Gretsch 6120, '57
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Western Orange, Serial # 25017.
In 1954, the Fred Gretsch Company introduced its own artist signature guitar in response to the success of Gibson’s Les Paul guitar. The virtuoso country artist, Chet Atkins was chosen, and with his input, the model 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody was born.
The guitar included features requested by Atkins, such as a 24 and ¾” scale length, metal nut, and Bigsby Vibrato tailpiece, It also initially sported “kitschy” western designs intended to appeal to country music fans. Atkins disliked the extra cosmetic decorations and had them gradually removed as he and the guitar became more popular.
The 1957 6120 pictured has all the traits typical to that year: Horseshoe headstock inlay (replacing steer’s head of ’54 –’56), hump-top block fingerboard markers (replacing the rectangular blocks of ’56), and a “Bar” bridge (replacing the aluminum Bigsby compensated bridge of ’54 –’56).
DeArmond single coil pickups were still used in 1957, although they would be replaced in1958 with the new Filtertron Humbuckers Atkins preferred. These “twangy” DeArmond pickups would help to create the signature sound of rock ‘n roll icon Duane Eddy. Eddy purchased a 6120 very similar to this one in October 1957, and went on to have numerous instrumental hits.