Gretsch G6120T-BSSMK Brian Setzer Nashville '59 'Smoke' and G6120T-HR Hot Rod review

The Stray Cat returns with a litter of killer Gretsch signature guitars. Just don’t expect 'em to bat like '50s throwbacks...

Gretsch G6120T-BSSMK Brian Setzer Nashville '59 'Smoke' and G6120T-HR Hot Rod review
(Image: © Future / Neil Godwin)

Guitar World Verdict

These well-considered, beautifully assembled new models encapsulate everything that's great about Gretsch, and rank among the very best guitars the company has produced.


  • +

    G6120T-BSSMK: Breathtakingly beautiful as ever but this time we’re just as taken with the fantastic playability; the Ray Butts pups are completely outstanding, too

  • +

    G6120T-HR: The new Hot Rods look, play and sound the absolute balls; Setzer’s signature pickups provide the perfect balance of warmth and snarl


  • -

    G6120T-BSSMK: We had to send it back – that was the only downside for us...

  • -

    G6120T-HR: Some may find the stripped-down wiring loom a bit limited

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

It was almost a year ago that we caught up with undisputed king of rockabilly guitar, Brian Setzer. The occasion was the launch of the Stray Cats’ reunion record, 40, the blistering and aptly named celebration of their four decades in the rockabilly and pompadour business.

We talked gear of course, and Brian let slip he was working on some new Japanese-made signature models with the team at Gretsch. To say we were intrigued is the very definition of an understatement. We turned a metaphorical lamp in Brian’s direction and began applying the thumbscrews.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell was Reviews Editor on Total Guitar magazine from 2003, and his guitar-modding column, Ed’s Shed, appeared in print on both sides of the Atlantic (in both Total Guitar and Guitar World magazines). He was the Editor of The Blues Magazine from 2012-16, and a contributor to Guitarist, Classic Rock and Louder. He died in October 2022, aged 52. Between them, the websites Guitar World, Louder and MusicRadar host over 400 of his articles – among them interviews with Billy Gibbons, Paul Weller, Brian Setzer, profiles on Roy Buchanan, Duane Allman and Peter Green, a joint interview with Jimmy Page and Jack White, and dozens of guitar reviews – and that’s just the ones that made it online.