I own 3 beautiful Gretsch guitars. Everyone has had a modification to upgrade the sound they kick out. I thought it might be of interest to take you through what I’ve done. Let me start by saying all guitars are strung with 9’s, always have been and never been a problem whatsoever going so light. The only exception at the moment is the Streamliner that currently has very thick flat-wounds on it for a couple of slide tracks in our set list. 
The first and easiest upgrade on each guitar was to replace the bridge. Each and every one now has a Tru-arc brass bridge which I think gives sustain and warmth. 


Mark Hedge and his 67 Gretsch.
The old 67 Tennessean which most folk think is sacrilege to change anything on a vintage instrument has a Tru-arc bridge and non-original tuners. My answer to that would be the guitar has got to be playable no matter how old it is. If not, you might as well store it under the bed never to see the light of day or move it on. The tuners were already in place when I acquired the guitar 34 years ago presumably because the originals (which I still have) were unreliable. Other than that, there are no other changes to the 67.

Gretsch upgrades

Gretsch upgrades

Chalky the White Falcon has relatively few changes too. Again, the bridge. But also, the brass jack plate has been added. I’d seen to many horror show images where the plug had been stoved in, I should imagine that they give in to the slightest knock. Next to the volume dial 3 small marker jewels were added to indicate half and full volume, these were from the days when I tried to crank the amp up further and control things from the guitar. I soon revved that idea off! The Falcon pickguard was removed, never really liked the look of them but that’s purely my personal choice. Of course, everything has been carefully stored away. 

Gretsch upgrades


Gretsch upgrades

On to the Streamliner Rat-Rod. Everything thing on the guitar was originally new 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. I put a shout out online for a Gretsch Cadillac tailpiece. It was a half-hearted appeal as these things are rare as anything. But… Gretsch UK saw the plea and a kindly individual sent a freebie. “I was gobsmacked by that touch of generosity.” It didn’t end there; I 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! I 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 request was for something nice and growly with a bit of bite. Some Tron-Buckers with extra windings, aged housings and the job was completed.
Gretsch upgrades

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