Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Atkins Axe proto??

1

I apologize if this has already been addressed on this forum, but if it has it must have been long ago as I certainly don't recall it. Perhaps prior to "the great crash"?

Anyway... I was going through some old files and came across it. I'm not terribly deep in my knowledge of the post 1970 Gretsch models so I have little to offer on what this guitar is (or isn't) other than a few photos. But here it is... please comment if you have any expertise on this model and/or this actual guitar specimen.

2

The back of the guitar is actually more interesting than the front!

3

Here's a closer look of the back. Could these be aftermarket additions??

4

Looks more like just a modded one. I will see what the Chet book says ... it has some prototype pix.

5

thats most likely stock...the controls are rear mounted...so the 2 discs are needed..and very much in line with the type of material and style that gretsch was using at the time....and it looks like chet was experimenting with strings through body..so that brass plate is needed

looks like neck pup (mini humbucker?) might have been added...but that could be factory as well..trying different pups out under chets direction...?

i had a super axe...when new...the flat fretboard radius did me in at the time..now i wish everyday i kept it!!

cheers

6

Looks like it could be a prototype “High Roller”. The giveaway is the “dice” fret board markers. I recall Chet mentioning that he wanted to call it that but Gretsch wasn’t too keen on the idea. The sum of the pips on the dice equals the fret number!

7

took a closer look at the top pic of guitar...the bridge pup looks like it has a gibson embossed pickup cover....(tho ibanez did it as well!!)

neck pup looks like a mini hum thats been retrofit into a full size humbucker rout...they also reversed the pickup so that polepieces are facing bridge

bridge has nashville wide type intonation saddles..brass..which was big at the time...the whole guitar is very much of its time...the 70's..lotsa natural wood and brass and fancier fret inlay work...

can't tell whats going on with upper bout switch?? tho probably, they moved pickup selector switch down by the knobs..(you can see a small switch there) and just placed some kind of medallion over the upper bout hole

a curious amalgam of features..without actually having it nearby, hard to access what if anything has been changed...i can almost believe it was a factory working chet prototype

cheers

ps- also looks like a different tailpiece was used at one point...

8

Parts are Gibson from 72-74. That is the “harmonica” bridge that has been modified. Back string plate looks handmade. The bridge pickup is 72 Gibson embossed patent sticker humbucker and the neck pickup is same era mini humbucket with the “goof ring” that was periodically used at that time.

9

Thanks for the input guys! I guess this one is just a mutt. Not sure why I was hanging onto the pix then... not like I don’t have plenty of photos of Gretsch guitars to manage! 8^)

10

I have two Super Axes, one with stock Filtertrons and one with humbuckers. I love these guitars and am very very familiar with this model and the Atkins Axe subject of this posting. The key question to answer which I cannot tell from the pictures is whether the fretboard inlays mimic dice or are simply square. If the former, then this is likely a prototype -- but easily a very heavily modified one. If the latter, then it is just a heavily modified model, but an early one. The pickups are the most obvious modification as the guitar was obviously not routed for these pickups and this configuration. Supposedly, though, Gretsch wanted humbuckers and not Filtertrons for his model to better appeal to a broader number of guitarists and had humbuckers made in Japan and supposedly bought a few from Gibson itself for installation on this model. Another curious thing is the strings-thru-the-body modification as the original prototypes for this guitar absolutely did not have this feature. Examples of the interior wood core of this model has been for sale for years on Ebay and Reverb and show no sign that the guitar was intended to have strings-thru-the-body. As for the controls, the prototypes supposedly had 2 tone and 2 volume knobs but this one obviously does not. The guitar top does not appear to have been plugged on the lower bout so it is possible that this was an early prototype before the control setup was decided upon, or even a guitar that one of the workers at Booneville made for themselves and then it was modified later. Finally, the back cover plates, while made of the same material as those of the actual model you commonly see, they are significantly larger than the any of the ones you traditionally see on the model which suggests to me they are a later modification done when the current pickups were installed

11

The guitar top does not appear to have been plugged on the lower bout so it is possible that this was an early prototype before the control setup was decided upon, or even a guitar that one of the workers at Booneville made for themselves and then it was modified later.

That's the big thing for me. Unless somebody retopped it, it can't be a modded off-the-rack Super Axe. For that matter, it would also have to have been rebacked.

I agree, prototype or employee guitar.


Register Sign in to join the conversation