones! I just didn't include a pic in my post. Go to the site and read how these strings are made. These 12's should work as well as 13's. The most important thing to make sure of is that the nut slots are wide and deep enough for the string's size/gauge. If the guitar had been strung previously with a lighter gauge, the heavier gauge of the ones you want to install won't be seated properly in the slots as they'll ride on the sides above the bottom and you want them right at the bottom of the U-groove, with only enough room on the sides that you don't hear a pinging noise, indicating binding when you're tuning. Unless you have a lot of experience with nut files and doing this work, I recommend you visit a top luthier to have him size the slots in this guitar and install the strings to ensure a proper fit.

Now about your guitar. Please show us some pics!, closeups if possible of the top showing the edge of the f-hole. What is the S/N and where is it located? I can tell much more about it viewing the pics. If it's a '46, there may be a carry-over of the higher quality features used before the war. The post-war guitars began coming with lower quality features, in particular the tops going to using laminates. Yours may in fact be a carved top which is a big bonus if it does.

In case you haven't noticed, your guitar probably has an asymmetric neck profile.

Note that you can only post one pic per post unless you link to a site with a collection of pics. Just post again with another pic. I'm really curious about this guitar of yours!

7

for 1946 vibe you want 80/20 bronze roundwounds...phosphor bronze strings weren't even around until the 70's!!...80/20's are true vintage... master john d'angelicos string of choice for his acoustic archtops

you can also check out martin monel retros...monel is a nickel based material that was used early on for strings..hence the famous gibson mona-steel strings from late 40's-thru 70's

if you want to go the flatwound route...thomastik jazz swing pure nickel flats ...double wrapped on vintage style round inner core...are the best around

but try'em all!! over time... and see what you like

cheers

8

Sorry, these are not in focus.

9

Well, trying to figure out the pic loading procedure here. Anyway, this guitar has a modern replacement harp tailpiece as you can see. Also, it has modern Wilkinson tuners. Everything else is original. I'll get the rest of the pics on here eventually. There are 8 more to come.

11

Unfortunately, most modern acoustic strings are designed to sound good with a pickup under the bridge....that horrible honky sound. I haven't found any that sound good acoustically. I used to like D'arco New Yorker light gauge, but then Martin bought them and moved production to Mexico and the tone didn't make the move. Any suggestions other than D'Adarrio would be appreciated. I don't like those. .012" to .053" is a good light gauge.

18

That's all the pics. If anyone needs additional, please let me know.

19

for 1946 vibe you want 80/20 bronze roundwounds...phosphor bronze strings weren't even around until the 70's!!...80/20's are true vintage... master john d'angelicos string of choice for his acoustic archtops

you can also check out martin monel retros...monel is a nickel based material that was used early on for strings..hence the famous gibson mona-steel strings from late 40's-thru 70's

if you want to go the flatwound route...thomastik jazz swing pure nickel flats ...double wrapped on vintage style round inner core...are the best around

but try'em all!! over time... and see what you like

cheers

– neatone

Just because PB's weren't around in the '40's doesn't mean they aren't a superior string for any archtop, neatone. If vintage style bronze strings were the better overall choice today, the archtop.com outfit would be using and recommending them, their being the top purveyor of archtop guitars in the world, this being their specialty.

You're right about Thomastik being the finest flat wounds you can get and use when plugged in but they don't compare to the PB FT's when using the guitar acoustically. The PB FT's sound great plugged in too as I have a Miniflex Model 4, internal double mic (with Fishman Pro EQ pre-amp) set up in my Synchro. Plugged in when I had the bronze strings on it, they made noise with the slightest left hand fingering and for me were uncomfortably bright. The PB gives a much nicer softer tone and the FT version are quiet.

20

No tru-believers in 13s for an archtop?

21

Thanks for the pics Ozark! As you say, the tuners have been replaced with newer imperials. Mine are Grovers as well but are open back solid brass, including the buttons. Yours doesn't have any binding on the guard, which may be one of the things Gretsch dropped as a feature. The harp/chromatic tailpiece is the original style but not the original. The bridge base is correct - Art Deco rosewood - but I can't make out what the bridge is. It's a replacement of some kind as the original should look like this.

More post war changes from mine: your headstock is unbound and plainer shape.

How about that S/N?

BTW, the Synchro 100 model morphed into the Corsair name. IIRC this happened in the early-ish '50's when the headstock lost the script style font and dropped the name Synchromatic.

22

Just saw the other thread in which Ed filled in the blanks regarding the S/N and dating your guitar very accurately. Neck dated stamped guitars are few and far between in Ed's research files and pins down the age perfectly. Whatever Ed says you can take to the bank!!

Well now, it being a '46 guitar, there's a chance it may have a carved top. You'd have to look at the top's edge in the f-hole to see.

23

More info: It is serial number 8203 penciled inside bass f-hole. Someone else on my other thread (Gretsch Interior Lettering) posted a pic of one like mine that is serial 8260 and is dated June 46. It also has "GRETSCH Supestructure" stamped by the date. Let me know if these pics are conclusive or not. Thanks all!


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