Catch of the Day: 1957 Gretsch Silver Jet

1957 Gretsch Silver Jet

Gretsch introduced its own single cutaway series of electric guitars in 1955, three years after Gibson set the Les Paul loose on the world. Unlike the Les Paul, which was a solid body, the Gretsch offerings had semi-hollow, chambered bodies that cut down on the weight. The Gretsch single cutaways consisted of the black Duo-Jet, the red Jet Fire Bird, the pumpkin orange, cowboy themed Round-Up, the white with gold-plated hardware White Penguin and the pictured guitar here, the Silver Jet. Most people aren’t aware that Gretsch has been around since the late 1800s and that for most of their early history they were primarily a drum and banjo manufacturer. I suspect that their history as a drum maker explains this finish, which is the same sort of thing they had been applying to drums for years. You could order a Silver Jet with or without a Bigsby vibrato unit. Obviously, the original owner opted for the Bigsby.

The Gretsch designers were always monkeying around with the guitar’s look and this is actually the third fretboard inlay design the Silver Jet the model had in it’s first few years. The first version of the inlay was a simple block, the second was a block with a hump and the third was this simple “thumbprint” inlay, which is my personal favorite, at least on this guitar. Gretsch guitars have sort of been pigeon-holed as the ultimate rockabilly machine but I find them to quite versatile. They do have an amazing twanging sound, but they can also produce a surprisingly sweet and mellow tone if you set the pickup controls properly. The Silver Jet was not a huge success in the 1950s and it was a fairly obscure guitar until Billy Zoom showed up playing one on the LA punk band X. This example is in very good condition and it’s priced at $7500. If you think you’re up to playing a silver guitar, just get in touch with the good people at Lark Street Music and they will help you sparkle and shine.

Some minor belt buckle wear but otherwise the back is in great shape.

Oh, let’s just look at the sparkles one more time.

Billy Zoom with his 1955 Silver Jet with block inlays.