All guitar players seem to have some hot button when it comes to choosing the guitar they want to own and play. Thousands of Gretsch guitars were sold in the 1960s as a result of fans seeing George Harrison with his Country Gentleman on the Ed Sullivan Show. And just a single photo on the first John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album, showing Eric Clapton tuning up a Les Paul, sent hordes of budding blues players scurrying to their local music stores in search of one. Heaven only knows how many Strats were sold as a result of seeing Jimi Hendrix up onstage at Woodstock. For Brian Setzer, it was a single photo of Eddie Cochran playing a Gretsch 6120 that made him decide (at age 17) that this was, without question, the instrument he was destined to play. Naturally, he was astonished to see an ad in his local paper that simply offered a “Gretsch for sale.” When he went to see it, he was ecstatic to see it was his dream guitar and happily handed over $100 for it. The Gretsch Custom Shop Limited Edition Brian Setzer Tribute Guitar is a stunning re-creation of that very same guitar. It’s the guitar Setzer used with the Stray Cats, the band that sparked the “Rockabilly Revival” on both sides of the Atlantic. This “personalized” 6120 was a critical part of that group’s signature sound. The stickers Brian placed on the guitar along with a pair of dice to replace two missing knobs all contributed to making this an instantly recognizable instrument.
Now, based upon the exact specifications taken from that legendary instrument, Stephen Stern from the Gretsch/Fender Custom Shop in Corona, California has created a replica that is so accurate, Brian himself might honestly have a hard time picking out the original. Only 59 of these were made, and each one is accurate, right down to the tiniest scratch, nick, and ding – even the hole where the original tone switch used to be has been left open. This remarkable re-creation is equipped with a pair of TV Jones pickups, which deliver everything from the cleanest rockabilly twang to a screaming-hot lead tone. They have all the magic of the Gretsch Filter’Trons but are wound a bit hotter, so they will overdrive beautifully when necessary. Naturally, it wouldn’t be a Gretsch without a genuine Bigsby B6 vibrato tailpiece or an ebony fingerboard with the neo-classical thumbnail inlays. This guitar ships in a deluxe cowboy case with a leather, bejeweled guitar strap, replicas of Stray Cats backstage passes, and an “OK Card” that’s signed by Setzer. If you missed 1959 the first time around, this is as close as you’ll ever get in 2008.