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“Bikini” Guitar and Bass Ensemble

In hindsight, you have to wonder what Gretsch was thinking when it introduced its Bikini (which in this case means “divided into two”) Guitar and Bass Ensemble in 1961. The company was already an industry powerhouse with prices that were generally higher than its competitors (and The Beatles had yet to make the music scene). The Bikini line consisted of three collapsible, interchangeable, and portable guitars and basses (and one double-neck version that included both guitar and bass). The concept revolved around the Bikini “butterfly back,” which was built of solid poplar, finished in black lacquer with polished aluminum receiving tracks, and had winged piano hinges for folding. The concept was that you could interchange either guitar or bass neck-through-body center sections that slide onto the aluminum receiving tracks and lock in place. Individual Bikini bodies sold for $25, and $35 for the double-neck. The instrument was also available with the matching guitar neck and center section for $175, while the bass version sold for $195 and the double neck for $355. Obviously this never caught on, as it was gone from the catalog by 1963.

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