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Thread: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

  1. #1

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    Default How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Hi - I'm in need of any Gretsch experts out there! I came across a vintage Gretsch bass drum in a pawn shop yesterday. Owner said it was a USA Custom (and thus the hefty list price of $500!) ....but with the badge plucked off, I wanted to check. I also naturally wanted to offer much less! Not a lot of info (and sorry no pic), but everything else looks Gretsch about it (lugs, Tbars...) according to mid 70's early 80's catalogs. The inside has the Gretsch paper label, with serial# and most importantly silver paint on inside of the shell. Do only USA Custom models have the silver paint on the inner shells? Thx.

  2. #2

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Sounds like the real deal to me.

    When Gretsch started doing the offshore thing, they dropped many of those features you mention. I don't know about "custom" but are almost certainly made in USA Gretsch.

    Are you able to tell by the finish around the air hole if it was a square or stop sign shaped badge that was on it?

    all the best...
    Last edited by kay-gee; 01-10-2011 at 07:29 PM.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Thanks for reply. Ya I looked for that, but both the airhole grommet and badge were out. Another clue was it had the round chrome knob that adjusts a 'dampener' for the bass head resonant. It has a hole in top for a tom mount (modern USA' customs don't) ....but many older USA customs do . I suppose I could ask for the serial# and type it into some Gretsch database of Gretsch? Anybody know of such a database?

  4. #4

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    dropdtune, the USA Custom line is not the only one that has the Silver Sealer on the interior of the shells, so without the badge it is more difficult to identify the kit as authentic USA Custom. I would ask the pawn shop owner how he identified the kit as USA Custom without the badge, then you can try to authenicate it yourself from his information.
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.


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  5. #5

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Yes, the burden of proof is on the seller to authenticate his product. Regardless, the lack of an original badge and to a lesser extent, the air hole grommet, means the price should be adjusted accordingly.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    I totaly agree with xsabers. In my opinion Pawn shops are not expert ,they only sell whatever in any condition. They will say anything to sell so beware.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    dropdtune, if the drum has a silver sealer and paper tag inside, odds are it was made in the USA. I have never seen a non-US gretsch with a paper tag, even the new USA Customs have paper tags. Did you happen to see what color the tag was, greenish/white, orange/white, red/white/blue? This along witht he model/serial number could get you close to what era it is from. What was the finish on it, was it a wrap or stain and what color? If you want to be 100% certain that it is a USA made drum, you'll need to take a look at the bearing edges and check the plies. Gretsch Jasper shells were 6plies of alternating maple and gumwood. The gum is much darker than the maple and can easily be seen. Jasper shells are very easy to identify, even to the untraied eye.

    Pre-mid 90s all Gretsch kits were made in the USA, they were not called USA Customs until production started heading overseas and the new USA line was started. All drum shells were identical, with exception of the blackhawk line in the 80s, and models were named for size configurations or hardware layout.

    As for the price of $500, it seems very high to me. Gretsch stuff does fetch quite a bit of $, but $500 for a BD better be 100% original and in excellent shape. Expect to pay atleast $75-$100 for a replacement badge, and scrutinize every piece of hardware to make sure its there and original gretsch parts, gretsch parts are outrageously expensive. Any non-original holes will significatly reduce its value, and by significantly I mean $100s of dollars. Check that the wrap or finish is original, re-wraps are near worthless to the gretsch fiends, and some rare finishes are gold mines. Are the original inlays still in the hoops?

    If everything appears original and in good shape, I'd start with a $300 offer and work your way up from there until you reach YOUR limit.
    *****GRETSCH****BOSPHORUS****AQUARIAN****VALJE**** *

  8. #8

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Hey Thanks for all the info..... G-head , its an orange/white tag inside. Is that indicative of year? Catalog comparison suggests 70's. Its a black wrap and black wood hoops. My experience also indicated only USA drums have silver lining. I've bought lots of used stuff for a steal, and as the owner didn't know anything except what was described on his little price tag, I was going to offer only $100. But I would not do so until I knew it was a super 'catch'. Like all of us, I do not 'need' this item but at times cannot pass up a super deal on drums or cymbals!

  9. #9

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    I'm just guessing but if you can't see the ouline of the badge that was once there, then it must have been missing for a long time. Does that make sense? While at a friends the other night, he was polishing and rust pit removing on an old 16" Slingerland floor tom that was given to him. The drum was white except under the rims where it was white marine pearl. On that drum you couldn't miss where anything was attached to the drum, badges, lugs, heads and the leg mounts. The outline of everything was permanantly worn into the wrap.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Quote Originally Posted by dropdtune View Post
    Hey Thanks for all the info..... G-head , its an orange/white tag inside. Is that indicative of year? Catalog comparison suggests 70's. Its a black wrap and black wood hoops. My experience also indicated only USA drums have silver lining. I've bought lots of used stuff for a steal, and as the owner didn't know anything except what was described on his little price tag, I was going to offer only $100. But I would not do so until I knew it was a super 'catch'. Like all of us, I do not 'need' this item but at times cannot pass up a super deal on drums or cymbals!
    orange/white tags began around 1962 and ran through the late 70s with some minor changes here and there, a picture of the tag and a model # could narrow it down better than that. Though the hardware, tom mount in particular, would tell us if it was 60s or 70s. If the drum is in good shape and not missing any parts or has extra holes, I would definitely try to pick it up. $100 would be a steal, anything up to $400 would probably be a deal. What was the size by the way?
    *****GRETSCH****BOSPHORUS****AQUARIAN****VALJE**** *

  11. #11

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverr1 View Post
    I'm just guessing but if you can't see the ouline of the badge that was once there, then it must have been missing for a long time. Does that make sense? While at a friends the other night, he was polishing and rust pit removing on an old 16" Slingerland floor tom that was given to him. The drum was white except under the rims where it was white marine pearl. On that drum you couldn't miss where anything was attached to the drum, badges, lugs, heads and the leg mounts. The outline of everything was permanantly worn into the wrap.
    Very true, a badge imprint is usually left on the wrap, no imprint and a lack of badge could be an indication of a re-wrap.

    I was recently working on a 1930s Slingerland Radio King project, or so I thought. All the drums had the same wrap, very weathered orange sparkle that looked like it was old enough to be original to the drum. Well, low and behold, as I was dismantling the drums I noticed that they had all been re-wrapped at some time. The wrap was cracked and falling off so I pulled it all off and trashed it. Well wouldn't you know it, the rack tom has a big old badge indention underneath the orange wrap, Slingerland only badged bass drums and snares at this time. Turns out it was in the shape of a Leedy & Ludwig badge of that era, and unfortunately drilled and altered for Slingerland hardware. Still a nice shell and it will get some use, but its dissapointing to think you have one thing and it turns out to be another. Just goes to show, you have to inspect every aspect, people did and still do some crazy things to drums. Its beneficial to do a little research before dropping any $ on vintage drums.
    *****GRETSCH****BOSPHORUS****AQUARIAN****VALJE**** *

  12. #12

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Thanks! G-head, yes I'm converging on a late 70's estimate . Its a 22 inch, Tbars, reso damper. It may may indeed be a black re-wrap, thus the missing badge and grommet BUT the orange/white tag inside is clear and authentic. If I were on the ball I would have jotted down the serial# or gotten a pic. I've not been back to the shop yet, but when I do am now armed with all this great info to haggle. I'd love to re-finish it and bring it back to life.

  13. #13

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    The question about the single tom mount gave it away. Actually pretty sure now its from 1977. Identical to the 'Name Band II' model.
    http://www.gretschdrums.com/ebooks/D...ndex.html?#/5/
    thanks again

  14. #14

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gretschhead View Post
    dropdtune, if the drum has a silver sealer and paper tag inside, odds are it was made in the USA. I have never seen a non-US gretsch with a paper tag, even the new USA Customs have paper tags. Did you happen to see what color the tag was, greenish/white, orange/white, red/white/blue? This along witht he model/serial number could get you close to what era it is from. What was the finish on it, was it a wrap or stain and what color? If you want to be 100% certain that it is a USA made drum, you'll need to take a look at the bearing edges and check the plies. Gretsch Jasper shells were 6plies of alternating maple and gumwood. The gum is much darker than the maple and can easily be seen. Jasper shells are very easy to identify, even to the untraied eye.

    Pre-mid 90s all Gretsch kits were made in the USA, they were not called USA Customs until production started heading overseas and the new USA line was started. All drum shells were identical, with exception of the blackhawk line in the 80s, and models were named for size configurations or hardware layout.

    As for the price of $500, it seems very high to me. Gretsch stuff does fetch quite a bit of $, but $500 for a BD better be 100% original and in excellent shape. Expect to pay atleast $75-$100 for a replacement badge, and scrutinize every piece of hardware to make sure its there and original gretsch parts, gretsch parts are outrageously expensive. Any non-original holes will significatly reduce its value, and by significantly I mean $100s of dollars. Check that the wrap or finish is original, re-wraps are near worthless to the gretsch fiends, and some rare finishes are gold mines. Are the original inlays still in the hoops?

    If everything appears original and in good shape, I'd start with a $300 offer and work your way up from there until you reach YOUR limit.
    GHead,
    My name is jeff, and I am trying to ID a square badge Gretsch kit for sale locally. I have pictures and have been to numerous forums, but I haven't got an answer. I stumbled on your post and you seem like a possible source of help. I have pictures of the kit in question, but can find no info on the Gretsch pages or anywhere else. If you are will to take the time, I will send you the 10 or 12 pictures I've got so you can help. Thanks for your time.

  15. #15

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    Default Re: How to tell a Gretsch USA Custom?

    Quote Originally Posted by dplayer View Post
    GHead,
    My name is jeff, and I am trying to ID a square badge Gretsch kit for sale locally. I have pictures and have been to numerous forums, but I haven't got an answer. I stumbled on your post and you seem like a possible source of help. I have pictures of the kit in question, but can find no info on the Gretsch pages or anywhere else. If you are will to take the time, I will send you the 10 or 12 pictures I've got so you can help. Thanks for your time.
    PM sent Jeff, would be glad to help...
    *****GRETSCH****BOSPHORUS****AQUARIAN****VALJE**** *

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