The Monkees are well-known for playing Gretsch instruments. Michael Nesmith used his blonde Gretsch guitar (Model 6076) on The Monkees television series, in the recording studio, and on the concert stage throughout the 1960s. Peter Tork employed a burgundy Gretsch bass guitar (Model 6073) and Micky Dolenz played a champagne sparkle Gretsch drum kit, both of which were also seen on The Monkees' TV show and onstage. Gretsch even made a one-off custom model bass guitar for Davy Jones.
When The Monkees arrived in 1966, Gretsch immediately produced a Monkees model guitar that was available on the market until 1968. GretschPages.com describes the Monkees guitar:
"The 6123 was fitted with two SuperTron pickups, it had real f-holes, and special features like a unique pickguard and truss rod cover sporting the Monkees logo, and a fretboard with thumbnail markers top and bottom."
Sales of the Monkees Gretsch, however, were disappointing. Despite the high quality nature of the instrument, Monkees fans didn't rush to buy it. Some Gretsch experts have even surmised that purists, perhaps caught up in the furor at the time about the group's nontraditional origins, were not interested in a customized Monkees guitar.
It is speculated that relatively few (maybe a couple of hundred) Monkees model Gretsch guitars were produced. This item had to be ordered directly from Gretsch by the given guitar store. Today, the Gretsch Monkees Signature Guitar is a highly sought after collectible that has been known to sell for thousands of dollars through online retailers like eBay.
Earlier this month, Monkees fan Justin Rakowski shared photographs of the Gretsch Monkees model guitar that's part of his personal collection. He told me the story about tracking one down and where he ultimately purchased it. Justin then suggested the possibility of cataloging all of the Gretsch Monkees guitars that might still exist, and I thought that was a great idea!
Over the last two weeks, I've had the great pleasure of exchanging emails with Wayne Avers, longtime lead guitarist and musical director in The Monkees' touring band. Wayne owns a Monkees model Gretsch (that was refinished in black years ago). He shared photographs and a great amount of information about these unique guitars, including famous musicians who own a Monkees model Gretsch.
This summer, The Monkees Live Almanac is attempting to catalog as many people as possible that possess a Monkees Gretsch guitar. Ideally, I would like each owner to provide a brief history about how and where they purchased their guitar, the amount of money they paid for it (if you care to share this information), along with a picture. Submissions will be organized together at a later date, and we'll start with Wayne Avers!
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Further information about instruments used by The Monkees, Gretsch, and more can be found by clicking the image below: