With the introduction and success of the Fender Esquire in 1948, followed by Gibson’s Les Paul Model in 1952, Fred Gretsch Jr. realized the solid-body electric guitar was here to stay and released their version of the design in 1953. Called the Duo Jet, the body was modeled on the Les Paul shape with a single cutaway and two single coil pickups. Unlike the now successful Telecaster and Les Paul, the Duo Jet was actually a semi-solid body guitar owing to the large amount of wood routed out of the body cavities. This made for a lighter guitar, which lent a very different tonal quality to the instrument. These attributes were attractive to players for both practical and aesthetic reasons and the guitar drew a loyal following. In addition to guitars, Gretsch also produced drum kits in its line of musical instruments. By incorporating the plastic materials used to cover the wooden drum rims in their solid body guitars, Gretsch was able to add a distinctive color and sparkle to their instruments.
Having seen and admired an example of the Silver Jet as a teenager, David Gilmour acquired this guitar from a shop on Denmark Street, London's Tin Pan Alley, in 1976 and kept it for studio use. Gilmour told us: I always had a fondness for Gretsch. That may be because of Duane Eddy playing a Gretsch in his early years, and of course Chet Atkins - legendary on a Gretsch… They’re trickier to play but the silver and gold ones were always something I fancied. And this one came up. I’ve never taken it on the road or anything, although I’ve played it a fair bit. There’s a tone on some of these Gretsch pickups that has a particular hi-fi zing to it which is just unlike any other pickups. They’re not fantastic for every purpose but there are moments where that is just the tone and sound that you want and Gretsch certainly did some of those beautiful combinations of pickup and guitar that make a sound that you just can’t get anywhere else.