December 2015 – What’s New at CRAVE Guitars (yet again)

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A busy end to 2015! As mentioned in my November 2015 article, “… another great imported ‘Cool & Rare American Vintage Electric’ guitar [was] wending its way from its birthplace in New York via Texas…”.  Well, it arrived safe and sound and I can reveal that it is a rather tasty and very cool 1965 Gretsch Corvette. No, on reflection, let’s use hyperbole, this guitar is AWSOME! Take a look at the feature for more information (click here to see guitar feature…)

1965 Gretsch 6135 Corvette
1965 Gretsch 6135 Corvette

While most pundits understandably veer toward the classic hollow body models, particularly the iconic 6120 Chet Atkins, I took a conscious decision to find something from this great company that is unusual and distinctive. The Corvette, I believe, fits the bill nicely. In the shadow of it bigger and bolder brothers (and, let’s face it, more ubiquitous, more expensive and, well… more orange), the Corvette (designated 6135) was considered to be at the ‘budget’ end of the Gretsch range. It didn’t succeed in competing with Fender and Gibson’s ‘student’ line-ups. However, that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked or disregarded, quite the opposite in my view. Just look at it! I almost feel honour-bound to promote the Corvette’s unique charms for a discerning audience that appreciates ‘Cool & Rare American Vintage Electric’ Guitars. 

So, what are we actually talking about here… well, firstly, it is a solid body guitar, so it won’t feedback as much in higher gain environments. AND, it doesn’t have the body binding of the hollow body guitars, so many of which are now sadly irrevocably disintegrating. The Corvette sports 2 original HiLoTron single coil pickups (rather than the upmarket FilterTrons). Despite what some critics say (weak, thin‑sounding), it depends how you use them. The neck pickup, in particular, has a lovely ‘60s jazzy vibe that modern pickups struggle to replicate, while the bridge pickup has a steely, crystalline clean sound. Perhaps HiLoTrons just suit the solid body guitars better. It also has an unusual, factory original Burns vibrato in gleaming chrome, which is great and not hugely familiar to players used to the more commonplace Bigsby, Fender or Gibson units. Interesting factoid – around 2 decades before Music Man famously went with asymmetric 4+2 tuner layouts on its guitars, Gretsch did it on the mid-60s Corvette – here’s the evidence (NB. So did Japanese manufacturer, Teisco!). Aesthetically, I am drawn to this idiosyncratic approach rather than the more familiar (read ‘predictably boring’) Gibson-esque 3+3 used on so many guitars. The fingerboard is quite wide and flat compared to, say Fenders of the era, so easy to play. 

This exquisite guitar plays as well as it looks, with a sparkling, jangly resonant sound that, while it isn’t perhaps as evocative as its more illustrious Gretsch sibling, it is distinctive in a way that differentiates it from ‘mainstream’ guitars by Fender and Gibson. Anyone familiar with the CRAVE Guitars’ ethos will understand where I’m coming from. Gretsch has wisely reissued the Corvette for the new millennium as an off-shore produced budget model, suggesting that there is growing interest in the ‘alternative’ side of Gretsch instruments. GOOD!

This beautiful little vintage guitar was made by the family-owned Gretsch company in Brooklyn, New York, USA before the firm was sold to the Baldwin Piano Company in 1967, a move that ultimately led to the brand’s decline and subsequent demise. Pre‑Baldwin Gretsch guitars are now becoming much more sought after, and prices will increase accordingly. Why not find out more about Gretsch’s long history as a guitar brand (since 1883) by taking a look at the CRAVE Guitars feature on Gretsch (click here to see brand feature…). Thankfully, Gretsch’s fortunes have recovered strongly since the 1990s and the brand is successfully resurgent under Fender’s paternalistic wing. Hopefully, the classic ‘T-roof’ Gretsch logo will grace fabulous guitars for many years to come. 

Thanks for your interest in cool vintage guitars in 2015. CRAVE Guitars is now looking forward to 2016 and wondering where we will be a year from now. In the meantime, I’m off to ‘plink my planks’. Peace and Love to the world before it’s too late. Until next time…   P.S. Keep an eye on the CRAVE Guitars ‘For Sale’ web page with links to any active eBay items (click here to see CRAVE’s ‘for sale’ items). 

CRAVE Guitars ‘Music Quote of the Month’: “If music be the food of love, plug in, turn up the volume and head bang the hell out of it like there’s no tomorrow!” 

© 2015 CRAVE Guitars – Love Vintage Guitars.

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