Dating Gretsch and other Valco-made amps: Beginning in 1941, serial numbers were on a small oblong metal plate (brass or aluminum) tacked on with two small brass nails.
All Valco-made instruments and amps were numbered this way until 1964. In 1964, Valco replaced the metal number plate with a rectangular foil sticker with numeric prefixes.
So the inside edge of the shell sits higher and rounds off towards the outside.
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They weigh less and take less space and are, therefore, more convenient in many circumstances.
Herb said the set was his personal set, relatively new, no more than a year old at the time.
The set however does not show up in any pictures with Elvis before September of 1955.
That was the popular combination for the smaller drums produced by Gretsch.
The following series of charts contain the most accurate information Guild has available for discerning the date of manufacture of Guild guitars by serial number.
Through the years, (as well as through several different owners of the Guild Guitar company), some historical documentation has unfortunately been lost or destroyed.
Up till then drums were made from steam-bent solid planks stiffened by reinforcing rings.
By cross-laminating the three plies Gretsch defined the ply shell with no need for re-rings.
Those sizes were developed with the jazz players in mind and the jazz players were the ones on whom Gretsch focused their principal marketing efforts.
The real reason for the smaller drums is for fitting into tight gig spaces, i.e., crowded jazz clubs and also into NY taxi cabs.
The shells are 0.265" (6.7mm) thick and scarf-jointed for extra stability.