White Penguin Guitars

1955 Gretsch White Penguin

Color: White with gold sparkle binding, Rating: 8.50, Sold (ID# 00007)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113

Not Quite a Real White Penguin...

This 13 1/4-inch-wide guitar weighs 8.60 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, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard with 22 frets and inlaid pearl hump-top block position markers with engraved feather motif with black highlighting. "V" headstock with vertical Gretsch "T-roof" logo cut from gold sparkle plastic, the "G" with two wings protruding from it. Gold sparkle plastic "V"-shaped truss-rod cover. Individual Grover Imperial tuners with "stairstep" metal buttons. The back of the neck with gold sparkle plastic heel cap at the body end. Black, white, and gold sparkle binding on the sides of the body, the fretboard, and the headstock. With the banjo armrest on the lower bass bout. Two single-coil DeArmond pickups (the output of the bridge pickup is rather weak and ideally should be rewound). Gold Lucite pickguard radius-engraved with Gretsch "T-roof" logo and with a penguin in black. Four controls (individual volume controls for each pickup and a master tone control in a triangular configuration on the lower treble bout and a master volume control on the cutaway bout) plus three-way pickup selector switch on upper bass bout. "Arrow" knobs set in the middle with a mother-of-pearl circle and a red rhinestone at the tip of the arrow and with cross-hatch pattern on the sides. Melita Synchro-Sonic bridge and "Cadillac" tailpiece with "G" logo. All hardware gold-plated. The three covers on the back of the guitar are clear plastic painted gold underneath. A few small surface marks and finish cracks, otherwise this guitar is in excellent plus condition. Housed in a specially modified early Gretsch fitted black hardshell case with purple felt lining (8.00).

This guitar is actually an original 1955 Duo Jet (6128), which has been refinished in white with gold sparkle binding as a "White Penguin," including having the headstock enlarged to style. All major parts are original, although a few cosmetic parts have been specially fabricated. The original Gretsch "6128 Duo Jet" printed paper label with the serial number "15081" is intact inside the control cavity. This is certainly the best "forged" White Penguin we have seen. It feels and plays just like it should -- after all the guitar is a real 1955 Gretsch Duo Jet!

"In the same way as Gretsch had issued a companion 'solidbody' to the Chet Atkins Hollow Body, they also produced a partner to the White Falcon in their standard-shape semi-solid style. This was called the White Penguin, complete with all the Falcon features and also released around 1955. 'The name came about because a penguin has a white front,' insists Duke Kramer, although it's hard to imagine how Gretsch expected anyone to buy a guitar with such an unappealing and comical name. The instrument even had a little penguin waddling across the pickguard. In fact, very few people did buy the White Penguin. It doesn't appear in any of the company's catalogues, and only makes a fleeting appearance on a 1959 pricelist (at a steep $490). From the small number that surface one can presume that very few Penguins were made, and the model has since become regarded as one of the most desirable of all Gretsch guitars. Thus the occasional examples that do turn up command very high prices on the collectors' market: for example, a 1957 Gretsch White Penguin was sold by a leading New York dealer in 1992 for a staggering $70,000" (Tony Bacon and Paul Day, The Gretsch Book, p. 36).

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