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Brian Setzer Donates Signature Gretsch to Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Rockabilly stalwart, Brian Setzer, has donated his signature orange Gretsch guitar to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The guitar, which Setzer donated during a ceremony on October 17th, now joins a rather eclectic assortment of musical instruments including John Coltrane’s saxophone, Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet, Prince’s Yellow Cloud electric guitar and Eddie Van Halen’s “Frank 2” guitar.

The replica axe was inspired by Setzer’s original 1959 Gretsch 6120 “Stray Cat” guitar which he famously attached two dice to the tone control knobs and added three decals to in order for it to resemble a Fifties-era “hot rod".

Setzer played the guitar on his first single with the Stray Cats, “Rock This Town,” in 1981 before the guitar began to age.

Stephen Stern, a Gretsch master luthier, replicated every detail of the original and it’s that 2006 replica that is now in the museum’s collection.

What an honor it is to be in the Smithsonian just for playing the music that I love,” Setzer said.

Maybe in a hundred years people will look at my guitar and be inspired to play it and enjoy it the way I do.”

Brian Setzer is a prolific and distinctive contributor to American music,” said John Edward Hasse, the museum’s curator of American music.

Proof of his legacy exists not only in the longevity of his career and in his lengthy discography, but also in his ability to cross musical boundaries.”

The museum located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. and is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed December 25). Admission is free.



Issue #75

Peter Green / Ivar Bjørnson

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