Vintage Gretsch Guitars

A tale of two ‘55 6121’s…


Man that looks so good....

If you wanna get rid of that Bigsby Ed give me a holla!


Man that looks so good....

If you wanna get rid of that Bigsby Ed give me a holla!

– jaycemumford

The belt-buckle idea not withstanding... I think I'll hold onto the chopped B3 for now. It could make for a unique static tailpiece on something.

If you think about it, the anodized gold B3 was applied to only one guitar model... the 1955 Gretsch 6121. There were three batches of 6120/6121 models produced with the 1955 feature package including the anodized Bigsby units. An educated guess might be 100 or fewer 6121 guitars were made in these groups. So this particular Bigsby might just be worth trying to restore, because finding another could be a challenge.


Yeah i would use it too.

You could get a new screw cup welded on but you'll loose a bit of your gold and you'll have to find someone who deals in welding cast aluminium as its a little tricky, i would just make a new spring cup and screw it to the guitar body as a separate piece not attached to the Bigbsy body.


So my '55 6121 is a "player", but I like the mojo of a broken-in guitar. Here's a freakin' gorgeous one, in much nicer condition (although the Bigsby has the same issue with the gold almost all worn off the handle). For the price it should have the Solidbody cowboy case though.


Very nice job done, Ed.

Concerning the Bigsby, one can also glue together aluminium piece, using specific glue. That could work as there's no really heavy force involved at the cup level. Worth investigating with a professional metal worker.

I'm with Rattlecat, you should contact TK Smith and have CAR pickups installed !



Beautiful job Ed. I think you've done the 'right thing' there.


WhOAHHHH!!! that's the kind of thing I love!! bring back to glory one guitar... bravo!!!!



Tell me about it JBJ... I cringe when I think of what the Bigsby would have been worth if it hadn't been chopped. It also had some weird silver paint all over it, which I've since removed to reveal the beautiful anodized gold finish underneath. I was thinking of fashioning a belt-bucket out of it maybe. Who needs one of those over-sized rodeo buckles when you could rock this!

The two necks are clearly different. Both are factory Gretsch, but the neo fretboard (re-neck) is from the '58/59 time frame, while the donor guitar neck is 1955. The profiles feel different, and the headstocks are slightly different as well. My luthier was able to get the western fretboard and headstock overlay to work on the later (expoxy'd in) neck, but he doesn't think the neoclassic fretboard will work on the '55 donor neck.

– kc_eddie_b

Why don't you call Bigsby and ask them why they cant make them that shape any more. Loves those shoulders


BDL... I like that the modern Bigsby units are a different shape. It makes the vintage units look that much cooler!


Thanks JC! She's a first batch example, and although it's hard to see the signpost graphic on the pickguard is in white, common for the early batch examples.


Wow, what a wonderful project, Ed!! Beautiful work! And I really admire your vision and imagination behind this effort!


Very cool guitar Ed! And a great story and project!


Good work Ed. That 6121 looks great Sir!



PS I really like that black scratchplate on the donor guitar.


Good work Ed. That 6121 looks great Sir!



PS I really like that black scratchplate on the donor guitar.

– Drew Morrison

Thanks Drew!

And yes... the pickguard on the donor 6121 is intriguing. Refinished with black paint with a gold signpost motif and "Gretsch" logo. No reason to think that it's not the original guard from this '55 6121. Too bad that one of the mods encouraged the modder to shave the radius edge to accommodate the extra control knob placement. Arrrg!

Then the added guard, around the pickups, extends up in a futurama way to the upper bout, simply to cover up the hole left when they removed the pu selector switch.


You guys really have me thinking about the fate of this donor-6121. Although I have the aforementioned Duo Jet project that I was planning on tackling next, perhaps I can start some progress on this old gal in parallel. Her past indignities and recent contributions to the benefit of other guitars have earned her that!

So... I like the cream finish, and will try to match that. That finish in combination with the leather trim makes me think of a Gretsch cowboy case aesthetic. The black "binding" you see is just pinstriping tape, and is easily removed. In this photo you can see that some is already peeling of in the cutaway. I LOVE the idea of adding some Bigsby-style TK Smith pickups! I have a cool 50s fixed-arm B3 Bigsby, that's missing the black enamel paint, that I think would look awesome with the desired pickups. I might go without a pickguard. The neck will be the big decision. Use the original, or transfer that to the "all vintage" Duo jet project, and have a new neck made for this donor project? Either way I'll need to source a new neck, it's just a question of which project will get it.

Thanks for getting my juices flowing on this donor guitar project guys! It will be a nobel endeavor!


Great job on the '55!

Now, this donor... it's your guilt-free custom-shop-opportunity, Ed.

I did ivory/platinum gray on my '64 Nashville project (strangely enough, it also had a hacked Bigsby), and it's a mighty fine combination—at least, that's what everyone tells me. That top color is ivory enough already.

My guilt-free custom-shop-opportunity Annie is still idling, by the way. I put three projects ahead of it after sending it to Curt. "Just hold off on that Annie until after we get this one done..." I'm all out of projects to put ahead of it, now... and I'm also all out of money, too, for the moment.



I was thinking it would be a good candidate for a re-top, maybe even a book matched pine knot. BTW, does this one have a filled G-brand?


I was thinking it would be a good candidate for a re-top, maybe even a book matched pine knot. BTW, does this one have a filled G-brand?

– JazzBoxJunky

I've never been a knotty kind of guy. But if the pu routes are too extensive a re-top may in fact be in the cards... but I hope not. No G-brand that I can see JBJ, not even a pucker under the finish. They must have filled and sanded it smooth. Hard to believe I can't see "some" evidence of it.


Well... a decision has been made. I took stock of where I was with the assembly of vintage correct parts from my "project Jet" (depicted), and was reminded that the body I have (from the #219xx batch) is not without it's own issues, specifically a highly modified neck pocket.

So... I'm going to have to get a neck made for that project anyway, which will free up the donor neck to stay on the donor guitar, which probably also means that it jumps to next-up on the project list. So don't hold your breath, as these things typically take forever, but when its made some decent progress, I'll update the GDP community.


Not only has the neck pocket been routed-out on the project Jet body, the upper radius has been totally reshaped, incorporating a "dip" as it joins the body. Compare that to the unmolested body/pocket of the donor guitar showing the proper shape.


looking forward to witnessing the resurrection .

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