Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Help identifying this vintage 6122 Country Gent misfit from England.

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Would love some help from some of the early Vintage "experienced" identifying what this double-cut 6122 Country Gentleman might actually be, all "lore" (aka BS) I was told by the local Mayfair neighborhood music store in London music store when I bought it in early1979 during a marketing trip while I worked for Fender promoting 25 years of the Stratocaster.

First, I know this 6122 is a "mutt", it came that way and has sat in the semi-hardshell case for 25 more years after looking at it in my factory office, replacing some missing parts. It had no pickguard or L bracket, so I found the wrong Black one at first and mounted it, later I found an original NOS 1960's Gold PG which I have not installed yet. And back in '82 I found a matched pair of mid 60's like-new silver Filter'trons with harness in NYC on another Biz trip, paid $50. I need to have them gold plated first ... so I said 30 years ago. I am still looking for an original correct 60's truss-rod cover and an original Mute Assembly.

So, I KNOW that the early 70's "Super'Trons" are wrong. Although I have read that some 6122 CG's did come with a Super'Tron at the Neck, these in it I believe are the wrong "decade" for the body/neck/hardware, though the PuP rings are original 60's.

Also look close and notice that this 6122 was at one time converted to a Left Handed guitar and then badly returned to Right Handed with some very shoddy "wood puddy" hole fillings. This is part of the Brit "Lore" (likely BS) I was told about its history. More later.

Now here is the "Stumper", this obviously Gretsch made 6122 Country Gentleman has no serial number anywhere's. NOT on the Country Gent peghead name plate where it should be, no impression stamped number on the back of the peghead and nothing on the label! Nothing penciled in either on the internal wood. I have shown it to Norm Harris (Norm's Fine Guitars), a long time friend and he says it is a legit Gretsch CG, but is also stumped why no SN. He thinks it's a very early 60's (61?) Double-cut CG. Was it a "prototype"?

Now here is the Brit BS, err "Lore". The store owner who had attended the Fender presentation in London we gave to dealers, said it belonged to The Beatles, originally to Harrison. Later it was converted to Left Hand for McCartney, who as you should know was an accomplished guitarist before being "pressed" into playing the Bass when the early Beatles bass player quit/fired. He had no idea dates this all occurred, just that a family member brought it in years later after having been converted back to right-handed and wanted a new Fender Stratocaster. He said it's been in the back of his store for years and would I be interested (he wanted "favorable" pricing from Fender on the line he'd carry). He said he wanted 200L (pounds) for it (about $370 in 1979), I offered him $275 USD and 10% extra off on his first 5 1979 Silver Anniversary Models he purchased for resale.

I knew Sh*t about Gretsch guitars in the 60's or 70's. I knew Rickenbackers really well (just up the road from the Fender factory), loved Gibson's, Epiphone's (when they were REAL and not Korean or Chinese garbage), Martin's etc. Teisco del Rays, Kay's and Harmony guitars of the 50's and 60's. But Gretsch, I played Gretsch drums when I was 10 thru 15 and that was my total experience with Gretsch.

So I'm kicking around restoring this odd-ball and I'd like to make it "period correct" and find out what and WHEN (date) it is. Toss me your best "Educated" thoughts and opinions. Here are some pics I took about 10 years ago. Thanks!

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6122 DC with rear pad partially removed to show cover.

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I'm stumped, too. The headstock plate with no S/N puts me in mind of my (known to be) '67 Nashville, and the knobs are definitely later Baldwin-era, but there's no telling if they're original to the guitar. The body looks right, but what looks like the hole for the treble-side mute "flipper" is a little forward of the Bigsby axle, and I can't see one on the bass side. On my '63 and '64 Gents, the holes are just a bit aft of the Bigsby axle. Unless there's a S/N impressed into the top edge of the headstock-- I think somewhat unlikely on a Gent-- potentiometer date codes are probably the only alternative.

The Beatles connection? Probably bollocks. By the time George got his first Gent, the band was earning well enough Paul could(and did) buy lefty instruments.

8

I'd say about 1968. By 1969, Van Ghent tuners were showing up in place of the Grover Imperials, and after that, the mute assembly was deleted from the Gent. If it was '67 or earlier, it would likely have the heavy G-Arrow knobs.

So it looks like a modded '68 Gent with an inexplicably missing serial number stamp. Nice guitar!

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--Country Gents went to single mute system circa 1964/5. It makes sense that this one would be e.g, 1968 per the Baldwin knobs. EDIT: The post above mine came to a similar conclusion while I was typing!

--I thought s/n on the top edge of the headstock as well. I actually don't know either if CG's ever had s/ns there.

--Refinish on the headstock at least which did away with the s/n is another thought but it doesn't look refinished in the photo.

--If you don't mind modern Paul Setzer makes (or at least used to make) repro truss rod covers.

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Another plausible reason a Gretsch guitar would lack a serial number... and in '68 that would have been the date-coded variety located on the reverse of the headstock, is that it bypassed the serialization process which has been reported (by Dan Duffy) to be activity executed very late in the manufacturing process. Dan also shared that it was not unheard of that guitars would be "appropriated" by employees, who would lower finished guitars down from the 7th floor to the back alley of the Brooklyn factory. If one was of the mind to commit such an act, you would probably want to do it with a guitar that hadn't been serialized yet (untraceable). Impossible to confirm if this was one of those kidnapped guitars, but it's a plausible scenario at least.

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Wow guys, lots of great info! So let me address and ask more questions brought on by your suggestions:

1) I have searched this CG everywhere and find not a hint of a S/N or the "ghost" of an ink or impressed removed one. Nothing on any side of the headstock.

2) I hadn't thought about the "insider theft" proposition, after-all it is New York City and especially it was The Bronx, both well known for their criminal history. I've read Gibson had a problem with that in the Kalamazoo era too. We didn't at Fender, Leo, George, Forest and management treated everyone like "Familia" (lots of local Mexican's have always worked at Fender, most of the PuP assem line were Mexican ladies.) And Fender, at least thru the end of the 90's. always let employees make themselves guitars with rejected bodies and necks (imperfections), discounted good wood, at cost discounts on the hardware, old stuff and "irregulars" were free, and anyone was encouraged to learn to make/wind PuP's and make a harness. Body spraying was free after hours. So there was little incentive to steal. There was a limit how many you could make a year, 2 or 3 (maybe a 1 Strat, 1 Tele, 1 bass) Hell, I still have 4 Strats, 2 Tele's and a P-Bass I made for myself, sold off maybe 4 others I made and tired of.

3) Other than the "lefty moved" control holes being filled (badly) with wood-puddy and "stained" (badly) and hand painted with Lacquer (badly), this finish on the body, neck and headstock are absolutely original ... and grimy. I gave it a cursory cleaning when I brought it home and hung it up in my office at Fender, just clean enough to play it and keep inspecting it to try to figure out "WTF is it"? Definitely has not had the impressed or inked SN sanded off, nor any hand-written SN inside the body. It's a "Ghost" Country Gentleman", but definitely a basically factory made one at it's core.

4) There were CG's with a single Mute bar and control, I've seen a played a couple. (see picture above, not mine) This CG body I have is one that was made that way. But I don't know the history about when those were made. Maybe that's a "dating" clue. ... Personally, I think mutes are a dumb idea. I have a minty 1964 3-color Sunburst Jaguar and the foam mute is long gone and I don't miss it for a second. That's why Ma Evolution invented the human palm.

5) Tuners. If these are replacements, then their "foot print" is identical to what was installed at the factory. I've had them off, there is no phantom screw holes and no outline of some previous other brand/model tuners. The faded "patina" gold plating is identical to that of the Trem and pickups, I think a very good indication they are the same age. These tuners are also that odd crooked orientation as I've seen on many pictures of 60's and early 70's Gretsch guitar's tuners.

6) And what's with the dual Super'Tron PuPs? I know, I guess, that they are early 70's made ones because of the adjustment screw "tabs" being short crescents. Was this a trendy thing to do? I have to say I like the tone of the Super'Tron's, more delicate tone, though lower power. I have seen documented pictures of some CG made with a Super'Tron at the neck and a Filter'Tron at the bridge.

7) Speaking of the Bridge, not correct for a 60's CG, RIGHT? Yeah I know it's crooked, I knocked it while taking pictures, moved real easily as I keep the guitar detuned. What era is that bridge from ?

8) Didn't know about the possibly wrong knobs. Will have to get era correct ones if I choose to restore this in my shop, IF I can find out what year this really is! I have an original factory late 60's "nude" arched top ready to cut and fit and rebinding. Yes, we Fender builders do know how to put binding on a guitar. I just have to figure out where to get the black f hole decal. Doing an "aged" matching top finish, piece of cake.

So, two questions remain - Could this be an in-house or employee parts guitar, maybe a "lifted" one out the back door, hence the no SN?

How did it get to England then by the very early 70's? It's pretty clear that this CG has been around the block a LOT. Maybe who had it in London changed some parts around, like the later knobs and removed the Mute assembly.

Really appreciate all your help, thoughts and murder mystery solutions.

Ps - who's a good, not at rip-off prices, source for early Gretsch guitar parts .. like the Truss Rod Cover, knobs and Mute parts (not that I'd actually use it playing)?

PSps - I also own an original 1960's Gretsch (made by Supro) Twin Bass (and Accordion) Amp, which I am looking for the "Gretsch" and Bass Amp plastic logo's.

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My 60's Supro made Gretsch G6155 "Bass / Guitar Amp", which I need replacement Gretsch logo and Bass Amp logos. I've been told by a couple of Amp Tech's LA that it's a 1962 or 63.

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Cool amp. That should be gigable.

– Joe Desperado

It's an awesome amp, absolutely nothing like any Fender amp ever made, which is saying a ton. It's essentially a Gretsch branded Supro 1690T Coronado - 35W clean, Tremolo, 3 channels and 2 Alnico 12" Jensen speakers. It is loud, you'd think it was 50W, but clean. Does an amazingly good job as a Bass amp too. I always wanted a vintage Supro Coronado, even 30 years ago the prices for 60's Supro's were over the top. Ran into this baby at a small music store up in Bakersfield CA, partially missing logos, so the shop owner could never sell it, he said he'd take $100, I offered him $75 and it was sold. It worked like new, the tubes all US RCA's, were like new. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck used the sister Supro's in the studio and "behind the curtain" with sponsor amps out front.


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