Up for sale, a 1959 Gretsch Chet Atkins model 6119 Tennessean in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original hardshell case. The original iteration of the 6119 Chet Atkins model was only available from 1958-60, and this guitar boasts its original Pat. Pending Filter’Tron humbucker in the bridge position. The guitar features a trestle-braced maple body with a slender 16” wide lower bout and 2 1/2” body depth. A two-piece maple neck capped with a thick slab ebony fretboard rounds out the tonewoods.
Featherweight at 6lbs 8oz, this guitar has a naturally full and detailed acoustic tone that translates faithfully via the FilterTron humbucker. The pickup has a bold broadband punch, exquisite clarity, and treble sparkle, and a pair of darker, smoother sounds are available via the three-way Tone switch (bypassed in the middle). We’ve had this Gretsch professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 11-49 strings and easy-playing action.
The two piece maple neck has a slender C-shaped profile carve with modest shoulder and rolled fretboard edges, measuring .825” deep at the 1st fret and .930” at the 9th. The slab ebony fretboard was described by Gretsch in their 1959 catalog as “the fingerboard for the perfectionist” with “classic fidelity.” The fretboard features pearloid thumbnail inlays and stock slender frets which are in great shape with well-rounded crowns, showing only a hint of wear beneath the plain strings on frets 1-2. This guitar plays cleanly up the 24 1/2” scale with a straight neck and a responsive, optimally-adjusted truss rod. The fretboard width is 1 11/16” at the zero fret just forwards of the original carved bone nut. The headstock face is inlaid with the Gretsch logo, and the Waverly tuning machines turn smoothly and hold accurate pitch with notably clean chrome-plating.
The electronics function as intended and are all original, with the early Pat. Pending-embossed FilterTron humbucker wired to a Master Volume knob and three-way Tone switch. Hardware includes the original chrome-plated brass bar bridge, ensuring a bell-like treble response, working in concert with the Bigsby B6 vibrato tailpiece for responsive, expressive warbles that bounce right back to pitch. The original "sign post" Chet Atkins plexi pickguard is in excellent shape, displaying some light scuffing along the strum path with a small, stable split at the mounting screw. The decorative pickup surround also has a small split that doesn’t affect functionality. The serialized Gretsch label is visible through the F-hole, placing production in 1959.
The Western Red gloss nitro lacquer finish (a color unique to this guitar in 1959) is bright and bold, and cosmetic wear includes light localized buckle rash on the back central to the waist, a handful of small dings on the back, and a number of faint finish scratches on the body as a whole. The original two-ply binding is remarkably clean, with some heavy checking on a singular piece of binding on the inside edge of the cutaway. The binding on the heel cap also shows some disintegration, yet is stable, and a new heel cap can be fashioned free of charge at the buyer’s discretion. The neck profile has a satin-esque feel, brought back from a high gloss from contact with the palm, and remarkably clean and smooth.
The original hardshell case is included, and equally as clean as the guitar, with a blue speckled exterior framed by gray leather trim, purple interior, and Gretsch banner on the inside lid. The stock latches function as intended, and the original leather handle is present