The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

❌SOLD❌ Gretsch G6199 Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbird Red, 2006


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Here’s a rare beast – a Gretsch G6199 Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbird in Firebird Red, based on Bo Diddley’s custom built 1959 Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird, built at the Japan Terada plant during June of 2006. It is in very clean all original condition, well set up, and a real eye-catcher.

This model, which is produced in small quantities, has an interesting history. By 1959, Bo Diddley was a major star, with an energetic stage show. Bo was so energetic that he found regular guitars, like his L5, restricted his motion. So, he built his own guitars with trapezoidal or rectangular shapes, and these have a strong visual association with Bo Diddley. In 1959, Diddley approached a Gretsch employee to produce some guitars he had designed, using Gretsch parts. Three guitars came out of this exercise, and he used them all – the Jupiter Thunderbird, the Cadillac, and the rectangular Cigar Box.

The original Jupiter Thunderbird was eventually presented to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and it was used on several recordings. However, there was no desire to subject this one of a kind historic guitar to the chaos of a live performance or tour. Gibbons contacted Gretsch to discuss reproducing this guitar, and it made its debut in 2005. It is still in the Gretsch catalog, and still in the roster for ZZ Top guitars.

This model is built like Gretsch Jet guitars – they are essentially chambered. The back and side shell is Mahogany, routed to provide open space (and reduce weight, this is a fairly light guitar) and the top is laminated Maple. The neck is also Mahogany, with a bound Rosewood fingerboard. Tuners are Grover Sta-Tites, and at the far end there is a G-cutout fixed tailpiece – there’s no hinge, so it is not a true ‘trapeze’. The bridge is a tune-o-matic type on a Rosewood base. The pickups are provided by TV Jones, with a Power ‘Tron in the neck position and a Power ‘Tron Plus at the bridge. Controls are Master Volume, a pair of individual Volumes, a Tone control and a pickup selector.

The original hard shell case is included.

Here is the builder and Billy Gibbons on the Gretsch G6199 Billy Bo:

“Some time ago, Bo gave me the guitar as a gift. It was during the recent ZZ Top recordings, when the engineering crew and I snaked through the guitar vault searching for that certain-something guitar, and there it was! We didn’t risk subjecting such a rare instrument to the rigors of the road. So this new reproduction model was recreated with some BFG mojo thrown in for good measure. It’s now the main stage guitar with a groove.” – Billy F Gibbons.

Rock luminaries Billy F Gibbons and Bo Diddley have joined forces to bring you a 21st-century version of the elusive Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird now dubbed the Billy-Bo which was designed in ’59 by the talented Bo Diddley himself!”


Price: $2,700.00 CAD
  • Model: G6199 Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbird
  • Year: 2006
  • Finish Firebird Red
  • Class: Used
  • Serial Number: JT06062915
  • Country of Origin: Japan
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Date Posted: 24/07/2019

  • This instrument has been sold
  • Consignment Item

  • Required CITES documentation
  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 6.9lbs 3.2kg
  • Scale Length: 24.6in 624.8mm
  • Nut Width: 1.7in 43mm
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