Old Gretsch I Bought Yesterday

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
Hi all, Greetings from Florida. Yesterday I picked up this 1953 what looks to be a Model 6040 Synchromatic Archtop. It's in pretty rough condition needing all the bindings replaced. Plus it has a crack by one F hole. And it has some kind of black goop in different places that's going to need removed. I really like it but I am not sure if it's worth the repairs. I don't know for sure but it couldn't have been played in a long time. I am thinking this because the newspapers in the case are from 1958. Anyway what do you guys think of her? It also came with a bunch of vintage Black Diamond strings and some kind of device that I think used to be for electrifying it (It's in rough condition to). Thanks
 

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Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,919
Portland, OR
Hi all, Greetings from Florida. Yesterday I picked up this 1953 what looks to be a Model 6040 Synchromatic Archtop ...

Nice find, does it still have a factory ID inside the F-holes? Kinda looks a little more like a 6030 or maybe even a 6014 to me. I say this because 6040's often have cats-eye f-holes and different fret inlays.

Otoh, it's pretty cool regardless of what it is and I'm absolutely no expert on identifying vintage Gretsch guitars!

But we do have people here that are! I'm sure one will be along shortly!

Welcome to the forum and Congrats!
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
This is kind of a tricky one. It's definitely not a '53. This is a pre-WWII Gretsch from the American Orchestra series. The headstock inlay is that of a model 65. The 1936 catalog shows this model with a slightly smaller Bakelite pickguard, generic trapeze tailpiece, and diamond snowflake inlays. This example is a match to the catalog illustration:
136138.jpg


But yours isn't the first American Orchestra model I've seen that starts to exhibit features of the successor and partially overlapping Synchromatic series. Gruhn had a Model 65 very close to yours. Other than the fingerboard inlays, it looks to be a match:
15755

Your tailpiece, bridge and pickguard are all typical of a Synchromatic. I wouldn't associate the block inlays with any particular model, but almost no models had them in the 1936 catalog.

So, while it's got a lot of Synchromatic flair to it, I would say that the headstock shape and inlay would positively ID it as a Model 65, but a very late one, probably not too far from the start of WWII.
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
This is kind of a tricky one. It's definitely not a '53. This is a pre-WWII Gretsch from the American Orchestra series. The headstock inlay is that of a model 65. The 1936 catalog shows this model with a slightly smaller Bakelite pickguard, generic trapeze tailpiece, and diamond snowflake inlays. This example is a match to the catalog illustration:
136138.jpg


But yours isn't the first American Orchestra model I've seen that starts to exhibit features of the successor and partially overlapping Synchromatic series. Gruhn had a Model 65 very close to yours. Other than the fingerboard inlays, it looks to be a match:
15755

Your tailpiece, bridge and pickguard are all typical of a Synchromatic. I wouldn't associate the block inlays with any particular model, but almost no models had them in the 1936 catalog.

So, while it's got a lot of Synchromatic flair to it, I would say that the headstock shape and inlay would positively ID it as a Model 65, but a very late one, probably not too far from the start of WWII.
Thanks for the great info. So I should ignore the serial number? It's clearly stamped on the top of the headstock "7959"?
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
Nice find, does it still have a factory ID inside the F-holes? Kinda looks a little more like a 6030 or maybe even a 6014 to me. I say this because 6040's often have cats-eye f-holes and different fret inlays.

Otoh, it's pretty cool regardless of what it is and I'm absolutely no expert on identifying vintage Gretsch guitars!

But we do have people here that are! I'm sure one will be along shortly!

Welcome to the forum and Congrats!
I can't find any numbers or tag inside it. The only number is stamped on top of the headstock "7959"
 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
I found this in another thread here. Looks very close to what I have. Maybe it is a Synchromatic?

 

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Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,919
Portland, OR
That'd be the serial number, which does pop up as a '53 in at least one serial number search, if you happen to trust those.

Reverb's got a 6014 listed that the seller has identified as a '53, and looks virtually identical to yours, except for the headstock inlay. Is it possible the guitar has had a neck or headstock replacement? Do all the seams and joints look clean and tight?

 

DonTen

Electromatic
May 27, 2022
29
Florida, USA
That'd be the serial number, which does pop up as a '53 in at least one serial number search, if you happen to trust those.

Reverb's got a 6014 listed that the seller has identified as a '53, and looks virtually identical to yours, except for the headstock inlay. Is it possible the guitar has had a neck or headstock replacement? Do all the seams and joints look clean and tight?

After more searching I agree it's prewar. The add I posted that shows the model 100 and 75 is from 1937 and they look almost identical to mine. Plus the thread I found it in the original poster has almost the same guitar and he found 1930's dates inside it while doing repairs. Also his serial number on that 1930's guitar is "7806". Not to far off from mine. Very cool!
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,919
Portland, OR
I found this in another thread here. Looks very close to what I have. Maybe it is a Synchromatic?


Bingo, now you're cooking! Never mind that 6014 ... You've got a Synchromatic Model 75!

I think ... LoL!

The good news is that it's older than you thought. The bad news is that it's probably somewhat less valuable than a 6040. Still think it's a way cool project guitar, I hope you'll fix it up nice!

Good luck with it!
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
Synchromatic 75 it is. You can see from the Gruhn example I posted how the American Orchestra Model 65 morphed into the Synchromatic 75. Now it gets me wondering, is the Gruhn one a Model 65 or Synchromatic 75? Obviously, it's sort of a continuum, but there has to be some dividing line. I'm going to guess that Gruhn's is a Synchromatic 75. In retrospect, it seems unlikely to me that they would have put the Synchromatic tailpiece and bridge on a guitar unless they were going to classify it as a Synchromatic.

So I should ignore the serial number? It's clearly stamped on the top of the headstock "7959"?
There were different serial number sequences pre and post war. That would translate to 1952 or 1953 in the postwar sequence, but that's not what this is. I don't know how well decoded the prewar numbers are. Member Wayne Gretschzky (Ed Ball) has collected a lot of data, but I'm not sure whether he's been able to establish a reliable timeline yet.
 


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