Vintage Gretsch Guitars

What Year Is This Firebird?

1

Great story here. My friend, John Limanni messaged me to day with this pic!

Just look at the joy on his face.

2

It helps when I actually pop a picture on here!

3

He said it's a '57, which I know to be wrong, but take a look at the neck...what gives with the dot toward the base?

Can any of my vintage experts shed some light on this?

A '56 perhaps?

4

From John L:

A buddy of mine, older fellow, bought it brand new as a kid. Grew up, packed it away, went off to Vietnam, came back, got married, kids and so on... Dug it out of his basement last year, had a luthier go over it and here she is good as new! Plays and sounds awesome. Other than some heavy buckle rash the top, neck and everything else is flawless.

6

Screamin' red color is great. Isn't the official name Jet Firebird? Some here call them Firebird Jet, for some reason.

7

Screamin' red color is great. Isn't the official name Jet Firebird? Some here call them Firebird Jet, for some reason.

– DCBirdMan

The Jet is implied on this site, I believe!

8

DCBM, any idea as to the year?

And yeah, that red pops like it's fresh paint!

I got to talk to my friend to see if he's now the proud new owner or only got to covet it for a few minutes.

9

Wow - gorgeous and so clean (the Jet, John, not you...sorry...)....

10

It’s a 55’.

The dot at the top of the neck is where someone has added a screw through the fretboard to pull down the neck tongue a bit. They filled in the hole with a piece of pearloid plastic.

Nice guitar. Cool early one with matching red truss rod cover.

11

Yup, I say 55 as it’s got the BZ traits.

12

I'm not normally a fan of the Firebirds but man, that one looks sweet.

13

Thanks guys.

The owner is thinking about selling it.

Any suggestion on how much it might be worth?

14

It’s a 55’.

The dot at the top of the neck is where someone has added a screw through the fretboard to pull down the neck tongue a bit. They filled in the hole with a piece of pearloid plastic.

Nice guitar. Cool early one with matching red truss rod cover.

– Gasmoney

I agree with Gasmoney. While I am NOT an expert on vintage guitars, the 1955 Jet Firebird was what made me fall in love with Gretsch guitars -- in 1955, 1956 or so. That IS the one.

Gasmoney's thoughts on the dot marker make sense.

15

Thanks guys.

The owner is thinking about selling it.

Any suggestion on how much it might be worth?

– crowbone

It’s old, and today the kids like the new pointy shredders. Most people that would appreciate an old ‘55 are either dead or on a pensioners income...but, out of the kindness of my heart I’ll pay $2,000.

17

Vintage Guitar says 1955 was the first year for the style. This definitely looks like a beautiful example although is it wrong to wish it was appointed with a B3? Thank you for sharing!

18

Did '55's come with Bigsbys?

I thought that they were an optional add on?

19

The Firebird was made 1955 or 1956. The block inlays and the arrow knobs were only used in these years. Enclosed you´ll find the different inlays the used in 1958 / 1957 / 1955 ( from top to button).

20

DCBM, any idea as to the year?

And yeah, that red pops like it's fresh paint!

I got to talk to my friend to see if he's now the proud new owner or only got to covet it for a few minutes.

– crowbone

Very cool guitar and it looks great. I love those red bullet trussrod covers!
It has a red nitron top. That's what makes the color pop like that and still look perfect after all those years.....

21

I have a '55 Firebird and agree that's what year this one is. Only year for block markers and bullet truss rod cover I believe.

If theres a screw under that dot it's a misguided attempt as these early Jets have a dovetail that ends a few frets up at the 17th instead of a tenon. A screw is just securing the floating "tongue" of the fingerboard if there's one there.

I'm curious about the 15th fret marker and why it isn't as wide across as the others?

22

Maybe the neck was reset. They could have drilled a hole under where the dot is to inject steam to remove the neck.

That's a beautiful guitar!

23

Man, that's a honey of a guitar.

24

He said it's a '57, which I know to be wrong, but take a look at the neck...what gives with the dot toward the base?

Can any of my vintage experts shed some light on this?

A '56 perhaps?

– crowbone

Considering its age, it may be possible that the guitar has had a neck reset. As a part of doing the neck reset (I've watched a fair amount of videos by Jerry Rosa, and Twoford on YouTube, doing them) the neck joint has to be steamed, or with the newer StewMac system heated with a heated rod, to loosen the neck glue enough, to pull the neck off, for doing the requisite dimensional neck adjustments. In order to do this, a hole or holes need to be drilled through the fretboard to insert the steaming tube, or heated rod down into the neck joint to loosen the neck glue. In order to cover the hole this operation creates, a wood plug, and/or fret marker is put over it.

25

If that thing plays 1% as well as it looks then that's one monster of a Jet!


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