How To Customise A Gretsch: The First Step

After checking as many pictures of vintage Gretsch 6120s as possible, and having had the info-packed videos posted on the Gretsch YouTube channel on serious rotation (Brian Thrasher is my new hero...), the time has come to grab my tools and get this project underway.


The first thing to tackle is to get the guitar ready for stripping and ageing, the initial step being, of course, the removal of all the parts.

Snip all the strings off in one go and, aside from causing unnecessary stress on the neck, you may well cause the mechanism to go limp and, if you´re not careful, snap the hinge. I detuned each string in turn, removed it from the tuner, and all was well.

Of course, with guitars such as this, the floating bridge will also become dislodged when the strings are removed.

I secured the pickup, pot and switch wires with clothes pegs to save them falling back into the body, bypassing some incredibly fiddly keyhole surgery to pull them back out in the process, and I was ready to approach the sanding, the procedure I´m really looking forward to tackling.

Simon Bradley is a guitar and especially rock guitar expert who worked for Total Guitar magazine and has in the past contributed to world-leading music and guitar titles like MusicRadar (obviously), Guitarist, Guitar World and Louder. What he doesn't know about Brian May's playing and, especially, the Red Special, isn't worth knowing.