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Old 03-04-2024, 06:37 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Default SDOTD - The Gretsch that could have been

$399 gets you this beauty: the stillborn Gretsch Mary Ford Standard, with a set of honest-to-Chet blacktop Filter'trons - and if you've ever had a hankering for true-Gretsch twang/chime/visuals but couldn't handle the price of admission, you almost can't afford not to own one of these (FYI priced below most of the Streamliner models, and well below the rest of the E-Matic lineup):





https://www.musiciansfriend.com/guit...74922000001000

Some highly apocryphal Gretsch lore and trivia: After her divorce from Les Paul in 1963 (I was fortunate enough to see their last TV appearance as a kid, in 1962) Mary Ford was quietly attempting to jumpstart both a solo career and an endorsement deal of her own with Gretsch. It has been rumored that the short-lived (and now uber-rare) "Princess" pastel-colored solidbodies based on the '63 Corvette platform (vaguely resembling the contemporary - and strong-selling - single-pickup SG/Les Paul Junior, and sold as an outfit with the matching white case and amplifier) were in fact intended to be the first "Mary Ford" instruments, to be joined by similarly-colored Duo-Jet-based "Standards" and a double-cutaway White Penguin-based "Custom" model. Production of the Princess ceased by 1964 when the deal fell through - no instruments of this type were ever produced under the Mary Ford designation - and while similarly-colored double-cut Duo-Jet "Standard" prototypes are said to exist (possibly as a single example, almost certainly no more than four or five) as well as her personal double-cut Penguin that was to be the platform for the "Custom," only the Corvette-based Princess "Junior" model saw the light of day. FWIW the above MF/GC-exclusive G5237 Electromatic, in Surf Green with white back/pickguard/trussrod cover and Filter'trons, is probably a 90% accurate representation of what the Mary Ford Standard might have looked like (right down to the period-correct 16th-fret neck joint) - under Les' tutelage Mary became a formidable guitarist in her own right, and had the Standard made it to production status it undoubtedly would have been equipped with some proprietary cutting-edge electronic gadgetry garnered from their time together (which Les himself was extremely reluctant to license for mass production until circa 1970, with the Les Paul Professional/Personal guitar and Triumph Bass models)...

To add some fuel to the fire - and credibility to the story - Ken Achard's History and Development of the American Guitar shows a documented prototype of a double-cutaway Les Paul Standard produced circa 1962 by Epiphone, when they were under Gibson management and using the same methods/materials. For those who might not be aware Les Paul - who had complained long and loud about the SG version that would bear his name until mid-'63 (when he suspended his endorsement deal amid his divorce proceedings) - performed many of his earliest experiments with solidbody design on New York-era Epiphone guitars, and this may have been an attempt to appease him with a more "modern" appearing instrument while still keeping him in the Kalamazoo corporate camp; suffice it to say that the prototype's body shape is nearly indistinguishable from the post-1962 double-cutaway Duo-Jet - the same one that would have been used for the Mary Ford Standard/Custom - and if push came to shove it could have been a very interesting state of affairs...
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Old 03-04-2024, 09:32 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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I don't know, Steve. That color is too "Mary Ford" for me, I'm afraid...

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Old 03-19-2024, 09:48 AM
L50EF15 L50EF15 is offline
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And this looks a lot like what youíre describing re the Epihone Mary Ford, Steve. I understand this is based on Gibson design drawings from 1957:

https://www.gibson.com/en-US/Electri...Standard/Ebony
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Old 03-21-2024, 10:53 PM
LFL Steve LFL Steve is offline
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That thing is so cool!
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Old 03-23-2024, 03:42 PM
marty bradbury marty bradbury is offline
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Very cool guitar! Love the color.
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Old 04-08-2024, 07:16 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Back again as today's SDOTD:

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/guit...74922000001000

Quote:
Originally Posted by L50EF15 View Post
And this looks a lot like what youíre describing re the Epiphone Mary Ford, Steve. I understand this is based on Gibson design drawings from 1957:

https://www.musiciansfriend.com/guit...74922000001000

https://www.gibson.com/en-US/Electri...Standard/Ebony
Actually, this model (AKA "Theodore" - after Ted McCarty - in an earlier incarnation) had little if anything to do with either Mary Ford or Les Paul: don't forget they were still active as a recording/performing duo (they wouldn't get divorced for another five years), the original single-cut LP's (from Junior to Custom) were still a significant (if increasingly slow-selling) part of the Gibson lineup, and they were still benefitting from their endorsement deal. Were I to take an educated guess, I'd sooner connect it with the "modernistic" (Flying V/Explorer/Moderne) korina-bodied instruments that would emerge in 1958 to dismal sales or, with its symmetrical horns and ultra-thin body, regard it as an extremely early prototype for what would, after passing through an intermediate thick slab-body stage in 1959-60, emerge as the sleek SG of the 1960's...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 04-08-2024 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 04-08-2024, 07:38 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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..........
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 04-08-2024 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 04-10-2024, 03:55 AM
cyclistbrian cyclistbrian is offline
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In my experience the cheapest of Gretsch are Amazon $99 dollar guitar level hot garbage. I had a center block Electromatic in tasty Gretsch orange that was of decent quality. Even there you're swapping out humbuckers for authentic pickups if you want the sound to go with the look. A person would be a little over $1000 all in for a new one with upgraded pickups but definitely worth it.
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Old 04-10-2024, 06:29 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclistbrian View Post
In my experience the cheapest of Gretsch are Amazon $99 dollar guitar level hot garbage. I had a center block Electromatic in tasty Gretsch orange that was of decent quality. Even there you're swapping out humbuckers for authentic pickups if you want the sound to go with the look. A person would be a little over $1000 all in for a new one with upgraded pickups but definitely worth it.
In order:
  • If you're talking about some of the earliest imports in general, or the initial run of the current Streamliner Series, I'm with you 100% - I'm a Gretsch player since 1964, and as far as I'm concerned Ibanez owns this end of the hollowbody market hands down; that said, the present Indonesian production has upped the stakes somewhat - still not at the level of the Ibanez Artcore line, but viable for what they are...
  • Don't know which Electromatic you had, but the post-2013 Korean production was some of the finest ever to wear the Gretsch marque - as an old Brooklyn boy Gretsch was our hometown brand, inevitably our first "good" guitar back in the day, and I've probably played several hundred (no exaggeration) examples from every era/point of origin - with QC/playability far exceeding their modest price, and I think you'll find a whole bunch of us here on the Electric subforum who concur with that assessment...
  • Your comment about swapping out humbuckers for authentic pickups suggests to me that yours may have been an early-2K's 5000-Series instrument, with the full-size Broad'Tron pickups they recycled into the first-run Streamliners (and, unfortunately, the current Chinese-made 5600-Series E-Matic semis). FWIW there were real-Gretsch-style pickups available as RPO on the post-2013 MIK E-Matics: a "blacktop" Filter'Tron reverse-engineered from a NOS '70s example, and the Super Hi-lo"tron - a true humbucking design (unlike the Brooklyn-style single-coil originals used on the 1960's Anniversary and Tennessean and their current reissues, as well as the entry-level Clipper hollowbody and Corvette solid) based on a modified blacktop Filter'Tron platform, and my favorite of the "modern" Gretsch pickup line. BTW I have a G5622T-CB cats'-eye/3-PU semi with the Super Hi-lo's, and it's the most versatile guitar I own - been my go-to gigmeister since I bought it in 2016, and likely to remain so until I depart this world - and while it clearly differs in the tone department from both my original Double Annie (bought new in 1964) and MIJ G6136DC White Falcon double-cut the Gretsch DNA is unquestionably there, it's an all-around better build than the Brooklyn box, and really leaves nothing on the table in QC/out-of-the-box playability vis-a-vis my Falcon (the hardware on the latter is a bit higher-quality - but that's to be expected)...
  • The light at the end of the tunnel is that the Chinese 5400-Series hollowbodies are now fitted with the FT-5E, a proprietary version of the blacktop Filter'Tron design, and the Super Hi-lo'Tron has been revived for the limited-edition Streamliner G2604T (a quasi-reissue of an obscure 1967-68 double-cut hollow) - and if you're looking to grab some Gretsch mojo without breaking the bank, either one of these might be a good way to go...
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