Gretsch-6120 with Bigsby B6C

Gretsch-6120 with Bigsby B6C

The Gretsch 6120 debuted in 1954 as an instant classic. To many players, it is the definitive Gretsch.

When introduced, the 6120 cost $385 and sported a wagon­load of western decorations: cow’s heads and cactus etchings in the block markers, a big G brand on the top and more. It was the first in the “Chet Atkins” line of signature Gretsch guitars.

In ’58, the half-­moon or “neo­classic” markers common to most Gretsches were introduced. The DeArmond pickups were discontinued in favor of Gretsch’s own “FilterTron” humbuckers. Chet Atkins said the magnets on the DeArmond’s were too strong, “sucked the tone right out of the guitar”, and Duane Eddy was the only person he knew who got a good tone out of them.

In 1961, the body was narrowed from almost three inches thick to about two. This was to be the last year of the classic single-­cutaway 6120.

The fake f-­hole, thinline, double cutaway Electrotone body guitar of ’62 was a completely different beast than previous 6120s. The price was up to $495, which bought you the all-new body, complete with a padded back, which conveniently hid the big access hole in the back. The signpost disappeared after ’62, but a standby switch and muffler appeared, so if a guitarist got bored without anything to look at, he could always twiddle his knobs.

Some confusion exists over the difference between a Nashville and Chet Atkins 6120. In a nutshell, there ain’t any. The Nashville name was arbitrarily stuck on the guitar, sometime around 1964. There’s no difference between the guitars. It’s just a name, but it came in handy (and continues to) when Atkins pulled his endorsement. The “Nashville” moniker was pretty much standard (or at least as standard as anything ever was at Gretsch) by 1964, and it could be found on the new shiny metal headstock plate. Some 6120s also got plain plastic HiLoTron covers in 1964. There may have been a shortage of FilterTron covers.

Like most Gretsches, 6120s began changing dramatically after the Baldwin Piano and Organ company took over Gretsch in ’67, and the ’67 model was just about the last to have the traditional Gretsch features.

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