Born in the Fifties: Electric Guitars
1957 Gretsch Chet Atkins Hollowbody 6120
In 1954, the Fred Gretsch Company introduced its own artist signature guitar in response to the success of Gibson’s Les Paul guitar. The virtuoso country artist Chet Atkins was chosen, and with his input the model 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody was born. The guitar included features requested by Atkins, such as a 24.75" scale length, metal nut and Bigsby vibrato tailpiece. It also initially sported “kitschy” western designs intended to appeal to country music fans. Atkins disliked the extra cosmetic decorations and had them gradually removed as he and the guitar became more popular.
The 1957 6120 (serial # 25017) pictured here has all the traits typical to that year: Horseshoe headstock inlay (replacing steer’s head of ’54–’56), hump-top block fingerboard markers (replacing the rectangular blocks of ’56), and a “Bar” bridge (replacing the aluminum Bigsby compensated bridge of ’54–’56). De Armond single-coil pickups were still used in 1957, although they would be replaced in 1958 with the new Filtertron humbuckers Atkins preferred. Credit: Tim Mullally & Dave Rogers, Daves Guitar Shop, La Crosse, WI.