Jet Firebird Guitars

1955 Gretsch Jet Firebird

Color: Red top with Black Back and Sides, Rating: 8.00, Sold (ID# 00474)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

Rare First Year Gretsch Jet Firebird

This 13 1/4-inch-wide guitar weighs in at 7.40 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 24 1/2 inches. Chambered mahogany body, pressed arched top with red plastic laminate, mahogany neck, and white-bound rosewood fretboard with 22 frets and inlaid pearloid block position markers. Headstock with inlaid pearl Gretsch "T-roof" logo. With the original rare red plastic truss-rod cover. Later individual Grover StaTite open-back tuners with oval metal buttons. Two single-coil DeArmond pickups with outputs of 5.12k and 4.82k. Black lucite pickguard with Gretsch "T-roof" logo in white (pantograph-engraved from underneath). Four controls (two individual pickup volume controls and a master tone control arranged in a triangular pattern on the lower treble bout, and a master volume control on the cutaway) plus a three-way selector switch on the upper bass bout. Chrome knobs with and arrow on top and cross-hatched pattern on sides. Melita Synchro-Sonic bridge and chrome cut-out "G-hole flat" tailpiece. White label with Gretsch "T-roof" logo and with model number ("6128") in blue and serial number ("16564") in red. Original Gretsch "straw" hardshell case with maroon plush lining (7.50).

This guitar has had a professional neck re-set, and the tuners have been replaced with later reproduction ones. Also, when the truss-rod cover is removed, one can see that the top of the truss-rod has broken away -- consequently no further adjustment is possible. Of course, all of this sounds terrible, but…this fifty-one year old guitar is perfectly set-up and plays like a dream. There is moderate belt-buckle wear on the back and some wear to the edges, a few small marks on the top, and heavy surface loss to the back of the neck up to the seventh fret. The guitar has been expertly refretted and the action is really nice and low. This is a great looking, great playing, great sounding mid-fifties Jet Firebird!

"In early 1954, Gretsch premiered its single cutaway Jet series, a line of quasi-solidbodies that persisted in one form or another until the end of the Baldwin era. Intended to imitate and compete with Gibson's Les Paul 'goldtop' Standard Model, the Jet guitars differed, in a structural sense, in that they were not true solidbodies but semi-solids with top, back and sides formed from separate pieces. Their arched tops were laminated from several plies of pine, maple, mahogany, spruce or sheets of Nitron plastic drum material. The 1954 models issued were the Gretsch Electromatic solidbody Model 6128 Duo Jet in black, 6129 Silver Jet with silver sparkle top, Model 6130 Western-outfitted Round Up, similarly appointed Model 6121 Chet Atkins Solidbody, companion to the Model 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody, and...Model 6126 Duo Jet Bariton Uke and Model 6127 Duo Jet tenor guitar… In 1955 the Model 6131 Jet Firebird made its first appearance. Its vibrant, deep Oriental-red top and black, neck, back and sides offered another colorful option in the Jet series. The '55 Model 6131 has all the same characteristics as 1955 Models 6128 and 6129. The serial number, as for all Jets of this era, is scratched on the black plastic control cavity cover and printed on a "Fred Gretsch Mfg. Co." label glued to the cavity's inner wall. The Jet Firebird's contrasting black Lucite pickguard has white 'Gretsch' pantograph engraving" (Jay Scott, The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company, pp. 91-95).

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