Gretsch Model PX6130-V Round Up Solid Body Electric Guitar (1954)

Gretsch  Model PX6130-V Round Up Solid Body Electric Guitar  (1954)
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Item # 11290
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Gretsch Model PX6130-V Round Up Model Solid Body Electric Guitar (1954), made in Brooklyn, NY, Western Orange lacquer finish, mahogany body, pine top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, original tweed hard shell case.

As both Brooklyn Cowboy Kitsch and flat-out guitar coolness this early Gretsch Model 6130-V Round Up is hard to beat! It has an intriguing oddity: a "-V" hand written on the label after the model designation would indicate a VERY rare and early example of a Gretsch factory fitted with a Bigsby vibrato, something we take for granted now but rarely seen at the time. There have been several different tailpieces on the guitar over the last nearly 70 years, but there is evidence this extremely rare early gold-washed, fixed arm Bigsby was the original equipment. The tailpiece is stamped "G" on the underside of all components, though whether this is specific to Gretsch is unknown.

This guitar was built in late 1954. Later in the 1950's Gretsch, Chet Atkins and Bigsby would become inextricably linked but when this guitar was made the Atkins-endorsed Gretsch models had not been released, and the Bigsby was an obscure piece of hardware. The patent for the device was awarded in March 1953, and at first it was only available through Paul Bigsby himself. Soon Gibson and then Gretsch were lining up to buy them, and Bigsby had to go into production with the device, quickly adopting the familiar swing-away arm. At the time the unit retailed for $50, a considerable upcharge on a guitar in1954! The highly decorated Round Up was already a fairly expensive guitar, listing in 1954 at $300, a $70 difference from the plain black Duo Jet; in 1955 the price increased to $325.

Beyond the vibrato fitting the PX-6130 Round Up is a rare and spectacular instrument on its own. Perhaps as overcompensation for being up north in the big city when Gretsch created a guitar for the Country-Western market, they really went all in! The Round Up features a host of "yee haw" appointments including a pine top, studded tooled leather sides and engraved fingerboard inlays featuring cactus and steer's head images, with the steer also appearing on the peghead and pickguard. Many of these carried over to the Chet Atkins line and Rancher flat top, but the 6130 is where it all began. Typical Gretsch features from the mid-50's are present as well; the DeArmond Dynasonics are controlled with four knobs and a single switch. This guitar is from the first batch to use the new knobs marked with an arrow on the top.

Although always described by Gretsch as a solidbody, the Round Up like its Duo-Jet and Jet Fire Bird siblings is actually semi-hollow. The bodies were built like little archtop guitars, with a plywood top mounted to a piece of sculpted mahogany chambered from above. This resulted in a guitar much lighter than the Les Paul that inspired it, but with a different sound as well. The Round Up is a superb twang machine, with a muscular tone more akin to a hollow body Gretsch than to the average solidbody.

The Round-Up was a very short lived model; only 400 or so were produced from late 1953 into 1955, with a final stray batch in 1957-8. This guitar is from the fourth run built in later '54. Very few Gretsches of the 1954 era were originally fitted with a Bigsby; 5 Royals guitarist Lowman Pauling had a Duo Jet from the same period with the identical tailpiece/bridge set up to this one, a Bigsby aluminum saddle atop a wooden base. This is simply one of the coolest looking of all Gretsch guitars, and a fine sounding instrument as well.
Overall length is 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm.), 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 15/16 in. (4.9 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This Round-Up shows use over the last 68+ years but remains very nice overall, and except for some typical maintenance repair largely original. The "6130-V" marking on the label would indicate the Bigsby was an original factory fitting; as there are holes and marks from at least two other tailpieces under the baseplate, we cannot *absolutely* verify this. In any case this fixed-arm tailpiece is an exceptionally rare piece of hardware especially in this gold wash finish, almost impossible to find at any price.

The finish on the guitar shows general wear; the top is relatively clean, with light checking and some minor dings, dents and scrapes. The beak has more wear with some deeper dents, a lot of edge wear and a couple of worn-through spots along the bottom edge. There is some finish loss to the back of the neck, but no deep capo wear, dings or gouges. The headstock has above average string-end wear on the face (someone never clipped the ends properly!) and wear along the beck edges.

This guitar is almost certainly one of many that went back to the Gretsch factory in the late '50's where the neck was re-set with a typical '58 style screw/dowel arrangement on the heel. It appears to have been reset again further down the line, although the heel dowel and screw are still intact. There is some overspray in the heel area and the heelcap was recently neatly replaced with correct old ivoroid.

All other finish and hardware are correct except for a repro tortoise celluloid pickguard (virtually all of these first-year celluloid 'guards have suffered catastrophic deterioration; the dust of the original is in a baggie in the case!). Also included in the case is an original standard Round-up tailpiece topped with a Western belt buckle showing a campfire cowboy scene. We don't know if this has been with the guitar since new but it is another exceptionally rare tailpiece, also nearly impossible to find loose. The guitar can be easily re-set up with this if it is preferred to the fixed-arm Bigsby. That unit has much of the gold wash worn off the arm, but largely intact on the base. The electronics appear all original although some of the solder joints are fairly sloppy.

The fingerboard has been refretted with wire that is appropriately narrow but somewhat taller than the original; many modern players would find this preferable to the original somewhat spotty 1954 Gretsch fretwork but they can easily be taken down if desired. The original engraved fingerboard markers are still relatively crisp with some loss at the 7th fret and a small burn scar at the 17th. The guitar plays well and sounds great, both DeArmond pickups are very strong and close to the strings resulting in a very powerful twang. Overall this very rare and sharp looking nearly 70 year old Gretsch has been played over an eventful life but generally well cared for, still residing in a nice original tweed case. Excellent - Condition.