1969 Gretsch Country Gentleman---what should I look for that might be wrong

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by AguynamedJ, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. AguynamedJ

    AguynamedJ Electromatic

    Hey All,
    Came across a Country Gentleman born in April of 69. I know enough to know I do not know enough about Gretsch especially vintage. The bigsby show its age but appears functional. The switches are a tad scratchy but that is a simple fix. The metal (knobs) tuners are in need of serious clean up but the7 work. The neck appears to be in good shape with nothing terribly out of whack. Yes there is some craking in the finish but nothing I wouldnt expect for a guitar of this age.

    For me the big issue was the binding which seems to go to he** in a handbasket over time. I was unable to find any cracking or chipping of the binding especially along the heel of the guitar, so my question is what else should I be looking for to determine if the guitar is worth my time?

    The guitar is not prisitne but it appears to be pretty solid considering its age. The tone itself is mellow and very thick, sustain seems to be above average regardless of the guitars age. Any education on what to look for when dealing with an older guitar would be appreciated. I dont know the ins and outs of Gretsch by a long shot but this guitar (under 2 grand) has some real potential and I think she can come back to play once again...

    Any majr points to look out for would be appreciated.

    PS. NO serial # on the headstock. Serial number I believe would be behind the pad in a guitar cavity...

    Thanks all!!!!
    Jay in socal
    Back in Black likes this.
  2. 6124Bassman

    6124Bassman Synchromatic

    May 20, 2018
    Phoenix, Arizona
    See if the neck is straight, no ski slope (where the fretboard overhangs the body) at the end of the neck. See if the neck joint looks like it’s pulling up away from the body. Check if the bridge is lowered all the way down or if there is still room to move the bridge down. Often times the bridge is lowered down as far as it can go (and sometimes the baseplate is shaved down further) to avoid a neck reset. If you have good action and room to still lower the bridge that is a good sign. High action and bridge already as low as it can go is a bad sign, meaning it’ll need a neck reset.

    What I mentioned above + binding is usually my main concern when looking at the old Gretsch guitars.
    65club and Les Pedals like this.
  3. Wayne Gretschzky

    Wayne Gretschzky Country Gent

    Aug 27, 2008
    East Coast
    There should not be a serial number anywhere but the back of the headstock for an April '69 Gretsch Gent. Is the top sealed, or does it have open F-holes? If it's the latter, it's probably a '79 model year example. If it's the former... then there won't be a serial number. See if the area looks refinished.
  4. AguynamedJ

    AguynamedJ Electromatic

    Painted on f holes...
  5. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Any chance of posting some pictures? That would definitely help us look for nits to pick.

    But it sounds like you've had a chance to play it. If it plays well with a straight solid neck, then not much more to say about playability. 6124bassman's advice is good, check to make sure the bridge hasn't been shaved down to compensate for a shallow neck set.

    If it's a '69 with 100% crack-free binding, that's a rarity. You never know, but if it hasn't happened in 52 years, it seems like one of the good ones.
  6. Back in Black

    Back in Black Synchromatic

    Jun 22, 2020
    Ontario Canada

    Anything can be repaired...but!

    Just me, but after you've confirmed structural integrity, and neck straightness, look at overall aesthetic appearance.

    If the guitar looks like it has lived its dormant life safe in its case, and the previous owner(s) have taken care of it, generally speaking, you should be OK.

    From what you've stated, it does not sound as though any replacements/modifications have taken place.

    Any possibility of posting some photos.

    Be careful, follow your gut, ask all the questions, and if you have any doubts...walk away.

    You're better off with a good re-issue, than you are with a bad original.


    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
    radd likes this.
  7. AguynamedJ

    AguynamedJ Electromatic

    First off to everybody thank you for the quality of your answers. I will see what I can do with some pictures but it may take me a few days. My overall observance of the guitar is that the Bigsby and the snaps on the back of the pad certainly have some rust like apperance or should I say patina? LOL. I normally stay away from vintage guitars for many of the reasons that you have all illuminated. The one thing that has stuck out to me more than anything else is how the binding of old Gretsch just seems to fall apart. I really can’t see much happening that way with this particular guitar and I even had my old man cheater glasses on...

    I have a luthier here that I really trust that I’ve known for many years now & I’m thinking about maybe by this weekend running it over to him for a day and letting him look through it...that combined with your comments will certainly help me make a decision. The guitar is not perfect but the wood looks good the neck appears to be straight the tuners are period correct it appears... I think the guitar just need some love. But once again buyer beware right?
    G5422T and radd like this.
  8. gfirob

    gfirob Electromatic

    Jul 5, 2019
    Rochester, Vermont
    Look for any brown discoloring on the binding or neck cap. Binding rot shows up this way and can accelerate without warning. I am not sure about this, but I think maybe '69 is past the binding rot time zone, when they figure the glue out or changed it. I have a '67 Nashville that I had rebound, but the guitar, pickups neck and playability were great. '60's Gretches can be wonderful guitars and the old Filter'trons are quite special to my ear.
  9. SAguitar

    SAguitar Synchromatic

    Jan 17, 2020
    Jack Plate, Oregon
    May the Gretsch be with you!
  10. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa Cruz
    I wish I knew enough to help.

    I will say after reading your descriptions and the comments here it sure sounds like a good 69’ Gretsch.

    Good luck
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