Those crazy early serial numbers!

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Falcon LPB, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. Falcon LPB

    Falcon LPB Electromatic

    82
    Aug 15, 2019
    Sydney, Australia
    Hey folks, I mentioned in a thread that I was reading Dan Duffy's brilliant little book on the early years of Gretsch. In it he explains the early serial numbers and it is a help! See attached file.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Wayne Gretschzky

    Wayne Gretschzky Country Gent

    Aug 27, 2008
    East Coast
    Well... this is a tricky topic. I read Dan's book, and I think he was doing his best to recall how things worked at the factory 50 years earlier. I did some correspondence with him prior to his death, and he was a gentleman, and happily willing to share his great stories about the old days. However... some of what he shares in the book passage you've provided has proven incorrect based on the data that's been collected over the past 10 years.

    For instance... the part about the serial numbers changing to date-coded and being relocated to the back of the headstock. He reports that this occurred in early 1965, but the reality is that you can't find examples of this earlier than August of 1966. The other thing he mentioned in the attached is that custom order guitars got random serial numbers, suggesting that someone in the office just came up with them. In my experience collecting and tracking the Gretsch serial numbering systems, custom colored and featured guitars remained in the same serial number range as other like-model specimens. So a custom finished Country Club will still have a serial number relating to a production batch of Country Clubs. My own research seems to reveal that when there was a custom order, they typically fell either at the beginning of the batch or at the end. Batches tend to be, with some exceptions, either 50 or 100 units of the same model.

    No disrespect intended to Dan and his Gretsch legacy... but the data seems to dispute some of his recollections.

    The reality is that between 1932 and 1970 there were no less than 7 serial number systems applied to Gretsch guitars. This has led to a LOT of confusion over the years on "when" certain guitars were made. Luckily we now have internet forums such as this one, that can help to clarify things!
     
    Falcon LPB and new6659 like this.
  3. Falcon LPB

    Falcon LPB Electromatic

    82
    Aug 15, 2019
    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks Wayne. Yes, there is considerable disagreement over these serial numbers. I have been doing research for some years on the Falcon serial numbers and much of that seems to fit Dan's recollection but we have had problems in getting any confirmation from Gretsch - again, what we get from some is contradiction. Dan's focus was 1957 to 1970 and that is the period I am especially interested in for the Falcon production.

    I am trying to record some of the present serial numbers for Falcons. I am interested in the Lake Placid Blue issue. The serial numbers I have so far give and insight into their production. So far we have had it confirmed that there were 132 of the LPB Falcon produced - it would be nice to know what are the corresponding production numbers for other limited edition Falcons and indeed all the previous iterations. I would be delighted to get any serial numbers of the LPB Falcons and it would be good to establish some kind of register. I appreciate, some may be nervous about such a collection of this data as some fake manufacturers might want to try to use the serial numbers, but there are enough genuine Gretsch guitars advertised on websites that reveal the serial numbers that fakers could copy anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  4. Wayne Gretschzky

    Wayne Gretschzky Country Gent

    Aug 27, 2008
    East Coast
    There is no "Gretsch" (company) to ask about these topics from the golden era (pre-1970). The current management of the brand is Fender, with Fred Gretsch remaining as the figure-head. Fred hasn't been able to provide much info from that period either... I know because I've asked him on several occasions. He was a teenager in the late 50s and not really paying attention to the production process I'm sure. So it's even more frustrating to realize that Dan Duffy (who was there) has at times shared info that can't always be supported by the data that's been gathered since then.

    Good luck on the Blue Falcon effort.
     
  5. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Nonetheles: This small book is a little treasure. I loved to read it. (@Wayne Gretschzky : And of course I enjoyed your books, too Ed.)
     
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