Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

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Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby Frank G T Robinson » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:56 am

Could I have details of the new Gretsch 6120 that Paul had a hand in designing and where the best deal is to be had, please,
Many Thanks ,Frank
Frank G T Robinson
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Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:09 am

Re: Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby thenorm » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:29 am

This is how Paul described it when it was originally released. (based on Paul's chetboard postings)

The Gretsch “Chet Atkins CGP” guitar.
(written in January of 2008)

It gives me great pleasure to announce the forthcoming new Gretsch “Chet Atkins CGP” a reissue of Chet’s “Red” solid top one-of –a-kind 6120/55 heard most notably on Finger Style Guitar albums. (It was actually Gretsch orange like on the regular 6120’s but in some photos the guitar was more of a reddish orange.)
This has been a two year project with myself, TV Jones and the Gretsch Guitar Company.
Gretsch is really nice to work with. They listen to my ideas when I have some. TV Jones has done an outstanding job on the pickup and wiring requirements on this guitar.

We have made an effort to make it as close to Chet's guitar as possible. It has the same pickup setup as Chet's original guitar.
Chet's guitar had one stereo pickup (splitting the treble and bass strings) and it was the neck pickup. The CGP has two output jacks so you can use two amps or record two dif-ferent tracks with effects on either track. This is what Chet did in the studio sometimes. He only used the split pickup mode in the studio where he could control the EQ on the board.
You can, of course, use the CGP mono like a normal guitar.

This is how it works:

In mono mode it's like the 6122-59 Gentleman in that the pot next to the vibrato handle is for the back pickup and only one cable/output jack is required to use the guitar. You then have your master volume and a volume pot for each pickup. There is no tone control at all as Chet didn't have one on that guitar.

There is a black switch that cuts the guitar from mono to stereo and when it does the use of the controls changes considerably.

When the guitar is in stereo only the front pickup is working. and two output jacks are used.

When both output jacks are used (in the stereo mode) the pot nearer the edge of the guitar controls the three treble strings and the master volume controls the three bass strings. The control by the Bigsby is muted in the stereo mode as is the pickup selector switch.

In other words only two pots work in the stereo mode: the master volume, which is the volume for the bass strings and the bottom volume control for the treble.

As for the guitar itself, the neck is the same at the nut as the 6122-59 Gretsch Country Gentleman and the taper is the same as the Gibson Country Gentleman. It has a rose-wood fingerboard like the original guitar had. It has a aluminum nut like Chet had at the time and will be shipped with both fixed or swing away Bigsby handle brackets and the Chet handle.

Chet's original guitar had a carved top that was thick in the middle and thinned out to the sides. We couldn't do a carved top because of the cost. The factory in Japan isn't able to do it. Very few people would be able to afford it if they could do it and not many would like the weight of it.

Chet's original instrument was as heavy as a Les Paul or heavier. Jimmy Atkins, who owned the original, told me it was so heavy that he never played it. The CGP has a one piece maple top that is more than an 1/8 thick it has the inlaid F holes. When you do these guitars for production you have to have trade offs. Other than that I think we nailed it pretty good.

It is 24 1/2 scale like all 6120's. The prototype I have has great sustain all the way up the neck. As for the short scale, that's what Chet's was at the time. If I’d had them make it with the long scale the purists would say "Why didn't you make it like Chet's? His had the short scale!”

There are some folks who don’t like the orange color or the G brand styling Gretsch used at that time but I wanted the guitar to look like Chet's. We could have used more knobs and made a tone control and such but Chet's didn't have a tone control so we left it off.

It's the same body size as the old 6120 which means, at 16”, it is narrower than the Country Gentleman and the body is a little thicker.

The pickups are spaced about like Chet's was on his old guitar. The CGP has it's own sound compared to the Country Gentleman. They are different guitars in size, body thickness and pickups so it going to sound different than the Country Gentleman as it should.

Remember Gretsch only made one of those so I'm sure they weren't easy to make back then .
Here’s a little side story about the pickups on that guitar:
Ray Butts received a patent for the Filter-Tron pickup and the stereo pickup at the same time in 1956.
I remember when Ray invented those pickups that Chet had on that guitar. Odell Martin had Ray make him a set for his 6120. I think Ray charged $125 each for them. I didn't have the money to get some but that's show business.
Ray Butts son Randy and I went through Ray's things in his work shop sometime after Ray died. We found the very first Gretsch humbucking pickup and the first stereo pickup like the ones he made Chet, It was a big thrill for me,

Does the CGP sound like Chet’s original? I can’t really answer that. For two reasons. First, Chet's nephew Jimmy Atkins had the guitar for about twenty years and he told me all about it. We talked about it many times so I feel like I know the guitar as well as I could without having played it but I never got to play it. Still, I think it sounds more like Chet's guitar of the mid 50's

The second reason is that Chet was Chet. He did it his way nobody has ever got the sound he got and no one ever will. The sound he got back then was a number of things starting with the guitar he was playing and how he recorded it, so that's the best answer I can give you. I tried to make this guitar as close to his guitar as I could. I'm satisfied with the guitar. I wouldn't want to put anything on the market that wasn't right and I think this would be a guitar anybody would be proud to own


A footnote... Paul later added “He only used the split pickup mode in the studio where he could control the eq on the board.”

It can be played stereo, certainly but it was designed that way as a recording tool.


can't advise you on where to buy, Only a few are made each year
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Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:29 pm

Re: Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby Frank G T Robinson » Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:51 am

Thank you, Norm,
Your reply is,as always, very informative and is much appreciated.
The only other question I have is; can a standard 6120 be purchased that has the nut the same width as the Gretsch 6122-59 Country Gent?
All the best,
Frank G T Robinson
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:09 am

Re: Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby Richard Hudson » Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:36 am

Mr. Robinson, I am not Norm and I hope I am not out of line here, but to my knowledge the CGP is the only 6120 with the 1 3/4" (45mm) nut width. The neck on the CGP is unique, not only in the width at the nut, but in the taper and the overall feel. Difficult to describe, but I think you will notice the difference once you play it. Of course, the 6120's have a shorter scale than the '59 also.

Best of luck,
Richard Hudson
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:24 am

Re: Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby thenorm » Sun Oct 24, 2010 10:33 am

Richard, old friend, how can you "be out of line" by contributitng information?

I never mind being corrected and have been many times on this and other forums. I gain by ending up with a better foundation , That's what 'learning' is all abiout.

Besides, it's like the old car commercial "just ask the man who owns one" in this case and you own one of the guitars in question and have, I'm sure, played most other gretsch guitars as well as owning a 6122-59.

Ya done good!
Posts: 482
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 8:29 pm

Re: Gretsch 6120 (Paul Yandell)

Postby Frank G T Robinson » Sun Oct 24, 2010 11:32 am

Hi, Richard,
Thank you for the further information.
And please, not Mr. Robinson (I had enough of that before I retired) just Frank,
Take care.
Frank G T Robinson
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:09 am

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