Review: Gretsch Guitars G6128T-53 Vintage Select '53 Duo Jet

(Image credit: Gretsch Guitars)


Some of the most highly regarded Gretsch guitar models were the ones released during the Fifties and Sixties, a time many guitar aficionados consider the company’s golden age.

Models like the White Falcon, Country Gentlemen and Duo Jet have been seen in the hands of the Cult’s Billy Duffy, the Beatles’ George Harrison, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and countless others. After all, the guitars have an elegantly cool look—not to mention a truly unique sound.

Considering that Gretsch’s designs embody timeless appeal, the company recently introduced its Vintage Select series, an exclusive group of 16 model-specific years of these iconic instruments that include updated makeovers that make them period correct. I took a look at the Gretsch G6128T-53 Vintage Select ’53 Duo Jet with Bigsby, which has a gorgeous black finish with playability and tone to die for.

The original Duo Jet was Gretsch’s answer to a solid body guitar, albeit with a chambered mahogany design, which is lovingly recreated here on the Vintage Select ’53 Duo Jet. Gretsch adds distinctive tweaks with a curvaceous Gretsch logo on the headstock and modern upgrades like a pinned bridge and two TV Jones T-Armond pickups that replace the original DynaSonic pickups.

Apart from that, this Duo Jet uncannily looks and feels like a brand-new guitar from 1953.

Fit and finish is outstanding, with deluxe features such as an arched laminated maple top, aged white binding and aged pearloid block inlays, mahogany neck, 22 medium jumbo frets, rosewood fingerboard, bone nut, one-ply vintage white pickguard, aluminum compensated bridge with a rosewood base, Grover Sta-Tite die-cast tuners, Treble Bleed circuit with Squeezebox PIO capacitors, two volume controls, master tone and master volume controls, three-way toggle switch and a Bigsby B3CCB vibrato.

Compared to the many vintage Duo Jets I’ve played throughout the years, I can report Gretsch’s Vintage Select ’53 Duo Jet is a seriously well-made instrument. Having a pinned bridge for spot-on intonation along with a 24.6–inch scale length certainly contributes to its flawless setup, but I also believe the 2-inch thickness of its chambered mahogany body adds incredible dimension and a smoother bass response.

The gloss black finish is both striking and classy, but it’s abundantly clear the guitar is meant for the gigging musician who wants rich, authentic tones with minimal fuss. The TV Jones T-Armond pickups are well suited for this amazing instrument, having bell-like clarity and sweetness in the midrange.

There is no shortage of rockabilly twang when playing the ’53 with a clean tone, and the guitar really starts to snarl as you turn up the amp for overdrive, where you can actually feel the body start to vibrate and edge into musical feedback. I also was struck by how well the guitar responds when pounding out Link Wray-style power chords while gently depressing the Bigsby vibrato a few semitones down, and having the guitar remarkably return in tune to concert pitch.

LIST PRICE: $3,449
MANUFACTURER: Gretsch Guitars,

● The 6128T-53 has a chambered mahogany body that not only makes it lightweight but also provides an astoundingly rich and resonant airiness in its sound.

● The dual TV Jones T-Armond pickups re-create the sound of authentic DynaSonic pickups with high-end dimension and warmth.

The Gretsch G6128T-53 Vintage Select ’53 Duo Jet is a stunningly beautiful instrument that feels like a brand-new vintage guitar with warm tone.

@damianfanelligw test drives the MXR Booster with a @officialgretsch Vintage Select '53 Duo Jet. BTW: He feels fine! #gretsch #gretschguitar #gretschduojet #damianfanelli #beatles #thebeatles #ifeelfine @jimdunlopusa @tvjonesinc @bigsby @vegetarianshoes @toddsheltonbrand #bluemeaniesnyc

A post shared by Guitar World (@guitarworldmagazine) on Jul 31, 2017 at 12:51pm PDT

Got back from Nashville #snamm and we are delighted to find the @gretsch vintage select 53 duo jet!

A post shared by Guitar World (@guitarworldmagazine) on Jul 17, 2017 at 10:37am PDT

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.