His son, Fred Jr. took over in 2003 and with the help of Kramer and Paul Yandell the company has been revived. Nearly all Gretsch guitars are currently manufactured in the Far East.
By the late 1950’s, the biggest endorser of Gretsch guitars was Chet Atkins. Chet not only played a Gretsch, but his input improved the guitars evolution. Thousands of Gretsch guitars bore Chet’s signature either on the pickguard or on a gold plate attached to the headstock.
He also was responsible for the change from a standard “F” hole to a simulated “F” hole. This eliminated feedback in large auditoriums.
With all the modifications, the 6120 became the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman. The name came from a song Chet had recorded.
In 1962, at Chet's suggestion the “F” holes were simulated as a further measure to prevent feedback. However the guitar was hollow.
The original Country Gentleman and the subsequent double-cutaway model of 1962 came with three potentiometers for volume. Each pickup had an individual volume control and a master volume control was placed on the lower horn. On the upper bout were two toggle switches.
This was standard on Gretsch long before after market locking strap buttons were offered.
The 1958/59 models had Grover Imperial tuners. 1959 brought about the addition of a zero fret. This changed in 1960 to Grover Rotomatic tuners. In 1960, the Bigsby vibrato with a V shaped insert specially manufactured for the Country Gentleman was added.
It was a pricey instrument and more expensive than a Gibson ES-335 (which incidentally sold for $335 US) or its Epiphone equivalent.
The Country Gentleman became the Country Classic model and the Tennessean became the Tennessee Rose.
The gold-plated Grover tuners have button style pegs. As with the single cutaway, this guitar features a Bigsby tailpiece with a V shape cut-out. This one feature the standard movable handle. The guitar has a bound body, neck and headstock. The scale is 24.6 inches and the body depth is 2 inches.
The “F” holes are real. This comes with a walnut stain or a black finish. I have seen red models in some stores. Although this guitar is not as nice as a Country Gentleman, bear in mind the real deal sells for $3400 to $3600, it has a street price of around $850-900 USD.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)