Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Strings corroding on my 1963 corvette


Hey guys,

I am new here and would like to ask you a question that might looks a bit strange.

Amoung a few guitars I am the happy owner of a 1963 Gretsch Corvette.

I noticed that on this guitar and none of my others from other brands the strings are getting rusty and I mean really rusty in a few, lets say weeks not to say days time especially on the 3 unwounded ones. The scratch plate itself was kind of greasy.

I checked the electronic and noticed one of the original pots was king of durty, covered with some king of yellow grease I thought came from corrosion or humidity that might explain then the rusty strings.

Changed that pot to a new one, thought the problem was solved ... but rust is back on the string and I really fear tetanus !!!

I know, I know, all this looks strange but once again I dont have this problem one any of my other guitars.

Does anyone faced the same problem ? Found a solution ?

Thanks for the help.

Cheers from France !!!



Bonjour, Vincent.

The pickguard material may be deteriorating/off-gassing, and causing corrosion on the strings and other metal parts.

A replacement pickguard might be the best solution.


I second that recommendation! At the very least leave the guitar out it’s case while you source a replacement.


Wow. that's weird! I had a Strat that did the same thing. I thought it was haunted by a previous owner....I could see myself as a ghost messing with an owner of a favorite guitar. I should have changed the pickguard and kept the guitar! Sad that my ghost story has been debunked too!



sorry for the late answer but many thanks for you suggestion. I could not imagin a black plastic pickguard deteriorating but it is the best advise I got so far !!! I know it happens sometimes on old Gibsons.

I will remove it, changed the strings and wait ... keep you posted ...




Yes but did you have the same problem with a black and white 2 plies plastic pickguard ? I knew the problem for tortoiseshell lookalike ones on Gibsons semi but did not think that it could happen on my corvette. Pickguard unsoldered ... strings back on the guitar ... waiting for the rust ... well hope not. Vincent.


Try changing your diet.

– Billy Zoom

What's the point Billy ?



an update about my pickguard :

after 2 weeks the strings on my guitar are intact. I fixed some on the pickguard and these ones started to corrode after one week.

As I did not find one online I ordered a custom pickguard at Will tell you about their work.

Anyway thanks a lt for your help,



What's the point Billy ?

– Frenchcorvette

I don't think Billy was being flippant, there actually is a point to his post, although may not apply in your situation.

Initially, you posted about rusting strings. In many cases, this can be attributed to the pH balance (acidity level) of the oil in your fingertips. Your diet does indeed play a role in the acidity level of your skin oil.

However, in your case, it seems that you have isolated the problem to off-gassing of the old pick guard, and since your other guitars don't seem to have this problem, I would not attribute the problem to your oil pH levels.


Thanks you for Billy Tartan but as I said *

"I know, I know, all this looks strange but once again I dont have this problem one any of my other guitars."*> .

Should be self explaining no ?




Glad you got all of this sorted out. If you don't have any luck getting the right pick guard, our Paul Setzer, on this site, makes them as well.


Great news, Frenchcorvette! I hope this is finally explains the problem.


The gassing thing is from old celluloid pickguards. As far as I am aware the Strat-style PVC pickguards don't gas. Bon chance!


Hello guys,

got the repro pickguard this morning and put it back to the guitar. Nice job from !!

An extremely slight shift for the 3 screws next to the neck but nice job considering I only sent them a drawing wanting to keep my original one safe. They also only had 3 ply instead of 2 but really not a problem as anyway it is not original and to be honest you just do not see it.

Hope the rusty strings will not come back !!!!

Many thanks to all for your help and support.




HooRah! Happy picking, with your new pickguard. Can you please post a picture? We love pictures!


Certain foods may contribute to your problem, especially when combined with off-gassing celluloid pickguards. Also, what brand of strings do you use? I would try Pyramid round core “Nickel Classics” as the core wires and plain strings are silver plated German Steel & not the horrible Tin Plated (sorta) Swedish steel(not made in Sweden). America use to make great strings until around 1970. The stuff made now is whatever’s the cheapest, fastest materials that sound sort of O.K. Gibson use to use strings made by Pyramid for Flatwounds, others were materials that were really great shipped in bulk to Kalamazoo and then wound there and then in Elgin. Gretsch Strings were made by La Bella, Pyramid and VC Squire. These days most of Gretsches strings are made in Mexico at the Fender factory. The machines Fender uses are the old VC Squire ones they bought when they wanted their own as Squire wanted out of the string biz 20+ years back. Almost all the strings except DR, GHS & La Bella are made by D’Addario in this end of the world. In Europe you have Pyramid, Optima, Rotosound, Essex & Thomastik. Any European string company will make a better string than anything made here period!


HooRah! Happy picking, with your new pickguard. Can you please post a picture? We love pictures!

– Wade H

You'r welcome Wade !!



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