Introduced in 1954, the Roundup (listed in Gretsch literature as model PX6130) was a trend-setting instrument with an eye-catching finish and ultra-hip-looking appointments.
It retailed for US$300 in ’54, sitting above the quasi-solidbody Jet line. That $300 got quite a bit, including looks (a rugged finish, Western trim galore, shiny gold-coloured parts) and sound to die for courtesy of a routed body and twin DeArmond pickups.
The early Roundups featured a prominent G brand on its top, block orange/brown finish, steer’s head inlaid on the headstock, tortoiseshell pickguard with steer’s head engraving, belt-buckle-shaped tailpiece with a chuck wagon/campfire scene right down to the tooled leather edge trim, the ornamentation defines the look (and persona) of this instrument.
Speaking of tooled leather edge trim, the “upholstery tacks” (studs) used to fix the tooled-leather edge trim were used by Gretsch as far back as the ’30s to affix the round emblem to certain drums.
Except for the regular price increases and minor structural cosmetic alterations (like tops made of varying materials, additional pieces of binding, the size of the truss cover, and slight changes in the fingerboard markers), the 6130 underwent few significant changes in 1955 or ’56. After model year ’56, the 6130’s history and appearance becomes very difficult to document because Gretsch literature offers no pictorial examples, and the guitars virtually never surface. But by 1957 some features such as the cows & cactus fingerboard markers and steer head inlay had disappeared.
This particular Roundup is from 1957 and it features Gretsch’s proprietary half-moon fingerboard markers. It also has a Gretsch “space control” bridge which allows individual lateral spacing of the strings.
Early Roundups are easily spotted by their "belt buckle" tailpiece, distinctive knotty pine top and a massive steer head on the pickguard. The original Roundup only survived until 1958. In the 90s the Roundup name was revived, but the actual guitar was closer to the 6121 solidbody, and none of the distinctive Roundup features were present.
We spoke at length to respected Sydney luthier Piers Crocker who knows this particular instrument very well. He believes the body is from earlier than 1957, and may have been unfinished until a few years later when it inherited a new neck without the western motifs, but with the half moon inlays that became a feature of all Gretsches post 1957.
He also affirms that the “G” logo was hand painted, but is definitely under the original Gretsch factory lacquer finish which is intact.
The belt buckle tailpiece on this one has been replaced with a genuine vintage gold plated Gretsch branded Bigsby unit, installed by Piers Crocker. And that feature alone makes this Roundup not only a wonderful sounding guitar, but a unique instrument as well. Anyway, what self respecting vintage Gretsch guitar wouldn’t have a Bigsby ?!
The good news is that the original belt buckle bridge is in the case and included in the sale, so a new owner could reinstall it if they wished.
This Gretsch Roundup is owned by a member of a high profile Aussie band and has been serviced and looked after by the most professional guitar support crew in the country. This discerning and meticulous owner has ensured that this instrument has not been molested or changed over his many years of ownership, apart from the installation of the Bigsby, and replacement of the top binding, again meticulously done by Piers Crocker. It has been recorded, featured in video clips and played live on the biggest stages in Oz and worldwide.
It is in excellent vintage condition. It has certainly been played, and the evidence is apparent – small nicks, dings & dents here and there but nothing offensive, and nothing unexpected in a guitar over 60 years old. Structurally sound and cosmetically still a stunner, this particular Roundup features 4 (four – count ‘em) big knots in the lovely pine top, which is a feature very appealing to collectors of vintage Gretsch instruments.
Most importantly, this one plays beautifully in all positions and sounds brilliant. The original vintage De Armond single coil pickups are a thing of beauty in their own right, and give this fabulous guitar a unique voice all its own.
Comes in its original Gretsch hard case in good condition.