7/06/2018

1963 Gretsch 6010 "Sun Valley" Dreadnought Guitar





Update October '18: I've decided to let this one go as money-needs must -- it's a perfect stage guitar as it has a great tone, superb playability, comes with a pickup installed, a brand-new hard case, and is very stable. Now back to my original blog entry, which I've updated with a new video, slightly-modified description, and new pictures...

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 also has a full coat of overspray on the body and back of the neck.

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, plain-Jane bracing, the tone on this is smack in the middle between a Martin D-28 and a '50s 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 and is very usefully-voiced for someone who both does chord-backup and fills and lead work.

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 and bridge-pin holes farther aft. I also added new ebony pins and a K&K Twin Spot pickup, but otherwise the guitar has original bits. 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 bone and compensated. There's a good 1/8"+ of saddle height over the deck of the bridge so it'll be easy to adjust action up/down seasonally. This height was in the middle of humid summer and now that it's coming into winter it's still just as tall.

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. The neck has a medium-depth C/V hybrid shape that's more C than V. It handles a bit like an older '60s bigger-neck Martin with a little bit of the fatness of an early-'50s Gibson -- but that said, it's nice and quick.

Materials 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 rather than the pearloid often seen on Gretsch products.


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



Note all the pickwear around the soundhole's treble side!




There's a minor amount of discoloration to the finish from binding-outgassing around the edges of the top.




The original, metal-buttoned tuners are still going strong.


The back of the neck has a few love-bite dings in it.







There's an endpin jack for the K&K pickup inside.


Here's the brand-new hard case that comes with it. It fits tight and has that "new case stink," but works well.

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