Before Gretsch could make it’s phoenix-like return to full-scale guitar production in the late 80s, they needed to raise some cash. A marketing tie-in with the Traveling Wilburys supergroup provided that opportunity.
The Wilburys — Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan — would be photographed with their namesake guitars and provide their signatures (or to be more precise, their alias’s signature). Meanwhile Gretsch would build up some operating capital from the “collectibles”.
In all, six TW models were created, all featuring Wilbury-themed graphics on the front and the stars’ “signatures” on the back. They were cheaply made in Korea, and bear no resemblance to any other past or current Gretsch. Truth be told, they were sort of a Danelectro/Tele hybrid.
A few collectors hoarded them thinking they would eventually be a goldmine, but that looks unlikely. Gretsch made a ton of them, and they were always low-priced promotional guitars.
Instead, enjoy them for what they are: a fun, funky footnote in Gretsch history.Six different models and Four examples are in the Gretsch-GEAR database, including Traveling Willbury models.
- TW100 Traveling Willbury
- The base TW100 Wilbury models had a smaller body than the other versions. They came with one single-coil pickup and a three-saddle bridge.
- TW100-T Traveling Willbury
- Like the TW100, with a tremolo.
- TW200 Traveling Willbury
- Two single-coil pickups and a three-saddle bridge.
- TW300 Traveling Willbury
- One humbucker pickup and a tremolo.
- TW500 Traveling Willbury
- Two single coil pickups and a nicer six-piece bridge/tailpiece.
- TW600 Traveling Willbury
- As the top-of-the-line Wilbury model, the TW600 featured two humbucker pickups and a tremolo. Fancy stuff.