Gretsch Guitars

Archtop Acoustics

With their cat-eye soundholes and high-end appointments, Gretsch Synchromatics acoustic archtops are a visual feast. Luckily for players, most have a sound and playability to match the red-hot looks.

Built to one-up the Gibson Super 400, the Synchromatic 400 debuted in 1939 at the top of the Synchromatic line. It wa obviously descended from the earlier Model 250, but the 250 never had the Synchro’s art-deco style, or the “Seven Points of Supremacy”, the marketing folks liked to tout.

The Synchromatic’s distinctive styling was carried from the 400 down through the Synchromatic 300, 200 and 160 models, differing mostly in the size of the guitar and level of ornamentation. A entry-level Synchromatic 100 was also offered, although it had to do without the styling of the higher-end Synchros.

The Synchromatic 300 was slightly smaller than it’s Synchromatic 400 big brother, but every bit a Synchromatic. Like the 400, the 17-inch 300 debuted in 1939 with enough art-deco appeal to turn any head.

The Synchromatic 200 represented the mid-line value of the Synchro line. If offered much of the looks and sound of the 400 at half the price. Of course, 200 buyers made do without the 13 layers of binding and other frills.

At its $100 price point, the Synchromatic 100 had a lot less Synchromatic in it than it’s bigger brothers. Cat-eye soundholes were notably missing. It had a long life, though, outliving its pseudo-Synchromatic beginnings to became the 6014 Corsair in 1949. As the Corsair, it lasted until about 1959.

Roughly speaking, vintage Synchros can be broken into three periods: 1939 - early World War II, late wartime - 1951 and 1951 - 1953.

The later period started losing some of the more opulent features, including the cat-eye soundholes and some models transitioned to Gretsch’s 6xxx model numbering scheme.

While it’s life was relatively short and few were built, the Synchromatic quickly became (and remains) a legend among acoustic archtops.

Gretsch continues to build the Synchromatic-style G400 today, along with several variants. All are actually closer to the old Synchromatic 300 than the 400. Seventeen layers of binding may be just a bit too much for the reissues.

48 different models and 120 examples are in the Gretsch-GEAR database, including American Orchestra, American Orchestra Fifty, American Orchestra Forty Hawaiian, American Orchestra Tenor, American Orchestra Thirty-Five, American Orchestra Twenty-Five, Constellation, Corsair, Deluxe, El Dorado, Fleetwood, Jet 21, Jimmie Vaughn Synchromatic, New Yorker, Supreme and Synchromatic models.
100
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
Beginning life in the mid-30s as part of the American Orchestra 100, the 100 didn't really hit stride until it found a place near the bottom of the ...
100-CE Synchromatic
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
Loosely based on the Synchromatic Model 100 of the late 30s and 40s, the modern G100-CE featured a sunburst finish, laminated spruce top, a compensated bridge with chromatic ...
100-BKCE Synchromatic
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
This modern acoustic/electric Synchromatic archtop, is functionally identical to the 100-CE, only with a black finish and cutaway.
115 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The Synchromatic 115 was a a sort of natural blonde version of the Synchromatic 100, with tortoiseshell binding. Those frills cost you an extra $15 back in 1939, ...
150
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
160 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The classic Synchromatic 160 archtop has the distinction of being the most affordable guitar to get the full Synchromatic treatment, including cat-eye soundholes. After the war, it replaced ...
200 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
A pre-war mid-level Synchromatic. After the war the 160 filled the gap. Of course it had bound cat-eye soundholes, as well as binding around the body and neck, ...
240 American Orchestra Tenor
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The Gretsch American Orchestra model 240 was present in the 1936 catalog, as the sole 4-string tenor model in the Gretsch branded archtop acoustic line. It's unclear if ...
25 American Orchestra Twenty-Five
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The relatively inexpensive model 25 held up the bottom of the pre-war Gretsch line-up. The "auditorium special"-sized 25 featured a carved spruce top, maple body, three-ply binding and ...
250
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The "Auditorium Special" sized 250 sat pretty much at the top of the pre-war lineup. Features included an extra-deep body, hand-carved choice spruce top inlaid with mother of ...
30
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
300 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
35 American Orchestra Thirty-Five
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
Debuting in 1933 in the Gretsch No. 33 catalog, the 35 was one of the early Gretsch branded guitars, and was -- like the other models in the ...
40 American Orchestra Forty Hawaiian
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The 40 was the American Orchestra line's Hawaiian (flat top) guitar. It featured a spruce top with mahogany back and sides, ivory celluloid binding, and an ebony fretboard.
400-JV Jimmie Vaughn Synchromatic
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
400 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
The opulently appointed 400 was Gretsch's top of the line Synchromatic, and it remains an extremely sought after guitar. The large, 18" Synchromati 400 was 4" deep and ...
400-B Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
A modern Synchromatic 400 in basic black.
400-C Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
A modern version of the venerable Synchromatic 400 with a cutaway body.
400-CV Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
Sunburst-finished modern-era Synchromatic.
400-MCV Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
Natural finished modern-era Synchromatic.
410 El Dorado
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
Sunburst-finished modern-era El Dorado.
410-M El Dorado
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
A natural-finished modern take on the El Dorado.
450 Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
A modern-era Synchromatic aimed at being a step up from the modern 400, the 450 featured a floating pickup and cutaway. It was available briefly in the 90s, ...
450-M Synchromatic
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
A modern-era Synchromatic aimed at being a step up from the modern 400, the 450M featured a flame maple body, floating pickup and cutaway. It was available briefly ...
50-F American Orchestra Fifty
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The American Orchestra 50F moved up a bit to the middle the line, and featured ivory celluloid binding on the body and neck. The F variant had f-holes.
50-R American Orchestra Fifty
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The American Orchestra 50R moved up a bit to the middle the line, and featured ivory celluloid binding on the body and neck. The R variant had a ...
6014 Corsair
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
The sunburst-finish 6014 Corsair was formerly known as the Synchromatic 6014, which was itself basically a Synchromatic 100. The guitar itself changed little while the name changed through ...
6015 Corsair
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
Natural finish.
6016 Corsair
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
6028
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
Sunburst finish. Formerly known as the Synchromatic 160.
6029
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
Natural finish. Formerly known as the Synchro 160.
6030 Constellation
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
6031 Constellation
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
Identical to the 6030 Constellation, except with a natural finish.
6035 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The 17" sunburst-finished 6035 Synchromatic was offered for a brief time in the early 50s. It retained the Synchromatic stairstep bridge, but not much else of earlier Synchromatic ...
6036 Synchromatic
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
The 17" natural-finished 6036 Synchromatic was offered in the early 50s. It retained the Synchromatic stairstep bridge, but not much else of earlier Synchromatic appointments. After just a ...
6037
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
The 6037 was the successor to the Synchromatic 300.
6038 Fleetwood
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
6039 Fleetwood
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
Natural finish
6040-MCSS
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
A modern take on the '50s 6040 El Dorado.
6040-C-JP
  • The rebirth years: 1988-2002
  • The Fender years: 2003-present
Very similar to the 6040 MCSS but with a walnut stain (instead of natural), the C-JP is one of the more rare modern Synchromatic variations. Judging from the ...
6040 El Dorado
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
6041 El Dorado
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
Natural finish.
6050 Jet 21
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
A sort of custom-colored New Yorker, the Jet 21 was black and usually had unusual headstock engraving. They were only offered for a couple of years in the ...
6050 New Yorker
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
  • The golden years: 1954-1967
  • The Baldwin years: 1968-1987
The New Yorker was Gretsch's entry-level archtop. They rarely changed over the years, and Gretsch sold a ton of them. However, most were abused and good ones are ...
65 American Orchestra
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
A mid-to-low-range pre-war archtop, the 65 featured a carved spruce top, carved back, a tri-sunburst "violin-style" finish, bound ebony fingerboard and a bound bakelite pickguard.
75
  • The jazz years: 1930s-1953
7535 Deluxe
  • The Baldwin years: 1968-1987
7545 Supreme
  • The Baldwin years: 1968-1987