1940s Gretsch Synchromatic G160 restoration. Looking for tuners currently.

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by ddechow, Apr 28, 2021.

  1. ddechow

    ddechow Electromatic

    Apr 21, 2021
    Abingdon, Illinois
    Hey guys I'm new here. I commented in one other thread about this guitar and received some help there grateful for that.

    I'm 46 and have been into guitar repair and and vintage stuff in general since I was about 12.

    In 1993 I missed out on a 1959 fender strat for $500 and there's still a hole in my soul because of this...


    I recently acquired a very cool I believe early forties g160 (I think) synchromatic. It needs a neck reset and some other minor repairs all up and down it. It was missing the bridge and the original tuners.

    I traded a player grade but great sounding 1973ish Epiphone F350 all flamey maple other than the top ( I think that's the model ) for it..

    I located a original bridge on reverb that was nearly as expensive as what I had into the original Epiphone guitar that I traded ...lol.

    I am trying to locate original tuners.
    But from what I am seeing these are an unusually large tuner and I have not been able to identify them via info and photographs of other similar make and era guitars.

    My first suspicion was that they were either kluson bullseyes or imperials.

    There are very large tuner. 1 5/16" in between the mounting holes. The string posts appear to be 5/16" of an inch in diameter based on the ferrels that are in the headstock which I believe to be original and seem to match the tailpiece gold plating and patina.

    The headstock is actually thicker than most modern guitars as well at a little bit over 11/16". When you put a modern tuner on it you really only have about a quarter of an inch post sticking up exposed for winding strings on.

    I've taken some pictures to help explain some of what I'm seeing. I did a tape outline of the footprint impression of the original tuners to help illustrate it as I couldn't really photograph it and get it to show in the pictures.

    I had ordered a reissue gretch tuner set that had a very similar shape and I was hoping they would be proper for this but they're quite a bit smaller in every way.

    Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks, Dave

    Attached Files:

  2. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    For a 1940's model, they should be either Grover Sta-tites or Waverly tuners. The 160 model didn't come with Grover Imperials, and Gretsch rarely used Klusons.

    One observation-- it looks like the tuners have already been changed out once, judging by the multiple pattern holes. So it's possible that the headstock has already been reamed for a larger shaft tuner.
  3. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    I'll second @tartanphantom : the Grover V97-18NA would be perfect on your nice Synchomatic 160, I guess...

    They are fine on my G400 Synchromatic, where I use Cleartone Acoustic Phosphor Bronze 12-53 strings :




    dougmon and new6659 like this.
  4. Ricochet

    Ricochet Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Curiously 1 5/16” is the distance between screws on 3-on-a-plate tuners. Obviously to be installed on this headstock they would have been cut into 3 separate pieces.
  5. afire

    afire Country Gent

    The original tuners were most likely Kluson Sealfasts.
    They're out there, but most parts weasels seem to be asking an arm and a leg for them, since they were also native to some higher end archtops.
    I believe that the best off the shelf replacement would be Kluson Wafflebacks.
    I'm not positive, but I do believe that these are basically Sealfasts with the same footprint. Maybe somebody else knows for sure. Stewmac has them for $132.30. Other than the longer shaft, with the plastic buttons, they'll give you a pretty close look.
  6. ddechow

    ddechow Electromatic

    Apr 21, 2021
    Abingdon, Illinois
    I mean it is possible, but if that was the case I would have expected the tuners I removed to have been the porper size for the ferrels which they weren't. there are only 2 sets of tuner hioles the originals and the holes from the crappy tuners I removed.
  7. ddechow

    ddechow Electromatic

    Apr 21, 2021
    Abingdon, Illinois
    I thought sealfasts were also called bullseyes? Am I wrong?
  8. ddechow

    ddechow Electromatic

    Apr 21, 2021
    Abingdon, Illinois
    I do appreciate the suggestion, but they are about 1/4 shorter mount footprint, according to the stewmac dimensional drawing.
  9. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Upon closer inspection, nothing about the wafflebacks are quite identical to the Sealfasts. The Sealfasts have the tuner post way off center, which is consistent with the holes in your guitar, while the wafflebacks have the button way off center, but the tuner posts closer to the middle. I'll stick to my statement that they may be the best overall off-the-shelf replacement, but won't drop in without more holes.

    And yes, I believe the Sealfasts are sometimes referred to as bullseyes.

    At any rate, I'm still thinking the original tuners were Sealfasts. Looking from the other side, doesn't the post close to one side and the overall shape look right? And they 100% were one of the standard tuners used on 1940s 160s. And I just read that Sealfasts are indeed larger than wafflebacks, so that might account for the 1/4" shorter dimensions of the wafflebacks compared to your holes.

    And, it turns out that Schaller made replicas:
    The bad news is that they appear to be out of production. Maybe you could keep an eye out for a set of these. Otherwise, I'm thinking wait to find an acceptable deal on original Sealfasts and be ready to pounce.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  10. knavel

    knavel Synchromatic

    Dec 26, 2009
    London, England
    While hardly expert on Gretsch acoustics other than thinking every one I've played generally sucked(*) sonically, visually of course they are lovely, I thought sealfast Klusons were only around in the late 1940s Synchros.

    I had a 160 which took me ages to squeeze out a sale on, and it was the best archtop Gretsch I've ever heard as I had it worked on by a good luthier here.

    The sealfast tuners are the best tuners I've ever found on any guitar. I ought to have kept them.

    (*) I like my flattop Town & Country for recording or a gig as it's lack of tonal range makes it easier to EQ, although I have a lot of other acoustics I prefer recording with these days.

    IMG_9810.jpg IMG_9813.jpg IMG_20200227_153550027.jpg
  11. ddechow

    ddechow Electromatic

    Apr 21, 2021
    Abingdon, Illinois
    very nice thanks for the pics
  12. Wayne Gretschzky

    Wayne Gretschzky Country Gent

    Aug 27, 2008
    East Coast
    Hi Dave... welcome to the site, and congrats on scoring such a cool old Gretsch. As you acclimate to the "vintage side" of things, you should drop the "G" prefix reference on model numbers for Gretsch guitars made before 1980. That's more is a modern era thing.
  13. SunRa

    SunRa Gretschie

    Feb 7, 2015
    new york
    The pre-war Gretsch archtops are the sweet spot, most all have carved tops, some have carved bottoms. I have a 1941 Synchromatic 100 (not to be confused with the post-war, entry level 100 that came later). It sounds great thick middle tones, good cutting power and has a very fast, narrow, modern neck. Do you have a serial number for your 160?
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