Gretsh's reaction to the Les Paul was swift as the single cutaway Duo Jet hit the market in 1953, one year after the LP. It was Gretsch’s first "solid body" electric and only about 100-150 were produced in the first year.
Technically speaking the body is chambered, therefore putting it into a category of "semi-solid" as described by Gretsch. The first true solid body was the Corvette in 1961.
The name comes from its two DeArmond Dynasonic pickups (Duo) and (Jet) is a play on jet aircrafts which were just beginning commercial flights in the early 50s.
The Jet series has a lavish history of smart iterations from Gretsch and that didn't go unnoticed by players of the day. Notable musicians gracing the strings of a Jet from the 50s, 60s and 70s included Gene Vincent, Bo Diddley, George Harrison, Dan Fogelberg, & Malcom Young (his was ridiculously modified).
After the Duo Jet came:
Silver Jet, Round Up, Jet Fire Bird, Chet Atkins model (in addition to his Country Gentlemen), White Penguin (companion to White Falcon)
Another notable feature that arrived with the Duo Jet (a year later) was a revamped Gretsch logo in 1954. It was a change from the script logo on the headstock to the "T roof" logo which has mainly been used ever since.
In 1961 the single cutaway style of the Jet series was replaced with a symmetrical double cutaway. Gretsch ceased production of the original Jet series in 1971 during the Baldwin Pianos ownership era.
1953 Jet Duo Specs:
Laminated maple top with hard plastic coating (similar to what they used on drums)
Chambered mahogany body
Rosewood fretboard on the "Miracle Neck"
Melita Synchro Sonic bridge with independent intonation adjustments for each string
Master volume on the cutaway
Two Volume knobs, one for each pickup
Master tone knob
1 pickup switch
DeArmond Dynasonic pickups