Of all the major American guitar brands of the 1950s and 60s, none were as willing as Gretsch to incorporate out-there design elements.
From the artificial f-holes seen on guitars such as the Tennessean to the lavish gold hardware and glitzy binding of the iconic White Falcon, the Brooklyn firm built instruments with distinct visual flair and was never afraid to embrace trends of the day.
In the case of this month’s Reverb.com featured guitar – a 1959 Gretsch 6130 Round-Up – this manifests in a unique country and western motif that was designed to match popular country music and TV tropes of the decade.
These guitars include honky-tonk belt buckle tailpieces and leather bands on the outer edge of the body, tooled with cacti and longhorn heads. It’s about as delightfully Nashville as electric guitars get.
This particular Round-Up is listed for sale on Reverb.com by Regent Sounds of Denmark Street, and is a rare Gretsch indeed. Offered originally in 1954, the earliest Round-Up models featured a prominent G brand for Gretsch on knotty pine tops, which rested on chambered mahogany bodies, as well as block (later, hump-topped) fretboard inlays.
While still relatively rare, the earlier editions of this model, from ’54 through ’56, are more common than those from later in the decade. By the time our Round-Up rolled off the line in 1959, the model had become a special-order option from Gretsch, not appearing in its main catalogue.
By this point, Gretsch chambered-body electrics such as the Duo Jet had seen some updates, which are reflected here. For one, the inlays switched to the thumbnail inlays seen on most Gretsches in the late 50s and 60s.
More notable still, this 1959 model features two humbucking Filter’Tron pickups, which replaced the earlier DeArmond Dynasonic pickups in 1958.
While finding any 50s Round-Up with all of its original flair intact is uncommon, finding one without a G brand on the body and with a set of Filter’Trons is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for a Gretsch collector. It’s a unique and fascinating piece, and one that reveals much about how Gretsch built and marketed its instruments in this period.
Vital Statistics 1959 Gretsch 6130 Round-Up
• Price £10,000
• Year 1959
• Type Solidbody electric guitar
• Build Chambered mahogany
• Reverb Seller Regent Sounds Reverb.com/Regent
• See More Reverb.com/uk