There's a very famous early film of the Beatles performing at Liverpool's Cavern Club; the dank, cramped cellar where the group played from February 1961 to August 1963. The grainy black and white footage captures the still--leather--clad Beatles (mere days after new drummer Ringo Starr officially joined) sweating through a raucous cover of "Some Other Guy," then a staple of their act, before a packed house.
At far stage right, 19--year--old guitarist George Harrison is blasting out the song's infectious chord progression on what he later called his "first real decent guitar"--a black 1957 Gretsch 6128 Duo Jet, serial number 21179, with a Bigsby® vibrato unit. The guitar is clearly visible in the footage.
The Gretsch Duo Jet that Harrison plays in the clip was dear to him at the time. He often referred to it as his first truly good guitar. He'd bought it secondhand from a Liverpool cab driver a year earlier at age 18, in summer 1961. After acquiring the guitar, Harrison played it during the historic three--year period when the Beatles made their momentous transformation from local favorites to U.K. sensations to worldwide phenomenon. He used it to record the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, and the song of the same name that was their first number--one hit. A quarter--century later he returned to the guitar for his acclaimed 1987 solo album Cloud Nine.
So when Gretsch wanted to honor Harrison in 2011 with a signature guitar model--it had to be that guitar.
The result, the Gretsch Custom Shop G6128T--GH George Harrison "Tribute" Duo Jet, is a meticulously crafted replica of the all--black 6128 Duo Jet Harrison played with the Beatles from summer 1961 through spring 1963. Identical down to the tiniest detail, it evokes those famous Cavern gigs, where packed audiences of hometown fans and friends first realized that something special was happening. It conjures up the raucous spirit of the Beatles' gritty rock 'n' roll "apprenticeship" of that era in the seedy nightclubs of Hamburg, Germany. It brings to mind the waves of Beatlemania that swept over the U.K. in 1962 and 1963. And finally, it reflects Cloud Nine--the enormously successful solo album Harrison made 25 years later.
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®.
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