Hi everyone – today's 'Guitar of the Week' is a really interesting one… it is a 'Gold Sparkle' 1967 Gretsch 6120 with a star provenance
Read on – watch the new video and have a great weekend – David B

A Gold-Sparkle 1967 Gretsch 6120
Ex Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and Jeff Tweedy (Wilko)

1967. Gretsch. 6120 Chet Atkins 'Nashville 'Hollow Body. Gold Sparkle (9.00).

Thinline double cutaway with rounded horns. This forty-eight year old 15 1/2 inch-wide guitar ex Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and then Jeff Tweedy (Wilko) weighs just 7.30 lbs. Double-bound laminated maple body with black painted f-holes with white borders. Two-piece maple neck with ebony center-strip, a nut width of just over 1 5/8 inches,  a medium-to-thick profile and a standard Chet Atkins scale length of 24 1/2 inches. Ebony fretboard with 22 frets plus zero fret and neo-classic  inlaid pearl thumbprint (half-moon) position markers. Black faced headstock with inlaid pearl Gretsch "T-roof" logo and rectangular brass plate secured by four pins and engraved "Chet Atkins / Nashville / Model". Bell-shaped two-layer (black on white) plastic truss-rod cover with three screws. The serial number "271292" is stamped in black on the back of the headstock. Individual closed-back Grover USA tuners with oval metal buttons. Two patent-number Filter'Tron pickups with gold plastic surrounds and outputs of 4.20k and 4.32k. Gold Lucite pickguard with pantograph-engraved Gretsch "T-roof" logo and "Chet Atkins" signature and "Nashville" in black. Two volume controls (one for each pickup) plus a three-way stand-by switch on the lower treble bout, one master volume control on the upper treble bout, plus two three-way selector switches (one pickup selector and one tone selector) on the upper bass bout. The potentiometers are stamped "137 663X" (CTS, July-September 1966). String damper with the original? white felt pad. Gretsch "Arrow-through-G" knobs with cross-hatch pattern on sides. Aluminium Gretsch 'Bar-bridge on height-adjustable ebony base and aluminium V-cutout B-6 Bigsby ("Gretsch by Bigsby") vibrato tailpiece with pivoting arm. Original black vinyl pad with gold trim and eight push-button fasteners on the back of the guitar covering the original Gretsch cream plastic control cover with only two (of eight) screws. All hardware gold-plated. Housed in the original Gretsch five-latch, two-tone gray, shaped (well worn) hardshell case with burgundy padded felt lining (7.50).

This guitar was owned by Dan Murphy of Soul Asylum. Dan used it on several of their recordings. Dan purchased the guitar from Jeff Tweedy of Soul Asylum (sometime before 1996) - Jeff used the guitar extensively on stage - he can be seen on Youtube playing the guitar in a 1996 Chicago Wilko concert at:  Interestingly, the guitar has an original matching 'gold-sparkle' leather strap…

This is the only 'gold-sparkle' Gretsch 6120 that we have ever seen. We are aware of a 1967 6120 in factory black as shown on page 154 of Ed Ball's wonderful book on the Gretsch 6120. The million dollar question on our guitar is - was this the original color of the guitar? We do know by the aforementioned video that the guitar had its Gold Sparkle finish back in 1996!

We purchased the guitar from Willie's American Guitars in St. Paul, MN. They were told by the previous owner (Dan Murphy) that the guitar was "a very rare factory-original custom color - gold sparkle". As always we are super cautious about 'factory custom colors' and we have taken the guitar completely apart (as always) to verify its authenticity. Our findings are as follows:

1. Under UV light the finish looks to be original - there is a clear distinction where the body has been 'covered' by the hardware - i.e. the pad on the back of the guitar, the Bigsby tailpiece etc.
2. We believe that the tuners have been changed - there are additional three additional small holes which can only be seen when the tuners are removed.
3. The input jack plate has been changed - the hole has been enlarged and a square gold-plated four-screw plate has been fitted (this was most likely due to make it stronger as there is no evidence of a break in the side of the body).
4. There are orange stains on the wooden braces under the pickups - but the pickup wiring and solder-joints are all original. Also there are signs of orange stain under the gold finish on one of the back-plate screw holes. We sent detailed photographs to our good friend Ed Ball - his explanation is as follows
"There appears to be orange stain in the pickup cavities, under the holes from the back access cavity, and in the hole for the muffler pads.  Now... who's to say that Gretsch didn't decide to paint an already orange stained guitar a custom color over-top... like Fender did with some custom color Strats?  I dunno... maybe."
5. The face of the headstock is factory black and the factory serial number is stamped in black.
6. The white outlines around the black 'faux' 'f' holes are not as finely executed as usual…

In conclusion we believe that the 'usual 6120' orange stain had been applied to the body before the gold sparkle finish was applied and that to fulfill a 'special custom order' - the guitar left the factory in 1967 as a 'gold-sparkle'. However it is also possible that the Gold Sparkle finish was applied at a later date but if so it would most certainly have been done at the Gretsch factory and it would have been not long after 1967. Whatever the story this is a great playing, great sounding guitar with a very good provenance (at least for the past twenty odd years)…

"In 1962 a profound change occurred in the Model 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody: the company introduced its Electrontone hollowbody design, a two-inch-deep, 15 1/2 inch-wide (not 16" as the catalog noted) double cutaway body with replica, not real, f-holes painted on the guitar. So, the Model had been converted from a true f-hole, single cutaway, hollow guitar to a simulated f-hole, double cutaway, semi-hollow instrument" (Jay Scott, The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company, p. 83).

Stock No. 01831.

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