6/22/2014

c.1967 Gretsch 6003 "Folk" 00-Size Flattop Guitar




Vintage Gretsch flattops (this one's a US-made model) don't really pop up all that often but the ones I do see most are these 50s-60s 00-size x-braced "little ditties" which are roughly comparable in tone and feel to something like a slightly-larger Guild F-20 though they do have a very similar tonal palette to a 1930s/40s 00-size ladder braced Harmony product or, in particular, the Vega FT-85 I feel a bit of regret for selling.

This one came to me via a local friend of mine and it was in a pretty dilapidated shape when it got here but all the basics were ok! It needed a new bridge, fret level/dress, much setup, and a bit of TLC for its original plastic parts which had severely curled up and shrunk. I quite like the way it turned out and it plays fast and slick on its long 25 1/2" scale. The neck is very much a mix of a Guild neck profile and a Martin neck profile and... in my opinion... feels a tiny bit better than either of those I'm familiar with on concurrently-built instruments.



This guitar has a solid spruce top with beefy x-bracing under the hood. Because of the sturdy build none of the braces are loose and it's got a perfectly flat top. The back and sides are laminate mahogany but the neck is a nice one-piece hunk of mahogany.


The truss rod works fine, thankfully. The nut is bone and this has a "zero fret" which should simplify setup but Gretsch did the dummy move of making the zero fret larger than all the other frets which meant action at the nut was always too high from the factory. When I leveled and dressed the frets I ground it down to the level of the other frets so setup is now spot-on. Future players should only need to modify action height at the bridge provided that the zero fret doesn't wear out too much over time.


The board is lightly-radiused rosewood. Those are faux-MOP dots.


This pickguard came to me looking like a toilet-paper roll it was so curled up. I put it in a pan of near-boiling water after removing it from the top and then clamped it up to my work-table to flatten it back out. I think it came out far better than I expected... though I did need to polish it all back out to remove moisture "blush" in the plastic. Like the truss cover and much of the binding, the pickguard has shrunk over time which is why it curled up like bad fingernails.


I tried to match the board's rosewood with the new bridges in my bin and this is pretty close. This has a new compensated bone saddle and a set of bone pins that were hanging out in my parts bin.

There's a small footprint mismatch with the old bridge but part of that is due to a sloppy-as-heck old reglue job that was done to the split-in-three-pieces original bridge.


Update: I just wanted to mention the dark haze to the finish around the crumbled binding as plastic outgassing, not moisture-related issues! Sigh. The binding all over is crackled but it's only crumbled like this in three areas -- this larger patch and then two tiny patches elsewhere.





Some of the finish has gotten a bit of mucking-up from heat and padding from the case. I removed the "case hair" and then cleaned it up as much as I could. This is only in a few spots -- tiny bits on the sides and then this "thumbprint" at the heel.


...though the finish, overall, has tons of weather-checking/lacquer cracks.





...original endpin...


...and the original oddball hard case! -- sans a handle. Still, it's cool to see what this was sold with when it was brand new.

4 comments:

Jeffery Mason said...

Jake,
I found it interesting that your 6003's serial number is 117558 because my 6003's serial number is 117560. You said the sides are laminate. I always thought that the top and sides were solid. Please tell me how you know the sides are laminate.
-Jeff Mason

Jeffery Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Wildwood said...

Several ways: you can see the layers of ply at the endpin plug and you can also see that none of the grain on the outside matches any of the grain on the inside.

Jeffery Mason said...

Got it. Thanks!