Gretsch 6120

This project is then totally different. I started this in November 2011.

For this one I need to make molds and different kind of jigs and tools which I need when shaping the top and the back.


Gretsch 6120. This kind of guitar is my nect project. Originally Gretsch has been done laminating the top and back and sides and all parts are made of maple.

Chet Atkins was developing this guitar in the mid 50s. 

Among others Duane Eddy and Eddie Cochran played this model. Eddie changed the neck pickup to P90. He liked that kind of sound even he mostly played rock and roll and rockabilly style of music. He also took the gold color away from the pickguard.

As said earlier everything starts with molds and templates. Here it all starts.

Mold is almost ready.


This is needed when I start shaping the top and the back. It is going to be a lot of sweat before they are planed and sanded to final shape.

Clamping caul is needed when I glue the back and top to the sides.

Theres the hardware, Dynasonic pickups, Schaller roll bridge, Bigsby B6 tremolo, truss rod and pots and so on.

Size of the body will be the original 15,5.

Because in the course I cant laminate the top or back or sides I am going to do this like an archtop guitar is usually done. Using spruce wedges to top and maple to back. Sides were sanded by a professional guitar maker to correct thickness.

Heres all the wood. Top right is the back, lower right is the top. Long blonde parts are the sides, the shorter ones are for the neck. It is going to be a three piece neck with rosewood stripes. Black is ebony for the fingerboard and the rest is more or less parts that come inside the guitar, tail block, neck block, braces.

Top is glued and sawed. Nice grain.

It is easy to drill first the rough shape  of the arch to the top and back and then start taking the most of the wood away by planing. Holes are showing very well when youve reached the rough shape.

After the outside is shaped so that it matches your jigs, it is easy to use the drill press from the inside so that it reaches almost the final thickness. Again a lot of planing to do.

Shapes are starting to look good. But still a lot of scraping and sanding left to do. Almost half of the autumn hours at course was used at this stage.

Sawing the inlays for headstock and fingerboard.


A lot of wood has taken the shape. All the wood parts are starting the get closer to the gluing phase.

The neck is going to be totally of five pieces, three parts of maple and two rosewood stripes between them. Neck extension is going to look the same. This was not a typical way Gretsch did the neck in 50s.

Pickguard is going to be maple. And the truss rod cover will be bullet shaped like the early version of 6120 used to have.

Braces need to be shaped so that they match the curvature of the top. Places for the f-holes are drilled also.

Hand made f-holes. There will be black and white binding also.

And so the bindings are glued.

Parts that are coming inside the guitar. This trestle bracing made this guitar less affected by acoustic feedback from the amplifier. Of course the acoustic response of the guitar was lost at the same time. This is an electric guitar.

Neck is glued and dove tail is shaped also. Neck extension will be joined to neck with dove tail to make it really attach well to the neck.

Truss rod cover is laminated from several pieces. Most of the inlays of the headstock veneer done and glued. Because this guitar cant be called Gretsch I named it Simo.

I bought myself a bending iron to be able to do the bending at home. First a little bit training with small piece of maple and then starting to bend the real sides. And there they are. First time bending the sides and I didnt break anything.

Last evening in the course before Christmas break and I got the finger board planed to 6 mm. Shaped the neck block and tail block and cut the braces for the sides.

All parts are now starting to be in some kind of shape waiting for gluing. A lot of work with the neck still to be done. Place for the truss rod should be done, fingerboard needs slots for the frets. Holes for the pickups should be done.

I start gluing the neck block and tail block to their places.

Blocks are glued, also side braces and linings.

Fret slots are done and the fingerboard is cut to the correct size without bindings. Making the neo classic inlay cavities.


Fingerboard ready. Testing how well the inside bracing fits into the body. Back is not yet glued to sides.

Truss rod is installed. Ears for the headstock glued.

Shellac is used to seal the top and back from the inside of the guitar. I glued the braces so that the long ones are glued to the top and the trestle bracing glued to the back. It was easier to level the trestle braces with the sides and parallel braces wit the top. Then the gluing of the top to the sides and parallel braces to trestle braces was quite easy.

And the gluing went well. Next there will be bindings to the body and the body mortise.

I made to tool to be able to check how straight the neck is setting to the body.

Dove tail and body mortise starting to get ready. Then Ill glue the bindings to the body.

Gluing going on.

And there they are. First the black-white-black to the top and the the wide white-black-white-black to the side. Plan is that the color will be blonde (honey or honey burst). Not orange like the Gretsch.

Headstock is ready with inlays and bindings. Only tuner holes missing.

Next step, neck shaping. I made a tool where I can keep the neck while using tools.

Pickguard is going to be like this. Some wooden parts (rosewood) needs to be done under the pickups rising them to correct level.

I think it looks good. Tuner holes still missing. Now sanding, sanding, sanding.... My teacher said that it is better to spray the lacquer before gluing the neck to the body. So it is not yet glued.

Lacquering starts in the spring 2013. It took a year and a half to get to this point.

First layers of lacquer on the body. Now sanding before color layers.

And then everyting went wrong. The honey blond lacquering failed twice and I had to take everything away. Now it is going to be a bit rustic brown burst color.

Pickups, Bigsby and finger rest have found their places.

And finally it is lacquered, bit darker than planned.

A long project is finally ready. Feels very nice to play.



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