Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

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Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Ray Bohlken » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:31 pm

In the current issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine, they have a 2 page article with photos of the Country Gentleman prototype. It is really informative and the photos are excellent and kind of neat to see. The serial number I think they mention is 26400 of the earliest one. The photos are of blond guitars - maybe even white ones - and look like Country Clubs with no sound holes. They talk of Chet's input on the Gent and his lack of input on the initial 6120s, except the solid top. I read it at Barnes and Noble while doing some shopping there. In the old days I would have bought it, but these days I am downsizing my guitar "stuff". Check it out. I think you'll really be interested.
Ray

link to the cover of the magazine
http://www.vintageguitar.com/current-issue/
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Norm » Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:36 pm

I find that sometimes you have to take VG statements with a grain of salt.
Chet did have some input on the 6120's in that he wanted a metal nut and, I believe, smaller f holes. In the MAMG book he says "The models I was directly involved with were the 6120, the Country Gentleman, the Super Chet and the Super Axe."

The light colored CG in the article is one of the ugliest guitars I've ever seen. So glad they went to walnut stain!
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby guitarchuck » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:42 pm

Thanks for the head's up Ray! I had to run out and buy the Vintage Guitar Magazine so I could have the Country Gentleman article in my collection. It's a very interesting article written by Edward Ball (author of the Gretsch 6120 book). It's interesting to note that the first prototype was labeled Model: "Special" ( The first 6120 prototype was labeled Model: "Streamliner Special" The prototype CG's serial number fits in chronologically with a batch of 17" Convertible model 6100 guitars produced in January of '57 time frame. It's interesting that this guitar has a ivory white top (I'm guessing it was originally white like the White Falcon and aged to a yellow tint) and it has black back and sides. The first production model was the same color scheme (both without any faux f-holes) It's interesting to note that the scale length is 25.5" with a 1.75" nut on that very first production model! Edward Ball takes note that the sealed top 6120 was, "no doubt a source of inspiration for the subsequent Country Gentleman format".

That brings us back to the orange (or red) sealed top 6120 with the large inlaid f-hole outlines, the black "Dark Eyes" sealed top 6120 with large gold sparkle inlaid f-holes, and the black top, white back and sides sealed top 6120 with the smaller inlaid f-holes.
It sounds like they toyed with the idea of a black guitar, or a two tone black and white guitar (which they tried both ways with a black top/white back & sides and white top/black back & sides) before they finally went to the walnut finish during the first production batch. It makes you wonder what was Chet's idea's and what was Gretsch's ideas on the finish.

If you have any interest in the history of Chet's guitar models, especially the Country Gentleman, you should buy the February 2014 Vintage Guitar Magazine!
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Norm » Fri Jan 03, 2014 11:57 pm

I have no doubt that the Dark Eyes guitar was a test sample. Jimmie Webster wanted a deluxe model of Chet guitar to offer for sale to compete with the Les Paul Custom apparently from what I've read so it is no surprise they tried out different ideas. Chet definitely wanted a sealed top. No one has said who came up with the thumbnail inlays on the fingerboard.

They were very wise to settle on the walnut stain
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
Norm
 
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby guitarchuck » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:17 am

The first reference book that I ever bought on guitars was Tom Wheeler's "American Guitars" copyright 1982. It has a very good article in it called: "Chet Atkins Talks About Gretsch". He discusses designing the 6120, the big gaudy f-holes, copying the D'Angelico f-holes Jimmy Webster's idea of putting the thumbnail (neo-classic) markers on the fretboard, Chet's idea of the zero fret that he had seen on a Maccaferri guitar that Django was playing, Chet's crooked arm on his Bigsby so he could play pizzicato notes, muted against the bridge with his palm, Mr. Bigsby's involvement in making several a ttachments for that. The article goes on to tell many other nuggets He talks about his involvement in the6120, Country Gentleman, Super Chet and Super Axe. A very good article. I don't think the book is in print anymore, but that article was my favorite part of the book!
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:25 am

Chuck, I'm glad you were able to get a copy of the VG magazine. The one I was reading at Barnes and Noble was the last one on display.
I, too, enjoyed Tom Wheeler's book and I still have that one. Some things are not going to be downsized and that book is one of them.
Ray
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Richard Hudson » Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:40 am

I played that guitar in Eddie Ball's article last year in KC. He brought it out to let me play it because he knew how much I loved Chet. I remember we talked and wondered if Chet had indeed handled that particular guitar, which surely he did. It was a nice old guitar with a lot of charisma. The electronics were pretty sticky and scratchy but otherwise it was an honor to get to play it.
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:10 am

Wow Richard! That's amazing that you got to play that guitar. Did you get any photos of you playing it? I can only imagine the thoughts that went through your mind as you were playing it.
Ray
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Richard Hudson » Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:45 am

I didn't take any pictures myself, but I think a couple of folks did. I am not that deep into the history of things, but the thought kept running through my mind that Chet probably played the guitar at some time or another to evaluate it. It really was a sweet guitar. It made me want to own a vintage Gretsch, but on my budget that will never happen.
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Re: Country Gentleman prototype discussed in Vintage Guitar

Postby Ray Bohlken » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:53 pm

Richard, I've never had the budget for a vintage Chet Atkins Gretsch, either. The ones I could afford had those binding problems and looked somewhat toxic and infectious. I'm glad that Paul and Gretsch came up with the models that they did which are affordable and I was able to get one of those.
Ray
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