Known as "Mr. Guitar," Chet Atkins was one of the most influential musicians to ever pick up the guitar. On top of that, he was easily the most important guitarist associated with the Gretsch brand. His collaboration of Gretsch signature models began in the '50s, and—like Gibson and the Les Paul model—Chet Atkins models have been played by countless influential guitarists, not to mention the man himself.
Released in 1961, the double-cutaway Country Gentleman is perhaps best known as the guitar played by George Harrison on the Beatles' early Ed Sullivan Show appearances. The 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman features a hollow body with painted-on f-holes. On the back, there's a protective cover so your belt buckle doesn't scratch up the finish. For pickups, it has two Filter'Trons—humbucking pickups designed at Chet's request after he was dissatisfied with earlier DeArmond designs. Outfitted with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, the Country Gentleman offers players a wider range of expression in a comfortable, playable package that limits feedback issues on the stage.
This 1967 6122 Country Gentleman is a little rough around the edges, but it plays decently and sounds like it should. On Gretsch electrics of this era, the neck joint in known to be particularly problematic, and this one shows some glue and signs of past repair. At present, the neck angle isn't in the ideal spot, so the Melita Synchrosonic bridge is sitting as low as it can. The bridge is also pinned to the top. To lower the action, the neck angle should ideally be addressed. But where it is, it plays decently.
This '67 6122 shows some binding rot, heavy patina, and signs of having lived in a smoky environment for many years. The original case—which is included, but heavily weathered—smells a little smoky. It is currently rigged up for Dunlop strap buttons. The string mute system is entirely disengaged, but thanks to a 2019 overhaul, the original electronics function as they should. Plugged in, the guitar sounds fantastic.
Partly because of the ratty cosmetics, this '67 Country Gentleman has unique vintage charm. It feels like a guitar that spent night after night on the stage in some smoky old roadhouse. If you're looking for a squeaky clean, museum piece, this ain't it! But if you want an old Gretsch with character, this one delivers in spades.