Vintage Gretsch Guitars

59 COUNTRY GENT QUESTION

1

I know about the current 6122 - 59, but I was wondering what the make up of an actual 59 Gent was. Thanks.

2

Others more knowledgeable will chime in, but first off, the modern version has a 25.5" scale; the vintage '59 had a 24.5" scale.

3

I know about the current 6122 - 59, but I was wondering what the make up of an actual 59 Gent was. Thanks.

– jaxsun

Paul Yandel took measurements off of Chet's '59 Gent on loan from the CMHF to have the remakes be as true to the original as possible.

4

Paul Yandel took measurements off of Chet's '59 Gent on loan from the CMHF to have the remakes be as true to the original as possible.

– Windsordave

That is my understanding -- that Paul Yandel took detailed measurements from Chet's favorite 6122 in the CMHF which Gretsch used to design the reissued 6122-1959. Therefore I assume Chet's guitar had the 25.5" scale length and the 1-3/4" nut width.

Interestingly, Gretsch did NOT include the small phase shifter switch which Paul had installed on Chet's guitar. (See "Chet Atkins -- Me & My Guitars", pg 88).

5

Chet's was not a standard '59. Production ones had the 24.5" scale and roughly 1 11/16" nut width.

6

Over the early years of both the Gent & 6120 there were a number of guitars factory made with the wider neck. I've played a few. Neck profile wasn't any different, as it was a C shape.

I'm thinking the phase shifter switch didn't make it on the reissue as it was a one-off mod by Paul and never a factory feature.

8

I guess I should make my question clearer. I was wondering about the pick ups, switches, tone & volume pots. I thought that the re-issue was supposed to be close to the original, but someone on a fb Gretsch page said that the original 59 was like the 58. Thanks to all who responded.

9

I’m still not understanding the question.

10

I guess I should make my question clearer. I was wondering about the pick ups, switches, tone & volume pots. I thought that the re-issue was supposed to be close to the original, but someone on a fb Gretsch page said that the original 59 was like the 58. Thanks to all who responded.

– jaxsun

With regards to electronics, it didn't change at all from '57 to '64, with the exception of the addition of a standby switch in '61. After that, it had a SuperTron in the neck from sometime in '64 to sometime in '66, then went back to dual FilterTrons and stayed that way to the end.

The 6122-59 is not based on a standard 1959 6120. It's a recreating of Chet's personal guitar and incorporates (some of) the mods he made over the years, as well as the custom neck.

11

Over the early years of both the Gent & 6120 there were a number of guitars factory made with the wider neck. I've played a few. Neck profile wasn't any different, as it was a C shape.

I'm thinking the phase shifter switch didn't make it on the reissue as it was a one-off mod by Paul and never a factory feature.

– Windsordave

I'm sure the nut width varied from one guitar to the next, and you can find some with a 1 3/4 width. But for the first handful in '57 with the long scale and wide nut, I think it was a deliberate choice, at least based on the example I owned. The necks were five-piece with a wide flat D profile. And the first run Gent Chet gave to Jethro Burns, I could tell just from the pictures I saw that it had the same profile. Totally unlike any other Gretsch I've ever played. I'd have to think they were made that way based on Chet's input. It's the only guitar I've ever parted with because I didn't like the feel of the neck. Maybe other players had the same reaction and that's why they went back to the standard 24.5" scale and narrower width and C profile so quickly.

12

That answers my question perfectly. Thanks.

13

I'm sure the nut width varied from one guitar to the next, and you can find some with a 1 3/4 width. But for the first handful in '57 with the long scale and wide nut, I think it was a deliberate choice, at least based on the example I owned. The necks were five-piece with a wide flat D profile. And the first run Gent Chet gave to Jethro Burns, I could tell just from the pictures I saw that it had the same profile. Totally unlike any other Gretsch I've ever played. I'd have to think they were made that way based on Chet's input. It's the only guitar I've ever parted with because I didn't like the feel of the neck. Maybe other players had the same reaction and that's why they went back to the standard 24.5" scale and narrower width and C profile so quickly.

– Afire

How deep was that neck? Was the bottom of the neck flat or just the fingerboard?

14

It wasn't particularly deep. The fingerboard was the usual pretty flat 12" or more radius. And the back was what was unusually flat. Sort of a hard D shape.

15

It wasn't particularly deep. The fingerboard was the usual pretty flat 12" or more radius. And the back was what was unusually flat. Sort of a hard D shape.

– Afire

I asked to see how it compared to the deep d-shape, flat on the bottom profile of the early Super Chets. That's how mine was till I had it taken down considerably.

16

Dave, it may have been a little deeper than normal. It's been 15 years. That just wasn't what stuck out to me. But it's interesting that both early Super Chets and early Gents shared this characteristic. It seems pretty clear that this profile was likely something Chet had interest in. To me, it seemed like a neck that would work well for somebody with good traditional technique who centered their thumb on the back of the neck. As a thumb wrapped, it was uncomfortable to me. But the thing that doesn't make sense is Chet was a thumb wrapper too, right?

17

Dave, it may have been a little deeper than normal. It's been 15 years. That just wasn't what stuck out to me. But it's interesting that both early Super Chets and early Gents shared this characteristic. It seems pretty clear that this profile was likely something Chet had interest in. To me, it seemed like a neck that would work well for somebody with good traditional technique who centered their thumb on the back of the neck. As a thumb wrapped, it was uncomfortable to me. But the thing that doesn't make sense is Chet was a thumb wrapper too, right?

– Afire

I think you're on to something Afire regarding Chet's input into both models. I wrap my thumb too so the SC neck as is wasn't comfortable but Nicole's sanding it down fixed that perfectly.

I did an experiment awhile ago I described on a thread regarding neck width affecting playing comfort. My SC neck is 1.8" wide and my '41 Synchro neck is the normal 1.685" width. The SC [now] has a shallow C profile while the Synchro is a deeper C. It's also asymmetric but that's irrelevant to the experiment. The SC neck is easier to wrap my thumb around to grab the low E than the Synchro. The reason is that the Synchro neck has more mass - a larger square measurement - so it's further to go to wrap my thumb around. This shows me that the wider neck of the SC wasn't hurting my wrapping ability but rather the larger mass was the culprit. Before I had the neck taken down it was impossible for me to get my thumb around.

I shook Chet's hand - gently - a couple of times and was amazed at how big it was. I assumed he liked the slightly wider board for more space for his fingertips.

18

My 59/60 is 1 11/16” wide at the nut/zero fret & is 24.75” scale. Pretty comfortable for me, but I do like a wider neck and wish this was the 1 3/4” width, but seeing how they only made 250 of them between 1958-60, I’m just happy to have it!

19

If Fender/Gretsch would have made one of the #6122-59’s with Trestle Bracing, Nitro cellulose Lacquer finish & Hide Glue construction, I would have bought one years ago! But, they don’t and they ones they made sound a bit dull/ thudy. I don’t like poly finishes as it looks like it’s plastic coated( in a sense it is...). And the white vinyl Titebond glue doesn’t do much to help the sound/tone. Titebond is like putting a sheet of vinyl between each piece of wood. Hide Glue when it dries, will pull the wood together and crystallizes when it dries. That’s one reason the old guitars sound better.


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