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  #1  
Old 05-26-2013, 03:49 PM
robbiemurray robbiemurray is offline
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Default Gretsch Walnut Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

I have a 20" Bass drum; 12" and 14" TomToms, much used in the 70's & 80's, but stored since. I've been persuaded by friends to show them daylight again and bring them back to life. Unfortunately, they suffered badly during my playing days, and although I had hoped they could be tidied up with a lot of cleaning and polishing, I'm afraid they're really too far gone for that, as the lacquer has been badly scratched and chipped on all 3, particularly the shell of the 12" where it has been deeply damaged by the rim of the snare.

I guess I have the choice of removing all of the finish, sanding back and having the shells re-lacquered, or wrapping them. I've read many comments regarding the safety of disturbing the original nitro-cellulose lacquer and the difficulty in replacing it to reflect the original finish, but it does seem a shame to cover it with a wrap, as they were simply beautiful when new. I'm in Norfolk, England, and wonder if it could be a job for a French Polisher / Furniture Restorer, since I can easily do the stripping and rebuilding.

I'd appreciate any advice or comments, and also whether it's worthwhile having my snare re-plated: a Ludwig 400 bought at the same time, but extensively pitted and rusted, not helped by several years at sea! (but still sounding great ....)

Robbie

Last edited by robbiemurray; 05-29-2013 at 05:48 AM. Reason: Amended finish
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2013, 09:14 PM
thornbeck thornbeck is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

to the forum. You'll find the answers to all of your questions here.

Here is what I did with a kit similar to yours:

http://www.vintagedrumforum.com/showthread.php?t=28406

It would have been nice to keep it natural, but wrapping with the tape method will allow the option to easily go back.

Please post some pictures, if you have some.

-Tim
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  #3  
Old 05-27-2013, 06:54 AM
robbiemurray robbiemurray is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Correction - after comparing with others on the web, it looks like what I've always called Rosewood is actually Walnut! ....not that I suspect it makes a lot of difference ......

Just shows how memory can go after 40 years :-(

I've stripped the 14", but not yet started any attempt at restoration ...

Here's a link:

https://picasaweb.google.com/1164107...eat=directlink

or

http://tinyurl.com/robbiesgretsch
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  #4  
Old 06-06-2013, 03:07 AM
clubdate64 clubdate64 is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Nice tubs, that set has definitely seen some bars and clubs. Would look right at home in an old pub that was all decked out in oak and walnut.

First thing I would do is clean the hardware, before you decide to refinish or... *Gulp* wrap them.
I have an '81 rosewood Gretsch that looked like hell, I disassembled it, cleaned it and used liquid gold furniture polish on it, and it looks WAY better. (I even did the DW trick of using a chromatic tuner to find each shells natural pitch)
Sure it's got scratches and digs in the Finnish, but Gretsch drums are known for their sound. Of all of my drums, my Gretsch kit is the most versatile.
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I like Drums...
1964 Leedy (Slingerland) Blue n Silver Duco
1964 Ludwig Club Date Sparkling Silver Pearl
1966 Ludwig Super Classic Sparkling Silver Pearl
1972 Slingerland 85N Pop outfit Light Blue Pearl
1981 Gretsch SSB Gran Prix Rosewood
1987 Yamaha Turbo Tour Custom Mellow Yellow
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  #5  
Old 06-06-2013, 10:30 AM
AZBill AZBill is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

I think you should just give up and let me take care of that 8x12 tom (my latest quest). Just kidding.

Here's a point to ponder: If the finish on a wood drum is so beat up and beyond beautiful, is there any true harm (re value) in refinishing? I don't know and I don't think I would care. I would refinish them and make them beautiful again. The Gretsch maple shells with the walnut finish are like high-end furniture when shiny and neat.

Good luck and post after pics.

B


PS - If you decide to give up, my offer of taking care of the 12 incher still stands. ;-)
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Last edited by AZBill; 06-06-2013 at 10:33 AM.
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  #6  
Old 06-08-2013, 05:29 PM
robbiemurray robbiemurray is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm hanging on to all three of these!. After much heart searching, I decided to take the plunge and have a crack at getting them back to the original finish.

My thought was that as these are not much different from fine vintage furniture, rather than try to find a drum restorer, perhaps I should talk to a furniture expert. I stripped all the hardware from the 14" floor tom, and took it to a French Polisher I found just 3 streets away from my home, who was fascinated by the construction and craftmanship ..... He would be prepared to strip completely and refinish, and I'm confident they would be beautiful, but it would be several hundred s ....

He was happy to point me to a specialist wood finish supplier who was equally intrigued and spelled out my options, which really boil down to a lot of work - "don't be under any illusion that there's a quick fix, as unless it's done properly and thoroughly, it'll be pointless, but if you put in the time and effort, the result could be fabulous"

I believe him, and he has offered to give me all the help necessary to replicate the original colour and finish.

All domestic paint stripper sold in Europe now is water based, and more or less useless, but he holds a licence to sell the old, solvent based formulation, and has sold me a can plus the necessary steel wool to remove the nitro-cellulose gloss. This is powerful stuff, and has to be treated with respect - I'm wearing heavy duty rubber gloves, but accidentally rested my bare forearm on the bearing edge which was wet with the stuff, and less than a minute later my skin began to burn - I had to race into the house and run it under the cold tap to relieve the pain ....

It will also remove the silver interior finish on the drums, so I've plugged all orifices with Blu-Tack to stop bleed through.

So far I've managed to remove all of the gloss finish, and am now down to the raw stained surface of the outer ply. Already it looks a million times better, as much of the damage was to the gloss skin, but my guru says I now need to remove all stain until I have a uniform colour, and can then sand out the surface damage prior to re-staining.

I'm really pleased so far and am ready to tackle the 12" (which has the most serious deep damage - snare drum rash) and the Bass drum.

It's not going to be quick, but I'm convinced this is the way to go, and if it ends in tears, there's always Plan B - wrap 'em! (But I feel that really would be sacrilege ........)

Robbie
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  #7  
Old 06-08-2013, 06:44 PM
AZBill AZBill is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Hey Robbie! Sounds like you're going to have a lot of work ahead of you. Bully for you, taking on such an ambitious project. Your kit will be the envy of many, including myself.

Question: Why are you stripping the interiors?

B
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  #8  
Old 06-09-2013, 03:26 AM
robbiemurray robbiemurray is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

I'm not stripping the interiors - that's the last thing I want to do! Maybe I've misled, but what I was meaning is that havng removed all hardware (and the badge), I've plugged every hole in the shell with Blu-Tack to stop any leeching through, as that stuff will strip everything it touches, and Gretsch don't sell that secret soup ......

For all we know it may just be domestic silver paint, but I'm not taking a chance.

Robbie
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  #9  
Old 06-09-2013, 11:50 AM
jccabinets jccabinets is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Hello !

I finally got to this thread and I am glad I did. I am happy to hear you are not covering those beautiful shells with plastic. Sounds like you have the perfect guy to help you out and do the finishing for you. Have fun and please keep us posted on the progress, we just love to see how other guys projects turn out. I can tell from what I have read so far that these drums will eye popping awsome when complete. Take your time and have fun.
One question, what is blue tack ? The stuff you used to keep the stripper from getting inside the shells.

Jeff C
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Old 06-09-2013, 03:55 PM
FFR428 FFR428 is offline
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Default Re: Gretsch Rosewood Lacquer 1971 Stop Sign

Those will look really nice when you finish. Yes please keep up with the pictures too!! It's cool to see things documented along the journey.

BTW long ago in the early 70's I was drum shopping in NYC. I was after a natural wood finish kit. I remember looking at new Gretsch kits and the natural finish looked miles deep. It was beautiful. By far the best looking finishes on wood I'd seen.
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