Vintage Gretsch Guitars

56 6120— Date Stamp (?)



If you scroll through the pics, stop when you see a potentiometer. In a mechanics mirror, there seems to be a date stamp next to the pot which reads NOV 1 - 1955. Anyone seen one of these before?


I’ve seen these date stamps in the neck pocket, and under the fretboard. Be nice to know the serial number on this guitar.


Chicago Music Exch. kindly indicated me 18938


This is very cool. I've poked a cheap dental mirror in the f-hole of my '56, but can't see anything - I think I need a better mirror and/or more light.

I assume this is the date that production started on this guitar, but probably not the date it was finished as the lacquer and glue would need drying time, so it makes me wonder how long a guitar took to be built back then. I guess if we can find one of these dates on a guitar that also has an authentic OK card with a legible date we'd be in the right ball park.

FWIW, my '56 is only 55 numbers away from this one.


Not a big deal, but isn't that case with the black leather from the early 60s (ie it's not original to the guitar)? The advert very cleverly says "an" original cowboy case as opposed to "the" original cowboy case (that came with this guitar). Surely the seller is mistaken in reading the pots as 1953?


I'm not sold that is a gretsch marking. I mean you would think over the the last 10 years of our collective detailed examining of these guitars we have never seen that style of date anywhere in that font and location?

And Knavel your are spot on. That case is not period correct. Thats a 60/61 6120/6119 case.


I get your point, but has anyone ever looked? I mean, have you ever pointed a camera or inspection mirror into a hollow body on the off-chance there was something interesting to see in there. Trestle bracing aside, I know I haven't.

As far as I see it there are 2 possibilities; either it's genuine and was stamped there before the guitar was assembled, which means it can't be the only one (which is a pretty awesome discovery), or it's a fake, which calls into question the seller and/or the authenticity of the guitar itself.

If anyone can offer any suggestion as the the why/how/who this got there other that before it was assembled...

Just for interest I've flipped the image so we can see it without the mirroring.


Just a thought, but perhaps it’s relating to the top laminating manufacture batch?


The stamp looks legit to me. I've documented similar looking neck stamps at #18580 (Dec. 1 1955) and #18648 (Jan. 1956). As mentioned I've not seen one in this location before. Maybe a clue as to why the later serial number has an earlier date stamp (?)

The 6120 batch at #189xx had a number of "break-away" handle Bigsby units. I've also documented a pot code from #18973 dated Feb., '56.


I think JBJ is onto something. I'm wondering if the date stamp refers to the date the body part was made, rather than being relevant to the actual guitar. It's likely the body parts were manufactured in advance of the batch assemblies Ed has documented and were date stamped accordingly, then stored in the equivalent of parts bins. One 16" arch top front is pretty much the same as any other in Gretsch World, and this top could just as easily found itself part of a Streamliner or similar.

If they operated a fully fledged production line (which I am sure they must have after the Beatles Boom, if not before) they were likely assembled by a completely different crew to the crew that made them.


If I'm not mistaken, I read something 20 years ago or more from Matt Umanov that at least the necks were stamped to indicate when it was made. The stamping has nothing to do with when the guitar was "made" because necks and bodies were made separately by different crews. (the workers may, in fact, have been paid by "piece count" at the time if my memory serves, which explains some of the shitty workmanship: If you wanted to make more money, you had to crank out the parts).

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