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.

None 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.

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.

None 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.

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.

None 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.

The Gretsch-GEAR database includes 49 different models and 112 examples in the Archtop Acoustics family, 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.

Guitar models in the Archtop Acoustics group

100
Documented years: 1939 to 2009

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 Synchromatic line in 1939. At its $100 price point, the Synchromatic 100 had a lot less Synchromatic in it than its bigger ...

100-BKCE Synchromatic
Documented years: 2011 to 2013

This modern acoustic/electric Synchromatic archtop, is functionally identical to the 100-CE, only with a black finish and cutaway.

100-CE Synchromatic
Documented years: 2007 to 2012

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 tailpiece, and a secret weapon: a Gretsch single-coil pickup in the bridge position. The 100-CE -- and its black twin, the 100-CEBK ...

115 Synchromatic
Documented years: 1947

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, when the 115 was introduced.

150
Documented years: 1936

None

160 Synchromatic
Documented years: 1939 to 1947

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 the Synchromatic 200, which had gone AWOL.

200 Synchromatic
Documented years: 1939

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, and the usual Synchromatic "synchronized" bridge and "chromatic" tailpiece.

240 American Orchestra Tenor
Documented years: 1933 to 1938

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 it was offered in the 1933 debut of the line, but it does not appear in the No. 33 catalog, and it ...

25 American Orchestra Twenty-Five
Documented years: 1933

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 a non-adjustable ebony bridge.

250
Documented years: 1940

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 pearl, finely figured 25-year-old curly maple body, f-holes bound in ivory celluloid, a three-piece, steel-reinforced, maple neck and deluxe appointments throughout.

30
Documented years: 1930 to 1952

None

300 Synchromatic
Documented years: 1940

None

35 American Orchestra Thirty-Five
Documented years: 1933 to 1940

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 American Orchestra line -- initially named after its wholesale price. None This model is thought to have been discontinued once the 1939 ...

40 American Orchestra Forty Hawaiian
Documented years: None

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 Synchromatic
Documented years: 1948 to 2013

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 featured 13 layers of black, white and gold sparkle on the body, as well as seven layers on the f-holes, neck and ...

400-B Synchromatic
Documented years: 2009

A modern Synchromatic 400 in basic black.

400-C Synchromatic
Documented years: 2002 to 2004

A modern version of the venerable Synchromatic 400 with a cutaway body.

400-CV Synchromatic
Documented years: 1992

Sunburst-finished modern-era Synchromatic.

400-JV Jimmie Vaughn Synchromatic
Documented years: 2006

None

400-MCV Synchromatic
Documented years: None

Natural finished modern-era Synchromatic.

410 El Dorado
Documented years: None

Sunburst-finished modern-era El Dorado.

410-M El Dorado
Documented years: None

A natural-finished modern take on the El Dorado.

450 Synchromatic
Documented years: None

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, and was also offered in a M variant, with flame maple top and sides.

450-M Synchromatic
Documented years: 1996

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 in the mid-'90s, and was also offered in a regular sunburst 450 variant.

50-F American Orchestra Fifty
Documented years: 1936

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
Documented years: None

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 round sound-hole.

6014 Corsair
Documented years: 1949 to 1968

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 the late '40s and early '50s. The 6014 designation appears to have started around 1949, as the guitar became known as the ...

6015 Corsair
Documented years: 1954

Natural finish.

6016 Corsair
Documented years: None

None

6028
Documented years: 1955

Sunburst finish. Formerly known as the Synchromatic 160.

6029
Documented years: None

Natural finish. Formerly known as the Synchro 160.

6030 Constellation
Documented years: 1954

None

6031 Constellation
Documented years: 1955

Identical to the 6030 Constellation, except with a natural finish.

6035 Synchromatic
Documented years: None

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 appointments. By '53, the designation was dropped in favor of the 6036 (sunburst) and 6037 (natural) model numbers.

6036 Synchromatic
Documented years: None

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 year or two, the 6036 became the sunburst-finished version of the venerable Synchromatic 300, while 6037 was the designation used for the ...

6037
Documented years: None

The 6037 was the successor to the Synchromatic 300.

6038 Fleetwood
Documented years: None

None

6039 Fleetwood
Documented years: None

Natural finish

6040 El Dorado
Documented years: None

None

6040-C-JP
Documented years: 2004

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 serial number, it may have been intended as a Japanese-market-only model, but that's pretty uncertian. Other detail differences include a second post ...

6040-MCSS
Documented years: 1994

A modern take on the '50s 6040 El Dorado.

6041 El Dorado
Documented years: 1954

Natural finish.

6050 Jet 21
Documented years: 1947

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 late 40s.

6050 New Yorker
Documented years: 1946 to 1962

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 hard to find. Not that many people are trying to find them.

65 American Orchestra
Documented years: None

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
Documented years: 1938

None

7535 Deluxe
Documented years: None

None

7545 Supreme
Documented years: None

None

9550 New Yorker
Documented years: None

Introduced in 2014, this is a re-issue of the older Gretsch New Yorker archtop acoustic model. Arched spruce top with maple back & sides; 16" body; rosewood fretboard; rosewood bridge, Grover Sta-Tite tuners, Vintage Sunburst finish.