Modern Gretsch Guitars

Road Test - 6120T-‘55VC Chet Atkins

1

I started a short thread Saturday..... http://gretschpages.com/for...

Now that I've logged about 15 hours with it I can share more details on the "why" and "what" of this latest purchase.

Background/History

My first encounter with the ’55 Chet Atkins guitar was in Gretsch’s “Guitars For Moderns” catalog in 1955. That catalog was my go-to fantasy resource for day dreaming about some fabulous electric guitars I that I wished I could own. I think the ONLY electric guitars in that catalog that did NOT stir up fantasies were the ones with the “cowboy stuff” (i.e., “western appointments”) on them. At that time I was becoming an avid Chet Atkins fan. But as a growing man of 13 living in Philadelphia where we had Rock & Roll and Bandstand, I could NOT get into that “country” stuff.

The Quest

Fast forward 6 decades…… I’ve been a humbucker/FilterTron guy for a long time. However I’ve had experiences with some single coils (Seymour Duncan Custom Shop Dynas) that I really like. Over the last 10 years (+/-) I’ve been getting GAS for a hollow body with top-of-the-line single coils. Within the Gretsch fleet the 6120T-’55 Vintage Select Chet Atkins is THE option. So I started doing Google digging. The more I watched and listened, the more the interest became a need.

2

The “thinking about” became a “decision made”. My only reservation was that I was still not loving the G-brand, western fret markers, etc. Rationalization saved the day – I was buying the guitar to PLAY, not to gaze at. So I laid the groundwork to prepare my beloved wife – “You’re not going to like the looks of this guitar, but……..”

When the guitar arrived and I first opened the case I was stunned. With its flame maple top and western orange stain lacquer gloss finish, this thing is GORGEOUS. Pictures do not do it justice. I recall only 2 other guitars in my lifetime that triggered that level of “WOW” reaction: the 6122-59 (with its beautiful burgundy color rather than “brown”) and the Caddy Green Broadkaster JR. My wife even had a WOW reaction.

3

The Details

Like other Vintage Select models the 6120T-55 VS has TV Jones pickups (T-Armonds in this case). Body finish -- gloss nitrocellulose lacquer.
Bridge – aluminum compensated, pinned Nut – aluminum “Squeeze-box” paper-in-oil capacitors Treble-bleed master volume Grover Sta-Tite tuning machines

Workmanship, fit and finish are extraordinary. Again, a WOW-worthy piece when you hold in it your own hands.

The Sound…..

GLORIOUS, according to my ears. Most single coil pickups sound “thin” to my ears. The TV Jones T-Armonds have a wonderful low end feel but they still have the transparency of good single coils. This guitar can generate incredible “twang” – think in terms of “Rebel Rouser”. I assume the aluminum bridge and nut have a lot to do with that. However it can also generate a huge range of tones including soft/mellow all the way through biting riffs for rock sounds. It gets along very well with overdrive (Strymon Riverside) as well as the other usual suspects (reverb, delay, tremolo). During my Google research I saw a statement “It is truly a horse of MANY colors…”

Complaints…??

None, really. For me the tone control doesn’t have a whole lot of “in-between” tones. But I have always used the tone controls on the amp and rarely touch the tone control on the guitar.

Bottom Line… I am really loving this guitar – a LOT more than I had expected.

It seems they are hard to find. Gretsch currently has none in stock and it sounds like they will not have them until spring, 2019. I suspect it has limited market appeal. I bet that would change if more people could get their hands on one of these beauties.

5

Dan, what is the difference between this guitar and my DSW?

That guitar is beautiful!

7

Dan, what is the difference between this guitar and my DSW?

That guitar is beautiful!

– farmerbrown

I understand the main difference is the TV Jones pickups. I think (???) the DSW has stock Gretsch Dynas....

Others -- “Squeeze-box” paper-in-oil capacitors and Treble-bleed master volume. I assume they were not in the DSW....?

8

I understand the main difference is the TV Jones pickups. I think (???) the DSW has stock Gretsch Dynas....

Others -- “Squeeze-box” paper-in-oil capacitors and Treble-bleed master volume. I assume they were not in the DSW....?

– senojnad

The DSW also has poly finish, thinner pickguard, different style on the "G" in Gretsch logo, brass nut. IMO the made the already great DSW closer to vintage specs with the VS model.

9

Wow. You’re creating a nice collection of guitars! Great choice. Congrats!

10

Thanks for the detailed review. Seems a peach to be sure. T-Armonds are DEFINITELY not 'thin' in any sense. Perhaps my favorite pickup, though good, underwound P90s are up there as well.

Play it in excellent health!

11

I picked up a 2016 6120-55 GE(same guitar different name for 2016 only). I got it for $1650 it was the steal of a lifetime for Modern Gretsches as far as I'm concerned.
I love the look and feel of that model.

12

Congrats. That's just a killer guitar. I'm really gassin' for a Gretsch with Dyna's. The FMIC MIJ Gretsch guitars have always had high standards of quality but from what I've been hearing lately from folks buying the current generation of Pro Series guitars is that they have raised the bar even higher. I wonder if that is a by product or in response to how good the Electromatic line has become?

13

Congrats again Dan ,that is a gorgeous guitar sir!

14

I picked up a 2016 6120-55 GE(same guitar different name for 2016 only). I got it for $1650 it was the steal of a lifetime for Modern Gretsches as far as I'm concerned.
I love the look and feel of that model.

– captainvideo

I have this same model from 2016 and have wondered what the GE was all about.

I wonder why they named it something different for one year only.

15

I think GE = Golden Era and ran into a name conflict for Gretsch.

16

I think GE = Golden Era and ran into a name conflict for Gretsch.

– Baba Joe

Good memory, Joe! I believe you are correct.

17

Your Gretsch looks a wow' and as you say the build quality of the Pro lines are excellent from what I've seen.You mentioned Seymour Duncan custom Dyna's,I bought a used 6120 DSV and the previous owner had Sds fitted and there super,great sonic range and depth in all positions.

18

I really want one of these.

19

Just bought one of these here in the UK, was looking at the '59 and the EC models, but I figured as I like the really early Rockabilly stuff, I'll go for the early model to get that really raw, twangy sound. Boy, was I ever glad I did. This guitar is an absolute knockout....I have real trouble putting it back in the case! Just so much fun. I'm using it through a Fender Blues Junior III, With a Sioux Guitars, Dakota County delay pedal.

I don't recall ever liking a guitar this much straight out of the box, terrific instrument! Lovely to look at and just great to play

20

Just bought one of these here in the UK, was looking at the '59 and the EC models, but I figured as I like the really early Rockabilly stuff, I'll go for the early model to get that really raw, twangy sound. Boy, was I ever glad I did. This guitar is an absolute knockout....I have real trouble putting it back in the case! Just so much fun. I'm using it through a Fender Blues Junior III, With a Sioux Guitars, Dakota County delay pedal.

I don't recall ever liking a guitar this much straight out of the box, terrific instrument! Lovely to look at and just great to play

21

Just bought one of these 6120-'55 models here in the UK, was looking at the '59 and the EC models, but I figured as I like the really early Rockabilly stuff, I'll go for the early model to get that really raw, twangy sound. Boy, was I ever glad I did. This guitar is an absolute knockout....I have real trouble putting it back in the case! Just so much fun. I'm using it through a Fender Blues Junior III, With a Sioux Guitars, Dakota County delay pedal.

I don't recall ever liking a guitar this much straight out of the box, terrific instrument! Lovely to look at and just great to play!

22

Just bought one of these 6120-'55 models here in the UK, was looking at the '59 and the EC models, but I figured as I like the really early Rockabilly stuff, I'll go for the early model to get that really raw, twangy sound. Boy, was I ever glad I did. This guitar is an absolute knockout....I have real trouble putting it back in the case! Just so much fun. I'm using it through a Fender Blues Junior III, With a Sioux Guitars, Dakota County delay pedal.

I don't recall ever liking a guitar this much straight out of the box, terrific instrument! Lovely to look at and just great to play!

– JohnT43

Congratulations, JohnT43.

Obviously, I agree with your views... Have fun!!

24

Man, that is beautiful. Congrats.


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