The Holy Grail of Gretsches!
6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body (third version)
This ‘third-version’ “Holy Grail of Gretsches” weighs just 6.90 lbs. and has a nice, fat nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 24 1/2 inches. Two and seven eighths inch thick double-bound laminated maple body with two double-bound ‘f’ holes. Two-piece maple neck with ebony center strip with a very comfortable medium profile. Brazilian rosewood fretboard with original aluminum nut, 22 original small frets and inlaid pearloid hump-top block position markers. Pearloid plastic, horse-shoe headstock inlay set into a mahogany-stained, maple peghead overlay. Inlaid mother-of-pearl Gretsch “T-roof” logo and two layer (black on white) dome shaped plastic truss-rod cover with three screws. Gold-plated Grover StaTite open-back tuners with small oval metal buttons. Two DeArmond (Gretsch Dynasonic) pickups, the neck pickup with an output of 10.25k. and the bridge pickup with an output of 10.20k. Gold Lucite pickguard with pantograph-engraved Gretsch “T-roof” logo and “Chet Atkins” signature framed in a signpost (the signpost and signature highlighted in black). Three volume controls (one for each pickup plus master volume control), one tone control, and one (pickup) selector switch. Gold-plated “Arrow-through-G” knobs with cross-hatch pattern on sides. Aluminum compensating Bigsby bridge on original rosewood base and unplated aluminum Bigsby B-6 vibrato tailpiece with pivoting arm. Rectangular Gretsch label inside bass ‘f’ hole with Model “6120” stamped in black and Serial No. “22488” stamped in red. There is also a small octagonal label with the name Vokac Music House, Chicao. Some minor discoloration to the gold-plating on the bridge pickup. A minuscule amount of belt buckle wear on the back and some minimal finish checking, as usual. Other than that, this guitar is in quite spectacular near mint (9.25) condition. The body is a deep red orange (more red than orange) with nice figuring and the front of the headstock is a rich brown. Housed in the original Gretsch (deluxe) dark brown imitation alligator hardshell case with brown plush lining (8.75). The original case has a small rectangular label from the same music store.
“The success of Gibson’s new Les Paul guitar… alerted other manufacturers, including Gretsch, to the value of a ‘signature’ model endorsed by a famous player… Around 1954 Jimmie Webster succeeded in securing talented Nashville-based country guitarist Chet Atkins for this role, a move that in time would completely turn around Gretsch’s fortunes. After various discussions and meetings between the company and the guitarist, the Gretsch Chet Atkins Hollow Body 6120 model appeared in 1955. Atkins wasn’t keen on the Western paraphernalia that Gretsch insisted on applying to the guitar… but relented because he was so keen to get a signature guitar on to the market. In fact, the decorations on the Hollow Body model were gradually removed over the following years” (Tony Bacon, Electric Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, pp. 165-166).
“The Model 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody electric premiered in 1954, priced at $385 and destined to become one of the company’s most popular models, the 6120 enjoyed immediate success and three decades later would be resurrected and revered by the guitar-playing community as one of two most desired Gretsch models. It was first displayed on the inside front cover of the 1955 catalog, in full color, beneath its solidbody sibling the Model 6121 Chet Atkins Solidbody electric. The 6120 is 15 1/2-inches-wide — not 16-inches as indicated in the catalog — like the previously mentioned Model 6190 Streamliner, 2 2/3-inches-deep and is finished in what the catalog called Amber Red but what has come to be known, among the cogniscenti [sic], as Western Orange. The very earliest models appear as a ruddy orange-brown but most 6120s present as a deep, vibrant orange. Unusually, as we shall see, the 1957 models were, in fact, a striking red color” (Jay Scott, The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company, p. 66).
“As has been previously established, the Gretsch factory’s practice was to manufacture a quantity of 6121 Chet Atkins solidbody guitars in many, if not most, batches of 6120 hollowbodies. There is circumstantial evidence suggesting that a group of 6120 hollowbody guitars might exist in batch #224xx. To date several solidbody specimens have been documented from this batch. So, it either represents one of the very few (or only) batches exclusively comprised of 6121 examples, or there are some unusually elusive #224xx Chet Atkins hollowbody guitars floating around there.” (Edward Ball. Gretsch 6120. The History of a Legendary Guitar. p. 93). (#2346)