So here’s the tale of Mark’s Gretsch Ratrod affectionately known as Chuckles. It’s story and how this beast came into fruition.

In Mark’s words – “I’d always marvelled over the Gretsch custom shop Ratrods. For those that are not in the know a Ratrod is a customised guitar often relic’d to look aged and nearly always with a bespoke paint job. The name comes from the hotrod cars of yesteryear, they too often had crazy paint jobs and far out artwork. Gretsch have a renowned builder named Steven Stern and his limited edition guitars go for thousands of pounds. But they are truly things of beauty. Not having thousands of pounds but with an urge to own one. What do you do? Build your own!”

A Gretsch Streamliner was purchased. Just the bog standard basic entry level guitar. After hours of searching for a spray job artist. Mark finally found somebody with a talented body of work behind them. John from Silverfox Customs. “I chatted to John about what I was trying to achieve, he got it straight away.” The briefing was for an aged paintwork guitar top, hotrod paint job featuring the beloved family dog and numerals depicting Army service years. John nailed it. 

With the guitar back in Wales, Mark then set about the hardware himself. Everything thing on the guitar was shiny stock chrome. That wouldn’t do! Ferrous Oxide dabbed on to the tuners rusted them a treat. A new truss rod cover was made from brass plate, engraved and then aged. The stock bridge was replaced with a Tru-arc brass bridge, to improve the sustain but also to look the part. Mark put a shout out online for a Gretsch Cadillac tailpiece. It was a halfhearted appeal as these things are rare as anything. But… Gretsch UK saw the plea and the kindly individual sent a freebie. “I was gobsmacked by that touch of generosity.” It didn’t end there, Mark was after an innovative switch plate and had the idea that a Gretsch snare drum plate would do the job. Again a generous drummer had a spare and would take no money. Finally a cheap brass jack socket plate was aged and mounted. Job done. 

Not quite! Mark thought why go through this entire process with the upgrades and bespoke pieces and still be left with the standard and very ordinary pickups? A guitarist friend recommended House Of Tone Pickups in nearby Chester. Off we went. The requested was for something nice and growly with a bit of bite. Some buckers with extra windings, aged housings and the job was completed.

“I guess all in all the project cost £400 for the guitar,£300 for the paint job and £250 for the pickups. Generosity saved a couple of hundred and plenty of self work. “I now own a completely unique Gretsch that looks and plays great.”

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