Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Tell my more about my Jet 21 Archtop


New member. I just added my Gretsch ( to the DB, but I don't know much about it, and there aren't any similar models, so I wanted to also post here, and add a few more pictures.

It is a Jet 21 archtop, Serial # 3628. Based on my readings here, I think that puts in about 1950. The fretboard inlay is simple dots, so it may have originally been a cheapo model. It has been in my family in the late 1970's in a state of semi-repair. I just got my hooks on it, and am finally going to get it restored (bracing glued back on, and trim replaced.) I am not planning on having it repainted, unless it is absolutely necessary in order to protect it. The scratches and bare spots tell the story of my childhood, living in a school bus with 4 siblings and my parents.


Wow! I don't know anything about your guitar but I love your story and the picture.


cool story and very cool guitar. welcome to the Gretsch Discussion Pages(GDP). we're glad to have you here.


I have seen two others online that look like basically the same guitar, one is identified as a '54, the other a '47. There are two differences between mine and their - they both have a pick guard (which obviously could have come in handy for mine. They also have an adjustable bar bridge.

Would that bridge have been optional, or was mine lost somewhere along the way?




That looks to be the original tailpiece. There's a clean one that pops up on ebay from time to time but that owner is always asking silly prices. You could probably tell us more about the model than we know; e.g, is the top a laminate or solid? It was the first Gretsch model called a "Jet" but it has no relation to the DuoJets that appeared in 1953. Does it have a light blue stamp near the (pencilled?) serial # that reads "Gretsch Super Structure"? Is the neck asymetrical (thicker on the bass side)? Your bridge doesn't look to be original -- a bit wider than Gretsch usually used -- but there were a lot of things happening at Gretsch post-war.


This is from a late batch of these Jet 21 models, considered 1949 model year guitars. A couple of hundred serial numbers later the 6185 was launched (batch #4100) and the paper labels were also introduced. The Jet 21 has the hand penciled serial number inside the body.

This model, with it's black finish, was an early precursor to the Gretsch practice of applying interesting finishes to their guitars!

  • The top is a 3-ply laminate. Fortunately the abuse it has taken hasn't yet worn through the outer ply.

  • The serial number is in pencil, directly below through the upper f-hole. No stamp visible.

  • If I understand you correctly, the neck is thicker on the bass side. Although it is painted black, there is a (rosewood?) center piece running the length of the neck, which is visible where the paint is worn off on the back. It is not quite centered - probably runs directly under the 3rd string. That offcenter stripe continues up through the peghead.


It has two different tuner sets. I don't know which (if either) is original. This picture also shows the continuation of the strip that runs up the length of the neck, slightly off-center.


I assume the scotch tape holding on the trim is not original.


The non-adjustable bridge.


glad to see you show up, Ed.

"pigankle", Ed is our resident Gretsch Historian. he is very knowledgeable about older Gretsch guitars.


glad to see you show up, Ed.

"pigankle", Ed is our resident Gretsch Historian. he is very knowledgeable about older Gretsch guitars.

– Sgt Rock

Nice to be seen Sgt! I miss this place!


Hey pigankle, you've got a beautiful guitar! We'd like to hear more of your story too. When you get to the point of wanting a guard for it, reach out to me and I can help you if you want.

The tuners: the first link you posted, the clean one, the oval white buttons on a strip would probably be what you'd want if your wanting to put it back correct.


Welcome to the asylum, Pigankle! That guitar could tell some stories!


I also have a Jet 21, Its a 1948 ,I was told. I cant remember if I put it in the Database or not. They are considered a mid level Gretsch guitar and from what I remember being told many years ago, the lightening bolt on the headstock changed a few times through the years, so some are shaped differently then others. Mine came with an adjustable bridge and a straight tailpiece with "Gretsch" on it. I changed the tuners to Grover Sta Tites because the originals were Fubar.

From what have learned over the years, Its Not a very sought after Gretsch by guitar collectors ,but they are rare to find in good shape ,and have alot of character.


I'm tempted to think the Jet 21 is a blinged-out New Yorker . What size is the lower bout from side to side? If it's 16" that would be New Yorker size. I don't know if New Yorkers of this era had the asymetrical neck; that would be an upgrade from a regular neck. Some of these slanted tailpieces were engraved with "Gretsch" and some were stamped.


Sorry I haven't come back with a bout measurement. I found someone to repair it for a reasonable amount, with the caveat that it is on his "when I get around to it" pile. He finally got around to it, and I have a few pictures to share mid-repair


Here's a closeup of the broken brace


...and an example of the sidewalls separating from their supports...


...last one is a full shot of the bracing on the backside of the top. I'll add more (and provide the bout measure) when I get it back - hopefully in a couple of weeks. Low price is still contingent on being low-priority, so I could lose my spot on the workbench at any moment.


that guitar should be the benchmark for natural relicing. Love it!!


Looking forward to seeing it back together.

And yes, a Fancier New Yorker is about right.


It is interesting to see that already then, the top was made of spruce over a tin layer of maple, as Curt stated in other posts.


Finally got the guitar back! Chris Lomba here in Seattle did the repair, and I am really happy with it. He replaced the frets, both the primary braces on the face, cleaned everything up, filled some divots in the fingerboard, installed new tuners and cleaned it all up.

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