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- 3 ply shell kits have no silver paint on the inside and no paper tags on the earlier sets.
Somewhere towards 57-58 some 3 ply sets might have the silver paint and paper tags since Gretsch would not have thrown away good 3 ply shells when they decided to switch to 6 ply. - 3 ply era kits with the cymbal arm mounted on the BD often had the cymbal mount right on top of the BD.
- Dating can also be done by examining the finishes on the set.
The 6 ply kits were built from circa 57-58 up til around 69-70 when they switched away from the round badges. So, some finishes were not avalable for that entire period of time.
I have today sent off a email to Gretsch requesting any info that the Company might provide....don't know why I waited so long to just ask!!
Some months ago I had requested info from the Company about serial numbers and they explained that serial # records were destroyed in past years due to two factory fires, but did offer some help with info about the history of the Gretsch badges (3 page reply!! They have already responded explaining that those who might be able to help are presently at the PASIC in Nashville and will respond as soon as they return!!
I think it is out of print now, which is too bad, because that book gave you a date range for the various finish colors for Ludwig, Gretsch, Slingerland, Rogers over the course of many, many years. So, bottom line: 3 ply kits lasted til around 57-58 and usually had no paper tags and no silver paint.
For players and collectors the round badge era Gretsch drums are terrific, and the exact date they were built isn't really an important issue.
A major seller who deals in vintage drums has indicated that the practice of placing the labels in the drums by Gretsch started in 1964. What I can say is that Ludwig, Slingerland and Rogers also started using serial numbers in the 60's because it became mandatory for that product by Insurance companies.
However, on pages 53-54 of the terrific book "Gretsch Drums, The Legacy Of "That Great Gretsch Sound" by Chet Falzerano, it is stated by Phil Grant of Gretsch that around the middle of the 50's Gretsch started to use the grey thin sealer paint on the inside shell surface and that about that same time, started applying the paper label noting both Model and Serial number. There is about a 10 year spread involved in this difference and it could certainly help in getting closer in dating the Round Badge drums. ( I can't remember exactly but I think it had something to do with that) So with that said I would think Gretsch would have done the same thing as everyone else.
Not real sure when the switch was from 3 to 6 ply,but 1957-58 sounds about right.
I think the paper tags came in around the same time Ludwig/Slingerland/Rogers had to start putting serial numbers on their drums.