Vintage Gretsch and Guild

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by markezgotez, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. markezgotez

    markezgotez Member

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    Hey everyone, this is my first time posting. I am curious if anyone here has had any experience with a few guitars that spark my interest. The first is the 6117 gretsch anniversary model. i am interested more so a 58-59 w/ filtertrons but am also curious about the later models with hilotrons... the second guitar is a guild Manhattan x-175.(1954-1959). due to the fact that there are none of these guitars in my area to play. i was hoping someone could tell me about their experiences with these instruments. good or bad. how do these gretsch models compare to the current japanese models??? i have three of the japanese gretsch's and love them. i have heard the build quality now is much better than back then?? any truth there??
    the guild looks really interesting to me, but i have zero experience with guild 's. if you guy's could shed some light on these guitars for me it would be greatly appreciated!!


    thanks, Mark.
     
  2. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

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    I have no direct experience with them, but I do have the book "50 Years of Gretsch Electric" by Tony Bacon, which is a great read and contains a wealth of information on the different production phases of Gretsch in the different locations and what problems etc you might encounter. I got it as a pressie, but I think my wife just bought it off Amazon.
    There is a bunch of stuff in the back on identifying them too.
    I have a modern Japanese Gretsch electric and I'm glad.
    The quality is awesome, and I suspect that you will find a BIG contrast between yours and a vintage guitar.
     
  3. JimmyR

    JimmyR Member

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    I have owned many Gretsches, both old 60s and recent ones. I definitely think the newer ones are generally better built! Particularly since Fender took over the distribution.

    Older Gretsches - 50s, 60s - can have great necks and poorly finished bodies. There are some good old ones out there but they are pretty patchy. Common problems are necks needing a reset and binding crumbling. The best Gretsch I have played is my 6120RHH, but the Setzers are usually excellent and the Power Jets are good too.

    Older Guilds I have less experience with but they tend to be better built than equivalent Gretsches. I have a 2000-ish Starfire III which is a fabulous guitar, and I personally prefer it over the older Starfires too. The necks can be a bit crude on the 60s Guilds but they have a very solid fanbase!
     
  4. oscar100

    oscar100 Member

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    me neither but they sure are lovely
     
  5. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Old Guilds are awesome, maybe the biggest sleeper left in "vintage" guitardom. They're incredibly well-built, well-designed, and great-sounding.

    The humbuckers they used are some of my favorite ever... they can often be a touch microphonic, just enough to be just right... i.e. they don't squeal like a pig at moderate volumes, but they have that 'lively' sound. The pre-humbucker pickups are pretty cool as well... those are probably what's on the guitar you're looking at. I think they may have been made by Rowe/DeArmond? Not sure though.

    There is definite vintage epiphone lineage in those old guilds. I think a lot of the craftsman from the old Epiphone plant went with Guild when Epiphone was sold to Gibson, and that lineage is definitely there. Since vintage pre-Gibson Epiphones are some of my favorites, that definitely appeals to me... you? Who knows.

    Unless there was something specific about an old Gretsch that I wanted, I'd go with the Guild.
     
  6. hogy

    hogy Member

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    I have a '60 Double Anniversary.
    Out of all the many vintage Gretsches I've owned and played this particular one has the best acoustic tone I've heard. Beats the crap out of my '59 ES-175.
    However, its stock HiLoTrons are just plain pathetic. Those pickups are weak, thin, bland, terrible.

    Only reason I've hung on to this guitar is because one of these days I'll find a set of vintage FilterTrons to put into it, and then I'll be done.

    I've never paid any attention to new Gretsches, so I can't offer an opinion on them.
     
  7. wreckfan

    wreckfan Member

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    I have had several newer Gretsch's and agree that the newer ones are generally better built. You have to play a LOT of them to find a good one. My last purchase was a Setzer model that took me a long time to find. I stupidly traded it in and have not been able to find another one anywhere near as good.
    With that said I also play a 1959 model 6119 that is flat out the best rhythm guitar that I have ever played ( have owned well over 50 guitars) it is just a blast to play. I have been keeping my eye out for one of the early 60's DC's (dual cutaways) but again its hard to find a good one.

    Favorites list

    Best overall lead/rhythm - 1996 Les paul historic
    Next best overall - Anderson Drop Top Classic
    Best rhythm - 1959 Gretsch 6119
    Just pure fun - Gretsch Setzer
     
  8. Ryguy

    Ryguy Member

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    I've had two 1965 X-175's, and a couple of 60's Starfires. The x-175 were both fantastic, with big necks, and low feedback. They are long scale, so they are maybe a bit more articulate than most other Jazzbox's I've played. They have the Franz designed pickups that look like P-90. They sound more or less similar to p-90's, but clearer, snappier, with less mids and slightly less body. Great sounding. Overall they are fantastic guitars, with really high build quality, and wonderful necks. I got both of mine in player's condition for under a $1000 each. Cleaner models go for $1800-2400, which is a STEAL for a such a quality 50's archtop.

    The 60's Guilds have smaller necks, but to me are still very comfortable. I agree about the Guild smaller humbuckers. They sound great, and I prefer them to standard buckers. However, I did have to wax pot them on my starfire III ('65), since they were just too microphonic.

    No experience with the Gretsches, but a BIG thumbs up for old Guilds.
     
  9. hogy

    hogy Member

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  10. brad347

    brad347 Member

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  11. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    I own a 59 Guild X150 that with an added bridge pickup to make it an X175. It is fantastic. Those pickups sound amazing and the neck is my favorite ever. I really can't say enough good things about it.

    I briefly owned a 62(I think) Gretsch Single Anniversary. I don't know if it was just a lemon, but it was the worst guitar I've ever played. It needed a neck reset badly and it looked like it was assemble in high school shop class. However, I've owned some Gretsch reissues that were very nice.

    I've owned 5 Guilds and they have all been superb.
     
  12. markezgotez

    markezgotez Member

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    thanks guys. well from what you guys are saying i think i will definatly look more into the guild. those single coil pickups are very intriguing to me. might be just what i am after. it seems the more and more people i talk to about it, the more i hear that i should be weary about getting a vintage gretsch. i played a 58 or 59, 6119 a little while ago. and was very disappointed. it was a dead sounding guitar. and did not play very well. though maybe it was just a dud. i am completely happy with my reissue gretsch's, so i think i just may stick with them unless i run across an old gretsch i like. but i am going to look into the guild... hey brad, no i have never though about an older epiphone but that would worth checking out. based on the guitars i am looking at here, what models do you think i may like?? (i don't know anything about old epiphones).
     
  13. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    The Guild "P90s" are unique. I don't know if they are for everyone, but I love them. They are brighter than traditional P90s. Then neck pickup can sound sort of Strat-ish, while the bridge pickup sounds like a "p****d off" Telecaster.

    Here's my 62.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. markezgotez

    markezgotez Member

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    i think that is exactly what i want... i have always found p90's to be a little dark for my liking. i am not a humbucker guy at all. all my guitars are single coil except for filtertrons. so a brighter p90 sound is exactly what i want. strat-ish sounding neck pickup also sounds very cool... i have never seen an old x175 with a factory bigsby... did they do that?? becuase i would definatly go for that over the tailpiece.
     
  15. dhdfoster

    dhdfoster Silver Supporting Member

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    I added the Bigsby. Unfortunately, the "Guild" Bigsbys are no longer being made, and they are getting hard to find.

    If you want to hear an old X175 with those pups and a Bigsby absolutely ripping, listen to this album.
    http://www.amazon.com/Million-Mile-...d_bbs_8?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1208135613&sr=8-8

    I don't get along with humbuckers either. These pups can be a little finicky, though, with height adjustment and possibly potting them, you can get them dialed in just right.

    Guilds are still a tremendous bargain in vintage guitars. Built like tanks, old wood, great necks, and a great "woody" tone. I am biased, though, so I should probably stop spouting now.
     
  16. rastus

    rastus Member

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    I've owned several old Gretsch guitars from the 50-s 60's...some are amazing guitars in every respect, like my dad's 59 Country Club, others are just junk shaped like a guitar (a 66 Country Gent I had) and others are just pretty good (a 57 Duo Jet and 63 Nashville that I still have). I never use either of my old Gretschs. I have a mid 90's Jet Firebird that I slapped original Filtertrons, ABR1, and waverly tuners on. I also had it refretted with med. jumbo wire. It beats any old Gretsch I have ever owned. I also have recently had a Billy-Bo, White Falcon, Setzer Hot Rod, and Country Classic that are pretty recent, and all were nice players (the Falcon is actually FANTASTIC!). I'd be wary of the old ones too.

    As to the 50's and 60's Guilds-I have several guitars and basses in my collection. I've been using Guild guitars for years. They were the "sleeper" in the market for years, but now people are getting hip to them and prices fo vintage models are on the climb. I buy every nice one I come across for a good price. Some pretty big pop stars are showing up with old Guilds now.

    I cannot recommend them highly enough-the 50's models are serious guitars built by the guys that built Epis in New York before Gibson bought them. In my opinion the Guilds of the 50's were equal to or better in quality than any Gretsch of the time. Both slipped a bit in the 60's, but I still give the edge to Guild. Buy now, or you'll pay more later!
     
  17. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    It's hard to say. I'm more into using the old Epiphones for jazz than for rockabilly or other typical gretsch-and-guild type of stuff, so I honestly don't know!

    Here's what I do know: The acoustic Epiphones were carved top and the electric Epiphones were almost always plywood top. The New York era Epiphone pickups are also not normally that sought-after or jonesed-for either. Basically, as players, the electric Epi archtops pre-Gibson were not much to write home about according to most (there are some exceptions), although their acoustics remained excellent always.

    So basically what I'm saying is, if my assumptions are correct, you're probably more on the right track with that Guild X-175-- but I'm not sure exactly what kinds of tones you are looking for.

    Some of the earlier Gibson-era Epiphones with mini humbuckers might float your boat. From what you describe you want out of pickups, I wouldn't rule out minibuckers. I got my first minibucker guitar recently (a '67 Epi Riviera) and those pickups are out of sight... really natural sounding and much brighter than a humbucker... brighter than a P90 too to my ears. Just really nice and bright, but it's a good bright.

    To that end, later Zephyrs, Zephyr Deluxes, or Broadway Electrics might be worth a look-see, just to see how they strike you (if you can find them). On the fully hollow thinline tip, a Windsor with minibuckers might also be worth a look. It wouldn't hurt to try out some older models with New York pickups as well as you may like them... the Emperor Electric was rad-looking and had a push-button PU selector system that was totally crazy. Maybe you'd dig it... they certainly are in the ballpark of what you're looking at, price-wise.

    Lark Street Music here in NJ currently has several of the above models. Their prices are a little above market but you could at least look at some pics on their website.

    I like the carved-top guitars, so I got lucky to find a '53 Triumph Regent some time back that had a single coil pickup added to it shortly after purchase (pot date codes are '55). It's carved top like an acoustic but has that pickup, which is sweet (it's actually a '50s Carvin model). I'll probably take this one to the grave with me. (It's on the left).

    [​IMG]
     
  18. PrestonBrck

    PrestonBrck Member

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    I have a 59 Anniversary Gretsch. It been a great guitar. My dad had it since he bought it new. I havent had any problems with it at all. The guitar has stayed in almost mint condition over the years. If kept polished the finish looks great. It a joy to play.
     
  19. smiert spionam

    smiert spionam Member

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    Lots of good insights in this thread. I'd agree about how great the '50s Guilds are. Guild was formed in '53, and until '56 they were indeed built in the old NY factory by Epi luthiers (Epi left for Philly in '52, a few years before it was bought by Gibson).

    My preference is for the narrow-waisted pre-'61 17" body style (especially the earlier ones with a long scale neck), but they're all great. For a smaller, tighter playing guitar, the CE-100D is excellent, too -- similar in over dimension to an ES-175, but not as deep, and it feels much smaller. The T-100 and Starfire are the same basic outline, but a thinline. Also quite good. The humbucker-equipped Starfires of the late '60s are a bit like a Filter'tron (though a bit darker and weirder), while in the early '60s they got either Dynas or Franz single coils.

    The Franz pickups are by far my favorite -- like a sharper, snappier P90. Especially good with a Bigsby.

    Gretsches can be great, too -- though I prefer those with mid-50s DynaSonics over both the Filter'tron and the HiLo'tron. By the end of the '50s, Gretsches start being susceptible to weird finish, binding, and neck set problems -- some have aged better than others, so try before you buy if that's the direction you go.

    Several people who have chimed in on this thread participate at letstalkguild.com and gretschpages.com -- both are great forums, with a lot of nice helpful folks.

    Here's a few pics:

    An early '60s Annie, converted to dual TV Jones filter'trons and a Bigsby. I bought it from someone here several years ago, did a bit more work on it, and then sold it to pay for something or other.

    [​IMG]


    This is a '56 Guild CE-100D with Franz pickups. It was a bit of a salvage job -- needed some binding work and a refret, and I installed the Bigsby:

    [​IMG]

    The '56 sounded and played amazing, and I would have likely kept it for the long haul, but I traded it to another Guild fanatic for this '54 X-440. It's got everything I like best about early Guilds -- slightly fuller neck, long scale, and that great curvy narrow waisted outline. It deserves an original Guild-labeled Bigsby, though it wouldn't be any more period correct than the B6 on there now. This one's going nowhere.

    ;- )

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    those are pretty guilds. Guild rulz. ;)
     

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