By Chris Gill
Gretsch guitars’ popularity soared in the Sixties after George Harrison was seen using several Gretsch models, like the Country Gentleman, Tennessean and Duo-Jet. But success was fleeting. Players’ tastes changed, and the company struggled to develop new designs that appealed to guitarists. Gretsch introduced new models at a rapid pace during the Sixties, although many were just slight variations on already existing instruments.
From 1964 until 1967, just before the company’s ownership shifted from Fred Gretsch to the Baldwin Piano Company, Gretsch produced several limited runs of custom models for the Sam Ash, Sherman Clay, and Sam Goody retail stores as well as for Sal Febbraio, who operated the popular Febbraio School of Music in Mount Vernon, New York. Most of the models offered unique combinations of standard Gretsch features: the Sam Ash guitar was a Double Anniversary with cat’s-eye sound holes, the Sherman Clay guitar (a.k.a. the Silver Duke) was a Corvette with a silver-sparkle finish and a 4/2 tuner arrangement, and the Sal Febbraio was a Rally with cat’s-eye sound holes.
The Sam Goody Model, which is essentially a Rally with a sunburst finish, stands out for having one truly unique feature: its undeniably cool, stylized, space-age-looking G-shaped sound holes. This pristine 1967 example offered for sale by Norman’s Rare Guitars features a “Sam Goody Model” nameplate, but a few were badged as the “711 Songbird.”
The standard-issue Rally featured an active Sonic Boom treble-boost circuit with four controls and three toggle switches (pickup selector, master tone, and standby on the lower bout), but the Sam Goody Model control configuration has three volume knobs (master, neck pickup, bridge pickup) and three switches. Also unusual, but typical for the era, is the combination of Neo-Classic “thumbnail” inlays and dot inlays.
Exact production numbers of the Sam Goody Model are unknown, but estimates are that between 50 and 200 (including the Songbird variation) were made. Several specimens have appeared on the market recently, including this near-mint Goody.
For more information, visit Norman’s Rare Guitars