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Luthier Gary Zimnicki Discusses A Special Gretsch 7-String Restoration

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JGT’s Bob Bakert talks to master luthier Gary Zimnicki about a very special Gretsch 7-string restoration.

Gary Zimnicki: While my primary interest is in building new guitars, I don’t want to be confined to just doing that, or to just building one style of instrument.  I make archtops, flattops, classicals, ukuleles, mandolins, and just about anything with frets (nobody has ever asked for a banjo.)  I would lose interest if I were doing the same thing over and over. Repairs and restorations offer me a chance to do something different and to provide a service to people with needy instruments.  I really welcomed the Gretsch, even after seeing it, because it was such a basket case. My feeling was that whatever Jeff and I did to it would be an improvement, which was very liberating. No pressure about possibly messing something up.  I’ve worked on some very expensive guitars and that always makes me nervous because I don’t want to damage them in any way. 

BEFORE

Before Gary got started…

AFTER

The restored Gretsch 7-string

The Gretsch presented a lot of challenges and required creative solutions to problems.  Many of the obstacles we encountered were new to me, which was great.  In addition to simply overcoming the challenges, Jeff and I both felt quite good at the end because we had given new life to something that probably would have ended up in a landfill.  A few years ago I was building some instruments from reclaimed woods that had been taken out of old run-down houses.  This also presented a lot of challenges, but it left me with the same sense of satisfaction that I had taken “scrap” wood and repurposed it into something useful, a musical instrument.

More from Jazz Guitar Today about the Gretsch 7-string guitar.

Gary Zimnicki’s shop
The Gretsch in the paint shop
Zimnicki shop workbench

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