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Old 09-23-2013, 02:05 AM
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Default Restoration - Vintage Gretsch COB

I got this snare online a few months ago and finaly got around to restoring and replacing parts.

Early 1970's Gretsch Chrome over Brass. Killer instrument, but very finicky, at least the one I got. I got it from a popluar online store which provided a sound file and pictures. The snare looked and sounded fine. But when I got it in the mail I realized that it had a premuffled heads and the internal muffler was very engaged - masking some major roundness problems and more... I first realized this when I tried to put new heads on and I couldn't even get the old ones off! Not to mention the strainer/butt plate screws were stripped, the internal muffler was hardly attached to the shell at all, the snares themselves were scrap, missing tension rods washers, etc..

I thought about returning it, but these are relatively hard to find in playable condition, I got a good price for it, and I know a restoration wasn't going to be too hard, just time consuming.

The snare beds are really deep and manufactured in a way that makes it near impossible to get the shell round and have the head fit easily. Its a common problem with these drums, so I did my best, but it didn't stress too hard, the batter side was my main concern. After several times trying and giving up, I finally got the batter side round and flat (yay!). I replaced the snare wires and cut them down to 16 strands (per the original), went to Home Depot and paid $2 for new screws, and washers, and ta-da!

Here she is. Super sexy - so Zig. I love it.
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Old 09-23-2013, 02:19 AM
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Default Re: Restoration - Vintage Gretsch COB

nice job. and how did you get it 'in round' ?
presumably bending somehow, i would have thought that that is difficult to do.
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:40 AM
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Default Re: Restoration - Vintage Gretsch COB

It really not that difficult, you just need to be patient and smart about it. When you take the heads of you have to assess what shape the shell is actually in. In most cases, including this one, its in a ellipse - a smooth, elongated circle. Most of the time shells get out of round from pressure, or heat, - something steady - so its not going to be crazy wonky like zig zags and crazy stuff.

I measured the shell along the diameters from lug to lug noting the longest diameter and the shortest (if its an ellipse, the longest diameter will be 90 degrees from the shortest). Then you either compress the long diameter or stretch the short diameter until you have its right all the way around.

The real difficulty comes when one side of the shell is out of phase of the other - the long diameter on the batter side isn't the long diameter on the reso side... and when the batter bearing edge doesn't lie flat on a table top, that is another dimension you need to correct for as well. Getting all that to line up takes some massaging as you can imagine. That's why it took me a few tries.

I also had to do all that with the hoops.

Luckily, brass is a really soft material that you can shape easier than other materials. Making the proper corrections doesn't take too much force, but you can definitely over correct, which is a big problem because it compounds the number of corrections you need to make. When you do too much correcting you run the risk of cold working the metal and weakening it. Its a valid risk, but it all honesty you'd have to really really bend that metal and bend it back. When a shell has a head and hoops on it, its not going to be more than about 1/4" off; that's not much and won't put you at risk of any metal fatigue. If it were something crazy like 2+ inches out, you'd have to be very careful not to correct too fast and possibly need a heat source for major bends.. but at that point you might as well scrap it.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:02 AM
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Default Re: Restoration - Vintage Gretsch COB

Ok what I really meant is how you actually bent it. In other words, forcing in inserts of a 14 inch diameter and working those around the shell to round it out, or just brute force pressing down on the shell ..or? It also sounds like the shell was twisted...i.e. out of the horizontal plane. One wonders how they get like that.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:21 AM
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Default Re: Restoration - Vintage Gretsch COB

Oh, gotcha

I just used my feet and hands. Pushing and Pulling.. Grab one end with your hands and push on the opposite side with your foot to correct for roundness. You can put your two feet on the bearing edge closed to you and pull with you hands from the opposite edge, 90 degrees away, to get it flat.
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