1963 Gretsch 6010 "Sun Valley" Dreadnought Guitar

I was super-impressed with a customer's 000-size "Jimmie Rodgers" model and started hunting for a Gretsch flattop of my own. These things punch (both in volume and tone) above their dollar-weight and they're also rugged due to thicker-ply back and sides. They also tend to have nice, stable necks. For these reasons I figured it'd be nice to have one to drop a pickup in and use for shows.

When I got this in the mail, the setup was way off, the frets were worn and small, and the saddle was a full 3/32" too far forward. That's pretty typical for guitars of any make in the '60s (yes, Martin and Gibson seemed to be punch-drunk with saddle placement, too). It'd also seen some finish touch-ups and perhaps a little overspray here and there. It's hard to tell because Gretsch finishes on their acoustics weren't 100% in the first place.

Still, I was very happy even before repairs -- the body is reminiscent (in the lap) of a Gibson J-50 but with a 00-sized upper bout and waist and a long scale. The top's x-bracing is very simplified but unlike the barky, gruff-sounding, x-braced Kays with similar, low-brow bracing, the tone on this is smack in the middle between a Martin D-28 and a Gibson J-50. It's got the bass and rumble of the J-50 but the slightly-scooped mids, hefty punch, and more velvety treble of a Martin D. It also feels a little more tense like a D. I don't think it's quite as refined as either of them, but it treads the same water.

Old work on the guitar included a neck reset and finish touch-ups/overspray, but my new work included a board plane and refret (with my favorite StewMac 0158 pyramid jumbo wire), reglue of the pickguard, and light bridge shave (to remove the old saddle slot and get rid of icky sprayed finish on the bridge) and relocation of the saddle. I also added new pins and a K&K Twin Spot pickup, but otherwise the guitar is original. The new frets (with a compound radius running from 9.5" to 12") go a long way towards making this handle like a much-fancier guitar. My new "saddle" is also now a set of 6 slot-head screws that're compensated and give me the ability to set action height as desired.

Specs are: 25 1/2" scale, 1 5/8" nut width, 1 15/32" string spacing at the nut, 2 7/32" spacing at the bridge, 15 3/4" lower bout, 10 3/4" upper bout, and 4 3/4" side depth. Action is 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and it's strung with 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 gauges.

Woods are: solid spruce top, ply mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard, and ebony bridge. It's crack-free, too.

The headstock's logo is inlaid pearl.

The board plane and dress-up made the rosewood really pop-out.

As you can see by the wear around the soundhole, someone played the heck out of this guitar.

The metal-buttoned tuners are still going strong.

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