And though he played Gretsch instruments for years, his obligation with the company ended and did He chose not to sign on with the new owners. The quality of Gretsch instruments was slipping and Mr. Atkins was well aware of this fact.
By 1987 Gibson designers had come up with the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman. The design was loosely based on the Gretsch 6122; however there are quite a few differences.
492R humbucker on the neck and an alnico 490T on the bridge. These pickups are slightly hotter than Gretsch Super-Trons.
|Chet's Guitar - note red markers|
Unlike the Gretsch Country Gentleman, which had tone switches, Gibson’s version included a single tone potentiometer.
The cutaway is Venetian style.
|1996 Gibson Chet Atkins|
The neck is designed of three-ply Maple capped with an Ebony fret board. There are thumb print style red pearl or abalone fret markers on the bottom edge of the fret board. The guitar has 21 frets and a scale of 25.5”, which is slightly longer than most Gibson thinline models. The width of the neck is 1.75” at the nut and tapers out to 2.102” at the 12th fret. The headstock is black and capped with a crown inlay. The Gibson logo is inlaid at the top of the headstock.
The truss rod cover has Chet’s name engraved and features a surrounding white binding.
All hardware on the Country Gentleman is gold-plated, including the Schaller tuners, the tune-o-matic bridge, the Bigsby vibrato (some did not come with a vibrato), the ring-nut on the pickup selector switch and the strap buttons.
The tune-o-matic bridge is seated on top of a beautiful rosewood saddle with white inlays inlaid on either side.
The guitar features four speed knobs. Included is one volume control for each pickup, a single tone control and a master volume knob. The master volume is located on the upper bout and the selector switch is on the lower bout.
|Ray Cummins with his CA model|
|Scotty Moore's Guitar|
This guitar was manufactured in Gibson’s Memphis plant.
How does the Gibson Country Gentleman sound? I will let you be the judge by watching and listening to the videos below. In my opinion, it sounds like a Gibson guitar.
Due to the use of the Super-Tron pickups, Gretsch guitars have a very unique sound. But keep in mind most of a guitars sound is in the player’s hands. I love the comment that Mr. Atkins once made to an admirer. He had set his guitar on a stand, when someone came over and said to him, “that guitar sounds great.” Chet looked at the resting guitar and said, “Well how does it sound now?”
One worth mentioning is the Gibson Tennessean.
This guitar is sort of a stripped down version of the Country Gentleman, but it still remains an incredible instrument. The Tennessean was introduced in 1990. Many of the accoutrements were similar to the Country Gentleman. This guitar was equipped with chromed hardware.
The tune-o-matic bridge is mounted directly to the body.
The body is bound in white trim. However, there is no binding on the neck, arm rest or pick guard. And the pick guard is molded in a slightly different shape than what is found on the Country Gentleman.
The logo is silk screened onto the headstock. The controls are essentially the same as the Country Gent. The guitar comes with two 490 alnico humbucking pickups.
I cannot say for certain what material was used for the center block. The body size, depth and width are the same as its big brother. This guitar also features a 25.5” scale.
Both of these instruments have been discontinued, but can still be found in music stores and on eBay.
Below is a video by perhaps the greatest interpreter of Chet’s style, my friend Ray Cummins, who is playing his Sunrise Orange Gibson Country Gentleman.
Here is Chet playing his Gibson Country Gentleman
with Stanley Jordan and Paul Yandell.