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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:00 pm
by Norm
So it was Webster who thought of the thumbnail inlays. Jimmie had some odd ideas but that one was a good one!

Some of his not so good ideas: the "Tone Twister" gadget, the padded back and the Tuning Fork Bridge. The tempered treble idea probably had merit but never caught on

Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:43 pm
by stevek
Hi Richard and Ray,

I can empathize with you, it would be great to own or even play one of Chet's guitars.


Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:18 pm
by albertgen
I wonder if Chet's 59 Country Gentleman's guitar ever started to get that binding rot. I have a 66 Tennessean and the binding began to deteriorate about 8 or 10 years ago. I haven't seen many old Gretsch guitars that haven't? Al

Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:48 pm
by Larry Marchino
I have a 66 Tennessean and also have the deteriorating binding. I looked on-line and located a guitar repair shop called Classic Axe in Nashville, made an appointment and took it there in 2011 when I went to see the Chet exhibit at the HOF. Basically, any fix would involve putting some pretty good money into it to rebind it. But, I was told that it is best to leave it out of the case. The fellow at Classic Axe said the case confines the "fumes" as it deteriorates and makes it deteriorate faster. They just used the wrong binding material at manufacture so all that have that kind of binding deteriorate over time- some faster than others. So, I have left it out on a stand since then. It won't stop the deterioration, but it should slow it down somewhat. By the way, the fellow at Classic Axe is a super nice guy. He looked at my guitar and gave me the advice just mentioned. He didn't charge me a cent and he even gave me a complimentary Classic Axe micro-fiber polishing cloth.

Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:26 am
by Norm
Chet's D'Angelico got some rot that the guys at Gibson fixed for him. According to Paul, Chet's 59 was never afflicted with the problem and the only mention he made of it was in reference to the D'Angelico.
I've known Frank Ford of Gryhphon Stringed Instruments for years. Frank is one of those Legends in the repair/restoration world. Years ago I sent him an email about binding rot and he sent (and I saved) this:
Binding Rot
according to Frank Ford, Gryphon Stringed Instruments…

Far as I know, there's no way to stop the rot. Heat speeds it up, so coolness would slow it down, of course, just like film.

Our old pal, Mario Martello, has a theory that D'Angelico, Gretsch and Guild used some of the same celluloid that Hopf and Hofner used in the 40s and 50s, so maybe it was German. Anyway, those periods are clearly the worst. For example, D'Angelicos made in the 30s tend not to have rotten binding, while lots of later ones do.

The use of too much solvent in adhering or laminating is clearly a contributing factor, so I've seen some instruments were just a section shrank catastrophically in the first couple of years, just in one spot. I had a recent adventure with an instrument I built in the early 70s. It's an F-style mandolin, and the binding rotted just like those old Gretsch guitars, but ONLY the tiny corner pieces I laminated by welding up thinner pieces with acetone. It was the same material as the rest of the binding, but it rotted completely, where the other stuff is in perfect shape. Clear evidence that too much solvent leached out important ingredients, I'd say.

Old Gibson elevated pickguards tend to rot starting right where the support block is glued on - more evidence for that same conclusion.

I never see that kind of binding rot on Martin guitars, probably because they used Ivoroid during the time when those Gretsch and Guild instruments had the chalky white stuff that evaporated, and because Martin has always been very careful with the use of solvent glues around plastic. I do see considerable binding rot on old Martins that have been refinished with nitrocellulose lacquer, indicating that the application of that extra load of solvent eventually leached out plasticizers, or whatever. So, when refinishing a vintage Martin, I think I'd generally like to replace all the celluloid to avoid that problem. That procedure takes an expensive operation and really cranks up the $$$.

Replacement is the only cure I know, and it is NASTY business. It's extremely difficult to replace binding without refinishing, so most everybody I know who does this kind of work tries not to take it on very often. Frequently it is handled as a "time-and-materials" job with no predictability of cost.

The plastic binding that doesn't rot still shrinks with time and temperature, as do other plastic parts such as tuner buttons and pickguards. This situation gives rise to a logical question: If we expect these guitars to last a lifetime and then be handed down through the generations, why are we continuing to make them with volatile components?

As the old Arkansas Traveler said, "Well, that's YOUR question, YOU answer it."