Dozens of guitars from Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bono and more are on the block at mammoth Gretsch Family Archives auction

Gretsch guitars
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Julien’s has announced a massive Gretsch Family Archives auction, highlighted by Tom Petty and George Harrison’s Silvertone Daneletro electric guitar, Bono’s Irish Falcon Model 6136 Green Gretsch prototype and John Prine’s signed Gretsch Historic Series G3100 acoustic.

The two-day auction, which benefits the Gretsch Family Foundation, features hundreds of items from the company’s archives – among them vintage electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers, drums, mandolins, banjos, awards prototypes and memorabilia, as well as furniture, luthier tools, materials and patterns from the factory – going on the block for the first time.

There’s a lot to dig into here, but we've cherry-picked some highlights, including:

Gretsch Guitars

Silvertone Daneletro (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

- A Silvertone Danelectro guitar owned by Tom Petty and George Harrison gifted to Fred Gretsch (in 1987) as the prototype of “The Traveling Wilburys” Gretsch guitar line (auction estimate: $20,000 - $40,000).

- A Gretsch prototype Bono Irish Falcon Model 6136 electric guitar, green finish, two pickups, with “The Goal is Soul” on the pickguard, gold hardware and no case (estimate $8,000 – $10,000).

- A Gretsch Historic Series G3100 acoustic guitar signed by John Prine (estimate $700 – $900).

Gretsch guitars

prototype Bono Irish Falcon Model 6136 (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

- Various Chet Atkins Gretsch guitars, including a 1964 Gretsch Chet Atkins Nashville PX6120 with orange finish, two gold Filter’Tron pickups, V-Cut Bigsby vibrato, Gretsch pickguard with signature and black pad on the back and gold tuners; a 1959 Chet Atkins PX6121 with an orange finish, single cutaway, mahogany body, two gold Filter’Tron pickups, ebony fingerboard with inlays, gold hardware, replaced pickguard and replaced tuners and accompanied by its original case; and a 1963 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean PX6119 with dark cherry finish, single cutaway, two Hi-Lo Tron pickups, bound rosewood fingerboard, chrome tuners and Gretsch V-Cut Bigsby vibrato and accompanied by its original case (estimate range $2,000 – $5,000).

- A 1960 Gretsch Silver Jet electric guitar with Silver Sparkle top, walnut sides and back, mahogany body, ebony fingerboard with inlays, and two chrome PAF Filter’ Tron pickups, accompanied by its original case (estimate $3,000 - $5,000).

Gretsch guitars

963 Chet Atkins Tennessean PX6119, Brian Setzer Nashville signature model, John Prine signed Historic Series G3100 (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

- A 1961 Gretsch Duo Jet PX6128 electric guitar with black top, walnut back and sides, two chrome Filter’Tron pickups, ebony fingerboard with inlays, chrome hardware, and original open back tuners, accompanied by its original case (estimate $3,000 - $5,000).

- Several Gretsch Brian Setzer signature model electric guitars including his 1993 prototype Nashville signature model with all lacquer finish; a Gretsch G6120SSL Brian Setzer signature model with orange finish; and a Gretsch 6120SSU Brian Setzer Signature model (estimate range $2,000 – $5,000 each).

- A Gretsch 6120 Duane Eddy electric guitar with orange finish and Bigsby tremolo (estimate $1,000 - $2,000).

Gretsch guitars

prototype Electromatic Bo Diddley acoustic-electric (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

- A Gretsch prototype Electromatic Bo Diddley acoustic-electric.

- A 1957 Gretsch Round Up PX6130 with orange finish, Western-motif tooled leather sides, two Filter’Tron pickups, ebony fingerboard with inlays, Bigsby bridge, Bigsby vibrato, and new Kluson tuners, accompanied by its original case (estimate $3,000 – $5,000).

Additionally, the auction will feature several guitars from Randy Bachman’s personal collection, which is counted at over 300 Gretsch instruments.

Highlights include one of two Bachman #199 Japanese prototypes of a 1989 Gretsch Country Classic with dark walnut finish, two Filter’Tron pickups, gold hardware and Gretsch Bigsby vibrato that Bachman received from Fred Gretsch; Bachman #218, Gretsch White Penguin electric guitar copy with white finish, gold sparkle binding, two Filter’Tron pickups, ebony fingerboard with inlays and gold pickguard; Bachman #411, an early 1990’s Gretsch Black Falcon 7594 BLK prototype electric guitar and more. 

Gretsch auction

Bachman #411 (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

"Gretsch instruments are one of the most iconic and renowned in the world and are part of American pop culture," said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions. "We are honored to bring to auction this historic archive of the trailblazing Gretsch Family whose innovations and leadership produced these magnificent visual and sonic works of art that elevated the legends who played them."

Also on the block are Gretsch tailpieces, banjo necks and bridges as well as vintage guitar neck patterns, a rolling rack with ten drawers of saw blades, metal clamps with a large wooden hand drill, an antique cabinet, body forms, wrenches, a sanding table, vintage four wheel open carts, and even Tony Bennett’s Harley Davidson 100-Year Anniversary Road King motorcycle (that one will run you anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000).

The Property from the Gretsch Family Archives Benefitting the Gretsch Foundation auction takes place on March 26 and 27 in Beverly Hills and live online at

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.