1962 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins DC

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Iconic looks, sound and playability, pickups, neck, light weight, classic colour, faux f‑holes, no binding rot, great condition

Thumbs down: Bigsby re‑stringing, thinline double cutaway hollow body, feedback at high volume, zero fret, upper fret access, mute system, non OHSC

Decree: A classic slice of music history and a very good vintage guitar in its own right

Model Description:

Introduced in 1954, the original single cutaway, deep‑bodied Gretsch 6120s are THE big deal for picky (and wealthy) musicians and collectors. Early models were hand made by the Gretsch family business in Brooklyn NYC, USA. The 6120 model was endorsed by popular Nashville country star Chet Atkins and his name appeared on the floating scratchplate. Eager to innovate and keep pace with Gibson, in 1962 Gretsch launched a major update to the popular 6120 including the shallow double cutaway hollow ‘electrotone’ body and its quirky simulated (i.e. painted‑on) f‑holes. Other introductions for that year included a standby (‘kill’) switch and the string mute (‘muffler’ in Gretsch-speak). All the typical Gretsch idiosyncrasies of the period include the zero fret and the tone switch (although no tone knobs). From 1964, Gretsch changed the 6120’s name to the ‘Nashville’ and a chrome nameplate was added to the front of the headstock to match. The Gretsch family sold the business to piano makers Baldwin in 1967 and decline set in until Gretsch ceased production in 1981. Fred Gretsch bought the brand back in 1985 and started rebuilding the company’s reputation. Modern Gretsch guitars are back in fashion, in no part thanks to the brand’s association with rockabilly guitarist Brian Setzer since the early 1990s. The fabulous and iconic Gretsch 6120 is an ever present part of the modern model line up.

Guitar Description:

Wowee! Super drool time! Oozing bucketloads of 1960s Americana, feast your hungry eyes on an early 1962 Gretsch model 6120 Double Cutaway Chet Atkins Hollowbody in glorious translucent Western Orange finish over a wonderfully subtle flame maple top and back. There is something undeniably very cool about these early double cutaway models. In use, it is light and resonant thanks to its hollow archtop construction. Acoustically, it sounds different due to the absence of (real) sound holes. Plugged in, the signature Gretsch sounds are all there. The original Filter’Tron humbucking pickups sound great through a vintage American valve amp, powerful and tonally very strong; it is easy to see why they were so popular during the peak of the rock ‘n’ roll era. The gold hardware, floating bridge and the ‘Gretsch by Bigsby’ vibrato add major mojo. The guitar is in incredible condition for a vintage instrument well over five decades old. The aged patina of the original finish is genuine and very hard for modern ‘relics’ to replicate. The bête noire of Gretsch guitars from the 1960s is the dreaded incurable binding rot caused by the chemical breakdown of the volatile polymers in the plastic that the company used at the time. This example is thankfully completely free of the problem and the binding is as good as it can be – the big bonus is that it will probably now stay that way too. Being pedantic, the back pad, while old, doesn’t look original and the string mute system has been disconnected at some point. Otherwise, this beauty is all-original and genuine. The back of the neck shows some slight natural play wear and that’s to be expected. Overall, this is a stunning example of an iconic instrument that is aging very gracefully indeed.


  • Made in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.A. in 1962
  • Hollow ‘electrotone’ 2‑ply bound archtop body with simulated f-holes
  • Translucent Western Orange nitrocellulose finish
  • 3-piece set maple neck with heel dowel
  • Scale length 24½” (622mm)
  • Single-ply bound headstock in mahogany stained veneer with mother of pearl ‘T‑roof’ Gretsch logo and stylized horseshoe inlay, plus 2‑ply truss rod cover
  • Original gold-plated open-back Grover ‘StaTite’ tuners with metal buttons
  • Ebony fingerboard with bone nut, ‘ActionFlo’ (zero) fret, 22 frets and ‘neo-classical’ thumb print inlays
  • Original gold-plated patent number ‘Filter’Tron’ humbucking pickups
  • Original gold lucite floating scratchplate with Chet Atkins signature and Gretsch logo
  • Original electrics comprising 2x 3‑way pickup and tone switches, 1 ‘standby’ switch, plus 2 individual and 1 master volume controls, and edge-mounted ¼” mono jack socket
  • Gold-plated ‘G‑indent with arrow’ knurled knobs
  • String mute (internally disconnected)
  • Original floating straight bar bridge
  • Original factory gold‑plated ‘V’‑cutout ‘Gretsch by Bigsby’ vibrato
  • Plastic access plate on the back of the body covered by a snap‑on vinyl back pad
  • Non‑original modern hard shell case


  • Chet Atkins
  • Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
  • Eric Clapton
  • Eddie Cochran
  • Billy Duffy (The Cult)
  • Duane Eddy
  • Reverend Horton Heat
  • John Lennon (The Beatles)
  • Poison Ivy Rorschach (The Cramps)
  • Brian Setzer (Stray Cats)
  • John Squire (The Stone Roses)
  • Pete Townshend (The Who)
  • Joe Walsh
  • Neil Young


While most associated with the Gretsch 6120, guitarist and Gretsch endorsee, Chet Atkins had little input into the original design of the guitar that bore his name.

Pete Townshend’s Gretsch 6120 was given to him by Joe Walsh and was used on The Who’s 1971 album, ‘Who’s Next’ and 1973 long player, ‘Quadrophenia’.

Brian Setzer’s original Gretsch was a 1959 model 6120.

Detail Gallery:

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