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Vintage Vibes: 1958 Gretsch 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman Walnut
Edward tips his hat to the lasting legacy of one of country music's greatest with this 1958 Walnut Gretsch 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman. One of the first artists to endorse a guitar company, Atkins changed more than just Gretsch history when he helped develop the Filter'Tron pickup, a noise-cancelling, dual-coil alternative to the classic single-coil.
It's my pleasure to introduce the 1958 Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, otherwise known as the model number 6122.
Chet Atkins was, by all means, a virtuoso, and he was one of the first celebrity musicians to endorse a guitar company. You can see his influence in guitarists like Tommy Emmanuel, Brian Setzer, and Paul Pigat, and his legacy as a sonic innovator lives on in the Filter'Tron pickup.
Chet sported the first guitars Gretsch produced early in the 1950s, but they came equipped with DeArmond single-coils. This posed a problem for Chet, as he was playing a big, hollow body guitar. When you see Chet playing a few feet away from his amp, he's playing very loud and very clean. The point of Chet's picking is to be clear and concise, which doesn't work when you have to combat hum from the single-coil pickups. So in '56 or '57, a man named Ray Butz came along and worked in collaboration with Chet to build a pickup that would combat that hum, and the Filter'Tron pickup was born.
They allow you to tweak your tone quite well. You tell it what to sound like, and not the other way around. That's why I think these are maybe the most versatile pickups I've ever heard.
What's particularly impressive about this 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman are the top, back, and sides. They almost have a three-dimensional grain and are highly flamed. If you look at it close enough, it almost starts to move.
Most of this guitar is original and in fantastic shape. The small American flag on the pickguard is not original, but I think it serves as a nice reminder that all these early Gretsch guitars were built by hand in Brooklyn, New York, right here in the USA.
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