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Pete Townshend Discovers Gretsch Magic! A Gift From Joe Walsh Makes History

Pete Townshend Discovers Gretsch Magic! A Gift From Joe Walsh Makes History

Story by UEC

Did you know that Pete Townshend developed his “new” sound when buddy, Joe Walsh gave him a Gretsch 6120? Pete recorded both the incredible classics “Who’s Next” and “Quadrophenia” records exclusively with his new Gretsch setup!

Excerpt from May/June 1972 Guitar Player

Pete Townshend PT: I never really got into old guitars until Joe Walsh (James Gang) rang me up one night and said, “I’ve got something for you,” because we buy one another presents. He buys me old concert amps and I buy him synthesizers and we have become very good friends. Anyway, he said, “I’ve got something for you,” and I said “What?” and he said, “A 1957 Gretsch.”

GP: Chet Atkins type?

PT: Right, with real f-holes. I said, “Great, cheers, man,” and it turned out to be a real knockout. I was being polite. I opened the case and it was bright orange and I thought, “Ugh! It’s horrible, I hate it.” I went home and went into my studio and plugged it in and it totally wrecked me out, it’s the best guitar I’ve got now. It’s the Chet Atkins model, with double pickups, f-holes and single cut-away.

GP: Doesn’t it have a mellow sound, though; it doesn’t “chunck”, does it?

PT: Oh, I used that guitar on every track on Who’s Next, it’s the best guitar I’ve ever had. It’s the finest guitar I’ve ever owned, it’s the loudest guitar I’ve ever owned. It is so loud, man, it whips any pickup that I’ve ever come across. It’s maybe six or seven times louder than anything I’ve come across. If I plugged it in my amp tonight, normally I’d be working on volume 6 or 7, but I would work this guitar on 1.

Here is Pete’s setup

  • ’57 Gretsch 6120 with Bigsby vibrato (gift from Joe Walsh)
  • Single cutaway 16″x 2.75″ maple body
  • F-holes with black and white binding
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Brass nut
  • Grover StaTite tuners
  • Two Dynasonic pickups
  • Volume control for each pickup, master volume, tone and pickup selector switch
  • Gold pickguard, with Gretsch and Chet Atkins signpost in black (removed)
  • Nickel-plated Bigsby B-6 tailpiece with pivoting arm and compensated aluminum Bigsby bridge
  • Note: the ’57 did not have the “G” brand on the body.