Dating gretsch country gentleman

Though the Atkins signature archtops all received internal “trestle” bracing for the 1958 model year, he could never persuade Gretsch to make a guitar with a solid block down the center, which Atkins believed would further enhance the tone of the instrument.

Regardless, with its sealed top and internal bracing, the Country Gentleman in essence emulated a 17″ chambered solidbody, as much as anything else.

He didn’t appreciate the over-sized f-shaped sound holes in the 6120, and the sentiment was illustrated in his well-known favor of a prototype 6120, which had a thick top that lacked sound holes.

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Based on its serial number (26400) this specimen represents the very first guitar from the debut batch.

It’s immediately apparent this all-original example strays from the standard feature package in several ways, the most glaring being the two-tone finish with ivory white top over black back and sides.

The top was adorned with thin plastic inserts that provided the illusion of traditional f-shaped sound holes.

This lack of open holes created a challenge for the Gretsch factory in labeling these guitars; the solution to the lack of access to the body cavity was to apply a gold-plated plaque to the face of the headstock, which both announced its identity as “The Chet Atkins Country Gentleman” and displayed each guitar’s serial number.

In the late ’40s, Gretsch began employing the De Armond Dynasonic single-coil in its electric guitars.

Atkins thought its magnets were too strong and negatively affected the tone of the guitar.

The prototype Gent’s serial number is chronologically associated with a batch of 17″ Convertible model 6199 guitars produced in the January ’57 time frame.

It was one of the last labels used in the group, and has been assumed to be a one-off.

Recently, an early example was discovered – the earliest, in fact – which reflects the radical direction Atkins took with the Country Gent and the bold departure from his original namesake model.

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