Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

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Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby smokymtguitar09 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:16 pm

Chet's nephew, Jimmy Atkins, played guitar in the band Walt Benton and the Diplomats in the 1950s. He had purchased Jerry Reed's Gretsch 6120 after Jerry had traded it in Atlanta. I found a photo of Jimmy holding the guitar with Jimmy's name on the pickguard. I spoke with Jimmy on the phone a few years ago and at time he still had it.

1. Far left - Jimmy Atkins (Chet's nephew) is holding a Gretch Country Gentlemen that was owned by Jerry Reed.

2. Far right - Bill Leys is holding his custom made 1959 Gretch Country Gentlemen. This had the original PAF's and a Zero-Neck inlay.

3. Both Jimmy and Bill worked at Dekalb Music Supply in Atlanta, Ga. A frequent visitor was Jerry Reed, who always had some new lick to show everybody. When Jerry traded his Gretch, Jimmy got word and rushed down to buy it quick.

http://www.worxmusic.com/DiplomatsTrioWB.JPG
Ronnie Evans
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby keener » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:03 pm

That's a great picture of Jimmy! Looks a little younger than I remember him. My Dad and I used to visit him about every Saturday (or every other Saturday ?) many, many years ago when he worked with (for ?) Parks Hall [or is it Park Hall ... I can never remember]. Jimmy gave lessons and helped repair guitars, and Parks mostly repaired guitars (he was a superb jazz guitarist).

I can't remember ever seeing Jimmy when he didn't wear a flannel shirt, even in the Summer.

I got a real kick out of Jimmy saying "this is how uncle Chet played it," and Parks saying "I don't give a d... how Chet played it ... this is how it's supposed to be played." {I think the tune was Little Old Lady, and Parks added a couple of transitional notes.] Was funny to me. I couldn't have been more than 20, and was probably in my late teens. Back then, Chet and Jerry came into town on a fairly regular basis and Jimmy always had some story to share from getting together with them.

Anyway, thanks for sharing the pic, Ronnie. If you ever talk to Jimmy, please tell him Bruce Keener says hi ... he's not likely to remember me, except, maybe, if you also mention the guitar picking kid who came in with the bald guitar picking dad. Even then he might not remember. Those were great years, though.
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby thenorm » Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:48 pm

splitting hair here but the guitar on the left is a 6120 (as you indicated at first. Later in the post you said it was a) Interesting guitar and would likely be worth some bucks today.

Don't know if I'd call the other one a country gentleman with a black pickguard and open f-holes but if you say it's a custom job it may well be. The zero fret came out in 1959 but that black Bigsby looks odd too. The 59's had the Vee cutout on the Bigsby but that could have been an early transitional unit.

Not trying to take away from the guitar but just talking shop about guitars and modifications that get done to them.
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby smokymtguitar09 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:01 pm

I stopped in Parker's Music Store, a small store near Cherokee, NC, and Mr. Parker told me he used to work for Gretsch Guitars setting up shows for them in New York and Chicago mostly. He said they would get Jimmy Atkins to come and perform at the shows.

Parker's is a Baldwin piano dealership and he had a unique Les Paul Baldwin spinet piano done in sunburst with a Gibson split diamond headstock on it, and it was signed by Les Paul. He also brought out a Gibson Les Paul Baldwin guitar with Baldwin inscribed on the fretboard and also signed by Les Paul. It was piano black and he said he was in the process of urging them to make him a sunburst model when Les died, which ended that quest.
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby smokymtguitar09 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:08 pm

Norm,
Those three (3) statements were taken from the web site where I found the photo and then pasted with my comments. They came from Bill Ley's son who said his father sold that guitar when he went into the military and always regretted doing so.
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby smokymtguitar09 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:31 pm

Norm,
Here are a few more photos of Jimmy and Bill with their Gretsch guitars. I do notice the so called Country Gentleman has the half-moon fretboard inlays, but there appears to be a horse shoe on the headstock similar to the 6120. He mentions the guitar again in this post on the site:

About That '59 Gretch...

My dad sold that guitar to a man in Atlanta, Ga. in 1960. My dad was going into the military and was not going to be using it. The man promised he would take great care of it. We are still looking for the info on that man to this day. The plan is to somehow get it back to my dad before it is sold to some collector. That guitar has part of my dad's soul in it. Nobody could ever know the value of this but him


That's about as close as I can split the hair on this topic.

http://www.worxmusic.com/At%20Jimmy's%2 ... Gretch.jpg
http://www.worxmusic.com/Showin'%20Off% ... immy's.jpg
http://www.worxmusic.com/McKee'sBeatAtl1WB.JPG
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby smokymtguitar09 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:52 pm

Norm,

I guess I can split one more hair here by showing this newspaper clipping from the website that mentions Jimmy Atkins and Bill Leys:

http://www.worxmusic.com/WaltBentonNewsWB.JPG
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby thenorm » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:25 pm

My last post didn't take so I'll try again...

The one on the left looks like something Jerry would have owned. It has a tune o matic bridge on it too. I'd call it a 57 or 58 6120.

the one on the right... with a horseshoe inlay on the peghead, open f-holes, a black Bigsby and a dark picguard is more 6120 than 6122.

6122's had gold pickguards, sealed tops and the id plate.

I'm gonna call both of them 6120's. One is newer than the other.

He can call them whatever he wants
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby Billy Anderson » Sat Feb 05, 2011 2:31 pm

Don't know if this will settle anything but note the attached Gretsch Gear Page with info on a 1957 CG. Billy

http://gretschpages.com/guitars/models/examples/1016/
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Re: Jimmy Atkins with Jerry Reed's 6120 guitar

Postby thenorm » Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:37 pm

That guitar on the gretsch is similar to the '58 model shown on the cover of the 'Hollywood" album which makes sense. No zero fret (metal nut instead) and the black Bigsby. It also has the faceplate on the peghead I'm sure. The '59 was thinner, had a zero fret and the vee cut Bigsby (although it's possble some may have had the black bigsby in transition)

The guitar Jimmy's friend has doesnt' appear to have any grain to it like CG's tend to have but that could be camera effect.

Too bad there isn't a clear shot of the tuners on that guitar. That would tip it also since CG's had Super Imperial stair step tuners.

I still vote for 6120
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