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Randy Bachman reunited with beloved orange 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins after 45 years apart

Takeshi (left) and Randy Bachman exchange guitars on July 1, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan
(Image credit: Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

Back in October, it was reported (opens in new tab) that Guess Who and Bachman–Turner Overdrive electric guitar player Randy Bachman was set to be reunited with his beloved orange 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins.

Having purchased the guitar in 1963 at the tender age of 20, Bachman used the elegant Gretsch throughout his time with the Guess Who and BTO. Due to its sentimental value, Bachman often went to extreme lengths to keep the guitar safe – even reportedly chaining it to hotel room toilets. Sadly though, the guitar was stolen at a Toronto-area Holiday Inn in 1976, after Bachman left it unattended for just five minutes. 

A devastated Bachman spent decades trying to locate it, eventually amassing hundreds of Gretsch guitars in a vain attempt to recapture the magic of his first.

Having all but given up hope, Bachman was contacted (opens in new tab) in 2020 by a neighbor who had retooled facial recognition software to look for matches to the missing guitar's wood grain, and found a YouTube video of Japanese rockabilly guitar star Takeshi playing what turned out to be Bachman's lost 6120.

Finally, last Friday (July 1), after COVID-induced delays, Bachman was reunited (opens in new tab) with his beloved guitar onstage in Tokyo in an emotional exchange with Takeshi.

Takeshi (left) and Randy Bachman embrace onstage in Tokyo, Japan on July 1, 2022

(Image credit: Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

Despite the warm feelings of the onstage transfer, the handoff did take some negotiating.

When Bachman and his team informed him of the guitar's story during a conference call in 2020, Takeshi was sympathetic, but wasn't quite willing to part ways with the 6120 – which he had taken quite a liking to himself – without something in return.

Before Takeshi gave the guitar back, he wanted Bachman to find him its "sister." That meant an orange 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins with an original Bigsby and black DeArmond pickups, not Filtertrons.

Remarkably – despite the fact that only a few dozen models of its kind were built in 1957 – Bachman located the closest thing his number one guitar has to a twin at a rare guitar shop in Ohio.

"The serial number is two digits off from mine," Bachman told Vancouver’s CTV News (opens in new tab) last year. "Which means it was made in the same week."

At the ceremonial handoff, the two performed a number of songs on their 6120s, including The Guess Who's chart-topping classic, American Woman.

The duo also revealed that they're participating (opens in new tab) in a documentary about the guitars, in which they plan to perform an original song called Lost and Found together.

Will Bachman fans see the legendary, brightly-colored single-cut on the road now that it's back in the right hands? Unfortunately, the answer to that is a resounding no. 

“I am never, ever going to take it out of my house again,” Bachman told (opens in new tab) the Associated Press.

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Jackson Maxwell
Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.