Meet & Greet

New to the group, mystery 6120

1

Hello all, Im very glad to find such a group and hope to enjoy and contribute for a long time to come! I just bought my first vintage Gretsch, the metal headstock plate is missing so i dont know for sure, but im fairly certain its a 6120 Nashville, The serial number is only 3 digits and very hard to read, its either 522 or 322 i think... Though the machine heads look to be original, thats to say they dont look like they have ever been removed, I cant find any other tuning machines that look like them on any of the old Gretsch guitars Ive looked at. Also, there is no embossing or writing on the pick guard... no Chet Atkins signature. I know it could have been replaced, but did they produce guitars with out branding on the pick guards at all?

3

Pics will help

– J(ust an old Cowboy)D

heres one to start..

4

Front of headstock, you can see where the wood is darker under where the metal plate was.

6

its ver hard to get the serial number in a pic....

7

I don't think Gretsch ever covered a horseshoe with a plate. In other words, it shouldn't have ever had one. A better close up of the serial number, may help.

8

I don't think Gretsch ever covered a horseshoe with a plate.

Gretsch did do this in circa 1967. They put a plate saying "Nashville" over the horseshoe. My brother has one of these.

It looks like the back of the headstock may be refinished which might explain the issue with reading the serial number. Hard to say, but a refinish there makes little sense as the rest of the finish looks original. 3 digit is OK but the second number would probably be "7" (for 1967). Lack of aluminum knobs also suggests 1967.

The pickguard does look like it could be a Gretsch one. We have a 50s 6120 in the family that has the original pickguard that doesn't say "Gretsch" but it does say "Chet Atkins". I've never seen one totally blank but who knows. The fact that the notch isn't there for the bridge pickup could suggest replacement guard.

I've not seen those tuners before but by that time the tuners Gretsch used were all over the place.

9

It's a 6120. Originally, the model was called the "Chet Atkins Hollowbody Electric", then around '67 it was renamed the "Chet Atkins Nashville", with a gold headstock plate and the Chet signature over the name NASHVILLE on the guard. The original double cutaway "C A Hollowbody Electric" had the western horseshoe overlay and non-signpost Chet signature. Looks like they used the older 6120 headstock overlay and added the Nashville plate over it. Does it read "Made In USA" on the back of the headstock near the serial number?

10

Your guitar probably had Van Ghent tuners originally. Those are replacement chrome (or nickel) open-back Klusons you have on there now. The originals that would have come on your guitar look like these (pictured) only in gold plate.

11

I don't think Gretsch ever covered a horseshoe with a plate. In other words, it shouldn't have ever had one. A better close up of the serial number, may help.

– Suprdave

yes, ive looked though tons of photos and have not found another one, but here it is, it obviously had the plate removed and the holes filled, whoever did it did a ver good job, but why would they put a horseshoe where it would never be seen? strange. Ill try to get a better pic of the serial, thanks!

12

Gretsch did do this in circa 1967. They put a plate saying "Nashville" over the horseshoe.

And there ya go. learned something new again. Seems kind of silly to cover the horseshoe.

13

Your guitar probably had Van Ghent tuners originally. Those are replacement chrome (or nickel) open-back Klusons you have on there now. The originals that would have come on your guitar look like these (pictured) only in gold plate.

– duojet55

I would tend to agree with you accept (though i have not removed one to find out) there is no scratching or perforation or any other visible evidence they were changed... plus , i have not landed on what year this guitar is quite yet and i know i saw several different variations of tuners on similar 6120 models made from 62 and up...

14

Gretsch did do this in circa 1967. They put a plate saying "Nashville" over the horseshoe.

And there ya go. learned something new again. Seems kind of silly to cover the horseshoe.

– Suprdave

awesome! so maybe this is a 67!

15

It's a 6120. Originally, the model was called the "Chet Atkins Hollowbody Electric", then around '67 it was renamed the "Chet Atkins Nashville", with a gold headstock plate and the Chet signature over the name NASHVILLE on the guard. The original double cutaway "C A Hollowbody Electric" had the western horseshoe overlay and non-signpost Chet signature. Looks like they used the older 6120 headstock overlay and added the Nashville plate over it. Does it read "Made In USA" on the back of the headstock near the serial number?

– duojet55

no , It doesnt say made in the USA...

16

I don't think Gretsch ever covered a horseshoe with a plate.

Gretsch did do this in circa 1967. They put a plate saying "Nashville" over the horseshoe. My brother has one of these.

It looks like the back of the headstock may be refinished which might explain the issue with reading the serial number. Hard to say, but a refinish there makes little sense as the rest of the finish looks original. 3 digit is OK but the second number would probably be "7" (for 1967). Lack of aluminum knobs also suggests 1967.

The pickguard does look like it could be a Gretsch one. We have a 50s 6120 in the family that has the original pickguard that doesn't say "Gretsch" but it does say "Chet Atkins". I've never seen one totally blank but who knows. The fact that the notch isn't there for the bridge pickup could suggest replacement guard.

I've not seen those tuners before but by that time the tuners Gretsch used were all over the place.

– knavel

Great information from you and all these other guys! Does your brothers have the darker wood around the horse shoe also? I think the knobs are aluminum, just with gold plating... The back if the head stock may be refinished, but it has the same lacquer checking as is found on the rest of the thing.. who ever did it it knew their stuff as I cant see any evidence of a break in the neck or anything else that would facilitate a refinish, that being said, its a really funky sort of color so who knows! It has a notch at the top of the bridge pick up but not at the bottom... good eye! id really like to nail down the tuner issue too.. one gentleman on here suggested they might have been changed...

17

If you remove a tuner, there is usually a pattern of the original factory tuners indented in the finish. Gretsch used several types of tuners on the 6120, starting with Waverly tuners. They switched to Van Ghents in the mid '60s, then started using Hofner doghouse machines in the early '70s. My 6119 Tennessean and 6120 both from 1965 have Van Ghents. I had a 1964 6120 which came with Waverlys, so '65 seems like the changeover period.

18

I cant see any evidence of a break in the neck or anything else that would facilitate a refinish...

Sometimes, the explanation is that somebody wanted to get rid of the serial number, i.e., it was stolen at some point in the last 50 years. Not saying it was, just that that's a possible explanation. Though it seems odd to go to all the trouble of stripping the back and not completely sanding off the serial number, so maybe there's another explanation.

id really like to nail down the tuner issue too...

Those tuners are almost certainly not original, IMO. I don't know if Kluson was even still making those in '67, but I've never seen them on a '60s Gretsch. And the original tuners would have been gold plated anyway. There are always Van Ghent tuners on eBay. Sooner or later a gold set will show up if that's important to you.

but why would they put a horseshoe where it would never be seen? strange.

I think the explanation is simple. They already had a bunch of these overlays with horseshoes in stock when the decision was made to go with the plaque. Since the plaque covers the horseshoe anyway, might as well use them up rather than scrap them.

20

but why would they put a horseshoe where it would never be seen?

Tastes had changed considerably enough by 1967 such that the kitsch of cowboy stuff was deemed to be out of fashion perhaps after the instruments were made or, as afire stated, before the overlays were used up (although it seems odd that they would have finished the pearloid inlays in that case, but anyhow...).

I don't have pics of my brother's but it doesn't have the darkened part on the headstock. We've had that plate off of it pretty much since he got it, which would have been circa 1990 which is probably why.

Curt recently redid the binding on it so there are pics of it on his projects page, including one my brother supplied of the Nashville next to his favorite guitar, a 56 Jet Firebird. You can see the headstock face there a little.

https://www.oldschoolguitar...

21

Tastes had changed considerably enough by 1967 such that the kitsch of cowboy stuff was deemed to be out of fashion perhaps after the instruments were made or, as afire stated, before the overlays were used up (although it seems odd that they would have finished the pearloid inlays in that case, but anyhow...).

Either scenario may be correct. I've just assumed the fact that there are still NOS horseshoe overlays out there means that they must have had a bunch made up in advance that they would have wanted to use up. Then again, it could suggest the exact opposite. If they were using them up, then there shouldn't be so many left. Maybe you're right. The ones with horseshoes and plaques were already underway. That does make more sense.

22

Indeed.

The point I really should make is I haven't met an electrotone 6120 or 6122 I didn't like. Aside from the binding issues, everyone I've ever played plays great and the neck sets were always good.

I can't say that of 50s Gretches and Anniversaries from anytime in the 60s which have given me loads of trouble structurally (and thus cost-wise) over the years.

23

Larkey... if you're interested in learning a lot more about your Gretsch 6120, there's a book available on Amazon.com that might interest you!

https://www.amazon.com/Gret...

Here's an excerpt from it, that covers the headstock horseshoe/badge phenomenon.

24

Larkey, what kc_eddie_b was too modest to mention in his post above is that the book he refers to --- one of the most authoritative sources of information on the Gretsch 6120 --- was written by his own self. He is one of the pre-eminent authorities on the history and lore of this guitar, and he knows his stuff, so you are getting the straight skinny.

Only one of the reasons this is such a cool site!

25

I had a '67 Tennessean that had a horseshoe underneath the plate.


Register Sign in to join the conversation