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I am new to the forum and to the Gretsch-Talk. A friend loaned me his Corvette on a semi permanent basis. It is of the 1964-65 vintage and I don't have photos but it is in pretty rough condition. The body and neck, aside from dings and old, oxidized finish, are in fair condition. Allow me to sum up the worst of it.
The neck pickup cover (it has the original hi-lo tron pups) is badly corroded with green verdigris.
The pick guard is toast. It is cracked and blistered.
One tuner is broken (the head of the screw that holds the post to the gear has broken off).
The selector switch is broken and not repairable.
The electronics are corroded but might be salvageable.
The Burns tremolo is missing the arm.
My approach to restoring this to playability is to purchase a replacement pick guard, selector switch, new tuners, clean up the corrosion and rewire it to original specs.
I would like y'alls (I am from Texas) advice and anecdotes on restoring these guitars.
I congrats for saving that old thing. As you have probably guessed, you won't find an original pikguard in a really good shape because it is celulosic one so it tends to break ect... But you ll easily find a new one on ebay and i think someone on the forum make this kind of thing. For the selector , i guess it won't be a problem to change with the actual gretsch parts? Same thing for pots , take some cts you can?
I have a 65'vette one pu and i made some work on it trying to keep it as close as possible to is original shape. But i have change the wiring ( but i ve let the original hilo on the guitar: weak but really nice!) for two 250k pots a 0,22 pio cap . It still sound like a gretsch but pots are more progressive and it is important with one and only pu. The rest of the guitare is striclty original and frets have just been changed last week. I m in love and if you want a trade, a Sg Standard cherry red 93' ?
At Stewart MacDonald you can find new replacement tuners that will just drop in without any drilling or routing if you have the 3x3 headstock. If you have the 4x2 headstock, somebody here will chime in to advise.
The old HiLos are pretty weak, especially on a single-pickup Corvette. You could put in a new one with a little bit of routing.
Or, you could send the old one to TV Jones for a rewind. I asked him about it once and he said he would do it, although I ended up not taking him up on the offer.
Or, you could do what Rory Gallagher did and put in a P-90:
That's true hilo's are weak and old corvette owner all hve to make a choice about it. As guitarist, i would prefer a supertron , but i ve a "vintage" side, and it push me to find an "alternative" solution. It is not THE way . But changing pu included changing the pu cavity and make it bigger, a non reversible solution, that is why i talk of choice. But i gess a more powerfull Vette would be awesome.
Congratulations on the new old Vette. I was once where you were and rebuilt my Vette totally. Paul Setzer's the pick guard guy. He'll have the template for yours. I used a SuperTron but had to have routing down to make it fit.
Here's the pictures (I trot these out frequently):
Here are some pics after I dismantled the guitar. The rest of the pick guard crumbled and broke as I took it apart. It is a two pick up guitar. I left the bridge at my friend's house, it is not missing.
My first thought is to attack the corrosion on the electronics. I had thought to use a brass suede brush to clean it away and then determine if the pots are working. Same idea with the rust on the pup screws and cover.
There is a routing for the Burns tremolo so changing to a Bigsby is not an option. Any one know where I can find parts?