Browse Dave’s Collection
“Welcome to the guitar collection. On the second floor of our store we have on display over 300 guitars and more than 50 amps that I’ve accumulated over the years. The friends and customers that have visited us seem to really appreciate being able to view this, so we thought we would share it with our online friends and fellow guitar enthusiasts as well. Enjoy!”
- Dave Rogers
The items in Dave’s Collection are not available for purchase.
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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.
Western Orange, Serial # 26522.
The Gretsch Chet Atkins Hollowbody Model 6120 was introduced in 1954. Gretsch designed it with input from Chet Atkins to be his signature model guitar. The features changed over the years as Chet was continually striving to improve his sound, and Gretsch was always looking for new marketing ideas. One of the most significant upgrades to the model was the change from DeArmond single coil pickups to Filtertron humbuckers in 1958. Chet disliked the twangy sound caused by the strong magnetic pull of the DeArmonds, along with the annoying 60-cycle hum. He developed a relationship with amp builder Ray Butts who eventually designed some experimental humbuckers for Chet’s guitar. Chet approved of the sound, and the pickups were produced by Gretsch to be included on all their top end guitars.
This example from the collection is from one of the earliest batches of Filtertron equipped 6120s. The pickups have no “Pat. Applied For” stamped in the metal of the pickup cover as usually seen between 1958 and 1960. The pickguard is left over from those cut to accommodate DeArmonds. The guitar originally had metal nut as was standard at the time on Atkins Models. The previous owner had replaced it with a more conventional nut many years ago.
This Gretsch’s white cowboy case contains an interesting item of historical significance: it’s the previous owner’s original sales receipt. The already second hand 6120 was purchased in 1960 from Layton’s Music store in Oskaloosa Iowa. The guitar was tagged at $340. A trade in of $280 was accepted for a 1956 Fender Stratocaster, leaving a balance after tax of $71.63! At the time a fancy Chet Atkins Hollowbody was considered a much classier instrument than a Sci-Fi slab of wood Strat.
Western Orange, Serial # 40749.
In 1954, the Fred Gretsch Company introduced its own artist endorsed guitar in response to the success of Gibson’s Les Paul Model. 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 they were gradually removed as he and the guitar became more popular.
This early 1961 version has the typical characteristics of 6120 models produced for that year. These include: an ebony fingerboard with neoclassic inlays (1958), Filter’Tron Humbucking pickups (1958), zero fret (1959), V-style Gretsch by Bigsby tailpiece (1960), and a bar bridge (1957). By 1961, the body depth had thinned to just 2.25” thick (from 2.75” in ’54, to 2.5” in ’60). Possibly due to the thinner body, the neck joint changed from a dovetail to a mortise and tenon. The reinforcing dowel was moved from the back of the heel to the side located in the cutaway.
Later examples from ’61 would also be equipped with a standby switch before the model changed to a double cutaway in 1962.
Cherry Red, Serial # 34983.
In 1958 the Fred Gretsch Company decided to expand the successful Chet Atkins signature guitar line introduced in 1954, which already included the Chet Atkins Hollowbody 6120 and the Chet Atkins Solidbody 6121. The new models were the high end Country Gentleman and the low end Tennesean.
The Chet Atkins Tennessean was a stripped down version of the 6120. It shared the same body dimensions, but had only one bridge pickup, and had no binding on the fingerboard or headstock. The Tennessean also had a unique red stain finish instead of the orange of the 6120. The pickguard with Chet’s signature in a signpost was black instead of the gold color seen on the 6120.
The features on this example from the collection are common to other 1960 model year Tennesseans. These include: the zero fret, Patent Applied For Filter ‘Tron pickup, “V” cutout Gretsch Bigsby vibrato, and a body depth of about 2 and ½ inches.
These appointments remained (except for a gradually thinning body) until 1962 when Gretsch’s entire line was revamped.
Walnut, Serial # 41707.
The Gretsch Country Gentleman debuted in 1958 as the top model of the Chet Atkins line, which now included the economy Tennessean 6119, as well as the Chet Atkins Hollowbody 6120 and Solidbody 6121.
The Country Gentleman’s features were developed because of Chet’s continuing quest to achieve a better amplified guitar sound. These features included better bracing helping sustain, closed f-holes to eliminate feed back, and hum-canceling pickups. Chet also wanted the guitar to have a classier look than the bright orange 6120, so it was stained a dark mahogany color. The single cut-away Country Gentleman remained his favorite Gretsch even after the model changed to a double cut-away in 1962.
This Country Gentleman has all the features typical to 1961: a 17 inch wide body with a slim two inch depth (shrunk from 1958’s 2 and ¾ inches), gold plated U.S. Pat. 2892371 Filtertron pickups, a brushed Aluminum Gretsch “V” cutout Bigsby, closed “f” holes, Gold plated Grover Imperial tuners, zero fret (added in 1959) on an ebony fingerboard with Neo Classic (thumbprint) inlays, a nameplate with serial number on the headstock, and a gold plated bar bridge.
This guitar cost $575 when new in 1961 and came with a dark gray Deluxe Gretsch case. Original single cut-away versions of the 6122 are seen less often than the double cut-away versions made popular by George Harrison and can be very expensive.
Red, Serial # 17771.
White, Serial # 271011.
Silver Sparkle, Serial # 16622.
In 1953 the Gretsch Company introduced its first solidbody electric guitar: the Duo Jet. It was intended to compete with Fender’s Telecaster and Gibson’s Les Paul. The Duo Jet had a similar shape to the Les Paul, but instead of being truly solid, its separate pieces of mahogany had hollow spaces left open for electronics and wiring. The pressed arched top was often covered in the same black plastic material used on some Gretsch drums.
The Duo Jet also included the innovative Melita Synchro – Sonic bridge which allowed separate intonation adjustment for each string.
While Gretsch was behind Fender and Gibson in the introduction of a solid body, they were ahead in eye catching colors. Each guitar received a different model name relating to its striking finish, even though it remained essentially a Duo Jet. These models were the Silver Jet (Sliver Sparkle), the Round Up (Orange with western style inlays and leather trim) and the Jet Firebird (Red).
This Silver Jet has all the features common to 1955 Jets: a rosewood fingerboard with large pearloid block inlays, chrome master volume, two individual pickup volumes and master tone controls all stamped with an arrow in the center, a small bullet shaped trussrod cover, two DeArmond single coil pickups, Melita Bridge, silver pickguard, and a chrome “G” cutout tailpiece. The feature unique to Silver Jets is the silver sparkle top made made from the same material Gretsch used to cover its drums. The 1955 Gretsch catalog lists a Silver Jet for $255.
Oriental Red, Serial # 23809.
Leo Fender’s revolutionary solid body guitars created quite a stir in the early 1950’s. The established guitar manufacturers of the day initially viewed the Fender solid bodies as ridiculous and ignored them-that is until the guitars started selling. The Gibson company was the first to realize there was money to be made and got together with the recording artist Les Paul (who had a number of recent hit records) to design its own fancier solid body called the Les Paul Model debuting in 1952. Seeing that Gibson was successful, the Fred Gretsch Company followed suit in 1953 with a similarly shaped guitar called the Duo Jet. By the time Gretsch’s 1955 catalogue appeared, the company offered a whole line of solid bodies: the Duo Jet, the Silver Jet, the Jet Firebird, the Roundup, and the Chet Atkins Solid body. Each of these was basically a Duo Jet with different cosmetic features.
This Gretsch Jet Firebird shares features common to all Jet’s of 1957: semi-solid body construction, Grover StaTite tuning machines, a rosewood fingerboard with humped-block inlays, a Melita Synchro-sonic adjustable bridge, and DeArmond Dynasonic single coil pickups made by Rowe Industries of Toledo Ohio. The features unique to a Model 6131 Jet Firebird are an Oriental Red top; black back, sides and neck, and a black pickguard with “GRETCH” in white letters.
Some players who at one time favored the twangy yet beefy sound of Dynasonic equipped Jets are Cliff Gallup, Bo Diddley, George Harrison, Billy Zoom, and Jeff Beck.
Western Orange, Serial # 23405.
Western Orange, Serial # 13173.
Walnut, Serial # 44245.
Walnut, Serial # 79726.
Sunburst, Serial # 09618.
Cadillac Green, Serial # 47040.
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