6120 1956 #18241

j.s.c

Country Gent
Aug 19, 2008
3,661
france
HI people,

I spotted a vintage 6120 from the very first batch of 56, the guitar is in nice shape and plays well but there are few points that I wish to put on the table to know what you think :

-non original part : bone nut, wiring, new std tone pot (the stacked one gone). Not sure of the bridge base and washers (the bridge base seems wider than posterior models, washer are also strange with a very thick ~2mm profil... but could be original early 55,56...). Fixed arm bigsby is a repro...

- the back of the neck has been refinished with nitro decade ago, but ... color isn't the same and moreover the nitro is kind of sticky (it stopped my hand sliding many times during my playing test).

- original but low frets...

Construction wise, there is a major issue to me ... I have difficulties to rank this from minor issue to deal breaker, so I wonder what GT people think ?
=> Thie isusue is the side's geometry to neck block at venitian cutaway level. As some older electro II, the side go over the vertical alignement of neck fretboard... As it was over-bent. Not a major issue but not nice. Is it a deal breaker for you ?
 

thunder58

Super Moderator
Staff member
Double Platinum Member
Dec 23, 2010
27,614
Tappan N.Y.
HI people,

I spotted a vintage 6120 from the very first batch of 56, the guitar is in nice shape and plays well but there are few points that I wish to put on the table to know what you think :

-non original part : bone nut, wiring, new std tone pot (the stacked one gone). Not sure of the bridge base and washers (the bridge base seems wider than posterior models, washer are also strange with a very thick ~2mm profil... but could be original early 55,56...). Fixed arm bigsby is a repro...

- the back of the neck has been refinished with nitro decade ago, but ... color isn't the same and moreover the nitro is kind of sticky (it stopped my hand sliding many times during my playing test).

- original but low frets...

Construction wise, there is a major issue to me ... I have difficulties to rank this from minor issue to deal breaker, so I wonder what GT people think ?
=> Thie isusue is the side's geometry to neck block at venitian cutaway level. As some older electro II, the side go over the vertical alignement of neck fretboard... As it was over-bent. Not a major issue but not nice. Is it a deal breaker for you ?
Is it a deal breaker for you ?
With all you've stated , do you really need to ask . Stopping my hand would do it for me
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,961
Where the action is!
That's certainly odd. I've never seen that on a 6120 before. But I have had guitars with that type of cutaway and I didn't even notice it when playing. The heel of the neck is the real impediment anyway. By the time you get past the 14th fret, you're already having to contort your hand and wrist such that a little bit of extra wood there is hardly going to make any difference.
 

Pemberton

Gretschie
May 4, 2022
306
Pennsylvania, USA
I may add... half the price of average reverb ad :eek:
I’ve seen a very wide price range on Reverb for a ‘56 6120. Seems to me anywhere from about $12,000 to $18,000 USD. But if it’s half of average, and considering the non-original parts, refinished neck, and the odd neck block alignment, to me, none of those are necessarily deal breakers.

It is curious about that neck block angle. Could it be original, and just one of those quirks of a “hand-made” guitar? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Especially if it doesn’t effect playability.

But you have a big advantage by actually being able to examine the guitar up close and play it. If you think it’s a fair price, go with your gut.

Also, I guess it comes down to how much you desire to own a ‘56 6120, and if you can live with the non-original parts, sticky refinished neck, and quirkiness of this particular old guitar.
 
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Henry

I Bleed Orange
Apr 9, 2014
19,211
Petaluma
I think I'd walk away but these sorts of issues are why I'm not interested in vintage (aside from the price).

That heel is ugly. Imo being old and sticky doesn't make it less ugly.

Half the average reverb ad so $6000-$9000!? It's your money . . .
 

j.s.c

Country Gent
Aug 19, 2008
3,661
france
I think I'd walk away but these sorts of issues are why I'm not interested in vintage (aside from the price).

That heel is ugly. Imo being old and sticky doesn't make it less ugly.

Half the average reverb ad so $6000-$9000!? It's your money . . .
yes around <10k, relatively sensible (player price for sure)...

If I hadn't have another '50 babes I will jump on it for sure, as it is nice but not a perfect specimen.
But I already have more 6120 then hands... so maybe it's a good deal but not for me. Let me know if someone is interested I'll send more pics...
 
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Pemberton

Gretschie
May 4, 2022
306
Pennsylvania, USA
If I hadn't have another '50 babes I will jump on it for sure, as it is nice but not a perfect specimen.
But I already have more 6120 then hands... so maybe it's a good deal but not for me.
Knowing all that, I agree, I would also pass. There will be others that come along.
 

65club

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2017
90
USA
This one seems to have the same issue, although not as severe.

 

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j.s.c

Country Gent
Aug 19, 2008
3,661
france
01-GRETSCH-6120-CHET-ATKINS-1956.jpg
00-GRETSCH-6120-CHET-ATKINS-1956.jpg

Sure this edgy neck heel isn't a result of neck reset, this joint is original...
These kind of alignment issue were quite frequent before 55 on some of the electro II line...
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,961
Where the action is!
Hmmm. Looks like the bones are good. With a fixed arm Bigsby and an aged nickel/gold bezel on the bridge pickup, it could be a real looker. The mismatched and sticky neck finish would be a problem, but nothing that somebody with some good skills couldn't take care of.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,961
Where the action is!
Again, I don't think that neck joint is actually a problem ergonomically. And if it came from the factory that way, then it is by definition "right".
 

Pemberton

Gretschie
May 4, 2022
306
Pennsylvania, USA
That’s one fine looking guitar. But, for me, personally, I would have a major issue with the back of the neck refinished (I posted earlier that it wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but after thinking about it, I changed my mind).

One of the things I enjoy about my 50s Gretschs is the “player wear” on the back of the necks. I actually prefer it, and like the way they feel. It shows that over the years they were well-loved and somebody played the heck out of them. I often wonder how many hours of playing does it take to wear the finish down to bare maple (more than three “licks,” that’s for sure).


A7170700-01DA-4B54-94CC-264C8B45F30E.jpeg
 
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