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Gretsch Chet Atkins

The Gretsch Chet Atkins series of guitars has a long and illustrious history in rock, pop and country music, having been used on everything from namesake Chet Atkins' elegant fingerstyle instrumentals to scorching rockabilly screamers, as well as some of the most enduring recordings from The Who, with Pete Townshend having used his 1959 Chet Atkins 6120 (given to him by Joe Walsh) on just about every track on the iconic Who's Next and Quadrophenia albums, just for starters.

The Gretsch Company began manufacturing banjos, drums and tambourines in a small Brooklyn shop in 1883, and started producing orchestral archtop guitars when they came into fashion during the big band era. By 1939 they had started producing electric archtops, and by the early 50s, they were looking to branch out with a wider variety of guitars, and sought the endorsement and design input of rising country picker and future mega-producer Chet Atkins. The result was a series of outstanding guitars bearing Chet's name, which, despite not being nearly as well-known today among the general public as the Fender Stratocaster or the Gibson Les Paul, nevertheless became favorites of discerning players of all stripes, as they quickly realized what finely-crafted tone machines these guitars were. For instance, the 6120 Chet Atkins hollowbody was a favorite of early rock and rockabilly players like Eddie Cochran and twang-meister Duane Eddy, and as such is now the axe of choice for those who follow in their fingersteps, like Stray Cat Brian Setzer and psychobilly raver Reverend Horton Heat. Joe Walsh, somewhere between James Gang and Eagles gigs, gave Pete Townshend a 6120, along with a Fender Bandmaster amp, which Pete used on the majority of his recordings with The Who from Who's Next on. Other Gretsch Chet Atkins models, like the 6122 Country Gentleman (named for an early Atkins hit), found favor with a number of artists, most notably a young George Harrison, who played his Gent when The Beatles made their historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in early 1964, igniting Beatlemania and propelling Gretsch guitars to the forefront of garage bands worldwide.

Today, the Gretsch Chet Atkins series covers a variety of guitar styles, including the 6120 hollowbody designs, and the thinline 6122 Country Gentleman and 6119 Tennessee Rose models. While they may be graced with an open body design (carved f-holes) or closed body (simulated, painted-on f-holes, for that classic appearance without as much tendency to feedback), loaded with Dynasonic single-coil, FilterTron or HiloTron dual-coil pickups, left-handed or righty, and no matter what type of Bigsby vibrato tailpiece may twang away under your fingers, they all feature that classic Gretsch tone, attitude and attention to detail that the Chet Atkins line has defined for generations. Grab one today and continue the tradition!


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