1930s Gretsch "Artist"
Model 50 or 65

Gretsch released the Model 50 /65 back in 1934. Their catalog that year mentions the instrument’s “hand-cut ‘F’ holes” and provides these tidbits:
 “Six-string Spanish style Orchestra Guitar in Auditorium Special size. Arched top of old seasoned cello spruce, carved and graduated for tone.
 Curly maple sides, arched back, and three-piece, steel-reinforced maple neck, joining the body at the 14th fret.

This is not to be confused with the Artist 150, which is much more elaborate.
Nevertheless, a very rare example of the lesser seen Archtop's of this era
Mine has the tailpiece that I see on the Style 65's

Mine has the Pick guard I see on the Style 35's
 I am not a Gretsch Expert, others feel free to weigh in.

Example of Style 50
Example of  Style 65

This is the first I have seen with the addition of "Artist" on Peg head and Tailpiece

Serial Number 16

 6  string guitar

Carved spruce top
Maple back and sides
Mahogany Neck
Back pulled to get to the repair areas.
Some kerfing was broken out from dryness
All celluloid's were completely Gassed Out.
Repair bent tuner post
Crack in peghead
Celluloid logo lifting
Orig Tailpiece- VG
Orig Pick Guard -VG


I will not be able to find pre made mahogany purfling this large, I already know that.
So I will make up a repair with straight grained mahogany veneer, laminated to the right thickness.

First I will seal all the braces, seal a few cracks on the top.

Pulling the gassed celluloid

Cracks sealed and removing finish
Nice wide grained Spruce.
You can see how tall the binding channels are, this is tall kerfing.

Inside repairs on top and sides completed and interior sealed with Nitro
Time to fix the damaged kerfing

Taking off all the bad spots

I'll smooth that and then add veneer strips.
With veneer I can make the bends easily without kerf''ing it.
The kerf just helps the wood bend easily

You can see I have the height I need to get the binding height correct, and will add layers so I have a "Land" for the back.

4 layers in

6 layers in, 2 to go.
I will take my dremel and shape it to conform to the look of the original and seal it up.
Then get the back on.

All layers in, profiled, ready for the back installation

Back is Maple laminated onto Poplar
All scuffed, ready for glue

Mahogany cleats over the 2 cracks, 1 left to add sealer to.
Pulling frets, ready to radius the fingerboard

I will get this peghead sealed where it is cracked.
  I will hide the repair under the neck fade.

Removing finish

I will do the back glue - up 1 side at a time, so I can push the other side into its old profile without having a fancy jig.

After curing, everything is nice and tight again
I'll clean up the binding channel

Stripping the back
That maple is about .030" veneer, will not take alot of sanding so it will still show a few battle scars even in the re-finish

All stripped, sealer coat applied.

The cracks will be hidden by the new burst

It will take a very tall binding, 5/16 is just enough.
 .060 thickness needed , this .040" is too thin.

Sealing celluloid Logo
"Lipped up"

I use #10 to flow in under the pieceThen I put my zip kick on the wax paper underside, hit it with the wood and burnish it in as tight as I can while glue sets

Now to trim the flashing

After buffing black celluloid peghead to high shine
As good as it will get.

Leveling the hump from the board
Keeping a 9.5" Radius

I'll save that dust for repair work
Nothing goes to waste if I can help it

Center is down, not to finish up

Board oiled, new slots being cut to depth

Installing the binding

Coming round the front

Ready to final profile, clean fret slots and fret

Dunlop 6105 wire

Side markers in

Choosing the right caul

Compressing the frets

All completed, ready to radius level, crown, end dress and polish

I will make a new bone nut for it

Just a look-see

Starting on the neck finish, first tint applied, Vintage Amber, white heel cap installed (taped over)

Second tint applied, Medium Brown, now for clear coats to the end

Neck buffed and waxed
Tuners cleaned and oiled, bushings installed. That is the old nut, it will be replaced

Tailpiece buffed and waxed.
Brassed out on logo.

Pick guard cleaned then buffed back to high shine and waxed
Now to special order the extra large binding, when funds allow.


Since no one makes a binding thatsize, I will choose to run a backer binding and then a tall binding, to get both height and thickness.

White on white, with white glue



Now for the other 3 sections

Tint coats
The 3 color tint is applied with a coat of sealer on back and sides
 Sunburst back

I will scrape my bindings and move ahead

A mock up, to give a look where it is headed.

Top colors on and sealed, will clean bindings and start final clear coats.
Weather has cooled again, so heat booth time.

Last top coat complete
Will cure, then buff body and neck

Body and neck mated back together

Since it is an old guitar, I will use ancient weight. during the cure.

Making a bracket for missing pick  guard upper, did not get a final pic.

After a 3 hour glue set, I can move it around a minute, wipe off squeeze out, then back in the clamps.
So I will shoot a few glam shots with parts mounted.
Dom does not like the disruption of  his nap.

I will give it 3 times the normal cure time before string it up, It's cooler weather and I'm in no rush.


It had no bridge but thanks to Mike Soares I had bits and pieces in my drawer to fabricate something to at least get the setup going
Strings are Ernie Ball "Earthwoods" med lite
54 to 12 Bronze wounds


I am using my Dremel rxtension at low speed, to cause vibrations that will accelerate the wood opening back up
I move it from f hole to fhole every 30 min

I will wait a few days then dial in the setup after everything gets used to being at tension, no telling how long this ax had any play time
Initial noting is good, seems to be fretting out very well for just the first tune-up.