Traveling Wilburys

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”.

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.

The Gretsch-GEAR database includes six different models and six examples in the Traveling Wilburys family, including and Traveling Willbury models.

Guitar models in the Traveling Wilburys group

TW100 Traveling Willbury
Documented years: None

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
Documented years: 1998

Like the TW100, with a tremolo.

TW200 Traveling Willbury
Documented years: None

Two single-coil pickups and a three-saddle bridge.

TW300 Traveling Willbury
Documented years: 1988

One humbucker pickup and a tremolo.

TW500 Traveling Willbury
Documented years: None

Two single coil pickups and a nicer six-piece bridge/tailpiece.

TW600 Traveling Willbury
Documented years: None

As the top-of-the-line Wilbury model, the TW600 featured two humbucker pickups and a tremolo. Fancy stuff.