Vintage Gretsch experts, need help on vintage 6120..

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by parker, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. parker

    parker Member

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    I'm obsessed with owning a vintage 6120 and about to buy one, the guy who has one sent me some pics, however, it has no serial number at the back... never seen that before, also I see the mute missing I know it has Grovers, but can any savvy Gretsch experts steer me the right way? Do you see any red flags or other issues on this guitar? Thanks..


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  2. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Member

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    I'm not an expert but what is that hole beside the bridge for? I've never seen someone make a hole there before.

    Your best bet is to post this on Gretsch Talk or the Gretsch Pages. Lots of experts there.
     
  3. parker

    parker Member

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    I think that's the missing mute... I need to sign up at the Gretsch board, but I thought someone here might know before I do..
     
  4. Gretsch6136

    Gretsch6136 Member

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    Some issues I see:

    Its had its frets filed almost flat to the board with bad file marks in the board. Will play and intonate poorly unless it has a re-fret.

    Non-original tune-o-matic bridge that doesn't fit the bridgepost spacing properly.

    Can you get a side view of the bridge to show how high/low its riding? These guitars often need neck re-sets. The dead giveaway is a medium to high action when the bridge is wound down real low.

    What year does he say it is? The V cut Bigsby first came out in 1960 (I think) and zero frets were dropped around the same time (I think). Couple of things to google.

    The mute is no great loss from the viewpoint of modern guitar playing IMO.

    The heel dowel is correct for a late '50s/early '60s guitar.

    Do the original tuners come with it?
     
  5. vortexxxx

    vortexxxx Member

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    If you do plan on getting it, make sure that the pickups are original (I can't really read what they say on them in the photos)
     
  6. parker

    parker Member

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    Hey man thanks for the insight....he said it's early 60's but with no serial number I can't tell, I can't see how low the frets are but here are some more pics
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  7. Waxhead

    Waxhead Member

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    +1
    if the hole near the bridge is a missing mute it looks crap & would probly be a deal breaker for me
    I'd also be wanting a very close inspection of all binding - this is a big issue on vintage Gretsch.
    This geetar is not in good condition imo
     
  8. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Member

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    As far as the serial number goes, look to see if there is one stamped in the top EDGE of the headstock. If not, then look underneath the neck pickup. On some of these, the Gretsch label was placed in the neck pickup cavity instead of inside the access panel. The missing mute is the flip-up version (as opposed to the dial-up version) and not a big deal,--they can be replaced.

    The tuners and the bridge have obviously been replaced. Whether that's a deal-breaker or not is up to you. All of the other hardware including the pickups appears to be original, or at least, from the same era.
    As others stated, look very carefully at the condition of the binding, and also the neck angle / action at the 12th-14th frets. High action may indicate the need for a neck reset, which is not uncommon for these guitars.
     
  9. Nada

    Nada Member

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    could be the pictured angle, but those strings look rather high. could be a candidate for a neck reset.
     
  10. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    Just my opinion but I've owned a few "vintage" 6120's. Most of them have issues (binding, neck resets, etc) unless there is some specific reason (other than I WANT a vintage Gretsch) I would seriously recommend you look at the newer ones..
     
  11. guitback

    guitback Member

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    Geez, did 6120s ever have that weird suspended tuning fork weirdness that was supposed to enhance sustain? Wondering if that is what the hole is for.
     
  12. Lennon

    Lennon Member

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    This
     
  13. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    Apart from the changed bridge and tuners, that guitar looks very similar to my 1962 model, which has the serial number stamped on the top edge of the headstock. As someone else has already pointed out, the hole in front of the bridge is from the missing mute. No big deal unless you're a serious Chet-style fingerpicker; using the mute does give a slightly different, and arguably more consistent, tone than palm-muting.

    Te one difference I can see is that more of the fingerboard is clear of the top on mine, and the carving's a little finer. I suspect this one was made a little later.

    If the price is right, I wouldn't worry too much about the frets—you'll probably WANT to have them redone. My 6120 was one of those pull-it-out-of-the-case-every-few-months guitars until I had it refretted. Now it plays like a great 335—and sounds, of course, like nothing else.

    Does the one you're looking at come with the cowboy case? Mine did: :).
     
  14. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    And another thing: the break angle on mine is even shallower than on the OP's. Doesn't seem to hurt sustain or playability, and the Bigsby works like a charm.
     
  15. tartanphantom

    tartanphantom Member

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    Nope-- the 6120 never featured the tuning fork mechanism (aka "The Gretsch Floating Sound Unit"). The hole is for the single mute-- which is obviated by the mute switch knob sitting adjacent to the standby switch in the OP's photos.
     
  16. parker

    parker Member

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    so what is a decent price to pay for this? It comes with a HS case, although he doesn't know if it's original... I've not seen photo's of it.

    Bluzeboy: yes, i have an irrational affinity for the vintage ones :brick
     
  17. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure the base is original. The Tune-o-matic is a Japan or Korean cheap-o from yesteryear like those that came on Univox, Ibanez, etc.
     
  18. Doug's Tubes

    Doug's Tubes Member

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    Never seen a 6120 with a mute.....or backpad for that matter.

    You sure this isn't a conversion country gentlemen?
     
  19. snarkle

    snarkle Member

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    My ’62 has a mute and a backpad...

    Actually, I lie...the mute is long gone, just like the OP's. But the hole, mute knob, and internal mechanism remain.
     
  20. Doug's Tubes

    Doug's Tubes Member

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    Ah, I'm thinking of '61 and before single cuts..........
     

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