Vintage Gretsch Guitars

1962 Gretsch 6120 Double Cutaway non conforming to specs inquiry

1

My first post here...I have no experience with vintage Gretsch electrics. An interesting 6120 Chet Atkins has been brought to my attention requiring binding replacement. The guitar has an interior 10 Broadway label, serial no. 484XX, double cutaway, open (not painted on) bound F holes, original orange finish surface, deteriorated cream colored binding top and back, horse shoe headstock inlay, 2-1/4" body thickness, no holes in back from a prior access pad or cover, thumb print fret board inlays, and gold plated hardware with "stair step" buttoned Grover Imperial tuners with removable covers. I am unable to locate this variation of the 6120 in my reference books or on line... To the vintage Gretsch community: Is this an early variation of this model? Is there a source for proper replica binding for this model? Thanks in advance for the help. Feb 2018 - Update to this original post. I made some photos in sunlight and loaded them. The neck joint has been improperly repaired. Sam Rawlins, Atlanta, GA

2

Probably a custom order. Gretsch did do custom jobs so it would not be too unusual for such a version to exist. There has been at least one single-cutaway White Falcon from the 5xxxx batch spotted recently as well as a mid-sixties single cut, real f-hole 6120; at least one double-cutaway Country Gentleman with humpblock (pre-'58) markers; one-pickup Country Clubs, custom colors etc. A customer probably wanted real f-holes and no mute lever, so this would've been easier to make. Pictures would be helpful.

3

My first post here...I have no experience with vintage Gretsch electrics. An interesting 6120 Chet Atkins has been brought to my attention requiring binding replacement. The guitar has an interior 10 Broadway label, serial no. 484XX, double cutaway, open (not painted on) bound F holes, original orange finish surface, deteriorated cream colored binding top and back, horse shoe headstock inlay, 2-1/4" body thickness, no holes in back from a prior access pad or cover, thumb print fret board inlays, and gold plated hardware with "stair step" buttoned Grover Imperial tuners with removable covers. I am unable to locate this variation of the 6120 in my reference books or on line... To the vintage Gretsch community: Is this an early variation of this model? Is there a source for proper replica binding for this model? Thanks in advance for the help. Feb 2018 - Update to this original post. I made some photos in sunlight and loaded them. The neck joint has been improperly repaired. Sam Rawlins, Atlanta, GA

– tryingtopick

Welcome to all things Gretsch, Sam! I agree it has to be a custom order, with no hole in the back for access to the custom ordered NO mute system. Depending of course on what the asking price is for this rare - not necessarily worth more in today's market - 6120, it would sure be an interesting guitar to have. I've never been a fan of the mute; a Jimmy Webster contraption that practically never gets used. It's existence also pushed the location of the bridge pup a bit closer to the neck. A pic sure would be nice to see the pup location relative to the bridge. Is all the binding infected with rot or just part of it? A re-binding is expensive - upwards of $1K - and is a terrific bargaining chip to use in negotiating for a lower price.

4

A couple thoughts. Given the serial number, this isn't an early prototype double cutaway or anything like that. It's squarely into the double cutaway era. Open f-holes were certainly an option for custom orders. FWIW, if the open f-holes truly are original from the factory and not hacked out later, it's my belief that they should be bound and oversized, not small Gibson-style f-holes. And Ed Ball here, author of the 6120 book and overseer of the most comprehensive collection of Gretsch data on earth, used to have a muteless double cutaway 6120. So far it all checks out as a plausible custom order.

But here's what confuses me. A 2 1/4" depth double cutaway body. Custom order Gretsches I've seen usually have special superficial appointments, but you almost never see a basic body configuration that doesn't exist elsewhere. And I can't think of any other example of a 2 1/4" deep double cutaway body.

Pictures would definitely be useful here.

5

I hope you'll post a photo here and then add this curious instrument to our database, Sam. The 6120 doublecut is a fantastic Gretsch. Here's a photo share of my '64.

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I had a 1966 6120 for a number of years. I ended up selling it about 5 years ago to a really nice chap in Greece. He's the doctor that puts you under in the O.R. I can't friggin spell the term.. He's a in a band that does Rock and also Greek music so it went to a good home and is played on a regular basis.

7

I had a 1966 6120 for a number of years. I ended up selling it about 5 years ago to a really nice chap in Greece. He's the doctor that puts you under in the O.R. I can't friggin spell the term.. He's a in a band that does Rock and also Greek music so it went to a good home and is played on a regular basis.

– Don Butler aka: Toneman

Thanks Gretsch folks for the helpful start. I edited my original post with some added descriptive content. This guitar was purchased used in the early 1970s by one of the world's finest gentlemen. It has travelled the southeast on the shoulder of a dedicated musician who, in his 70s, continues to perform gospel music on a regular basis. The instrument became unplayable years ago due an unstable neck joint. Also, the binding has deteriorated. He has asked my guidance to manage the necessary repairs. With that said, I will first post detailed photos for the review of The Gretsch Pages community. This effort is expected to take a number of weeks. Any comments / suggestions / insight in the interim is welcomed. Stay tuned.... Sam Rawlins, Atlanta, GA

8

Ah.....so it isn't for sale Sam, as your OP gave us that impression. Finding the correct binding is no issue and readily available; however finding a top notch luthier with lots of experience is your #1 priority.....they order the proper binding and do the restoration. You do NOT want to be buying the binding yourself and then asking a luthier who may or may not be experience in this type of work. Binding restoration is a one-stop shop.

This is a valuable guitar from the standpoint of it being a custom ordered version of a 6120/Nashville and aside from the binding issue, according to you, is in quite good shape. Well used but well looked after. We're all waiting for pics of this guitar - no need to wait till the re-binding is done! - particularly nice shots of the front showing those bound f-holes and bridge pup location.

9

Thanks Windsordave... you are correct. My objective is to be carefully helpful and guide the owner to proper repairs returning the instrument to original playable condition... he sure does miss playing it! I will not profit or fuel a sale, though establishing a FMV is a component of our efforts. Photos will follow when time allows. This is a Chet Atkins model, I believe, from 1962 and not the subsequent Nashville model. The only book I have is the Jay Scott volume from 1992 published by Centerstream. Best, Sam

10

Good for you Sam. I have both Jay's book and Ed Ball's book, the true bible for Gretsch guitars and looked up your 48xxx S/N in Ed's book and his says "all" under S/N's beyond '61 so he'll have to chime in here to give you an exact date for this guitar.

FWIW, it's odd that a '62-ish era Gretsch would have fallen prey to the rot that the mid to late '60's Gretsches suffer from in large numbers. Usually these earlier ones aren't prone to rotting. Not to say it doesn't exist, but that it's just not common for the earlier years.

If you want the best job done on this guitar, then send it to Curt, a member here and one of the finest luthiers anywhere, and I mean anywhere! To contact him, just click on Old School Guitars on the right side of the screen, as he's a sponsor of this website. Your concerns won't be an issue if he does the work for you.

11

You added the Grover Imperial Stairstep tuners to your original post. These were still in use at the time of your 6120. To see if they were installed at the factory remove one of the tuners and check whether or not there are additional holes that would have been left by the standard open-back Waverlys. Feel free to post pictures of the guitar in it's "before" state.

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Hey "tryingtopick" can you tell us if your 6120's serial number is 482xx or 484xx? It's not clear to me if your guitar has a string mute system, although the lack of access from the back suggests it doesn't.

Here's my factory 6120 from the 1962 model year, made (along with a couple others from this batch) without the mute system. Everything else was standard about this guitar.

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My guitar also lacks the access door in the back.

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Hey "tryingtopick" can you tell us if your 6120's serial number is 482xx or 484xx? It's not clear to me if your guitar has a string mute system, although the lack of access from the back suggests it doesn't.

Here's my factory 6120 from the 1962 model year, made (along with a couple others from this batch) without the mute system. Everything else was standard about this guitar.

– kc_eddie_b

kc_eddie_b: Thank you for the helpful information. I added a digit to the serial number in the original post. Your photos shows holes / screws in the back. This example has a blank back. Best, sam

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kc_eddie_b: Thank you for the helpful information. I added a digit to the serial number in the original post. Your photos shows holes / screws in the back. This example has a blank back. Best, sam

– tryingtopick

Ok... so 484xx is a batch of 100 6120 models that are early '63 model year by way of the lever-mute feature. I've documented 5 or 6 examples from this group, all with standard features. Love to see yours.

The "screws" in the back of mine are actually snaps that accommodate the nylon back pad. These pads are a standard feature to the double-cutaway 6120. They were purported to be an ergonomic development but in reality were just a cover for the plastic access hole opening.

Not sure why my mute-less example (as well as the others I've seen) got a back-pad, but they did. If your does not have this feature it might be more evidence that this guitar was a custom order with several atypical features.

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484XX top in sunlight. More photos to follow.
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484XX back in sunlight. The flamed maple is attractive to my eyes.
18

Nice looking guitar. Too bad the guard is cracked but repros are available from Mr Setzer here. Swap it out and keep original in the case. Bridge looks to be from the early reissue era.

19

It is a fine looking guitar with a pleasing flame on the back. Are you sure that finish is original? Looks like the guard has been truncated, So often I've seen those mounted with the pointy bit extending into the cutaway

20

F-holes opened up aftermarket. And neck has had some work.

21

Yes, the neck has had some work and it looks like the binding rot has deteriorated the lacquer around the edges. The pick guard has also been cut to a strange shape near the cutaway. And those F holes don't look factory to me either. And if they aren't then I'd guess the clear lacquer also is a refin.

22

Yes, the neck has had some work and it looks like the binding rot has deteriorated the lacquer around the edges. The pick guard has also been cut to a strange shape near the cutaway. And those F holes don't look factory to me either. And if they aren't then I'd guess the clear lacquer also is a refin.

– Danman

It looks like the guard broke, the piece was missing so someone fabricated a facsimile wihout knowing the proper shape

23

Welcome back Sam... thanks for posting some photos of the guitar you first introduced to us a few months back. In the opening post you mentioned that this guitar has "an interior label". That alone would be an unusual feature for a 6120 from this time period. Once the double cutaway body (with a sealed top) was introduced Gretsch was forced to stamp the serial numbers into the tip of the headstock.

Labels were applied at the end of the production line after the tune-up and quality check. They were typically applied through the open bass side F-hole. The skinny F-holes on this 6120 would make that challenging! Might we see a photo of the label, or as best as can be captured considering the narrow opening?

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Tryingtopick, when you take photos of the label, please try to take photos of the f-holes themselves. Bound smaller f-holes would be a real rarity and pictures of the binding construction would be of great interest to the GDP community and of historical value. Smaller f-holes were common in the '70's (but perhaps not this small) but IIRC haven't been seen before this early.

25

An interesting thread I’ve only just found.

This looks to have a subtle sunburst effect, is that a result of the binding rot? Also, is it a trick of the light or is the heel dowel MIA?


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