Country Club, ’62
Cadillac Green, Serial # 47040.
The Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company had been making drums, banjos and lower priced student guitars distributed by other brands since 1883, but it wasn’t until the early 1930’s that it began making its acoustic archtops under the Gretsch brand name. In 1939, while expanding the line to include high-end archtops, Gretsch also reacted to Gibson’s first electric Spanish guitar, the ES-150 (introduced in 1936). The result was the Gretsch Electromatic Spanish Model. These non-cutaway 16” wide guitars were equipped with a pickup coming out of the body below the fingerboard.
Gretsch released its first cutaway electric guitars in 1951, this time in response to Gibson’s ES-350 Premier (1947), and L-5CES (1951). These were the Electro II 6192 (sunburst) and 6193 (natural). The 17” guitars were equipped with gold hardware and two pickups. By 1954 the Cadillac Green 6196 was added, and the name Country Club was used to describe all three models. The 1955 Gretsch catalog described the Country Club: “For the progressive jazz guitarist looking for the best there is in tonal resonance and response combined with the new look and wonderful new feel that make playing a pleasure. Curly maple throughout, finished in choicest lacquer, polished by hand to flashing brilliance.”
The 1962 Country Club pictured has the features most often associated with Gretsches of that year, including a comfort cushioned padded back pad covering easy access to the interior wiring, a built in string mute, and a standby switch. The gold plated Filter’Tron humbuckers (replacing single coil DeArmonds), Space Control bridge (replacing the Melita), and Neo-Classic inlayed ebony fingerboard had been standard since 1958. There is non-original Bigsby vibrato on this example instead of the stock “G” tailpiece.