Friday, May 29, 2009

Guitar Next Door: 1996 Gibson Country Gentleman

“Don’t point at anything you don’t intend to shoot” is the watch phrase of gun safety training. “Don’t make a guitar off the Gruhn Guitars website your wallpaper unless you intend to buy it” is the guitar safety watch phrase. The owner of today’s Guitar Next Door did just that, and gave me the opportunity to take a look at this beautiful 1996 Gibson Chet Atkins Country Gentleman.

The Country Gentleman originally came out of Chet Atkins’ association with Gretsch Guitar sales rep and designer Jimmie Webster in 1954 yielding first the 6120 and then the 6122 Country Gentleman in 1958. George Harrison used one of these in the 1963 era Beatles. Chet Atkins left Gretsch in 1979 shortly after the death of Fred Gretsch, Jr and later collaborated with Mike Voltz of Gibson on a design released in 1987.

This example was manufactured in 1996 based on the serial number and is a beautiful sunrise orange and shows that stage presence factored heavily into the design. Take a look at the photo of the headstock; the tuners have these flip out crank handles for quick and easy restringing. My initial thought on seeing photos of George Harrison with his original Country Gent was that it looked like someone carrying a stuffed Marlin under one arm, it seemed big. However, the guitar is very light, thin, and great fitting. Closest thing I have experienced to this model is the Jim Nichol’s Signature Archtop from late guitar builder Bill Hollenbeck. 

I plugged it into my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and played something I thought would be archtop oriented like Sleepwalk (remote approximation of the Brian Setzer version) and the Beatles’ “All My Loving.” This amp never sounded so good! It has a comfortable and fast neck and the Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece feels and sounds great. 

Hmmm, I think I need download some new wallpaper for my PC!


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