While the Gretsch 6120 model is considered to be the definitive Gretsch guitar by some, there have been dozens of variations through the years with the 6120 designation. When first released in 1955, at a cost of $385, the 6120 Chet Atkins model was aimed at the country market, and sported western-themed touches like cactus and cowhead etchings, and a large G branded into the top. The guitar quickly gained popularity with early rock and rockabilly players like Eddie Cochran and Duane Eddy, however, and by the late '50s, those western flourishes were eliminated, and the single-coil DeArmond pickups were replaced with a pair of Gretsch FilterTron humbuckers. Over the years, the 6120 model name has been applied to a variety of guitar designs, including single-cutaway and double-cutaway models, fat body (almost 3 wide) or thin body (about 2 wide) designs, and open bodies (with carved f-holes) or closed bodies (with painted f-holes, for that classic look, with less tendency to feedback). Depending on the year of manufacture or sub-model, a 6120 might be loaded with single coil pickups or humbuckers, any number of Bigsby vibrato units, and adorned with names like Chet Atkins, The Nashville, or any of a number of signature players, from those past masters Eddie Cochran and Duane Eddy, to current twang-meisters Brian Setzer and The Reverend Horton Heat. The one constant is that classic Gretsch twang, tone and attitude.
Take the G6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body model, for instance. Based on the early design from the mid-50's, this axe features the full set of western appointments like the cowboy-themed fingerboard inlays and the big G branded into the body, but the real magic lies in the 2-3/4 deep single-cutaway body, the DynaSonic single-coil pickups, and the flat-handle B6CBVF Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, for that authentic vintage twang. The G6120 Chet Atkins is a double-cutaway beauty based on the legendary picker's 1962 design, with the thinner 2 body with simulated f-holes, dual FilterTron humbuckers, 24.6 scale length fretboard with zero fret, flip-up muffler system and snap-on back pad, so your prized bronco-bustin' belt buckle won't scratch your prized axe! Or check out one of the Brian Setzer signature models, each made to the Stray Cat's exacting specifications, like the G6120SSLVO, based on Brian's iconic 1959 6120, and featuring trestle bracing and hot-rodded TV Jones Classic humbucking pickups, just like Setzer's main stage guitar.
And that's just the beginning - in addition to signature models from Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy and Reverend Horton Heat, among others, there are several other variations from the Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer lines, classic lefty versions of many designs, and tricked-out Custom Shop models. And lest you think the 6120 is mostly a country and rockabilly guitar, consider this - Pete Townshend recorded much of The Who's most compelling material on a a 1959 Gretsch 6120 that was given to him by Joe Walsh (of The James Gang and The Eagles fame), including most tracks on Who's Next and Quadrophenia. So if you're looking to add some classic country twang, hot rockabilly licks or rumbling rock swagger to your guitar arsenal, get a Gretsch 6120 and see what you've been missing!