The Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman was a very well respected hollow body electric, first launched in 1957, and continuously available throughout the 1960s and 70s. It naturally varied over the years of production, but was essentially a 17" wide, 2" deep, all-maple hollow body - just like the White Falcon. This was a big guitar. By contrast, the Gibson ES-335TD was smaller and thinner with a body width of 16" and a depth of just 1 3/4".
Country guitarist Chet Atkins endorsed Gretsch guitars for most of his career, and the Country Gentleman was one of the guitars most associated with him. The instrument is, of course, named after his 1953 song 'Country Gentleman' that appeared on his debut album Mister Guitar.
When the model was launched it was actually a single cutaway instrument; the body remained this way right through to 1961, when it was restyled with the (now) more familiar double cutaway. It was available in either mahogany or walnut finishes with gold hardware - except for the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, which was nickel.
1961 Gretsch single cutaway Country Gentleman Image Heritage auctions
The model was then redesigned, most notably with a double cutaway body, but also a new muffler (mute) system, padded back, and standby switch. These features were widely lauded and the focus of Gretsch advertising for much of the mid-1960s. Initially the mute was operated by screwing down two metal knobs, though this soon changed to an easier to operate flip up switch
1968 Gretsch Country Gentleman Image Heritage auctions
The following description comes from the 1965 Gretsch catalog
Other than Chet Atkins himself, George Harrison was the biggest endorser of the Country Gent, and was responsible for the company's inability to keep up with demand in 1964/65. Harrison used other Gretsch guitars (previously the solid body Duo-Tone, and latterly the Tennesean), but owned two examples of the Country Gentleman. He bought the first in 1963 from Ivor Arbiter's Sound City in Rupert St. London. Arbiter was the exclusive distributor in the United Kingdom. This first example had the screw down mute. He bought a second guitar in late 1963, though this had flip up mute. Both were dark brown, and were used widely in the early and mid-1960s. For more information about Harrison and his guitars, check out Andy Babiuk's excellent Beatles gear with huge amounts of information about all the Beatles guitars.
The model was redesigned once again for 1972, with, significantly an open, rather than painted f-hole. Brown finish was also offered from '72 with model designation 7670. In 1975 the vibrato was modified, although only briefly, with a tubular arm added, though this was changed back to a flat arm again by 1979.
Electric guitar advertisements originally published from 1962 onwards. Click on the images for larger copies. Check out other vintage Gretsch advertisements
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - The Sound of Superiority (1962)
This advertisement shows a broad selection of Gretsch's early 1960s guitar offering, though interestingly, by the time this advert was placed many of these guitars had been redesigned as double cut...
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - Chet Atkins: the "Personal Touch" built in... (1963)
An early 1960s advertisement for three new Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar models, all designed with input from Chet Atkins: the Country Gentleman, Hollow body and Tennessean. These guitars were hugely ...
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - Chet Atkins Says: Look at it My Way and You'll Play a Gretch Too! (1964)
Gretsch advertisement for the Chet Atkins series of hollow body guitars: Country Gentleman, Hollow Body and Tennessean. The advert, as was so often the case between 1963 and 1966, highlights three ...
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - Chet Atkins says: 'this shape means sucess!' (1965)
Mid sixties grestch advertisement for the Chet Atkins series of Gretsch guitars, and the Gretsch Country Gentleman in particular. This ad ran fom very late 1964 right through to 1966, and refers to...
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - "Gretsch", Says Chet, "Is Where The Authentic Sound Is." (1966)
Advert for three Gretsch Chet Atkins models, the 6119 Chet Atkins Tennessean, 6120 Chet Atkins Hollowbody (after 1967, known as the Nashville) and the 6122 Chet Atkins Country Gentlemen
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - When you call a guitar a name it better be good (1969)
The Chet Atkins endorsed Gretsch models, The Country Gentleman, Nashville, and Tennessean
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - Give Your Sound the Professional Edge (1972)
1972 Gretsch advertisement for three Gretsch semi-acoustic electric guitars: the Country Gentleman, Nashville and Tennesean
When you're serious about your Sound,you treat it right. And yo...
Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman 6122 - The Country Gentleman (1979)
This is the guitar for the serious musician. Designed and played by Chet Atkins, the Country Gentleman has been welcomed in concert halls throughout the world and has gained the distinction accorde...