American guitar makers Gretsch have announced details of a limited edition reproduction of George Harrison‘s black Gretsch Duo Jet guitar.
The guitar was played by Harrison on The Beatles’ early releases, and also featured on the cover photograph for his 1987 album Cloud Nine. It was played in the Cavern Club and other Liverpool venues, and on several of The Beatles’ visits to Hamburg, Germany.
It was used during the group’s audition for Parlophone/EMI at Abbey Road on 6 June 1962, but was retired the following yaer when Harrison aquired more guitars including the Gretsch Country Gentleman and Tennessean models.
In the mid 1960s Harrison gave the Duo Jet to Klaus Voormann, who kept it for 20 years.
I’d asked him what happened to the guitar and whether I could have it back, because of its nostalgic value. So he returned it to me, and I had it fixed back in its original form with the original pickup and switches that had been missing from it since he owned it.
The Duo Jet was restored in 1985/6 by luthier Roger Giffin, who rewired it and added a DeArmond pickup in the neck position, replacing one Voormann had installed.
The model also comes with two previously-unpublished photographs of Harrison with his original Duo Jet guitar, a UK 7″ vinyl copy of Got My Mind Set On You, one of Harrison’s personal guitar plectrums, and a DVD, The Making Of George Harrison’s Tribute Gretsch Guitar. It will be accompanied by a deluxe tweed hardshell case.
Featuring reproduction scuffs and scratches, it has been praised by Harrison’s son Dhani, who says: “I’ve never seen a more precise and detailed replica of any guitar in my life.”
The G6128T-GH George Harrison “Tribute” Duo Jet – of which only 60 will be made – mirrors every scratch, ding, worn finish patch and rust spot of Harrison’s guitar. Crafted by master luthier Stephen Stern and his crew at the Gretsch Custom Shop, it also faithfully replicates the modifications that were made to the original guitar in the late 1950s by its original owner (who had a Bigsby® tremolo unit installed), and those made by Harrison himself. True to form, the tremolo arm of the new replica’s Bigsby® B6C tailpiece has a black Phillips head pivot bolt, and the strap button on the lower bout is offset to accommodate the Bigsby®.
George Harrison described the Duo Jet as his “first real decent guitar”. He bought it second-hand from a Liverpool taxi driver and former merchant sailor, Ivan Hayward, in the summer of 1961, and played it for the following three years.
Hayward paid $210 for the guitar during a late 1950s stopover in New York, and kept it for three years before deciding to sell it. He wanted £90 (around $255 at the time) for it in Liverpool, but Harrison had just £70, and left an IOU – copies of which are included with the 2011 guitars.
It was my first real American guitar. And I’ll tell you, it was secondhand, but I polished that thing. I was so proud to own that.
Gretsch’s reproduction model was created by luthier Stephen Stern. During the production process, a CAT scan was used to determine the chamber style of the guitar’s semi-hollow body. The scan also solved uncertainty about a flaw in the neck.
The doctor zeroed in on it, like you would a human bone, and said if it was cracked we would see it; there was no fracture at all. So that line, that finish flaw, is included in the reproduced guitar.
Product manager, Gretsch Guitars