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FACTOIDS & TRIVIA

In 1883, Friedrich Gretsch (1856 - 1895) set up shop in Brooklyn, New York where he made banjos, drums and tambourines until 1933 when guitars began to enter the product line. Gretsch was family owned until Baldwin, maker of electric organs and pianos, purchased the company in 1967. In 1970, production was moved to the Baldwin factory in Booneville, Arkansas until the company went out of business around 1980. In 1985, Fred Gretsch, Jr. (great grandson of the company founder) regained control of the company, but all the tooling and machinery for manufacturing guitars had been sold by Baldwin in 1980. Fred Gretsch resumed production of Gretsch guitars on a global basis, as it was impossible to raise the capital for tooling, machinery, craftsmen, etc. Since 1985, the bodies and necks for Gretsch guitars have been made in the U.S., with the hardware coming from Germany and final assembly and finishing being done in Japan.

In 1954, Gretsch scored a major endorsement from fingerpicker Chet Atkins and the company began to make its mark on the industry with it's electric archtops, especially the Chet Atkins series. Chet was always looking for ways to increase sustain while reducing feedback and the Chet Atkins series evolved to address his concerns. Ideally, Chet wanted a solid block of wood running down the middle of his electric archtops (which Gibson did in 1958 on the ES-335 model), but Gretsch refused. Some of the changes that were made, however, included the switch to humbucking pickups to reduce electronic noise, a metal nut and zero fret to enhance sustain, and the "Electrotone" body which was about 3/4" thinner than previous models and lacked F-holes to reduce feedback. The model 6119 Tennessean was the budget guitar in Atkins line which made it most popular along with George Harrison's use of it in the Beatles' movie Help! The "Electrotone" body Tennessean was made from 1962 until 1972. Note that the painted on F-holes are different from the oversize F-holes usually associated with Gretsch. Mr. Atkins did not like the large F-holes and he gave the Gretsch designers a tracing of the F-holes from his D'Angelico archtop to use as a pattern on the "Electrotone" body models.

GRETSCH CHET ATKINS TENNESSEAN 6119 (August 1966)



Body:
  Hollow; laminated 1-piece maple top, laminated 2-piece maple back and laminated  maple sides; single bound top, unbound back

Finish:  Cherry Red (faded to mahogany), nitrocellulose lacquer

Neck:  3-piece maple/mahogany, set-in; lacquered maple headstock overlay with pearloid logo and metal nameplate

Fingerboard:  Indian rosewood, single bound; pearloid "neo-classic" markers

Number of Frets:  22

Pickguard:  Silver backed Lucite

Bridge:  Gretsch chrome steel bar on ebony base with Gretsch/Bigsby tailpiece

Nut:  Plastic with zero fret

Tuners:  Van Ghent, open, chrome

Pickups:  Two, Gretsch Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil with adjustable pole pieces, chrome

Controls:  Master volume, volume control for each pickup, 3-way tone selector, standby switch, 3-way pickup selector

Scale Length:  24 1/2 inches

Neck Width at Nut:  1 11/16 inches

Body Width at Lower Bout:  15 1/2 inches

Body Depth:  2  inches

Weight:  n/a




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