Modern Gretsch Guitars

1991 6120 Nashville for sale, seller claims it is made in USA

1

Guy is selling his 1991 6120 Nashville and claims that it is made in USA. Serial number 917120W-4... I think it is "just" pre-Fender made in Japan Gretsch. Can someone confirm?

2

Made in Japan by the fine folks at the Terada plant. This was the 6120-W(estern) and it looks to have all it's original components. So if you buy it, factor in +/- $200 for a set of TVJones Classic Filtertron pickups (because the original ceramic pickups in these are anemic) and maybe a $100 if the wiring harness gives you problems.

3

The seller is mis-informed, but probably not intentionally . Here's the reason-- Guitars from that time frame have a body label that reads "Fred Gretsch Enteprises-- Savannah, GA."

Often times there is no "made in Japan" stamp on the headstock or anywhere else on the guitar. As a result, people who do not know better take this to mean that the guitar was built in Savannah-- of course this is not the case, as there is no (and never was) a Gretsch factory in Savannah-- just the business headquarters.

Gibson did the same thing with Epiphone in the early 70's-- I have a 1970 Epiphone with a body label that reads Epiphone Guitars-- Kalamazoo, Michigan". However the guitar was actually built in Japan-- and the neckplate is stamped "made in Japan."

In your case, I seriously doubt that the seller is trying to intentionally deceive you-- I think it's just a case of supposition based on the body label-- although I doubt that you could convince him of this. Furthermore, that body shape, the control layout, and the ceramic Filtertrons are a dead giveaway of an early pre-Fender Japanese-built model.

4

Thanks for your responses. I fully agree, that the seller is obviously just mis-informed. He said that this was sold to him from the shop as made in USA guitar. And like you wrote, it is not easy to see the origin based on the labels.

5

So if you buy it, factor in +/- $200 for a set of TVJones Classic Filtertron pickups (because the original ceramic pickups in these are anemic)

Listen to Jim Heath's pre-FMIC Gretsch recordings before he got his signature 6120. Hardly what I'd call "anemic". The ceramics are hotter.

6

So if you buy it, factor in +/- $200 for a set of TVJones Classic Filtertron pickups (because the original ceramic pickups in these are anemic)

Listen to Jim Heath's pre-FMIC Gretsch recordings before he got his signature 6120. Hardly what I'd call "anemic". The ceramics are hotter.

– Charlie Vegas

I almost mentioned the Rev but honestly, you have to get very, very loud to get that tone; I did see him and Setzer have a friendly duel one night early in the first BSO tour and they are different tones. If you want something closer to a "classic" Filtertron tone, the ceramics don't work well. I was going to mention to OP that there is a market for the ceramics if he doesn't care for them.

7

There was a US-made Custom Shop 6120 from the mid-1990s. But it looked like this:

8

Did anyone ever figure out who/where made these? I just remember them as being advertised as "1955" when they were structurally like the modern Gretsches but with humpblock markers and Dynas.

9

One of these for sale over here, made in '96. TRC looks different, though. Nitro finish, brass (?) nut. Claims to have a solid top.

10

Never a solid top unless the bill of sale specifically says so. And there would be a surcharge for a solid top. BTW, this verbiage is usually reserved for spruce tops and this one is clearly maple; and there would be no advantage from a tone standpoint to using a solid piece of maple - and pressing it or carving it for that matter - over using a laminate maple. This particular top isn't even a premium maple layer either. It isn't heavily figured or tiger stripe which IMO, immediately points to it being a laminate.

Having the custom shop build a guitar does not entitle the buyer to a solid top - either pressed or carved - without a healthy extra charge for it.

11

Did anyone ever figure out who/where made these? I just remember them as being advertised as "1955" when they were structurally like the modern Gretsches but with humpblock markers and Dynas.

– lx

I assumed Heritage.

12

Never a solid top unless the bill of sale specifically says so. And there would be a surcharge for a solid top. BTW, this verbiage is usually reserved for spruce tops and this one is clearly maple; and there would be no advantage from a tone standpoint to using a solid piece of maple - and pressing it or carving it for that matter - over using a laminate maple. This particular top isn't even a premium maple layer either. It isn't heavily figured or tiger stripe which IMO, immediately points to it being a laminate.

Having the custom shop build a guitar does not entitle the buyer to a solid top - either pressed or carved - without a healthy extra charge for it.

– Windsordave

Easy enough to determine if the top is solid or not by removing a pickup and looking at the side of the hole in the top.

13

BTW, I don't think Fred had anyone building the USA Custom guitars in 1991. they had only been back in production for 2-3 years. 1989 was the first year they went to NAMM to show the handful of models they were producing. Fender took over Selling, producing, sales, etc. in 2003. I seriously doubt that Fred even was considering any outside company doing what Fender does now for him in 1991. I think what happened was the whole Gretsch Guitars' snowballed and he couldn't keep up with the demand and amount of time required to make it work like he wanted it to work. I know his brother in-law Billy Murphy was putting in 7 days a week. Billy & I were friends and We did a dealer seminar out here for GC a couple of times. Billy's a great guy and I wish Fender had found a place for him under the new agreement..

15

I also assumed Heritage. I believe it's pretty well accepted that Heritage made at least one top-of-the-line carved archtop acoustic. But that one looks like a Heritage, wood pickguard and all. This has been speculated about so many times over the years. Does anybody know Fred Gretsch well enough to just ask? If it was ever a trade secret, I doubt it would be anymore.

Never a solid top unless the bill of sale specifically says so. And there would be a surcharge for a solid top.

They were indeed said to have solid carved tops. Whether they actually do, or it's another case of quasi-solid top, I couldn't tell you. But I did PM the owner of the one fuzzpop linked to. Maybe he can confirm one way or the other.

This particular top isn't even a premium maple layer either. It isn't heavily figured or tiger stripe which IMO, immediately points to it being a laminate.

I don't really see the logic in that. You can carve a plain piece of maple (though the one I linked to does have some nice, if subtle, figuring). And heavily figured maple is often used for veneer, where you can get the most use out of it.

16

A carved maple top??? What's the point?? It's a hardwood and a carved version top vs a laminate isn't going to make the guitar sound different. Smells like BS to me. Special maple veneers were/are used as the top laminate layer and are visually impressive. Their value is as a veneer, not carving a full top out of them.

17

A carved maple top??? What's the point??

If true, I would imagine the point is that there is/was a perception that a carved solid top is in and of itself an upscale feature, never mind the material or acoustics of it. I don't disagree that it's not likely to be an improvement from a practical standpoint, but I have no trouble understanding it from a marketing perspective for a premium product.

18

In other words, double speak language for suckers.....folks who don't do any homework and believe anything in print, or these days, the internet.

19

A carved maple top??? What's the point??

If true, I would imagine the point is that there is/was a perception that a carved solid top is in and of itself an upscale feature, never mind the material or acoustics of it. I don't disagree that it's not likely to be an improvement from a practical standpoint, but I have no trouble understanding it from a marketing perspective for a premium product.

– Afire

And you'll pay a mighty hefty premium for a carve spruce top as shown with the price of Gibson's Super 400 or the L5 CES that Paolo just received!

The value of a carve top vs laminate, lies in it's vibrating qualities. This is clearly heard with acoustic guitars with a solid, albeit flat top. When you affix a couple of large pups directly to the top as both guitars mentioned above have, along with their attendant hardware, IMO you've eliminated the advantage a carved top has over the laminate version, so again IMO, it becomes promo and marketing hype and not a sound reason for this style guitar to have a carved top. Strictly archtop or with a true floating pup yes, these guitars no. To me it's just marketing tradition, not practicality.....or reality.

20

The seller is mis-informed, but probably not intentionally . Here's the reason-- Guitars from that time frame have a body label that reads "Fred Gretsch Enteprises-- Savannah, GA."

Often times there is no "made in Japan" stamp on the headstock or anywhere else on the guitar. As a result, people who do not know better take this to mean that the guitar was built in Savannah-- of course this is not the case, as there is no (and never was) a Gretsch factory in Savannah-- just the business headquarters.

Gibson did the same thing with Epiphone in the early 70's-- I have a 1970 Epiphone with a body label that reads Epiphone Guitars-- Kalamazoo, Michigan". However the guitar was actually built in Japan-- and the neckplate is stamped "made in Japan."

In your case, I seriously doubt that the seller is trying to intentionally deceive you-- I think it's just a case of supposition based on the body label-- although I doubt that you could convince him of this. Furthermore, that body shape, the control layout, and the ceramic Filtertrons are a dead giveaway of an early pre-Fender Japanese-built model.

– Tartan Phantom

tha was the same on the classic series. The country of built wasn't marked anywhere.


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