Up for sale, a 1961 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120 in exceptional condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original white Cowboy case. A singularly unique year for 6120 production and the last for the original single cutaway body design, this 6120 is notable for featuring a trestle-braced 2.25" deep body (slimmed down from 2.5" in '60), retaining the original Filter'Tron pickup pair. The body and neck have been fully rebound and it's exquisitely clean work, with vintage-spec two-ply binding used on the body, and correct mini red side dots on the neck, as well as a professional refret with correct slender fretwire. A professional neck reset rounds out the essential maintenance, and this 6120 will delight astute collectors and serious players alike, with all the reverence and careful attention due a golden era Gretsch.
With a 16" wide fully hollow trestle-braced thinline body and maple construction with bound, oversized F holes, this Gretsch delivers a smooth, broad acoustic tone with a bit of growl when you dig in with a flatpick. The hollow body providing a big, relaxed natural sound that retains ideal percussive cut and grit, translating to a broad array of classic Gretsch tonalities via the original pair of Filter’Tron humbuckers. The neck pickup is meaty and sweet-sounding while still being clear and sparkly, the kind of tonal contradiction that can only be understood when you hear a *great* vintage Gretsch, and while the bridge pickup provides great clarity, it also has a bold and full broadband punch. Both acoustically and electrically, flat picking near the bridge delivers a taut hollow twang on the wound strings that simply can't be replicated by any modern instrument. Worthy of the Chet Atkins name, the premium fretwork, neck set, and binding elevate this particular 6120 above the pack. Featherweight at 7lbs 1oz, this Gretsch has been professionally setup here at Mike and Mike’s Guitar Bar with roundwound 10-46 strings and low action
The two-piece neck has a slender C-shaped profile carve with just enough roundness in the shoulders, measuring .835" at the 1st fret and .900" at the 9th. The ebony fretboard features original pearl thumbnail inlays, as well as the aforementioned professional refret with slender, vintage-spec frets that show just a touch of wear beneath the plains 1-3 and light corresponding wear into the ebony on the treble side of the board from frets 1-4. The fretboard measures 1 11/16" wide at the zero fret just forward of the nut. The bound maple headstock face features a particularly well-executed Gretsch inlay for this era, along with the iconic horseshoe, and the original gold Waverly tuning machines are present too, still functioning smoothly.
All of the original electronics are intact, with the Filter'Tron pickups mounted to their original transparent pickup risers. The myriad controls include individual pickup Volume knobs, a Master Volume on the treble side body horn, and three-way pickup selector and tone switches (forgoing the "standby" switch added to very late '61 examples). The gold plating on the G pointer knobs, Filter'Tron covers and switches has aged gracefully with sporadic wear down to the bare nickel, and the hardware is rounded out by a modern gold bar bridge and original B6G vibrato tailpiece. The Bigsby vibrato delivers what all Bigsbys aspire to, yet few achieve. The subtlety and responsiveness of this vibrato cannot be overstated, and the unit reacts to the lightest touch. Deeper dives can be actuated with ease, and the original spring has ideal tension, returning to the original pitch with great reliability. The stock pickguard bracket mounts a flawless modern gold Chet Atkins signature guard (likely furnished by Quick Guards, given that the quality is superior to modern Gretsch guard production). The original label is retained inside the body.
Cosmetically, this guitar boasts the original pale Western Orange Stain nitro lacquer finish which highlights the grain of the maple and light flame figuring on the edges of the top. The lacquer on top has faded slightly, while the back retains a fractionally more ruddy shade. The new binding was flawlessly done, with the correct two-ply binding used on the top, back and heel cap. The neck was reset in the instrument’s lifetime, currently meeting the body at the ideal angle to achieve perfect pickup proximity to the strings while also offering room for adjustment on both bridge thumbwheels. There are also a couple slender repaired splits on either side of the plastic neck dowel cap inside the treble cutaway, as '61 was also a notable year which shifted the position of the dowel and style of neck joint from a dovetail to a mortise and tenon.
Cosmetic wear is sparse, with one tiny plugged hole on top (visible in the “V” of the Bigsby), faint lacquer checking, scuffing mostly central to the lower bout on the back but also extending more faintly to the upper bout, and a few additional nicks and ancillary minor marks on the body as a whole. The neck profile finish is smooth and inviting, with palm wear through the gloss on the profile shoulders.
The original white "Cowboy" case is included, retaining its original black tooled leather trim, stock handle, and functional latches.