Gonna check out a couple old Gretsch guitars this weekend

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by kromanomo, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm going to try out a 1956 Rambler and a 67 Clipper. I think they are both semi- hollow single neck pickup models. Both have tuneomattic bridge swaps which seems to be an improvement from my research - otherwise stock. Both have original pickups. I've been looking for something different and vintagy that I can try and trade one of my Strats for (or at least towards). More interested in clean-ish vintage tone and playability than collectability.

    Anyone have experience with either of these lower cost models?

    What are the necks like?

    Anything specific I should look out for? Both are at reputable shops in NYC.

    Thanks for your help guys.
     
  2. J Hog

    J Hog Tele-Holic

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    If you're looking for playability vs. collectability, look at the NEW Gretsch guitars. Gretschs have a tendency to have bad or weak neck joints. Most that I've seen have been in need of a neck reset. If you will notice on the back of a Gretsch, you will see a dot at the neck joint. That is a dowel that was placed there to cover a WOOD SCREW!!! The screw is there to secure the neck joint. The weakest point of a vintage Gretsch is the neck joint. They always had trouble with their neck joints! The Terada built Gretschs do not have that type of joint, and the necks are more stable.
     
  3. bo

    bo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've done this dance with a '60 Double Anniversary. The old ones are made with hide glue, which deteriorates over time. If they don't play well in the shop don't necessarily think you can get it home and make everything better with a new set up. A neck reset costs big bucks, as does a collapsing top. The Terada built ones are definitely better built guitars, but also beware the ones made prior to Fender taking over. The Terada-built "Fred Gretsch" era guitars have some substandard pots and pickups. Happy hunting!
     
  4. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks. So if they are not great players as is, I should probably avoid them.
     
  5. MickM

    MickM Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Go check them out for your self and see what YOU think. My step brother has his father's '58 single anniversary model and it is as solid as the day it left the plant, binding is flawless too. As far as hide glue deteriorating, the '20s Gibson Lloyd Loar Mandolins(hide glued) that go for $250,000 are also solid along with much older hide glued violins.

    I'm sure there are examples of bad/weak this or that but if you like those models go play them.
     
  6. King Creole

    King Creole Friend of Leo's

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    My fiddle is about 130 years old, hide glued, and I play it in sweaty bars on weekends with no issues (besides my own crappy intonation--not the fiddle's fault).

    I've played old Gretsches that were great and ones that you had to fight hard. Before you buy, look carefully at the neck joint and play the guitar for a good workout plugged in and unplugged. Good luck!
     
  7. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    I want to try out something totally different from my Strats and Teles. The Gibsons I've liked are way out my price range. I've really only been playing a few years and I'm looking for a bit of vintage inspiration.

    Played the Clipper this evening for about 30 minutes, plugged and unplugged. Actually played very well with nice action. Played it dry through a small Fender tube amp. Pickup was low output, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Pots were a little loose, otherwise it was great. Binding was a little rough but not too bad really. Neck joint seems solid.

    Played a 58 Silvertone u1 also that really surprised me. Played and sounded great and my first experience with a lipstick pickup. A little rough around the edges aesthetically, but gave me something to think about for around the same price.

    Going to try a Hamony Rocket 1 pickup and the other Gretsch tomorrow.
     
  8. CNBaker

    CNBaker TDPRI Member

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    Harmony Rockets/Meteors and their Silvertone/Airline variants are great sounding and playing guitars for the dough.
     
  9. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    I actually played a Meteor tonight also. Pickups sounded great. The neck felt really narrow to me though.
     
  10. CNBaker

    CNBaker TDPRI Member

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    For the sound and price, you can easily get past any perceived shortcomings.
     
  11. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I had a Rambler recently.
    I'm pretty sure it was Gretsch's only semi-hollow.
    They're short scale.
    The DeArmond Dynasonic in it was freakin' unbelievable.
    I was shocked at how versatile it was.
    I love neck pickups mostly, but I do switch around...but I swear there was enough bite to this guitar with the treble cranked that the neck pickup alone would suffice.
    This thing could be a rock and roll animal...sounded like a Les Paul Jr. when cranked.
    I probably could have made it my #1, but I got a great deal on it and only bought it to flip.
     

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  12. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    For that price, I couldn't get past it. I'd buy a different guitar before I spent that much on a Harmony.
     
  13. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    BTW...I think the center block on the Rambler makes for a very solid neck joint which, as has been stated, is a weakness of Gretsch.
    The binding on mine was perfect, but the fret marker dots must have been celluloid and were very shrunken.
    Better those than the binding!!
     
  14. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Funny...I just sold an H53 Rocket with 1 pickup.
    Double cut.
    I was really shocked to get $400 for it. I thought the guy would try to bargain.
    Double cuts are worth less than singles, so the 1 pickup double cut is the bottom of the value range.
    Workmanship got shoddy in later years...giant ridges from the bandsaw on the fretboard.
    Fretboards that stay the same width the whole way are odd!
    The foil DeArmond had the HONK!
    If you check the Youtube link below, you can hear/see it.
    I don't know your budget, but for a great old archtop, I'd be looking at Gibson ES125/150.
     
  15. jayyj

    jayyj Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a Gretsch Clipper from 1965, lovely little guitar. The tuners are pretty horrible but I love the way it plays and the pickup is pretty decent.
     
  16. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I've also seen Clippers 6120-ed...2nd pickup, controls, Bigsby...
    Pretty cool po'boy 6120.
     
  17. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    Played the Rocket today and it was really great and in pretty exceptional condition. Single cut, 1 pickup. Very nicely nicely set up. At about $475 less than the Gretsch, I think I'm going to try and go for it. NYC shop prices are pretty obscene. Plus the gold foil is really sweet.

    I'll take one of my MIJ Strats that is collecting dust and see what they will do in trade tomorrow. As long as I don't feel completely ripped off, I think I can work something out.

    Wish me luck.
     
  18. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    You can buy 1pickup Rockets on Ebay for $300 all day long.
    These were student guitars, so the majority of them were played for a few months and stuck in the attic and are still in very good shape.
     
  19. kromanomo

    kromanomo Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks Charlie.
    The sold listings show the majority sold on eBay between 400-600. They go for closer to $700 around here. That's NYC for ya. A guitar like this seems like something I want to see and play before buying, there's aslo a premium for an already sorted 50 year old guitar.

    You definately convinced me to slow down and take a better look around.

    I'll keep you guys posted.
     
  20. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

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    Don't be scared off by people saying the old ones deteriorate, etc.... If it's well maintained it will be light years better then any of the new import jobs. The folks that own the new ones will tell you different, but I have owned both and the old ones are where it's at.

    Here is my 1957 6120, as you can see, it has no binding rot, has never had any work done and plays and sounds great.

    I have a 1967 Nashville and I had to do a lot of work on it, but I bought it as a project.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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