The Current Market for the 1958 Silver Jet

Editor's Note: A version of this article originally appeared in a recent print edition of Guitarist Magazine as part of their Classic Gear series. Subscribe here for more from the UK-based publication.

In 1953, Gretsch introduced its entry into the nascent solidbody guitar market with the now-iconic black Duo Jet (model number 6128). In 1955, the New York factory expanded the line with a handful of variants including the deep red Fire Bird (6131), the honky tonk orange Round-Up (6130), and the focus of our attention today, the Silver Jet (6129).

The Silver Jet, with its glistening sparkle finish, holds a special place for vintage guitar collectors and fans, and stands out as one of the truly unique Gretsch designs of this era.

For all of these Gretsch solidbodies (and really all Gretsch guitars), 1958 was an absolutely crucial year. While Gretsch was also updating and evolving its designs, 1958 saw the introduction of the famous Filter'Tron pickups to replace the earlier DeArmonds as well as the first use of an updated "roller bridge" design on top of some other small layout tweaks.

The confluence of these changes makes the 1958 Silver Jet a particularly intriguing model year, and one that collectors will often seek out specifically.

Pricing Factors for '50s Gretsch Silver Jets

Finish Vibrancy

As with any vintage guitar with a particularly unique finish, collectors will prioritize individual guitars that deliver an especially striking visual panache. For that reason, the vibrancy and originality of the silver sparkle on this model can make or break the desirability of a particular specimen.

Binding Condition

1958 Gretsch Silver Jet

Gretsch guitars produced in the '50s are widely known by vintage dealers and buyers for the poor quality of the binding. Chipped and cracked binding is not uncommon on vintage Gretsches and while it's more of an issue with the hollowbody guitars, it's something that prospective buyers should be mindful of when considering a Silver Jet purchase.

Originality of Components

For the 1958 model year specifically, there are two components that rank as essential inclusions: the original roller bridge and original Filter'Tron pickups. Pickup swaps are not especially common on vintage Gretsch guitars, but if the pickups have been changed, that can devastate resale value.

General Playability

It's a well-known fact in vintage guitar circles that Gretsch guitars from the '50s and '60s were not as well made as those from Gibson or Fender. These guitars were marketed to younger players, and the build quality is less than 100% consistent. Some guitars have action and neck alignment issues, which can lower the value even if everything is in tip-top cosmetic shape.

Pricing on Pristine Examples

1955 Gretsch 6129 Silver Jet

The current price range for original 1958 Gretsch Silver Jets comes in around $4,000 to $5,000. One very pristine example sold this year on Reverb for $5,800 while a few less pristine examples sticking in that $4,000 range. These sales were from private sellers and individuals, and guitars offered from established retail shops will command slightly higher prices.

Interestingly, while the 1958 Silver Jet with it's Filter'tron pickups is a very highly regarded model year, it seems that the inaugural 1955 Silver Jet has realized higher prices of late. Additionally, we've seen some '60s double cutaway examples sell for higher than the '58s. These later Silver Jets were technically special-ordered Duo Jets and are therefore exceptionally rare.

Alternative Buying Options

Unlike most Fender and Gibson classics, there aren't a lot modern boutique brands building guitars using Gretsch designs as the template. At least on an aesthetic level, some builds by luthier Saul Koll resemble '50s Gretsches as do guitars from Motor Ave (as played by Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age).

Luckily for those looking for a modern iteration of the Silver or Duo Jet design, Gretsch itself has been offering outstanding Japanese-built reissues and modern models since 1989. Gretsch's main factory currently offers a standard Silver Jet as well as '57 and '59 reissue models, while the Gretsch Custom Shop makes painstaking accurate recreations of vintage originals.

On the lower-end of the range sits the Electromatic series Pro-Jet which comes silver sparkle as well as a range of other distinct finishes. While not a Silver Jet, the modern George Harrison tribute Duo Jet model is an especially well-regarded Gretsch model that remains in high demand on the used market.

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