Modern Gretsch Guitars

What Strings did Chet Atkins use?

1
Just wondering if anyone knows the specs on most of Chet's guitars.
2
I remember reading once that in the early days, he used wires he pulled from a screen door.:nice:
3
As documented by the famous Mr. Paul Yandell: For electric guitars: He used different gauges but I know sometimes when he recorded he used a wound third. Leona, his wife, gave me all of Chet's strings and it was a bunch friends and most of then were Gretsch strings of different gauges so I'm pretty sure he used Gretsch strings. During the Gretsch years: Chet, in an interview with Guitar Player in Oct '79, said at one time he was using Gretsch "Chet Atkins Country Style Strings". (#672) He gave the gauges as .010, .012, .020 wound, .028, .038, .048 or .050. With Gibson “When I worked with him he and I used the same strings, Gibson 10-12-16-28-38-48. In his earlier days he used a bigger bass. “ strings. Currently on my NC I use 11-13-16 plain-28-38-48 For Classical “For nylon strings Chet and I both used D'Addario Pro-Art, although both of us at times have used LaBella 500p Professional concert & recording strings” For the DelVecchio “Chet used silk and steel strings on the Del Vecchio” For the “Octobass” On his “Octabass” guitars he used D'Addario XL-170S short scale bass strings using the third for the guitar fifth which is an .080 and the bass forth for the guitar’s sixth which is a .100.
4
Paul will be documenting what Chet used during the years he knew him... I wonder if Chet was using 10s in the 50s and early 60s though. I'd thought they were devilishly hard - or impossible - to get at that time. The legend has always been that you'd have to substitute banjo strings for the first, and fangle around with custom gauges for the rest of the set, before Ernie Ball came out with Slinkys in the late 60s. Surely Chet experimented with string gauges – but what if he had 10s on his guitars in the 50s! If he'd had 11s or better, maybe he wouldn't have felt the Dynas and hollow Gretschs lacked sustain... Nah. Of course he'd tried everything there was. But, really – 10s in the 50s?
5
Those bass strings seem (and feel) pretty wimpy to me. I'm gradually moving away from 0.048s and 0.038s on the guitars that now have them to at least 0.050s and 0.040s. BUT, remember the thread which seemed to conclude that Chet liked really high action on the bass strings? That would be one reason for using lighter gauges if, as you say, they could be found. Perhaps Gretsch began making lighter gauge strings at Chet's request. Perhaps he merely moved down some strings one nut slot (e.g., using what had been a third as a fourth string). The Gibson "E-340L" set (yes, L for "light gauge") of 1960 included a 0.028" wound third. Just use it as a fourth string and presto, you have one string of a lighter-gauge set.
6
I remember those 672's. Round box, brown label. That's what came on the guitars (at least by 1960) Very nice strings. Round wound. He never used flatwounds. No longer available because the (German) factory is out of business.
7
Proteus said: Paul will be documenting what Chet used during the years he knew him... I wonder if Chet was using 10s in the 50s and early 60s though. I'd thought they were devilishly hard - or impossible - to get at that time. The legend has always been that you'd have to substitute banjo strings for the first, and fangle around with custom gauges for the rest of the set, before Ernie Ball came out with Slinkys in the late 60s. Surely Chet experimented with string gauges – but what if he had 10s on his guitars in the 50s! If he'd had 11s or better, maybe he wouldn't have felt the Dynas and hollow Gretschs lacked sustain... Nah. Of course he'd tried everything there was. But, really – 10s in the 50s?
The story I usually hear from James Burton and others is that they'd buy a set of regular ol' Black Diamond strings and one little banjo string, put the banjo string on the high 'E', move the other strings down one, and throw the big 'E' away.

Register Sign in to join the conversation