Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Adrian Belew’s Gretsch

1

From Adrian Belew's Facebook page:

if you were to ask me which of the world’s great guitarists do I wish could play like, the answer would be the man this guitar is named after: Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins. if you’re thinking, “adrian would like to be a country guitar player?” then you haven’t really listened enough to Chet Atkins.

until recently I only ever owned 1 actual vintage guitar, this 1962 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins model. (now I have 2 vintage italian guitars as well).

these big beautiful Gretsch guitars are in a class all their own. if I were president of the world every guitar player would be issued at least one of these. it’s a unique experience.

I bought this guitar in the early 90’s from my friend and vintage guitar dealer Dewey Bowen, who also made the early locking tuners I once used. Dewey and his brother own Freedom Guitars, one of the largest vintage shops in california. it still has its price tag on it: $3500. (Dewey gave me a better deal). he said this guitar had just come in the shop recently and the owner swore it had been in its case underneath a bed untouched for years. judging by its pristine condition, it is possible.

the guitar features two Filtertron pickups which give it that “great gretsch sound”. it has a mute switch which comes up between the bridge and the bridge pickup. for those of you old enough to remember the Herman’s Hermits hit “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” the plankety plink sound of the guitar in that song is a mute. they are rare for a reason.

it has a Gretsch by Bigsby vibrato, gold hardware, painted F-holes, cream inlays around the body and neck, and a cushion on the back customary on this model, all in near-perfect condition. it wears D’Addario EHR310 semi-flat wound strings true to its era.

when it arrived, I pulled it out its case, hugged it, and immediately began playing a new song which would eventually become “Six String” on the Op Zop Too Wah album. a song about loving a guitar. just like the baby blue Fender fretless, someone left the song in there.

with so many great Gretsch models to choose from I’m thinking this will not be my only one for long.

2

Even as a big, big Adrian Belew fan, I never would've thought he'd be into Gretsches, or Chet, but what a cool thing that he is, eh?

3

No Affiliation With Seller.

I was very tempted by a '63 many years ago as it had a fine neck. Just ran into this one -- a '64 that seems to be a good deal -- no binding rot. Make sure you check the last photo of the band it was in. Muy groovy!

4

Very cool. However, for the record, the "plankety-plink" on Mrs. Brown came not from the mute but instead from a towel.

5

No Affiliation With Seller.

I was very tempted by a '63 many years ago as it had a fine neck. Just ran into this one -- a '64 that seems to be a good deal -- no binding rot. Make sure you check the last photo of the band it was in. Muy groovy!

– lx

That does look like a good one. Not sure how this photo wound up in the listing, though.

6

Yeah, that looks like an early modern Gretsch.

7

3500 in the early 90's? California price!

8

There have been other Strat fanatics who just burned out on that scene and decided to change course or at least be open to other makes.

9

3500 in the early 90's? California price!

– WB

I know. That jumped out at me too. I paid that amount for one at the absolute peak of the bubble, about 2005.

10

First Gretsch I thought I wanted when I started looking at them seriously was a 6120DC. And dang, I still want one...

11

I met him a few years ago and he played my falcon. He told me how much he loved gretsch so I tried to get him in touch with Joe. Not sure what ever happened after that though

12

As a side note he rocked so hard that day that he tore the term out of that Parker fly!

13

Now that's cool right there. I'm glad Adrian is a Gretschy guy.

14

3500 in the early 90's? California price!

– WB

Wow yes.... I paid much less for my 1960 6120 in 1990.

15

From Adrian Belew's Facebook page:

if you were to ask me which of the world’s great guitarists do I wish could play like, the answer would be the man this guitar is named after: Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins. if you’re thinking, “adrian would like to be a country guitar player?” then you haven’t really listened enough to Chet Atkins.

until recently I only ever owned 1 actual vintage guitar, this 1962 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins model. (now I have 2 vintage italian guitars as well).

these big beautiful Gretsch guitars are in a class all their own. if I were president of the world every guitar player would be issued at least one of these. it’s a unique experience.

I bought this guitar in the early 90’s from my friend and vintage guitar dealer Dewey Bowen, who also made the early locking tuners I once used. Dewey and his brother own Freedom Guitars, one of the largest vintage shops in california. it still has its price tag on it: $3500. (Dewey gave me a better deal). he said this guitar had just come in the shop recently and the owner swore it had been in its case underneath a bed untouched for years. judging by its pristine condition, it is possible.

the guitar features two Filtertron pickups which give it that “great gretsch sound”. it has a mute switch which comes up between the bridge and the bridge pickup. for those of you old enough to remember the Herman’s Hermits hit “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” the plankety plink sound of the guitar in that song is a mute. they are rare for a reason.

it has a Gretsch by Bigsby vibrato, gold hardware, painted F-holes, cream inlays around the body and neck, and a cushion on the back customary on this model, all in near-perfect condition. it wears D’Addario EHR310 semi-flat wound strings true to its era.

when it arrived, I pulled it out its case, hugged it, and immediately began playing a new song which would eventually become “Six String” on the Op Zop Too Wah album. a song about loving a guitar. just like the baby blue Fender fretless, someone left the song in there.

with so many great Gretsch models to choose from I’m thinking this will not be my only one for long.

– crowbone

I'd like to start the "Crowbone for President of the World" movement. I like his policy statement!

16

Thanks, Audept.

I would never join a club that would have me as a member.

Except, maybe, some internet forum about Gretsch guitars, that really isn't just about Gretsch guitars...if something like that existed, probably not though...it'd never fly.

17

My first Gretsch was a '73 Streamliner in deep cherry red. It was a decent guitar but a bit thin sounding. Then my second was a '64 6120 identical to the one above. That was the guitar that sold me on Gretsch. That would have been around 1986 I guess? I played many gigs with that guitar once I replaced the flimsy bridge. It had the original rocking bar bridge and the bar sat on weird posts with semi-circular bases in the rounded holes in the ebony base. It would tip over if you looked at it.

The things which stood out to me were (1) the neck - very much like the neck on every Setzer Signature guitar I have owned it was a beautiful soft V which worked perfectly for me, and (2) the amazing sound. Played by it self it sounded good but not remarkable. But as part of a band it was the first time I have had such a big sound which cut through. Fenders would cut but sound thin, while Gibsons would sound full but not cut. The Gretsch sat perfectly in the mix and was so satisfying to play.

So when I got into the new Gretsches, specifically the Setzers I was delighted that they sounded much like my old '64, but better. The basic tone is the same. The SSLVO is a more focussed version of that sound which suits me better but it remains my favourite sound. Nothing sounds as good as a 6120.


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