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Country Gentleman prototypes

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 9:55 am
by smokymtguitar09
Vintage Guitar magazine online has an interesting feature about two prototype Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar in Japan that are both blonde, no painted F-holes, plaque, and various control placements. The guitar's look authentic and their history as reported by VG seems accurate. I had never heard this story before. ... -235025153

Re: Country Gentleman prototypes

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 8:17 pm
by Norm
Ed Ball is really intensely knowledgeable about Things Gretsch and can be pretty much believed. Joe Carducci claims the solid top 6120 with the maple top was made in 1956.

"...this two-tone 26400 example, and perhaps others were manufactured at the same time, providing a small group of test-guitars with varying features, presumably for Atkins to evaluate. Once that process was completed, it appears that number 26400 was simply included in the first production batch of Country Gents shipped to retailers..."

The famous "Dark Eyes" guitar was likely part of the "test-guitars with varying features, presumably for Atkins to evaluate" that the company sent him as they tried to come up with something new. They'd send new models to Chet, probably writing them off as R&D expense and I think Chet gave most of them away. The same sort of thing happened when they wanted him to be photographed or seen on TV with the latest project models.

Allegedly part of the motivation for the prototypes was from Jimmie Webster. He saw the Gibson Les Paul "Black Beauty" Custom and thought Gretsch should have a similar showpiece instrument with Chet's name on it. I'd be curious as to who suggested the final walnut finish. That minor change put Fin on one of the most elegant looking production guitars ever made