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1952 Gretsch Roundup restoration


'52 Gretsch Roundup in poor shape

This beautiful old Gretsch Roundup had been in it's case in a closet for about 30 years, and it was in poor shape. The original celluloid binding, pickguard, and pickup rings had gassed out and deteriorated to the point where they were basically turning to dust. Because it stayed in it's case, the gas couldn't escape and it destroyed part of the finish under the pickguard, and had corroded the pickups and most of the hardware.

The first thing to do was to carefully remove the old, deteriorating binding and rebind the body. The binding was three ply and I made sure to order the correct size. It comes as separate pieces and has to be softened with a heat gun and carefully laid into the binding slot. First the binding is shaped, then I used hot hide glue to glue it in place. Hide glue won't hurt the finish, is virtually invisible, and cleans up with warm water. I use drafting (low tack) tape to hold the binding in place while it dries.

The next day I scraped the binding down to the level of the finish without actually touching the finish. Because binding is usually applied before finishing on a new guitar, you don't have to worry about harming the finish when scraping it flush. On a restoration like this you have to make sure you don't scrape any of the finish off or it will look tampered with.

After sanding it smooth I masked the body and shot an amber coat of lacquer on the binding to make it appear aged. I then shot some clear coats over it to protect the color. I then sanded and buffed it until it looked like the damage never happened.

Once that was done I was able to move onto the rest of the instrument. I replaced the pickups and knobs with new stock from Gretsch. The pickguard was unavailable, so I made one from a nice piece of celluloid I got from archtop.com. I used the same celluloid to make custom pickup rings as well.

I cleaned under the pickguard as best I could and sprayed a little lacquer to seal any damage done to the finish.

After a fresh set of strings and a setup she was playing like a champ and was back in shape. Hopefully she won't stay in the closet for another 30 years!


Pickguard and binding deteriorated.

Pickup rings deteriorated.

Roundup unbound.

Ready to start bending the binding.

Shaping the binding and holding it in place.

Binding all glued and taped up.

Carefully scraping the binding flush.

Masking the body.

A nice amber coat of lacquer.

New pickups and knobs.

All set up and ready to go...almost.

Blowup of a stock pickguard.

New celluloid pickguard being polished.

All complete...

...and ready to jam!

This guitar was being passed down to a nephew and the owner wanted it back in looking as new as possible. Some of the hardware was slightly corroded, but not enough to replace it. It ended up looking and sounding like a country guitar should. One of my favorite restorations.

Other mods, repair, and custom work available as well.

To find out more, email me!

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