Jet Firebird, '57
Oriental Red, Serial # 23809.
Leo Fender’s revolutionary solid body guitars created quite a stir in the early 1950’s. The established guitar manufacturers of the day initially viewed the Fender solid bodies as ridiculous and ignored them-that is until the guitars started selling. The Gibson company was the first to realize there was money to be made and got together with the recording artist Les Paul (who had a number of recent hit records) to design its own fancier solid body called the Les Paul Model debuting in 1952. Seeing that Gibson was successful, the Fred Gretsch Company followed suit in 1953 with a similarly shaped guitar called the Duo Jet. By the time Gretsch’s 1955 catalogue appeared, the company offered a whole line of solid bodies: the Duo Jet, the Silver Jet, the Jet Firebird, the Roundup, and the Chet Atkins Solid body. Each of these was basically a Duo Jet with different cosmetic features.
This Gretsch Jet Firebird shares features common to all Jet’s of 1957: semi-solid body construction, Grover StaTite tuning machines, a rosewood fingerboard with humped-block inlays, a Melita Synchro-sonic adjustable bridge, and DeArmond Dynasonic single coil pickups made by Rowe Industries of Toledo Ohio. The features unique to a Model 6131 Jet Firebird are an Oriental Red top; black back, sides and neck, and a black pickguard with “GRETCH” in white letters.
Some players who at one time favored the twangy yet beefy sound of Dynasonic equipped Jets are Cliff Gallup, Bo Diddley, George Harrison, Billy Zoom, and Jeff Beck.