Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1958 Horse of a Different Color Project (6120 Conversion)


My favorite 6120 has always been the transitional 57-58 with humps and Filtertrons. My favorite color has always been the sunburst from the late 50's. I purchased this guitar with the intent of adding a second pickup but not originally thinking of a full 6120 Conversion. This guitar had poorly repaired headstock wings and lots of damage to the face of the headstock. Otherwise in pretty damn good condition. Once I started to repair the issues with the headstock, it only made sense to go all the way. Oh and the spruce top looks killer. So here are some pics:


headstock ugly repair (Why its important to leave these repairs to pros


installing vintage headstock overlay (veneer) and binding


Lots of studying of pictures of the Sunburst 6120s as well as in person in hand inspection of guitars in this serial number range took place to ensure the details (like knob position, headstock color etc) were correct. I will upload more pics later.

I still need gold pickup rings (the new ones are not the right color) and a pick guard to complete this guitar, but its a killer playing and sounding beast.


black painted headstock with horseshoe waiting for wet sanding and polish


Pickup routed, holes drilled for pots and switches and fingerboard/inlays fixed plus refret


Right now, it has a late 50s or early 60s B6 and Bigsby bridge on it, original TR cover, TV Jones pickups, CTS pots, Switchcraft switches.


Going with a gold signpost guard Joe??


Joe, Did that start out as a Streamliner?

I've had several, and didn't see any with those volume/tone pot placements.


'58 Filtertron Streamliner. An encounter with natural spruce-top 6191 with neo markers changed my life. Here's my Big Bamboo. The lack of headstock binding makes it kinda disappear, which doesn't happen with the earlier pyralin headstocks.


Yes. Streamliner. I added the volume tone holes/pots as it had only a single master and mud switch. The placement of those holes seem to migrate south (or west depending on how you are looking at the guitar). Meaning, when Gretsch went to this two volume configuration in 58, the knobs were just below/next to the F hole. In late 58 (59 model year?) the knobs move south by about 1/4" and by 60 and 61 they moved quite a bit south and away from the edge more. Because there is only a few of the transitional models (humps with filter 6120) the pool of available specimens to measure is small. Rock N Roll Vintage in Chicago as well as a dealer called Black Guitars (Might not be right) had transitional models to review.


One thing I can say for sure… is the TV Jones Classic in the neck absolutely is beautiful sounding. It very much reminiscent of a full sized Gibson PAF. The guitar really blooms, resonates and that pickup captures it wonderfully. The bridge pickup i have installed is the TV Jones PowerTron (I think) and its a nice match. Twangy and can drive the amp, but still can be clean too. Very Telecaster like.


Looking great. I thought that maybe you would be going with the TV Ray Butts pups.

I bet it does sound GOOD right now.


JUst an old Cowboy, I would like a set of older Filtertons, but the TV Jones are really good too.


Beautiful! I hope we get a chance to hear it when finished.


Wonderful job on the headstock. I love these threads.


It's good work, but perhaps a little inaccurate. Ed, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't JD's headstock differ from a typical '59 in the ways shown in this photo?


To clarify, those two hastily scrawled images on the bottom right are in fact of the TOP right corner of the headstock; that is, they are a continuation of point 2.

My crappy handwriting looked much better (and more legible!) on my monitor, btw. Sorry about that.


Thanks for the picture. The lower corner did wrap around when first installed. It cracked a little during the aging process which I saw on several examples from 1958. Also the lap joint in the 1958 versions I looked at were done the way I installed it. Not sure if that differed year to year or worker to worker.

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