Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Country Gentleman reissue vs vintage Country Gentleman

1

Jis wunderin' for some of you lucky folks who have had the opportunity to A/B a reissue Country Gentleman with a vintage Country Gentleman, say a 1959 or 1960. Paul Yandell if I remember correctly said the new ones which he was "instrumental" (pun intended) in designing were better than the old ones, playability and tone wise. Would like to hear from some of you who have put'er to the test and come up with an opinion. Check out the guy on YouTube playing "Exodus" on an unmodified 1957 (no Supertron in neck position). Great tone and a mighty handsome guitar!! Thanks fellars, Steve

2

I'm sensing the can 'o worms has just been opened.

3

And the early Windsordave catches the worm.

4

It just goes back to the perennial old vs. new debate. Even Duke Kramer for a while was going around saying the early Japanese stuff was better than what they made in NYC. Although that prototype Japanese 70s style Tenny is still eating at me ....

5

And the early Windsordave catches the worm.

– ade

I think the best way to look at that question is to first off, agree there isn't a 'right' answer to it. I believe the crucial factor of the question is: it depends. It depends on what you're looking for. Some people love the idea of an older guitar that's seen some miles and plays with that broken in feeling to it and aren't put off by the [perhaps] small imperfections of the 'golden age' builders that gave a somewhat 'custom' build feel to those guitars, and that guides their preferences. Others are more enamoured by the high build quality of the more recent Gretsches, be they pre or post-FMIC and who are bothered by those minor really imperfections of the older guitars.

As I've said previously, I can't recall a new guitar I've played that I felt any sort of 'bonding' with, or possible bonding with, whereas I've played many vintage guitars that feel like they're happy I'm playing them. Doesn't mean I think the new ones aren't great guitars because I do think they are, and I'm very happy Gretsch is doing well these days.

Regarding the '59 CG, the new ones have two huge advantages over the vintage ones. The first is obvious: price and second is, assuming it's important to you like it is to me, the new ones come with the wider neck. They also come with terrific TV Jones pickups made with the specs Chet liked and have the Chet arm on the Bigsby. Inarguably all set up to go and not requiring a mortgage to buy one.

Each has their charms in the eye of the buyer/player with it being a different strokes for different folks scenario. Let's just say they're the same, but different rather than start any kind of discussion with one camp trying to convince the other their reasoning is correct. Which version is better.......it all depends.

6

The one Paul mentored is the 6122-59 being the one with the supertron at the fingerboard the hot FT at the bridge and no mudswitch. Based on Chet's personally tinkered guitar it is unfair to compare the new vs old since the odds on finding a vintage guitar tricked out that way are nil.

If I had the choice between buying a new 6122 vs a 59-61 6122, unless the older one is cheaper, I would buy the new one because they are a better built machine overall

A fifty year old guitar is going to show some wear of some kind or another

7

Remember... the Atkins series of 61XX are all plywood. It's not like you'll have the tonic wood aging kind of thing like you hear about old Martins or hand carved archtops

8

I can't afford an old Gent. I've seen and played a few but to be honest barely enough to actually make an educated post in this thread. But hey, it's the internet and everyone talks right?

I had '65 6119 and new 6119 1962. The Hilos were a little different, the way they were mounted was different, the kerfing on the insides of the guitars was very different, the finish was different, the neck on the vintage 6119 was slightly thicker profile wise, and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of other points. My '65 6119 was in really good shape for a guitar it's age, but boy it sure looked flimsy compared to the modern poly covered one.

I'm going to guess you'd find a lot of similar construction differences between a real '59 Gent and the 6122-1959 made today.

I know there are lacquer finished Gretsches today, but I dunno... The lacquer used today isn't the same, and they usually have a poly undercoat, so even if the 6122-1959 was finished in lacquer today I don't think it would be the same as an old one.

That said, the fact that the 6122-1959 has the wider neck, special pickups, Paul Yandell's input, etc makes it a VERY special modern production guitar. Of all the guitars vintage and modern that sport Chet's name I feel like this is the one he might actually play today?

One question I have for those who own vintage single cut 6122s. Are the neck profiles thick?

9

No, mine is quite nice, not at all thick or clubby.

10

No, mine is quite nice, not at all thick or clubby.

– JazzBoxJunky

I've done WAY more a/bing of vintage Fenders and I've found a lot of the older ones have clubbier necks than their reissue counterparts, at least until around 2012 when Fender came out with a new reissue line. Those are a bit more vintage correct.

But I don't have the experience with many vintage Gretsches. I've got 100s of photos of Chet and his '59 and the neck doesn't look Fender or even Gibson clubby. So maybe the modern Gretsch profile is somewhat close to the old ones? Thanks for chiming in.

11

I have never played a vintage from 1959 or 1960, but one can always dream. If I were to ever be fortunate enough to own one, I have a sneaky feeling I would make the Chet mods to it, up to and including replacing the neck, if necessary. Apparently some of them had the wider neck, but I'm sure they were few and far between. I would, of course, keep the replaced items, just in case.

I have always been very happy with my '04 Nashville Classic, and still am. There is a mystique about historic vintage guitars that sometimes can't be explained.

12

Richard - You and your '04 Nashville Classic were a big deciding point in me picking up my first 6122-1959 about 5 years ago.

13

I have single cut Gent made in '61 and have had the good fortune of it not gaining any "old lady" issues that so often plague old guitars.

I have rewired the harness and eliminated the mudswitch on mine and added TV Jones pickup upgrades as you can see by looking at my archive listing. I've done quite a few tinkers on it, some Chet inspired.

http://gretschpages.com/gui...

It is a magnificent sounding guitar. I sometimes wish it had the wider neck but I have no intention of trying to secure a gretsch wide neck and putting the thing through that kind of trauma.

14

"Kid, when you buy something, you get something some guy designed for himself, not you. Spend the time finding one that is close to what you want, then do what is necessary to make it yours. Then you have what YOU want, not what some other guy thinks you should have".

__Les Paul (Quoted by Scott Jordan)

15

For me it's vintage all the way. And I currently play a '59 Country Gent and have had a few others over the years. All of them have been excellent guitars. But my first good guitar was a vintage County Gent and I've played almost nothing but vintage Gretsches for 25 years now. The new ones feel overbuilt, stiff and plastic to me. But, I'm sure that had a lot to do with my preferences being shaped by what I'm used to. To somebody who's been playing modern guitars his whole playing life, the old ones may feel fragile, flimsy, and underfinished.

And you have to be patient when hunting vintage. As has been mentioned, a lot of issues can arise over 50-60 years. And most dealers don't really address any problems, though a few do (Gruhn for example). You either have to wait for the right guitar at the right price in perfect functioning condition, or look for a good deal and be willing to do whatever setup/repairs/restoration are needed.

16

For me it's vintage all the way. And I currently play a '59 Country Gent and have had a few others over the years. All of them have been excellent guitars. But my first good guitar was a vintage County Gent and I've played almost nothing but vintage Gretsches for 25 years now. The new ones feel overbuilt, stiff and plastic to me. But, I'm sure that had a lot to do with my preferences being shaped by what I'm used to. To somebody who's been playing modern guitars his whole playing life, the old ones may feel fragile, flimsy, and underfinished.

And you have to be patient when hunting vintage. As has been mentioned, a lot of issues can arise over 50-60 years. And most dealers don't really address any problems, though a few do (Gruhn for example). You either have to wait for the right guitar at the right price in perfect functioning condition, or look for a good deal and be willing to do whatever setup/repairs/restoration are needed.

– Afire

"....look for a good deal and be willing to do whatever setup/repairs/restoration are needed" This statement hits the nail on the head when advising anyone considering looking for a vintage guitar, particularly for the first time. I know you mentioned waiting for the right guitar with respect to hunting for a perfect guitar but I'd add to practice patience looking for a fixer/upper as well. I've found that while you can find these occasionally, the seller is asking too much based on their perception of what their model is going for, without a realistic regard for the necessary repairs required.

17

Norm your guitar is beautiful. So the pickups appear to be closer together on the short scale 6122. Is this just my eyes or a fact?

18

Norms 6122 has the 15th fret neck joint, you can see how the bridge is farther forward in relation to the F-holes. Some have speculated that this occurs when a shorter scale Atkins fingerboard is put on a longer scale Country Club neck blank. All very normal to see in this era.

19

Ed Ball would be the guy who knows but I don't think the gents ever had other than a 24.5" scale. I don't know if that's considered long or short. I just play it.

20

Ed Ball would be the guy who knows but I don't think the gents ever had other than a 24.5" scale. I don't know if that's considered long or short. I just play it.

– norm van maastricht

I guess in comparison to the 6122-1959 then. The pickups seem further apart on those.

21

Ed Ball would be the guy who knows but I don't think the gents ever had other than a 24.5" scale. I don't know if that's considered long or short. I just play it.

– norm van maastricht

A couple very early examples of the 6122 have surfaced with a 25.5" scale length, but they appear to have been exceptions to the rule, and 24.5" is more typically the spec.

22

I have a couple of old Gents and a late-model WF,which I think is fairly close to A/B'ing a new Gent with an old one.The new ones are decidedly more robust than the old ones were even when they were new,but just a little less "Gretsch-y".Certainly good enough for the gig,though.


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