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Brian Setzer’s 1959 Gretsch 6120’s Guitar

September 21, 2009 by  

Brian Setzer 1959 Gretsch 6120 GuitarBrian Setzer wanted a Gretsch 6120 from the moment he saw a photo of Eddie Cochran, the rockabilly great best known for “Summertime Blues.” I had no idea what it was called but I know I had to have one,” remembers Setzer. “When I was 17, I saw an ad in the paper: ‘Gretsch for sale.’ When I saw that it was an ‘Eddie Cochran,’ I bought it on the spot for $100.”

Just three years later, Setzer and his Stray Cats sparked a rockabilly revival in England, and would soon do the same in America. He made virtually no modifications to the guitar—though he did personalize it with a stickers of Fifties pinup girls and dice.

“The stickers and the dice became trademarks, but I put them on without much thought,” says Setzer. “I found the pinup girls in an old lawnmower repair shop. And I put the dice on because it didn’t have any knobs. I just got a set Monopoly dice, drilled holes in them and squirted in some Krazy Glue. My only real modification to the guitar was putting Sperzel locking tuners on: when the band got serious, I realized that I had to play in tune. The pickups are stock Gretsch FilterTrons—they’ve always sounded fantastic.”

After being played night in and night out for several years, the 6120 had become a little worse for the wear, says Setzer. “It had beer spilled on it and smoke blown all over it; it was beat on pretty badly. In about 1984, I ran into Steve Miller in a bar in Germany. We talked about Gretsches and how mine was getting trashed. When I got back to New York there was a big box waiting for me, and, to my delighted surprise, it was a 6120 from Steve Miller. And not just a 6120, but a great one!”

The second 6120 immediately became Setzer’s number one, and is the guitar upon Gretsch’s new Brian Setzer model is based.

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“I started using the Miller guitar almost all the time, but I took them both on the road—until a Stray Cats tour of Japan several years ago. At the last gig, I threw it up in the air, which I’ve done for 25 years, and I missed it for the first time. The neck flew into the audience, and the guy who caught it gave it back to me—which would only happen in Japan—and I glued it back on. It still plays great, and I used it in a few places on the album [Brian Setzer Orchestra, Hollywood], but I’ll never take it on the road again. It went out with a bang.”

Gretsch Guitars G6120SSLVO Brian Setzer Signature Nashville Guitar

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Comments

One Response to “Brian Setzer’s 1959 Gretsch 6120’s Guitar”
  1. con says:

    the dude’s come along way from his Stray Cats days. He used to wear eyeliner back then. they were really popular in Japan too
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/stray-cats-in-osaka-japan-1981/

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