The Gretsch G6199 "Billy-Bo" Jupiter Thunderbird is a reproduction of a guitar designed by Bo Diddley (1928 - 2008) in 1959. Diddley built his first guitar in 1945, it was trapazoid shaped since Diddley felt that the regular shaped Gibson L5 he was playing were hindering his live performances. The smaller trapezoid and rectangular guitars allowed him to keep jumping around on stage while still playing his guitar. Diddley went on to play a number of rectangular guitars built by himself and others, which soon became one of his trademarks throughout his career. In 1959 Diddley joined forces with Gretsch and designed the Jupiter, a custom built guitar inspired by contemporary automobiles.
The Jupiter was later donated as a gift to ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons who used it on some ZZ Top recordings. Since Gibbons didnt want to risk subjecting the rare guitar to touring and live performances, Gibbons approached Gretsch with the idea of reproducing the Jupiter Thunderbird. The end result was the G6199 "Billy-Bo" Jupiter Thunderbird which Gretsch launched in 2005..
"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
Later Gretsch also launched the G6199B "Billy-Bo" Jupiter Thunderbird Bass which is a four string bass identical to the guitar, the G5810 Bo Diddley inspired by Diddley's square guitars and the G5850 Mini Diddley a miniature version of the square guitar.