7/14/2016

1980 Gretsch BST1500 "Beast" Electric Guitar





Well, here's an oddball! The serial in the control cavity places this one right up at the end of the Baldwin-era Gretsch run and it's definitely a product of its time. It originally spec'd-out as a "rocker" solidbody with two DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups, a short 24" scale, super fast (and stable) neck, and curvaceous body. Its design aesthetic is clearly late-70s and it practically shouts it.

When this came in one of its original pickups was shot, so the owner and I decided to swap them out for something more traditionally Gretsch-y. We picked-out a pair of matched GuitarFetish FilterTron knockoffs (RetroTron Nashvilles), replaced the 3-way switch with a heavier-duty one, and put them in place. The transformation is wonderful and the guitar has an instantly "classic" sound with a dump-truck more clarity and jangle. It's fun to play rather than simply a weapon with which to shove as much gain into an amp as possible.


The body is solid mahogany with a lot of nice contours that fit it in the lap comfortably.


This has a 1 11/16" nut width, flatter fretboard profile, short 24" scale, zero fret, and a dead-straight, quick, 2-piece maple neck.


The rosewood board and jumbo frets are nice, too.



Fortunately, the GFS script isn't obvious from even a foot or two away, so the Filter-y look blends-in. I had to slightly-adjust the mounting holes for the pickups to fit these guys nicely, though, as they were routed for the rounded edges of the DiMarzio SD pickups.


A mini 3-way switch was a real weak point in the original wiring and that's been replaced with a bigger switch. The owner replaced a couple saddles at some point, too.




The big sealed tuners add some weight to the headstock, though they do work well.




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