February 4th, 2012, 07:34 AM
I'm looking for a vintage Country Gent (inspired by VU sounds) - Currently researching - can anyone provide help?
I'd like to know
- best years for a vintage Country Gent - pre 67 and Baldwin buyout?
- a good book describing detailed history of Gents or Gretsch guitars so when I buy a vintage one I'm sure I'm getting original parts, pickups, etc
- general serial # guide to know what years they are when looking at them... Edit - I did find some info at gretschpages.com
Thanks for any help
February 4th, 2012, 10:09 AM
From a collectors perspective (and value on the secondary market) the earliest Gents are quite coveted. These were made from the '58 model year through the '61 model year, and are identified by the single-cutaway body. Fans of Chet Atkins often gravitate to this version of the Gent. But many will debate that the '62-65 model year Gents are also coveted, as a result of George Harrison's favor of this model. These have the double-cutaway body. There were a lot more of these made, particularly after 1966. The features are pretty consistent on the '63-65 models, so any Gent you find with it's serial number on the brass plaque on the front of the headstock, will be from that era. In 1966 the serial number system changed to a date-coded approach, and was relocated to the reverse side of the headstock. One last note about the double-cutaway Gents... the first model year of these was in 1962, and for that one year they possessed the knob-style mute control ("dial-up" feature). For their rarity, and the fact that it was THIS vintage of Gent that Harrison first embraced... these tend to fetch bigger money than the subsequent '63 and beyond examples in my experience.
There is not a book dedicated to the Gents (yet!)... so your best bet in my opinion would be the seminal work of Jay Scott, "The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company". It's 20 years old now, and outdated in places, but it's the only book that will discuss the actual guitars and features more than the company history.
Again... serial number on the brass headstock plaque equates to the sequential serial numbering system (pre-1966). Any serial number on the back of the headstock is '66 or later, and the vintage is easily translated by the second digit of the number (i.e. #86712 = August of 1966, 712th guitar made that month). If the Gent is a single cutaway, you know it's a '61 or earlier. If you find a single-cutaway Gent with a serial number that begins with #264xx, that's a debut batch example (made in late '57 for the '58 model year).
Best of luck in your quest Lek... the search is half the fun! -- WG.
February 4th, 2012, 07:28 PM
Thank you very much Mr. Gretschky :) The search is definitely half the fun! I'm in search mode now - I haven't for many years. I just happened to order Scott's book yesterday through amazon.
A few more questions for you or anyone else...
- is there a certain year where the quality started decreasing / or other general things to avoid? Was the quality still equivalent after the Baldwin buyout (if so, for how long)
- I did find a mid 60s one at a local music store, If I remember correctly, the binding was actually missing in many areas - is this of great concern? The sound quality was phenomenal however.
- that one I did try at the store - the neck width was kind of narrow for what I like - was neck width at the nut and down toward the end pretty consistent through the 60s or might I find other Country gents with different widths?
February 4th, 2012, 10:33 PM
RE: Quality - the legend says that the Baldwin era guitars had inconsistent quality. Many good one's out there, but some shadey examples have surfaced as well. Baldwin bought the brand in '67, but all the same factory workers were there and making the guitars for years after, so most theorists feel like the move to Booneville Ark. was when the quality got unreliable. Just word on the 50s and 60s Gretsch guitars... there were some real lemons there too, so be sure to play whatever guitar you want to buy. You can find 2 examples, same model, from the same batch, and they could be very different playing instruments. Play before you buy!
RE: Binding - this is a chronic issue with Gretsch guitars from the 60s. It's only a problem if it bothers you, as it doesn't affect the sound. If the rough aesthetic does bother you, it will be expensive to have the binding replaced ($500 plus) if you can even find someone to do it.
RE: neck width - someone else will have to field that question. I haven't played many Gents.
February 4th, 2012, 11:20 PM
Here is one (1968) for sale in Toronto. The dealer is well known, very reputable and ships world wide all the time.