Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Chet Atkins Strings


The back page of Guitar Player has an excerpt of a 1974 interview with Scotty Moore where he says that he used "Gretsch Chet Atkins Strings" on his Super 400 when he was playing and recording with Elvis in the 1950s. They were apparently fairly heavy and the only ones he found to be durable enough. Anybody know anything about that brand?


"...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. . Chet also remarked that he especially liked the Country Style strings because they had good magnetic qualities. "They have a lot of steel" he said. ..."

I used them for years. Made in Germany packaged with an extra 1st and 2nd. Round wound.

Wish they still made them. Paul Yandell said Gretsch would be re releasing them but they wouud be by D'Addario since the german company is no more.


Yeah weren't they made by Pyramid but packaged as Gretsch? Maybe I'm wrong of course but I thought that was the way it was? Maybe if you try some of those expensive Pyramids that will do for you.

Do you have a Super 400 also?


Does anybody produce a set of strings with gauges similar to the Chet Atkins strings?

I've been looking for a sort of light top - medium bottom set with a wound third.


Well 10-48 or 10-50 is fairly common. Ernie Ball (my string of choice) markets 10-50 as their "Extra Light Custom Gauge."

These have a wound G, which most fingerpickers/Atkins style guitarists prefer. I happen to like unwound G strings, but for the really authentic set, this is pretty close.


Yeah weren't they made by Pyramid but packaged as Gretsch?..."

Not the ones in the round plastic boxes. The Grestch strings packaged in the standard plastic pocket, maybe but not the originals. The company that made those has since gone out of business.

Maybe if you try some of those expensive Pyramids that will do for you..."

Most of the pyramid discussion I've seen here has been about flatwounds and Chet was definitely NOT a flatwound user or endorser.


Thanks bigal, the problem for me is that the 10-50 sets with a wound third often have 14s for B strings, which I don't want.
I'll guess that I'll end up buying sets with plain thirds and adding a wound third or the sets with wound thirds and adding a lighter B string.

So in a couple of years, if someone wants a pile of 14s let me know...



I was wondering more about what "Gretsch Chet Atkins Strings" would have been circa 1956. From Moore's description, it was a brand name, and definitely not light guage. He was speaking from somewhat recent memory (1974), but talking about touring with Elvis and needing to use this brand of strings on his Super 400, since nothing else would hold up. I don't think he would have been referring to the period after that, since Elvis really stopped touring with Moore after he went in the army. I think.

I know Chet favored light strings later, but I was just curious about this particular brand and period.


The 1955 Gretsch Catalog had this to say about the Chet Atkins strings ( page 16)

Gretsch - Chet Atkins "Country Style" Strings

Light-gauge strings made to Chet Atkins' exacting specifications to achieve brilliant highs and solid lower tones in finger-style or plectrum playing. Especially effective with vibrato-type tail pieces. Wound strings polished monel for smooth playing and good electric pickup. ....


Thanks for posting that antik. At $3.75 at set in 1955, Gretsch couldn't be accused of giving them away. I'd say they were probably a premium string.


I'd say they were probably a premium string..."

You would be correct. They were a bit pricey.



That's almost $35 a set!?! Wow, that's a lot of money. Then again, when my '54 Electromatic Amp retailed for $450, (which is almost $4,000 in today's money), you're talking about a pricey company.

How much did '58 Anniversaries retail for, anyone know?


I used many sets of the 672's in the early sixties. I didn't have much money then, but I could buy a case of beer for $4.00 and a pair of Levis for around $3.75. My mom bought my first Chet Atkins 6119 Gretsch in 1959 for $300. The 6120's were around $400. My mom used my old plastic cases, the Gretsch strings came in, to store things in, like bobbi pins, loose change, etc. I just bought a set of (672's) off ebay, for case candy, and they look pretty good. The 672's were great sounding strings, but I finally switched to Gibson Sonomatics for economic reasons. In the late 60's and early 70's, I got away from using the Bigsby and played mostly rhythm on my 6120. I even took the bar off the Bigsby and took the spring out, so when I would break a string, it wouldn't go out of tune. That is the way I played it on the Viet Nam tour in 1970. Our lead player was playing a Tele. I have come back home now, to playing the music I played in my younger days like Duane Eddy and The Ventures.

I'm now using Gretsch Electomatic(rhythm-n-blues) strings. 11, 14, 18, 28, 38 and 49. The G 18 is plain and I can still pull it pretty good, if needed. I like these strings pretty well. I used flat wounds when I first started playing, but found I could get much for twang and brilliance from round wounds.


The flatwounds were made in Germany by a small company that when "Dad" died, the company folded. the strings are very , very close to Pyramid's. I have some here. The round wounds were made by LaBella and used a solid nickel wrap over a small steel round core. The ones that would come close today are the Pyramid Nickel Classics-round core.


The 672's were made in Germany. Each string had a little foil label by the yellow colored fluffy bit of business at the ball ends that clearly said "Made In Germany" The plant that made them is no longer in business.

If Pyramid and LaBella made them then the plant would still be in business wouldn't it?

In any case, Paul Yandell said the D'Addario company was going to reissue the strings but IMO they will probably not be like the originals in iron content.

Will it make a difference? No, because there is no way to compare a new string with a string they quit making in 1980 (give or take a few years)

It will be nice for the people who used to used those 672's for the sake of the guages though...


Hi Norm, I just looked at my old round plastic box Gretsch Chet Atkins no. 672 strings. They don't have "made in Germany" on them anywhere. They have the yellow fuzz at the ball end and the little foil labels but the labels just say: Gretsch Chet Atkins Guitar on one side and the string part number, Guitar, and the string letter and number on the other side. No mention of Germany. My old set of round plastic box Chet Atkins Rhythm 'N Blues strings no. 772 are the same way only the fuzz is blue, no mention of Germany on them either.


That may well be and I hate to beat on it but when I used to buy them they had made in germany (might even have been w. germany) on the foil label on the string itself. Blue with gold lettering I think. Having said that I, of course must say that I could be wrong on this but I can see it so clearly in my mind...

Doesn't matter. You can't get them anymore...


My round box Gretsch Chet strings could very well be made after the German company that you spoke of went out of business. I notice that the price printed on the label of mine is $6.00, so they were probably from the 60's. The newer flat pack set that I have from the 70's still have the yellow fuzz on the ball ends but the changed the part number to G802. They say nickel wound on them. We may never know for sure how many times that Gretsch changed vendors through the years since Gretsch didn't make their own strings. Apparently in 1955 they were Monel wound strings. Chet's Gibson Signature strings for the Gibson SST were also Monel wound. I find all this stuff interesting, even though it's hard to figure out all this stuff.


Don't know that much about it.

I'm pretty sure I saw what I saw and I used to change my strings once a month.

Could be they changed vendors too. Somebody knows or has a good idea. All I know is all of a sudden the roundbox Gretsch 672 strings were just Gone.


I just dug out my old set of 672's. The price says $3.75. The strings have the yellow fuzz on the end and the blue stickers, but can't find "Germany" anywhere. They reside in their round plastic box.


Lemme ask around. Like I said, I could be wrong. If I can't find somne kind of corrorbortion I'll admit it.


TM1 - quote:

"The flatwounds were made in Germany by a small company that when "Dad" died, the company folded. the strings are very , very close to Pyramid's."

I think the ToneMan is refering to the Maxima brand which Rickenbacker endorsed and used as OEM strings on all of their instruments. [pre 1980]


That's strange - I too remember Scotty saying that he had the heaviest gauge he could find because they lasted - and that they were Gretsch Chet Atkins strings - whether he got mixed up with the flatwounds also made by Gretsch at the time....

Then again - in the mid '50's what did they call light gauge? I thought Ernie Ball was the first to bring out sets of 10's in the '60's...?


What is exactly is "Monel" String? what is monel? :|

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