A look at one of Gretsch''s early solidbody electric offerings
In 1953 the Gretsch Company introduced its first solidbody electric guitar: the Duo Jet. It was intended to compete with Fender’s Telecaster and Gibson’s Les Paul. The Duo Jet had a similar shape to the Les Paul, but instead of being truly solid, its separate pieces of mahogany had hollow spaces left open for electronics and wiring. The pressed arched top was often covered in the same black plastic material used on some Gretsch drums. The Duo Jet also included the innovative Melita Synchro-Sonic bridge, which allowed separate intonation adjustment for each string.
While Gretsch was behind Fender and Gibson in the introduction of a solidbody, they were ahead in eye-catching colors. Each guitar received a different model name relating to its striking finish, even though it remained essentially a Duo Jet. These models were the Silver Jet (Sliver Sparkle), the Roundup (Orange with western style inlays and leather trim) and the Jet Firebird (Red).
This month’s Gretsch Silver Jet has all the features common to 1955 Jets: a rosewood fingerboard with large pearloid block inlays; chrome master volume, two individual pickup volumes and master tone controls, all stamped with an arrow in the center; a small bullet shaped trussrod cover; two DeArmond single coil pickups; Melita Bridge, silver pickguard, and a chrome “G” cutout tailpiece. The feature unique to Silver Jets is the silver sparkle top made from the same material Gretsch used to cover its drums. The 1955 Gretsch catalog lists a Silver Jet for $255.
More detailed information on Gretsch guitars can be found in The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company by Jay Scott, The Gretsch Book by Tony Bacon and Paul Day, and 50 Years of Gretsch Electrics by Tony Bacon.
Dave's Guitar Shop
Daves Roger’s Collection Is tended to by Laun Braithwaite & Tim Mullally
All photos credit Tim Mullally
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Dave's Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601