I don’t often hold $12,000 guitars in my hands, and, as I have a completely innocent proclivity to, urn, “wound” instruments at gigs, I was pretty much fouling myself in fear while reviewing the CST 6120. Happily, for the sake of my intestines, the Gretsch family, and this fine guitar, the manufacturer needed the CST 6120 returned almost immediately, so all testing was done in the relative safety of the Guitar Player soundroom. I ran this custom-shop-crafted 6120 through a Marshall 50th Anniversary JMP-1H head and lx12 cabinet, a tweed Victoria combo (loaded with a 12″ Jensen), and a Fishman SA 220. For added fun, I tossed in a Hartmann Tommy Bolin Fuzz and a Boss RE-20 Space Echo.
The CST 6120 produces a full-bodied acoustic zing before you even go near an amplifier. There’s a nice chunk-and-shimmer to pick attacks, and fingerpicked parts are clear and articulate. If recorded with nothing but a decent microphone, this guitar could sub quite ably for a flat-top acoustic. It should be no surprise to Gretsch fans that, once plugged in, the CST 6120 delivers a beautiful and vibey Duane Eddy-style tone for single-note runs and bass-string riffs. You get that thick, low-midrange pop, along with a smooth treble. These tonal colors remained intact throughout clean to gritty settings on the test amps, but obviously compressed a bit for more saturated sounds (though no low-end mud was audible at any time). I preferred the bridge pickup for rockier sounds, and basked in that ballsy, punk-esque roar that The Living End’s Chris Cheney’s goes for. The tone still has some nice pop and thud, but the bridge pickup also produced a singing, stinging, edgy treble. I couldn’t bring myself to really bash on this posh jewel, but dynamic impact was excellent–both while adjusting Volume controls and easing up on pick and finger attacks.
Cosmetically, the CST 6120 is stunning. It’s hard not to be beguiled by the Lake Placid Blue finish, the gold hardware, and the cat’s eye f-holes. Workmanship is excellent, as it should be for this price. Playability is similarly outstanding for a hollowbody–although the placement and nature of the controls can take some getting used to, and for 12 grand, I’d prefer a 2-position, off/on kill switch, rather than the somewhat head-scratching 3-position switch offered here (on/off/on).
Ultimately, the CST 6120 is an exquisite example of the classic Gretsch hollowbody. But, at more than $12,000, I can’t imagine it as a gigging instrument. (I can’t even believe I held this beauty in my hands without turning to dust.) So if you’re into truly collectible 6120s, and want something spectacular to match your powder blue Bentley, this is definitely your go-to guitar.-