GREEN. Before and After Green…When I started getting into guitars, all I ever bought were Hollowbody Guitars…Harmony, Silvertone, Airline, Kay…you name it I had to have it. They were cheap. I’d go down to the Liquor Store on Thursdays, pick up a Recycler Newspaper for free, and start digging. Almost every other week I would starve just enough to be able to afford another $200.00 piece of wood and wire. Thursday came once more. One page advertised the potential of a fiery enrollment, whereby I found myself nestled in the grips of a Guild “Slim Jim” T-100DP with two Franz P-90 pickups. This was a real guitar! Not some Department Store Namesake, but a rumored brand I had thought unattainable…don’t get me wrong, I’ve still a great fondness and admiration of the Baseball Bat Neck shape of yore, and all of the roughly hewn Roy Smeck, and Rocket Fingerboards that were cut, fretted, and glued by the millions, not to mention, but I will, all those Low Output Ceramic Magnet Pickups that put the “Mmmm!” back in Mud. I love ’em! Yet this Guild was seemingly the star of the movie. Flavour of the Month for almost a whole year of months. This Honey set me back nearly 400 Bead Necklaces and a couple of warm Furry Pelts! I coddled it, yet plunked the dying creosote out of it. That thing with that Bigsby. That horrible thing. I had turned a corner, still to return eventually on a regular basis to the House Brands…I was sickly insatiable, and still required an occasional fix of the Western Auto, “off the rack” style guitar. My closet, waxing. My wallet, waning. The constant apogee and perigee of the ultimate accident. Wary to turn the page from “Household Furnishings”, or “Free Fill-Dirt” to the “Musical Instruments” section. Then, enter the Epiphany…I would have less strings to change constantly if I employed a smattering of Sacrificial Lambs as fodder for Upgrade. An odd and mystical logic pervaded my wanton lark. It was, and still is, never easy to sell any of those sweet escalators in order to facilitate pushing the “Going Up” button on the elevators, but I did it anyway. I was ready to dump my auspicious carcass on the 13th Floor. Yup! I got me a Mother Fuckin’ Gibson! A beauty of an ES-125 TDC!…Boy! Kneeling at the feet of the L-5 and Super 400 Heavy-Weight cutaways, and almost the same as my Guild…but hey Man, this was my first Gibson! Sure, along the the trail of kismet, fell the random Telecaster and SG, but my heart belonged to Fatty. It was like gazing into a mirror. The bigger, the thicker, the more hollow..The Better. This kind of guitar takes time to construct…requires knowledge handed down from Caveman to Caveman, to Republicans, then back to Cavemen…all the way through The Enlightenment, The Renaissance, and Reconstruction. Ultimately deposited in the unwitting collective lap of those who dare to bronze thus. Melding anterior to an Heretofore Decency. It seems that the notion of painting certain objects in a distinctive and eye-catching color was just coming into play in the 1950s. When guitar builders thought it might be a good idea to paint their wares in solid colors, they headed straight for the Car Companies…Those Dupont Pantones were making waves. Two-Tone and solid color Buggies shone as beacons into the dark decades of blight. The black-only option car had become dust. Red, White, Blue, Green…even Taupe made it’s way onto the Sea of “See-And-Be-Seen” scene. Next on Deck? Gretsch and Fender Guitar Manufacturers. Fender in one corner with their Custom-Order Only solid color slabs, and then here in this corner, Gretsch took it one step further…their guitars kind of made you decide which model you wanted just by the color. Most models were numbered in a Color-Indicative mode. Orange worn proudly on the Chet Atkins 6120. The 6136 White Falcon in WHITE, and so on. Albeit, practically every model was available in Natural Blonde or Sunburst as well. Now, to the matter of discussion at this juncture, my Gretsch 6196 Country Club, sporting the luxurious “Cadillac Green” finish. Voila! How I ever got here shall remain a mystery! Tantamount to the Topper-Most Top Of The Gretsch Catalog springs forth this, “Manly yes, but I like it too” younger sibling to the White Falcon. Behold. Pictured, a 1962 Emerald Doll. I’m feeling a mite Richard Dreyfuss ala Close Encounters of The Third Kind right about now for all of the prior build-up, but adoration deserves it’s due. I love this thing! Gold on Black? Gaudy! Gold on White? Ehhh…? Gold on Twenty Thousand Leagues of Deep Dark Green? Yes please! Thank You! Double Gretsch Filtertron Pickups, Bigsby Vibrato Tailpiece, Gretsch Space-Roller Bridge, Gold Grover Imperial Tuning Machines, Ebony Fretboard, Gold Knurled Metal “G Pointer-Knobs”, Thumbprint Neck Inlays, Multi-Layer Bound F-Holes???
I’m not sorry in the least to impart to the reader, that this guitar does it all. Despite the loving dings and scratches, and never mind where the finish has been worn down to the bare wood in places on the back of the neck…I’m not the first, but secretly, selfishly hoping to be the last to possess, and to be possessed by it. These are the clues, the badges, the Treasure Map of fortuitous consequence. Oh yes, where am I? Notice if you dare, the Model 6163 Gretsch Amp with 15 inch Jensen Alnico Magnet Speaker accompanied by a 3 inch Tweeter hiding in the upper left grill, is covered in the identical 3D “Tolex” found on the Country Club’s Lavish Case, making for a Foxy pairing of opulent accoutrements. This amp will not shut up! It doesn’t need to go to 11…enumeration renders itself to obsolescence with the flip of the ON Switch.
There you have it. Not quite in a Nut Shell, but maybe more of an Ostrich Egg. This one’s for my Dear Friend, Mr. John Ransom. Thanks for the inspiration and swift kick in the Overalls to get me going again! What’s for lunch? Call me! …right now I need to go tune up a 1968 Harmony (of all things!) 12 String Electric that just bounced in my door, but that’s a horse of a different time and color…some things are not subject to change…no substitutions.