As an example of Brooklyn Cowboy Kitsch and flat-out guitar coolness this first-year Gretsch Model 6130 Roundup is sure hard to beat!
Perhaps it was overcompensation for being up north in the big city, or maybe just an example of '50s exuberance, but when Gretsch decided to create a solidbody guitar for the country/western market, they really went all in with this one.
The guitar features a host of "yee haw" appointments, including a pine top finished in “western” orange, tooled leather sides and engraved fingerboard inlays featuring cactus and steer's head images. To top it off, the tailpiece includes a cowboy belt buckle showing a campfire scene.
All the typical Gretsch features from the mid-'50s are present as well; the pickups are DeArmond Dynasonics. The bridge is the fully adjustable Melita, which was introduced right at this time. The control layout is four knobs and a single switch.
Although always described by Gretsch as a solidbody, the Roundup -- like its Duo Jet and Jet Fire Bird siblings -- is actually semi-hollow. The bodies were built like little archtop guitars, with a plywood top mounted to a piece of sculpted mahogany that was chambered from above. This resulted in a guitar much lighter than the Les Paul that inspired it, but with a different sound as well.
The Roundup is a superb twang machine, with a muscular tone more akin to a hollow-body Gretsch than to the average solidbody.
Around this time, Gretsch also scored an endorsement deal with up-and-coming Nashville guitar star Chet Atkins. The two guitars Atkins sponsored -- the 6120 hollowbody and 6121 solidbody -- were launched shortly after the Roundup was introduced. The Atkins solidbody shared many features of the Model 6130, and indeed many people confuse the two models. The larger 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody became THE classic 1950s Gretsch to most players; the small-bodied Roundup and Atkins solidbody were sold in far fewer numbers and are quite rare today.
This first-year model 6130 still carries the original owner's name (in Dymo tape label) on the headstock and the original tooled leather strap, a testament to the individual guitar’s history. As both a wonderful old Gretsch and a testament to America’s enduring fascination with the Western imagery, the Gretsch Roundup is one classy piece of 6-string cool!
Find out more about this particular guitar right here.
Retrofret Vintage Guitars of Brooklyn, New York, has been selling and servicing rare and vintage instruments since 1983 under the expertise of owner Steve Uhrik, associates Peter Kohman and George Aslaender and head technician Mamie Minch. For more info, visit retrofret.com