1964 Gretsch 6186 Clipper Hollowbody Electric Guitar

Oh man I love Gretsch Clippers. They're on the more affordable side for vintage Gretsch electrics as they're basic, no-frills, single-cutaway hollowbodies. Still, they're built just as well as the higher-end models and once you've got them dialed-in the play and sound like champs. The Hi-Lo Tron pickups are not for everyone (they're a clean-n-clear single coil sound) but to my ears they have an instant '50s voicing. You can get them to do rockabilly, roots-rock, blues, country picking, or even early jazz sounds depending on how you set your amp and what strings you choose.

The owner of this guitar bought it at my suggestion (he was looking for a cheaper jazz box) because he wanted a quality build but didn't want to drop a ton of cash on something like an old Gibson or Gibson clone. I knew he'd get bored of a modern Asian-import jazz box on the quick (let's admit it -- they feel like plastic and sound like it, too, despite the price advantages) so I steered him toward Clippers as they're among the only American-made hollowbodies of good quality you can find in the "needing some work" range for under $1k.

Anyhow, I fixed this one up for him after he picked it up and strung it with Pyramid flatwounds and... and... roll the tone off on the amp a bit... and... there it is! That clean-and-clear, slightly-mellowed old '50s jazz sound was right there waiting for him. In a pinch it can move right into other genres, too. As I tell a lot of folks -- getting an "old jazz" sound is more in the fingers and approach than it is in the guitar, though a hollowbody of any sort with a decent-sounding pickup doesn't hurt to get you closer to it.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, modification of the bridge's saddle, new relic-style StewMac tuners (it had replacement Rotomatics on it when it came in), cleaning, and a setup.

Setup notes: it plays bang-on with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret. The Pyramid flats are stiff-feeling, so I think the owner dropped it even a hair below that after the fact and it's still playing nicely. The neck is straight and the truss rod works.

Other notes: I think the scale length was 24 1/2" or close to it? The nut felt like 1 5/8" but may have measured a hair wider. The neck is the usual rock-n-roll slim C-shape of Gretsch products at the time and the radius to the board was probably about 10" or so.

Condition notes: it's clean overall save light scratching on the back, but does have replacement tuners and a replacement strap button at the tailpiece. I had to move the tailpiece over slightly, too, to keep it in line with the neck. The rest is all original.