Chet Atkins is best associated with Gretsch guitars. Early on, he started playing the Gretsch 6120, which evolved to the Chet Atkins model. Or I should say models, since they kept changing. It is a fact that Chet’s input went into most of his guitars with Gretsch and later with Gibson.
Chet was not well known for playing a solidbody guitar, with the exception of his nylon string model, the Gibson CEC. However he did use a couple of solidbody instruments on several recordings and in a few concerts. The original solidbody was referred to as The Peaver.
Chet’s accompanist and guitar tech was Paul Yandell. Paul deserves the title CGP behind his name. (Certified Guitar Player) He is a fabulous finger style artist. He spent many years playing guitar behind Chet and taking care of Chet’s guitars.
Paul took a Peavey T-60 guitar and removed the neck, replacing it with a Fender Stratocaster neck. Paul then rewired the guitar, installing two EMG pickups and a phase switch. Chet named this guitar, The Peaver.
The pickup placement is unique. For anyone who has tried to get harmonic notes on a Stratocaster, you may have found this difficult if using the neck pickup. The placement of the neck pickup is under a section of the string that can be divided to create a harmonic tone. Therefore, this placement cancels the tone out. To resolve this, Yandell installed a middle and bridge pickup.
Paul made one for himself, but his has twin humbucking pickups.
Chet signed on with Gibson guitars, due to the fact that Gretsch had stopped making guitars. Gibson built a fancy model for Chet called the CGP Phasor, which was based on The Peaver. Not much is known about this instrument. I recall seeing Chet play it on Nashville Now. He later played it in a concert with Mark Knopler. A long time ago I asked Paul Yandell about it on the Chet Atkins message board. All he said was it had two single coil pickups and a phasing switch.
Chet is rarely seen with this model. The video below shows him playing The Peaver and the Phasor.
More of The Peaver