As you know, I picked up the 64 Gretsch Corvette about 2 weeks ago, and have been in the process of rebuilding it. Got most of the parts, pickguard material arrived the other day, and I figured you may be interested in the progress. The timing seemed fortuitous, since 1) I have an inflamed Achilles tendon in my left foot and can't work for the next week or so, and 2) because of the wonderful virus, my work has been shut down for TWO weeks! (I manage a food truck.) The loss of income isn't a major issue, EXCEPT I just spent a ship load of spendable cash on buying new guitars to flip. Ah well, at least I will be busy. Poor, but busy.
Originally missing a tuner, a search on feebay nabbed me an original tuner from a early 60's Gretsch. Slightly different back plate, but close enough. the tuners required a drop of oil to restore them to the same smoothness they had nearly 60 years ago. I added a GFS Xtrem, more about that later, and strung it up with the worst strings known to mankind: GHS Precision flatwound 11-50. Flat, but rough, wait what? Garbage, but heavy enough so I could see if the neck would stay stable since it hadn't had any on for 20 years or so. And amazingly, the neck was perfectly straight, no creaking around the joint, decent enough frets that required the minimum of dressing, and kept tune and intonation.
A bridge was added in the old style Gibson with the post directly into the old mahogany. 3 different bridges later, found one that just melded with the radius of the neck. (One of those cheap 9 dollar made in China Roller bridges. Who would have thunk it?) Now back to the X-trem. I love GFS products in general. Nice pickups, decent hardware, and really nice prices on bodies and necks. The X-trem however is one of the biggest POS I have ever used! Because of the straight line used from the anchor to the bar, when depressed, it doesn't come back into tune. It's off by 3-5 cents. REALLY annoying to say the least, and I don't want to "wiggle" it back to tune. So... I either pull the spring and handle, and use it as a stop tail, or replace it with a old trapeze thingy I have in the bottom of the parts drawer.
Electronically, it's nice. the pots required a little cleaning, the 3 way needed to be replace since it rotted away, and a few wires needed to be resoldered do to be being jostled about. Nothing serious, minus the hot wire out of the bridge pickup. Luckily there was JUST enough wire there so I didn't have to unwind it. Whew! The neck pickup is brilliant! there is this wooly-ness, in a good way, that sounds like a cross between a humbucker and a P90, without the heavy handed growl of the hum, and lacking just a hint of the high end of a P90. The bridge pickup however.... Anemic is a term used by those on the Gretsch forum, and it was said as a compliment as much as possible! It sucks, pure and simple. No bite, no tone, just blehh. And that is supposedly how they sounded new! Now I could go and try to find a set of modern Hi-lo trons, at 150 bucks a pop, or try something by added a magnet, hoping it might give it a little boost. Any suggestions? Replacing the pickups, without routing out wood, is not an option. NOTHING fits. And yes Phil, I AM going to go with chicken head knobs, despite on how much you dislike them! 😁
And for the pickguard, I went with a red tortoise, since it matched nicely with the mahogany. Hope that I haven't bored you to tears! Stay healthy my friends! And wash your paws before and after playing!