How the Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins grew to turn out to be a rock ’n’ roll icon, played by Pete Townshend, Randy Bachman and extra – forward of playing a triumphant second act in the hands of Brian Setzer

The Gibson Les Paul and Fender Esquire/Telecaster and Stratocaster solidbodies, and the Gibson ES-335 semi-hole electric, rightfully nasty as a number of the most iconic guitars of the early days of rock ’n’ roll. 

But one other usually disregarded guitar that deserves a residing apt subsequent to them is the Gretsch 6120. At the starting up developed by Gretsch as a signature guitar for Chet Atkins in 1954 (alongside the chambered “precise” body 6121 Chet Atkins signature “roundup” mannequin), the G6120 become extra warmly embraced by rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll guitarists than the country and western gamers Gretsch on the starting up focused.

Atkins himself wasn’t too extremely satisfied with the 6120’s western-inspired decorations and shining orange enact, and he played the mannequin for loads of effective a snappy duration forward of Gretsch developed his most widespread Country Gentleman guitar. 

On the opposite hand, rockers most widespread the eye-getting orange glow, which remained on the mannequin even after the western attributes disappeared. Eddie Cochran become the most essential early rock ’n’ roller to play a 6120, antagonistic the minds of endless impressionable youths when he performed Twenty Flight Rock in the 1956 movie The Girl Can’t Relief It. Duane Eddy’s 6120 later outlined the sound known as “twang” on several hit instrumentals all the diagram by means of the unhurried ’50s.

Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Gap Physique / Nashville

Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Gap Physique / Nashville (Image credit: Future)

The 6120 on the starting up become outfitted with a pair of DeArmond single-coil pickups, however in unhurried 1957 Gretsch swapped the pickups for a pair of its recent Filter’Tron humbuckers. For most 6120 aficionados, the 1958-61 single-cutaway mannequin is the final version of the 6120 with its Filter’Tron humbuckers, ebony fretboard with Neoclassic/Thumbprint inlays, bar-style bridge, grasp/neck/bridge pickup volume knobs, three-diagram pickup selector swap and seldom passe grasp tone swap.

The 6120 continued to accumulate rock history all the diagram by means of the ’60s in the hands of gamers savor Neil Younger and Steve Miller. The mid-’60s double-cutaway 6120 mannequin skilled very temporary however indispensable encounters with Eric Clapton (Yardbirds) and John Lennon (Paperback Author sessions).

Within the ’70s, Randy Bachman passe his 6120 to write and memoir with the Guess Who as successfully as several BTO hits savor Takin’ Care of Industrial, and Pete Townshend played a 1959 6120 given to him by Joe Walsh to memoir guitar tracks on the Who’s legendary Who’s Subsequent and Quadrophenia albums.

The 6120 had turn out to be a forgotten relic relegated to dusty pawn stores all the diagram by means of the unhurried ’70s, however when Brian Setzer hit the scene with the Stray Cats in the early ’80s, the mannequin grew to turn out to be a latest rockabilly icon, later adopted by gamers savor the Cramps’ Poison Ivy, Reverend Horton Warmth and Chris Cheney of the Living Cease.

Setzer fully inspired the 6120’s resurrection in 1989, almost at the moment after Fred Gretsch revived his household’s namesake firm, and it would possibly maybe well also fair be argued that every Setzer and the 6120 saved Gretsch from oblivion.

Today time Gretsch offers a wide amount of 6120 objects, including Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer signature objects besides to authorized Nashville objects. There’s even a signature mannequin for Atkins acolyte Steve Wariner, which brings the 6120 bulky circle assist to its country song roots.

Attributable to the mannequin’s unbelievable versatility that encompasses every thing from raunchy rhythms to lush jazzy leads, this present day you’re as seemingly to conception a 6120 in the hands of exhausting rock and punk gamers as you are to hear one churning out rockabilly, hillbilly jazz or a twangy instrumental.

Urged rigs

A Filter’Tron-outfitted Gretsch 6120 and a Fender Bassman – both a unhurried-Fifties 4×10 tweed mannequin as passe by Eddie Cochran or an early Sixties piggyback head/2×12 cabinet rig that’s Brian Setzer’s most widespread setup – is a match made in heaven. Add in some tape-style or analog slapback echo (90-100ms) and you’re though-provoking to rock. 

Or dash for the throat and bang out some heavier, raunchier tones with a plexi-style Marshall amp; fair glance out for feedback.

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