He didn’t collect for collection’s sake; he
regarded the instruments as tools of a trade. He
is said to have had one guitar or another in his
hands nearly every waking hour of his life.
to. Chet was surprised by the over-the-top
Western design touches, including cacti on
the fretboard and cowboys on the tailpiece.
But he was so dazzled to have an endorsement deal (like his hero Les Paul) that he
kept those feelings to himself.
This prototype had a carved top and back,
in the traditional style. Fred W. Gretsch,
current president of the company and great
grandson of its founder, says the model
quickly took an interesting turn toward a
more rigid top and back to offer a more
stable mounting for the pickups. “Plywood
tops and backs with electric guitars made
a lot more sense,” Gretsch says. “And we
were doing plywood drums and had been
doing them since the late ’20s and we had
done a lot of refinements in the early ’50s.
So we tried out some plywood tops and
backs with Chet and he dug the tone. So
we migrated to plywood on this model.”
Introducing the model just as Chet
first hit as a recording artist with “Mr.
Sandman,” Gretsch couldn’t have timed it
better. This guitar inaugurated a 25-year
relationship between artist and company.
Gretsch 1959 Country
All aesthetic extravagances on the
6120 were eliminated on the Country
Gentleman, which came along in 1959.
Chet’s personal edition is surely one of the
most beautiful electric guitars ever built,
even if the f-holes are decals. Fred Gretsch
says the company made versions for Chet
Pete Anderson PA- 1 Signature