A Truly Historic Guitar:
1956 Chet Atkins 6120 Prototype “Dark Eyes”
This renowned guitar was the seminal instrument that cemented the relationship between The Brooklyn based Gretsch Guitar Company and illustrious Country Music Legend Mr. Chet Atkins, way back in the early to mid-Fifties. Guitar Player Magazine referred to this iconic guitar as “One of the Most Important Electric Guitars of All Time! “This guitar represents a huge piece of musical history, and the beginning of the beginning of the everlasting relationship between Chet Atkins and The Gretsch Guitar Company. The famed 6120 Model, The Country Gentleman, The George Harrison Model (of Beatles fame), The Brian Setzer Signature Models, and several others all wouldn’t exist without this guitar! We’ve handled, brokered and sold some of the rarest and most valuable guitars on earth… and this guitar is right up there with the very best of them. It has such a rich, deep and storied history…There is nothing else like it out there… it’s a one-of-a-kind and a very rare piece”, says Owner/President Eliot Michael of Rumble Seat Music.
This famous guitar is so much more than just a guitar…it actually has a name, “DARK EYES”… as it has come to be known because Atkins famously played the Russian folk song of the same name at the Grand Ole Opry with it back in 1956… and because of its rare “one off” black color.
The guitar was of course owned, played, and experimented on by Country Music legend Mr. Chet Atkins… and was also owned by Elvis Presley’s producer and engineer Bill Porter. The instrument has hung in the Smithsonian Institute, and was owned by Scott Chinery and featured in his book – The Chinery Collection: 150 Years of American Guitars. There have been many trade magazine and feature articles written about this highly revered guitar over the years.
Guitar Aficionado’s feature piece “Black Gold: The Story of a Truly One-of-a-Kind 6120 that Gretsch Built for Chet Atkins in 1956” being the most recent and notable. Chet Atkins’ protégé, Tommy Emmanuel (one of five in the whole word dubbed Certified Guitar Player by Atkins) recently brought the guitar back to Nashville where he played the iconic guitar at the Grand Ole Opry, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame in honor of his longtime friend and mentor. Country Music fans were simply stunned.
When Tommy Emmanuel brought this guitar to The Country Music Hall of Fame in the Summer of 2016, he stated onstage:
“This guitar is a very important guitar in the history of not only the electric guitar, but in rock n roll music as well… This guitar has “that tone”, and it was that tone that drove us wild when we were kids. That was the sound that attracted us to that kind of music.”
Later he said, “This guitar is just so important. I mean, it’s the guitar that really sealed the deal… and it started that whole era of Gretsch Electric Guitars… 6120’s and all that… Everybody wanted to get that sound… and that’s why this guitar is so important! We think this guitar would be a great addition to The Country Music Hall of Fame, where Chet’s legacy really lives. It’s the Holy Grail…this guitar is a really important, iconic instrument that deserves to be in that special place”
Joe Carducci, Senior Product Manager for Gretsch Guitars called this guitar “Something special that needs to be shared with the world… and in my mind as a guitar player, this is like the Holy Grail”. Mr. Fred Gretsch, President of the Gretsch Guitar Company is quoted as saying, “We are glad that this historic one-off guitar has survived. It gives a glimpse into the innovative nature of Chet and his lifelong obsession for improving the electric guitar…”
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