Vintage Gretsch Guitars

66 Silver Duke Corvette - Weird Number



Don't see these too often. There is a number on the back of the headstock "568" which looks to be lightly impressed and might be gold? Looks clean and sparkly too.


I had one of these from Dietzel, who's not hanging here now. But as for 6 years ago, $1850 was best I could get for it. It looks cool... super rare Gold Duke didn't look a lot different IIRC.


I think we've seen this three digit number thing before and I think Ed does have an answer.

...super rare Gold Duke didn't look a lot different IIRC.

Maybe because it isn't different? Maybe there really is a Gold Duke, but I don't think I've ever seen one. The few times I've seen something claimed to be a Gold Duke, it looked to me like it was just a Silver Duke with a lot of UV exposure.


There's a pic of a Gold Duke in the first Bacon & Day book, but it may well be the only one.


There were said to be about 5 gold Dukes total, but at least the pix I see -- not a big visual difference.

I still want a Bikini doubleneck bad. Yes, I know they suck.


I've heard some debate as to whether Gold Dukes were a thing or whether it was just Silver Dukes aged and yellowed over time. Personally for that kind of scratch I would snap up a white Billy Bo or white Billy Bo Penguin.


Wasn't it just that flakes were silver and then gold... really quite small ones, not some huge silver or gold lookin effect.

I did have a thing for Vette and Princess scene but 14 radius sorta kills it for me these days.


Wasn't it just that flakes were silver and then gold...

That's what makes it hard to tell. Silver flake under heavily yellowed clear coat would look gold. That said, I don't have a copy of Bacon and Day. Maybe it obviously really is gold. But the couple times I've seen one suspected to be a Gold Duke, it did just look like the clear coat had turned yellow.


The number isn't weird at all. 568 = May of 1966, 8th guitar made that month


I didn't think of that obvious explanation. I was thinking it might have been some odd interim number, which I know exist, but don't have a clue how they work, what the range is, etc.

But I want to say date coded serial numbers started later in 1966, I'm thinking August?


Yes I remember when I refret my 1964 Corvette I use taller frets and I used a block to make the radius less flat. I think I went with 9 foot. Much easier to play. Before I had to squeeze hard to get the notes to sustain.


Just went through my decoder ring and the date code system did begin in August of '66; Ed also mentions a 4-digit system that was impressed into the headstock tip of some 6120s, as well as on some Annies and Astros in between the old system and the new. The fact that this is (allegedly) a '66 means that there's something funny going on with these numbers.


I'm guessing that this example is an anomaly or maybe just a human error. Every Silver Duke I've documented are from the same batch from August of 1966. The earliest I've found is #86686 and the latest is #86726 (which is also purported to be a Gold Duke). No other models have surfaced in the serial numbering range. So if we assume that this batch of Dukes was #86675 to 86750 (I have Annies up to #86674, and Corvettes at #86754)... then there were 75 units, and no evidence of any others with the exception of this #568 specimen.


I’ve had two Silver Dukes with 3 digit numbers. I’ll see if I can dig up the numbers. Had about 10 over the years.


I believe the one was 666 and the other 668. But this is just very vague memories right now. Somewhere I have photos.


And of the two supposed gold dukes I’ve heard of in existence, both ended up being silver dukes with yellowed finish on top. I’ve never seen one with actual gold sparkles. But I’d like to think that they are real.


Note that the embossed 568 on the back of this headstock has the exact same identical font/typeface as those number on the back of the headstock that began in August of 1966. Which means that either the numbering on the back of the headstock actually began before August of 1966 or the numbering on the back of this Silver Duke -- and all Silver Dukes -- was anomalous but therefore subsequently persuaded whoever at Gretsch who actually applied the sequential numbering to the top of the headstocks of the guitars that embossed numbers using the date code system of August of 1966 was the way to go henceforth. Maybe Fred Gretsch, Jr. made that decision himself, who knows.

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