The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gretsch Model 35 Archtop Guitar Sunburst, 1933

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The Gretsch Model 35 American Orchestra archtop guitar appeared in 1933 and was built until 1940, when it was replaced by the Synchromatic line and the model 30. The Model 35 features a solid carved Spruce top with small-size F holes. Maple is used for the sides and back, Flamed Maple for the neck and Ebony for the fingerboard and bridge. The Gretsch logo is a Banner style using an engraved pearlescent plastic – rather like a drum covering. The pickguard is a single layer, likely black celluloid. Binding is limited to the top and at this point was a single layer. The nitrocellulose lacquer finish is original, and has an unusual dark pattern; rather than following the edges of the top, the dark shades extend to the bridge but the F holes are left lightly shaded.

This Gretsch Model 35 example appears to have been built during 1933, given its low serial number (814) and comparison to other known 1933 models with numerically close serial numbers. The serial number is stamped into the bass side of the top of the headstock. It plays well and has a good sound. Archtops are built to develop and project sound, and this design is successful.   The bass response is quite good. 

Finish wear is light considering the age, but the neck finish shows expected wear in the low positions. Fret wear is light to moderate, and the guitar may have been refretted. The Grover Sta-Tite tuners are old, but are not original; when built, this strip tuners were installed. All other parts seem to be original.

Gretsch, then a prominent banjo and drum maker, began offering guitars bearing the Gretsch name in the very early 1930s and the Model 35 was one of the earliest Gretsch-branded guitars appearing in the 1933 Gretsch catalog. These initial models were entry to mid level instruments, and until after WW2, were built for Gretsch by the Kay  company in Chicago.

This Gretsch Model 35 is sold with a non-original black hard shell case.

Gretsch was founded in 1883 and for the first several decades focused on drums, tambourines and banjos. This effort was quite successful and by 1916 the company moved into a 10-storey factory in Brooklyn. However, by the end of the 1920’s, the popularity of the banjo was starting to wane, as evidenced by the number of professional banjoists shifting to guitar and needing a few more frets. That shift led to the increased popularity of the 14 fret neck, which had appeared on the 1923 Gibson L-5 and the earlier Gibson Style 0 with a 15-fret neck. Martin introduced it in 1929 on the new ‘Orchestra Model’, based on a custom guitar for bandleader and banjoist Perry Bechtel.


 

Price: $2,250.00 CAD
  • Model: American Orchestra Model 35
  • Year: 1933
  • Finish Dark Sunbuurst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 814, built 1933 for Gretsch by Kay in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Good
  • Date Posted: 21/10/2021

  • Consignment Item

  • Including Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 5.17lbs 2.35kg
  • Scale Length: 628.6mm 24.75in
  • Nut Width: 44.91mm 1.768in
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