Police searching for man who stole a $3,000 Gretsch electric guitar by swapping it for a broken acoustic

Limited Edition Gretsch stolen in Nashville
(Image credit: Nashville New & Used Music / Gretsch)

Metro Nashville Police is investigating after a man swapped a broken acoustic guitar for a $3,000 limited-edition Gretsch.

CCTV footage has captured a man walking into Nashville New & Used Music with a gigbag on his back, containing a broken acoustic guitar. After asking to speak to the store's guitar tech, who was on their lunch break, he said he'd browse whilst he waited. He then swapped out the instrument for the high-value Gretsch before walking out.

Police believe the man had an accomplice who acted as a decoy to distract staff whilst he carried out the swap. The timing of the incident suggests it was pre-planned.

The guitar in question was a Gretsch G6229TG Players Edition Sparkle Jet in Ocean Turquoise Sparkle. Released in May 2022 alongside a Champagne Sparkle edition, the guitars feature chambered mahogany bodies and Tim Shaw-designed Broad’Tron BT65 pickups.

Via a post posted on the store’s Instagram page, the store says: “Sad to say someone swiped this Gretsch G6229TG Limited Edition Jet in Ocean Turquoise Sparkle from our store today. How, you ask? He came in during a busy period with a beat-up Recording King Parlor guitar in a gig bag and asked for the repair tech, who was out on lunch. Said he would hang out and browse the store, where he walked to the back, laid down his bag, went and grabbed the Gretsch, swapped them, and quickly walked out of the store.”

Speaking to news channel WSMV, manager Ryan Shrader said the acoustic left behind was “a dumpster piece”, with the Recording King guitar stringless and showing extensive damage.

“I felt like it was a pretty brazen move, but I was not too surprised,” Shrader told WSMV. “These days there is not a whole lot that surprises me. It’s disappointing, these things do happen.

“Around 80% of the time we are able to stop these things or at least recover the items for the original owner,” he continues. “It’s kind of part of the territory. I will say they seem to get more and more creative over the years, more savvy about techniques.”

Indeed, in 2022, a guitar thief made national news after stealing an $8,000 Gibson Custom Shop '59 Les Paul by cramming it down his pants in Ontario.

Fellow Nashville music store Absolute Music shared its sympathy and support for Nashville Used & New Music, revealing that it too has recently been the victim of theft. On December 17, two thieves got away with a Selmer Series 3 Black Lacquered alto saxophone, worth over $5,000. The store was later informed that Tim’s Music in Sacramento had been targeted by the same thieves one month prior.

Nashville Used & New Music, situated at Fairlane Shopping Center, was recently unveiled as a Top 300 Reverb Seller for 2023. While police are still searching for a suspect, the store is offering a $200 reward for any information that could help in returning the guitar to the store, asking: "If anyone happens to see this guitar, or possibly has any information, please DM us."

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Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to Prog, Guitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.