Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Mystery Tennessian


Hi - new to this site and doing some research for a friend.

She has inherited a Chet Atkins Tennessian with two pickups, open f holes and a 4 digit serial number stamped at the top of headstock along the top edge of 1350.

My research thus far shows this is an enigma as all signs point to Baldwin era guitar with a non-standard serial number. Also, in the few dozen pics i've examined for the various model years, I have not seen that black painted Bigsby tailpiece . . . Thinking it's either a prototype or a repaired guitar with a new neck?

Appreciate any help you all can provide!


Another pic, this one showing the serial number


One final comment, the binding has aged to a creamy yellow - which seems to point to a 60s model year.


This is a 1966 model year Tennessean. The serial number is from a transition period between the end of the sequential numbering system, and the initiation of the date coded system in August if '66. Another tell tale feature is the headstock plaque, which did not exist on the previous model year iterations. The Bigsby (a B3?) is most likely not original to this guitar, as the V-style B6 was standard issue from 1960 onward. The bridge and tuners have also been changed.

I'd need to see some better pix of the "open" f-holes, as that is an anomaly for this model, but we've seen several where the holes were introduced aftermarket.


Thank you - that does make sense. I'll take some close up pictures of the F holes later tonight and post.

Really appreciate the info!


Are the F-holes actually bound or is the trim around them painted? From the little picture it looks more like paint (the width) than binding but it's hard to tell.


Close up pictures of the f holes. Here's the first one.


Here's the second one.

Looks like an after market mod, with white paint on the edge . . . Agree?

Thanks again.


The white paint does look added on.


Follow up question - would it be worth it to track down period correct tuners, bridge and tailpiece?

Btw - this guitar plays great - I was the first person to play it in over 10 years last night and the neck setup was perfect . . . It's one Sweet instrument . . . Could only play it on an old peavy SS amp last night tho . . . Gonna take it home with me to try it out on my 70s Princeton Reverb ; ) )


Those F-holes look pretty damn rough. Definitely a home job. It'd be nice to get that paint off, make them look nice with a bit of sandpaper and then bind them properly, or at least do a better job of the paint I have a 64 Tennessean. My favourite guitar, beautiful sounding and a great player, Glad that one is too.


kc_eddie_b is your answer man! Ed Ball is his real name and he's written a few books on Gretsch Guitars! You can order them through Amazon. This model had decal "F" holes and I'm sure sounds great! I've owned a number of Tenny's over the last 47 years!


Thank you all for your help and feedback - much appreciated.

Toneman - thank you for filling me in about KC_Eddie_B

Ed - a sincere thank you. This was my friend's father's guitar. He played professionally briefly and in a side band most of his life. She said it was his favorite and he bought it used around 1980 or so. It will go to her daughter when she passes as a family legacy. She is overjoyed and appreciated learning about his guitar - she was genuinely touched by learning this. I just picked up a copy of your books and I look forward to learning more about Gretsch Guitars.


Clearly there is strong sentimental value attached to this guitar. That value probably surpasses the monetary value at this point. The changed parts (tuners and tailpiece) could be changed back to period correct, but there will no doubt be some holes left in the guitar from the current mods. Those could also be repaired at a cost, but none of that matters when the modified f-holes are considered.

Collector value is based on condition, and originality is part of that. The f-hole modification renders this guitar a "player" (and a good one it sound like!). Lastly, this was a very popular model in the mid-60s, and there are a lot of them out there still today. As supply and demand also drives the value of a collectible, the relatively high availability of mid-60s Tenny's gives buyers a lot of choices to find the best condition and lowest price example they can.

So... don't get distracted by the fact that this is a vintage guitar, and stay focused on the fact that it's a great playing instrument, and a family heirloom. Cool story... best wishes to the owners!


Thanks Ed. I hang out at talkbass quite a bit . . . I fully understand what you're saying and agree with your assessment. This one will stay in their family for quite awhile and I know they all appreciated the story behind it.

As an added bonus, this has got me intrigued by Gretsch in general and the Tennessean in particular. Definitely thinking about snagging one in the near future!

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