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GretschTech: Serial Numbers 1930s-1966

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Close-up of the label in a Gretsch New Yorker arch-top acoustic shows serial number 19730, dating the guitar to 1956.

Previously, we’ve discussed modern Gretsch serial numbers and how to read them. Now we travel to the other end of the spectrum; to the first 30 years or so of Gretsch guitars and their considerably different serial numbering schemes. Here, we’ll look at instruments from the 1930s to 1966.

Gretsch guitars from this lengthy period are fairly easily dated with accuracy because from about 1939 (and perhaps even earlier) to 1966 they were numbered sequentially.

Before the end of World War II, serial numbers were simply written in pencil inside the body; these have understandably tended to fade into illegibility and even vanish altogether in some instances. Post-World War II, serial numbers were sometimes stamped into the headstock (some confusion might arise with older Gretsch guitars because numbering re-started after the war, but if the instrument has a “light bulb”-style headstock, it’s likely pre-war).

Finally, around 1949, reliable serial-number labels were placed on Gretsch guitars; inside the body and visible through the f hole on hollow-body models, and inside the control routing on solid-body and chambered models. In any case, much like automobiles, design changes in Gretsch guitars went by model year rather than calendar year. For example, while a 1958 Chet Atkins 6120 model might have been built in 1957, it’s still considered a ’58.

Here’s how original-era Gretsch sequential serial numbering generally works:

Below 1000:                Pre-World War II

10xx – 20xx:                1945-1947 (approx.)

20xx – 30xx:                1948-1949 (approx.)

30xx – 40xx:                1950 (approx.)

40xx – 50xx:                1951 (approx.)

50xx – 70xx:                1952 (approx.)

70xx – 90xx:                1953

90xx – 130xx:              1954

130xx – 180xx:            1955

180xx – 210xx:            1956

210xx – 260xx:            1957 (Note: 1,000 serial number labels misplaced in 1957 were found in 1965)

260xx – 300xx:            1958

300xx – 340xx:            1959

340xx – 390xx:            1960

390xx – 450xx:            1961

451xx – 530xx:            1962

530xx – 630xx:            1963

630xx – 770xx:            1964

770xx – 840xx:            1965

Note: The misplaced 1957 serial numbers mentioned above, along with a small number of odd four-digit serial numbers, surfaced in 1965 and 1966 during the transition to a new date-code system in mid 1966.

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Andy Babiuk Dishes on Gretsch and Chet Atkins

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The Bachman-Gretsch Collection exhibit is going strong at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, featuring 75 rare and historic Gretsch guitars.

The instruments are among more than 300 Gretsch guitars purchased by Canadian guitarist and songwriter Randy Bachman, a key member of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.  His collection was purchased in 2008 by the Gretsch Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gretsch Family.

In this clip below, musician, artist, and guitar expert Andy Babiuk and CMHOF museum curator Mick Buck discuss the history between Gretsch and the legendary Chet Atkins, while taking a look at some of the guitars in the exhibit inspired by Atkins.

Enjoy below, and find out more details about the exhibit here!

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Live From Plum Creek Studios Trailer

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Relix.com and Jambands.com recently debuted the new trailer from Israel Nash’s “Live From Plum Creek Studios.”

The footage was captured during Austin’s annual SXSW festival when Nash opened the doors to his new studio outside of Austin for a free recording session featuring the likes of T. Hardy Morris, Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez, Midlake’s Eric Pulido, Bee Caves, the Wild Reeds and Kirby Brown.

Each artist, including Nash, gave an intimate live performance for a small number of special guests, friends and family.

“As many people know, I’m all about writing, recording, living, and talking about the Hill Country and my tiny town, Dripping Springs, TX,” wrote Nash in his invite. “It’s just a purely magical place for me to really be myself as an artist and person. I also believe that those things that bless us should be shared. So we are literally swinging the front gate open and inviting people to come out to my new studio, Plum Creek Sound to hear some amazing bands, take in some incredible hill country views, and just get away from the hustle of SXSW. And hopefully, that peace I get from being out here can be bestowed on others. It’s just the beginning for the studio and in the future, we will host a series of events like these focused on the land, the vibes, and the music. It’s all so special to me. It’s about giving back to those people and those places that have given to you. It’s about people coming together and making this life work out. And it’s about smoking a j and drinking a beer in the middle of the country. Incredible things happen that way.”

The incredible things that happened at the event were fortunately captured on camera, and will be shared on Reliv over the coming weeks as part of a unique video series.

Watch the trailer for the series below.

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Joe Walsh Shares Spiritual Documentary, Sings “Amazing Grace”

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Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh is working on a very special side-project—a three-part documentary titled West of the West: Tales From California’s Channel Islands.

The documentary is about the ancient history of Channel Islands, its native inhabitants and the measures that are being taken to preserve the land. The chain of eight islands off Southern California’s coast is very near and dear to Walsh, who considers them a place of sanctuary.

Rolling Stone shared a clip from West of the West, which captures Walsh in a very spiritual moment singing “Amazing Grace” in a quaint church on the islands.

“It’s an honor and a privilege that this came into my life,” Walsh says in the clip. “It’s part of my awareness that is extremely grounding. So spiritually, it’s a driving force. I come here a lot in my head in times of mental turmoil; I just come here and everything is OK.”

The three part mini-series aired on KCET in Southern California last night. The documentary will also be available in other locations around the U.S. this fall, and it will be shared throughout schools in California.

View the clip of West of the West here.

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The Shelters Make a Smashing Debut in “Rebel Heart” Video

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Los Angeles-based rock band the Shelters seem posed to make a mark on the music scene.

Sebastian Harris, Josh Jove, Jacob Pillot, and Chase Simpson formed the band in 2014 and lucked out when Tom Petty caught one of their performances. So impressed by the group, Petty invited the band to record in his home studio, featured Jove and Simpson on the Heartbreakers’ Hypnotic Eye and even co-produced their upcoming full-length, self-titled album (due out June 10.)

Lead single “Rebel Heart” is a foot-tapping, guitar-driven tune and is a perfect introduction to this up-and-coming band, and its new music video — directed by Stash Silonski and Petty’s daughter Adria Petty—portrays the band with all of its swagger in a live environment.

“In the video for ‘Rebel Heart,’ we wanted to highlight the rock and roll energy we feed off of in our live show,” said Jove. “With the lights, the heat, the girls and the beat, we hope the video offers a surreal glimpse into that world.”

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