The Bluesbox Collection

1930s Gretsch model 35 archtop

This guitar was Gretsch's first archtop model, and is the exact shape and size as a Gibson L5, with which it was designed to compete. There is evidence that a former owner had a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece installed, which I consider a crime because, not only did in disfigure the face of the guitar, but it undoubtedly would have killed the excellent tone of this instrument. This closeup of the face shows the fairly new finger rest, which is from an L5. The tailpiece that was on the guitar was not original, so it has been replaced (by me) with this period Grestch trapeze model, which I was lucky enough to find on eBay. The carved top is solid spruce. The sides and back are highly flamed, quilted maple laminate. The three piece neck is hard rock maple with a mahogany strip down the center (I have since replaced these Kluson knock-off tuners with some silver Schaller knock offs. It has an ebony fingerboard and bridge.

When I first saw this guitar, the headstock shape seemed to indicate a "pre-war" vintage. It was hard to tell exactly because there is no Gretsch label or serial number and the guitar had been expertly refinished at some point (I would guess within the last ten years - I suspect that this guitar had a sunburst finish originally because the top and sides are not well matched in regard to their colors). The Gretsch logo is etched onto a abalone "banner" inlay. This inlay style was another indication of a "pre-war" vintage. The final piece to the puzzle fell into place when I ran across a picture of a 1930's Model 35 (a model that was only made from 1933 until 1938) - the match was exact in size, shape and appointments. The sound of this guitar, as I mentioned, is excellent. It has the distinctive archtop tone, and yet also has more bass then I am used to hearing in the average archtop. This is certainly one of my favorite acoustic axes.


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