9/20/2013

c.1925 Gretsch "Twenty-Five" Tenor Banjo



I've worked on a couple model Twenty-Five Gretsch tenors before, this one and this one, but this is the first I've worked on that still had its resonator and original hardware mostly intact. The only replacement items on this one are the head (new Elite synthetic) and bridge (Grover standard 5/8").

It's a good, simple, practical tenor. It has no tonering, but it's plenty loud and has a warm, clean tonality. This is further "crisped up" by the addition of the one-screw-on resonator. It's got a long 23" scale.

The primary woods (neck, dowel, and laminate rim) are made of maple while the secondary woods (resonator and rim veneer) are mahogany. The fretboard is some sort of dyed hardwood, probably maple as well. There's rosewood binding on the bottom edge of the resonator which reminds me of a Martin-y sort of 20s feel.


Work included the new head install, a fret level/dress, cleaning, new bridge, and setup.

Unfortunately, the top five frets are on a slight backbow which means that while action is really quick up to the 10th fret (where height is 1/16") it means that after the 12th fret (where action is slightly below 3/32" vs. my usual 1/16") it feels a bit springier.

I've set it up with a decent medium-gauge set of strings to counter-act some of this backbow, though, at gauges 36w, 26w, 15, 09 for regular CGDA tuning. I think a setup like this is kind of perfect for a player who's going to be chopping medium-hard on the instrument for backing chords or playing a lot of single-note leads as you get a slick chording feel nearer the nut but more powerful, ringing notes leaping past the 12th fret.


Gotta love that pearl-inlaid script!



Nice, plain-Jane armrest. This one is held on a lot more simply than most which is a welcome change from the usual.



Isn't that plain mahogany pretty?


The neck is two-piece maple with a center-strip of some sort of dark (or dyed) hardwood. The friction pegs (with ivoroid buttons) work just fine.




The really simple tailpiece accepts ball or loop end strings. I've shoved some foam under its cover to mute the afterlength of the strings.

2 comments:

Tom Masterson said...

Here's one on Reverb with a different resonator.
Which one do you think is original and what's a fair asking price for this .
Thanks
TM
https://reverb.com/item/5723145-gretsch-twenty-five-1925-vintage-tenor-banjo

Jake Wildwood said...

They're both original resonators -- the designs changed year to year, though I haven't seen the metal-edged one before. I sell these for about $350-400 all fixed-up, so $1k seems pretty dang harsh.