Modern Gretsch Guitars

Adjustable Bridge Eliminated?

1

I am wanting to purchase a Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar for fingerstyle picking. I notice that the newer Country Gentlemen guitars have a fixed mounted straight bridge, whereas the older ones had the adjustable bridges for each string. I assume this is a cost savings to the manufacturer, but does that affect the intonation adjustments to the strings on the newer guitars? Should I look for a used one that has an adjustable brdige? Are there any known poblems with intonation on these fixed bridges? What are your thoughts?

2

If your referring to the bar bridges or Tru-Arc bridges, they have been used on different models over the years and intonate just fine, when set correctly.

3

The Gent had a one-piece bar bridge decades before an adjustable appeared (for a few years) on some Baldwin-era and later modern (but pre-Fender era) models.

The bar bridge is not used for cost savings - there aren’t any - but for a combination of vintage accuracy, tone, and feel.

They actually intonate very well. You might try it before you dismiss it. I was used to adjustable-saddle bridges, too, when I got my first Gretsch 15 years ago. I assumed I’d be replacing the bar bridge. But I found it sounded great, felt better, couldn’t rattle, and intonated well. That made me a bar bridge believer.

And that was well before I started manufacturing an improved version with multiple metal choices. We (Tru-Arc) also make the SerpenTune, a fully compensated (but not adjustable, because it doesn’t need it) rocking bar for those who require perfect intonation.

That’s just by way of full disclosure. You should try the bar bridge in any form before assuming it’s a lesser creature.

4

Also, bridges on Gretschs - especially on floating bridge bases - are easily swapped. Don’t choose a Gretsch based on the installed bridge!

Most people think the Fender-era Gretschs (from 2003 to the present) are among the best ever to appear with the Gretsch name, and virtually all FMIC Gents (I believe) have the rocking bar.

If you shopped specifically to find a Gent with an Adjustamatic or other adjustable, you’ll probably miss out on a better guitar.

5

Tim forgot to mention a key factor in his Tru-Arc product........radius mismatch of the factory bar bridges. The Tru-Arc solves this issue, and enhances the playability of the guitar.

I've owned several Gretsches over the years, and the standard Tru-Arc bar bridge is my first "go to" item on every one of them

My -58 Gent had zero intonation issues with a brass Tru-Arc bar bridge

I have the Serpentune Tru-Arc on one guitar now, and it's an oustanding unit. Didn't have intonation issues, but just wanted to try one out.

You can't go wrong with either Tru-Arc on your Gent.

7

I have replaced all of my Gretschs’ Tune-o-matic bridges with TruArc bridges to achieve more sustain and better (to my ears) tone.

I have a drawer full of TOMs, if you want one.

8

If your referring to the bar bridges or Tru-Arc bridges, they have been used on different models over the years and intonate just fine, when set correctly.

– Suprdave

Thank you.

10

So, with that said, I am looking at a used near mint 1978 C7670 Country Gentlemen that is for sale and a new G6122-69 Country Gentleman for sale. Both around $3,000. In your opinion, would I be better to go with the new one, since the 1978 (although near mint), was a Baldwin area guitar and Chet walked away from Gretsch at that time and said that the quality was not good with them? I've seen some with condition issues ,but this one is in great shape. But Proteus is saying the modern era is better quality? Thank you.

11

The quality of the modern product is stellar. There are plenty of good Baldwin era guitars out there. If you are aimed at vintage, don't hesitate on your urge to cure the gas but if you want new, with warranty and you know it's history, then go that route. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either, though new, you can choose a color.

As far as the bar bridges go, you can't argue with Duane Eddy or Brian Setzer. They use them on their guitars.

12

You probably mean the 6122-59 model as the "new" Gretsch that you're considering.

This particular model is considered by many, to be one of, if not the best new Gretsches ever built. A finger pickers delight, with a ton of Chet's preferred features.

New vs used is a personal choice. Myself, I would go with the -59 model over the '78 Gent. Just me.

Best of luck on your quest.

13

Given those choices, I'd advise playing both as much as you can and buying the one that speaks to you.

I think survivors of the Baldwin era have long since had any issues resolved (and I don't think '78 was a bad year in the first place).

On the other hand, the new one will almost definitely be a wonderful guitar too.

One will speak more to you. Buy that one.

14

You shouldn't pay more than $2K for the '78 -- even that is a bit much. Most vintage Gents have a 24.5" scale. The '59 modern version has a 25.5" scale.

15

I concur that the 6122-1959 is the pinnacle of Gent evolution, especially for the Chet picker. Paul Yandell had a heavy hand in its development, and it's a stellar guitar in every respect. For most of us, it's the creme de la creme of a fingerpicking Gretsch. More than just the tone (which is perfectly dialed in with Paul's selection of TV Jones pickups and Paul's approval of the build and bracing), it's the neck profile and the fingerpicking playability of its 1.75" nut width (wider than most any other Gretsch).

The '58 Gent is a great choice for Chetting around as well, with its deeper body. But the 6122-59 was designed by Paul and his Gretsch partners to be as close as possible to the '59 which was Chet's own favorite Gretsch, and the one he preferred above others after he got it. It is unique in its combination of a fully enclosed Electrotone body, 25.5" scale, and the Chet-specific pickups. It was a labor of love and respect on behalf of everyone involved, and it's gorgeous to boot. (No online pictures quite do justice to the rich deep red stain.)

Quality has also been uniformly high, both in playability/function and in fit and finish.

Only you can answer if an old one or a new one better scratches your itch. You might find a great Baldwin-era Gent. An FMIC-era 6122-59 is all but certain to be magnificent.

But a note. I don't know where you're located, but 3,000.00 sounds high for a 6122-1959. Fabulous as the guitar is, in the US they usually trade closer to 2,000.00 - 2,200.00.

17

I'm a big proponent of Baldwin era guitars. I have a magnificent '72 Super Chet, not made anymore and Chet's prototype Super Axe, again no longer manufactured, so in both cases neither has a modern equivalent or reissue to choose between. You have a wide variety of choices with recent Gents. I would also like to know where you're located and who if anyone, you may have spoken with regarding pricing on these or any Gretsch guitars. You've done the smart thing, joining here and asking for opinions, this site being the best in the world for the info you're looking for.

First thing you have to realize is that any Gretsch from the Baldwin era isn't worth near $3K!! Proof of this is that Gretsch's finest offering, the newer 6122-59 Proteus spoke of can be had for under $2K or around $2K in brand new condition, if you look around a bit and have patience. If you're from England, I'd still recommend you buy one from the US as the extra shipping costs won't add enough to bring it up to $3K.

And I would leave the issue of the bridge out of the equation completely as if need be, can be dealt with easily after you buy a Gent. The recent Gents won't come with any issues though.

The biggest difference aside from the scale length between the Baldwin Gent and the latest version, is the neck width, as also mentioned previously. For myself, I bought the SC to get the wider neck as I simply couldn't find a newer Gent at the time. Now there's many more available. Be patient and wait for one of these.

Baldwin era guitars - past '71 till the end of production - are well made guitars regardless of what you may have read elsewhere but aren't of the fine quality of today's Fender manufactured offerings. Today's aren't as handmade as they once were and achieve fit and finish tolerances previously unobtainable. The Baldwins are as good as the previous era Gretsches, mostly the later '60's the exception with binding rot issues. This site has the best experience and knowledge of the Baldwin era guitars in particular. Now if the neck width isn't an issue to you and the guitar was half this $3K asking price, I'd say it was at least worth considering.


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