Mid 50's Jet's inquiry...

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by Mister Meridian, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Hi all you cowboys and cowgals!

    I think the 50's Jet's are some very cool guitars. I could have acquired one many moons ago at what now seems like a bank robbery price but, younger and dumber as the saying goes.

    I really like the Oriental Red and I'm a little confused about one I see on Reverb right now, so if I may, I have a few questions for you Gretchperts:

    • There is a '55 for sale advertised as a 6131 but the cavity label states it's a 6128. Can anyone clarify what's going on here? Is it a 6131 just misbadged?
    • Am I correct in the plain block inlays are on '56 and earlier models and then it's the hump inlays? Is the block inlay typically more desirable? I'd like to get a '56 is possible but I don't mind saving a few bucks if that's all that changes is the inlays
    • If permitted, what sort of fair pricing should I expect? A ballpark of $10-15K depending on condition (original parts is important but wear and tear not so much). $8-12K..?
    Many Thanks Folks,
    Mr. VDM
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
  2. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    58
    Jul 31, 2017
    USA
    Hey I have a ‘55 6131 which is the first year for the model. Yes blocks for ‘55 and ‘56, hump blocks for ‘57, then ebony boards with half moons, but still dyna pickups for ‘58. Can’t speak about the mislabeled ‘55 other than to say mine says 6131 on the label. If one style of inlay is more desirable than any other I’d guess it’s the humps simply because George Harrison’s Jet had them.
     
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  3. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    58
    Jul 31, 2017
    USA
    BTW you can tell the difference between ‘55 and ‘56 by the truss rod cover - short “bullet” shape for ‘55 and larger one more commonly associated with Gretsch for ‘56.

    Also, the early ones have a Nitron (drum wrap) top, which at some point around ‘57 changed to lacquer. Mine is lacquered red with a clear nitron “top coat.” Mine also has a maple instead of mahogany neck, and I’ve seen some some early Jets with laminate spruce tops instead of laminate maple. Don’t know if there was any rhyme or reason to either of those.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  4. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Thanks very kindly for the info. I've been scouting 6131's for a little while now and while I know some strange things can happen at factories, I've yet to see one with a 6128 label.

    Mr. VDM
     
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  5. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    58
    Jul 31, 2017
    USA
    WayneGretschky or Afire are probably the ones to ask about that. If it’s from the original batch of 6131s I could see Gretsch using the 6128 label until the 6131 stamp came in. I have seen examples where the original stamp is crossed out and the correct # handwritten in, not on Jets that I can recall.

    If the 55 you’re talking about is the one in Zurich it has the same maple neck as mine, and I’ll just say I wish I could get that much for mine, but I’m in the US. I know European prices are typically higher.

    Good luck in the hunt, it’s half the fun. I just completed the hunt for a ‘58 6196 (assuming it arrives as described). Those Dyna 6131s seem to be available pretty frequently. You should have your choice especially if you aren’t locked into a specific year.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  6. knavel

    knavel Synchromatic

    978
    Dec 26, 2009
    London, England
    -If what looks like a 6131 has a 6128 label in it, I would initially be concerned about a refinish. What might help give that away is a 6128 only had a clear finish on the back and sides, whereas the 6131 was finished in black. If the one you are looking at is red on top and natural (mahogany) on the back and sides, this further suggests refinish.

    --I sold a 1955 6131 to a member on the other Gretsch site. I know he was looking to sell it a few years ago. I would message him if you were interested to see if he still has his assuming I can find his info.

    --Your price range is very high unless maybe you are talking AUD. 50s Jet Firebirds (6131) can be found in the $5K range last time I checked. I don't keep up on prices but no way it's 2x what I remember. The only 50s Jet style guitars that approach your range are 6121s (Chet Atkins solid body) and 6128s that were originally finished in Cadillac Green (and of course White Penguins but that's a different story).
     
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  7. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Thanks again! The one I'm referencing (with the 6128 label) is in the US, at $9495. It's got the early red truss-rod cover but looks like a mahogany neck (the finish is worn through and doesn't appear maple). It's listed as a '55 and has the plain block inlays. It's quite clean and listed as all original with a neck reset and refret. The little binding nibs seem like they were sanded during the refret but that's a huge issue to me.

    Again, many thanks!

    Mr. VDM
     
  8. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Thanks for the help knavel! The price range quoted above is actually in USD and taken from the small few on Reverb right now. I know folks can ask what they want, however crazy... that said, I have been keeping an eye on prices for a while and I haven't seen any earlier 50's Oriental Red (with block inlays) at $5K for a few years now unless non-original in some way. Maybe I just need to hold out. The market seems pretty crazy right now for vintage gear...

    Thanks,
    Mr. VDM
     
  9. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    58
    Jul 31, 2017
    USA
    Things that have been 5K for years are suddenly selling for about 7.5K. I just posted a ‘71 SG Custom that’s been at 4,500 for years because they’re going for 7500 now. The vintage market HAS gone up considerably. I’d figure 7-8K would be fair for a Dyna Jet (even better if they’re willing to negotiate), a little more for a 6129, a lot more for a 6130 or 6121.

    MM, I didn’t see the one you’re referring to when I looked. Maybe because I searched 6131 instead of Jet. 9.5K does seem high even with the recent price jumps, but maybe he’s just starting really high as a bargaining thing, like if he’s willing to come down 2k you’ll REALLY think you got a steal. The 6196 I just bought on Sunday was slightly over-priced but the seller came down 1K so it was at the upper end of what I’d consider the right range.
     
  10. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    I think it's time to consider the possibility of sell my '64 Polar White SG and look for a 50's Jet myself. :)
     
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  11. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Pictures would certainly help. Or a link (at that price, I can assure you nobody here's going to buy it out from under you).
    Not even remotely. There are a handful of dealers who are able to ask (and get) $8000+ for something like this, but just a few.
    In my opinion, about the only reference worth anything for prices are sold eBay listings. Looking at vintage Gretsches overall, a quick perusal of sold listings suggests to me that things remain about as soft or stagnant as they have been for 15+ years. More specifically looking at Jets, there's a single '56 6128 in nice original condition that sold or $4,999. I don't think of Jet Firebirds as bringing in any more than Duo Jets. What you pay really depends on patience more than anything. If you want it now, then you're going to pay more. If you are patient, a nice one will show up in that $5000, give or take, range.
    As for the 6128 label, that would give me some pause. The only way it really makes sense to me would be if it's very early production or pre-production. Wayne Gretschzky would be able to suss out that point with a serial number. Regardless, I'd be looking extra carefully at it for any signs of refinishing.
     
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  12. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Greatly appreciated! I don't mind waiting if I can cut the buying price in half. I'm not an Ebay-er so I guess I'll have to start looking now to know what's going on. That said, a couple of the bigger dealers that I've seen with them in the last few years have all been $8-10k for original examples but number have seemed to jump for other vintage instruments as of late (like the '37 D-28 that while very clean, just sold for a whopping $280k+ at auction this past weekend...not celebrity owned or anything...and many others in the same auction) so I'm not sure. I've got a bit of money stashed for a vintage buy but again, happy to wait to keep some of that money in my pocket...

    Here's a link to the 6128 labeled instrument: https://reverb.com/item/15751706-19...Q.cJB5phMTDwEATafYAL3GJr_4cW75dd_HyDfMP-O8_G8

    Many Thanks,
    Mr. VDM
     
  13. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Age:
    58
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
    It's definitely legitimate. That serial number is from the very first batch of Firebird Jets-- also identified by the the red "bullet" truss rod cover. '56 Firebirds had the more elongated TRC. The mis-labeling of the model number is understandable at this point, being part of the first batch.
     
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  14. knavel

    knavel Synchromatic

    978
    Dec 26, 2009
    London, England
    You will notice that the back shows some wear but the top looks very clean. That's because the tops on the early Jet Firebirds have a layer of Gretsch drum material called nitron. No wear gets through to the wood surface.

    My Jet Firebird was exactly like the one in your link only in better shape on the back if memory serves.
     
  15. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    Thanks very much. Now I guess I just need to decide if I pull the trigger or wait and see if the earlier suggested buying price of $5K is something that pops up.
    I was burned too much in the earlier days of Ebay so have mainly purchased from reputable shops, local(ish) buys or gambled with Reverb because I've felt more secure than what happened with Ebay.

    Is there a text anyone could suggest for valuable info in the vintage Gretsch instruments? Would the Ed Ball book be the best to consider acquiring? Any others?

    Many Thanks again!
    Mr. VDM
     
  16. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Friend of Fred

    Age:
    58
    Jul 30, 2008
    Murfreesboro, TN
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  17. knavel

    knavel Synchromatic

    978
    Dec 26, 2009
    London, England
    I would suggest you get in touch with the seller at the link below and see if his is still for sale. As I said, it's exactly like yours in the link above. If you join that site you can send a private message. They often bounce back but when you get the bounce back notice you will see the person's email and can write directly. He's a good guy we've had some good comms over the years.

    http://gretschpages.com/forum/garag...6131-firebird-4700-plus-shipping/65773/page1/
     
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  18. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    I'll likely join that forum too...and it's certainly a nice instrument in the link but I'm a bit of a stickler for all original, so that one I'd have to scratch off the list. She's a beauty though and many thanks for the suggestion and link!

    Mr. VDM
     
  19. knavel

    knavel Synchromatic

    978
    Dec 26, 2009
    London, England
    It would take me a month maximum to find an original Melita bridge for a mid 50s Gretsch. They are pot metal and the original one on the guitar at the link had broken in two. My vague recollection is that I had replaced the bridge while keeping the original the bridge base with the guitar. (The broken bridge from that guitar in still my parts box junk pile.)

    The point is no one would know the difference from the one that left the factory on the guitar and a period correct one that could be bought and matched to the guitar.

    The original tailpiece on the 6131 on Reverb you are looking at was off that guitar for a very long time--as the myriad of extra holes attests. Who's to say that the tailpiece on it came from the factory with it? An original short G tailpiece is a little harder to find but with patience it will surface.

    Note also in the photos on the one you are looking at that the tortoise riser under the bridge pickup looks perilous. The original tortoise risers on the 50s Gretsch bridge pickups invariably off-gas and take out a lot of paint on the pickguard and do a number on the original deArmond. I have sold a number of original wiring harnesses from 50s Gretsches over the years. That pot can be found although with the correct approximate date code to my old 6131 would take vigilance. I don't even remember that a pot had been changed.

    But the fascinating upshot is that you are willing to pay a $4-5K premium for a guitar with an original pot, a seller claiming the vintage correct bridge and tailpiece are original to the guitar versus a seller who gives full disclosure?

    If so, please let me know if you are interested in a 1955 Duo Jet--my brother has one and on his behalf I can tell you he'd be happy to sell for 9K. I also have a 1956 6120 and 1956 6199 in the guitar closet. They are both bone stock save that I removed and replaced the bridge pickup's tortoise risers on the 6120 as they were starting to take out the original bridge deArmond.
     
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  20. Mister Meridian

    Mister Meridian Electromatic

    8
    Apr 13, 2021
    Earth
    I'm sorry if my want of an all original instrument has offended you but I'm fine with spending my money as I see fit; be it an entirely original instrument or one I am led to believe is entirely original over one with what I know are replaced parts. Besides, it seems that if I wait around an original one without the $4-5k premium is bound to pop up so I think that route looks the most appealing. G.A.S. is G.A.S. so I can't rule out taking the plunge but waiting for what I want at a significant savings is of much more interest to me than an immediate savings on something I don't want; which is a non-original instrument.
    A '55 Duo Jet (I'm assuming you're referring to a Black Duo Jet) is of no interest to me, neither is a '56 6120 or a '56 6199 but I do appreciate the offer.

    Mr. VDM
     
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