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Premier Guitar Looks At Chet Atkins Exhibit

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The latest issue of Premier Guitar takes a look inside the Chet Atkins exhibit that is currently open at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

While the Grammy Awards, photos and instruments are all impressive, the magazine calls Atkins’ legendary workbench a highlight.

“It’s full of vacuum tubes, pickups, homemade effects boxes, snapshots, and a soldering iron,” writes Craig Havighurst.  ”It looks like the inveterate tinkerer just stepped out of the room. It’s a microlevel look at an outsized legacy.”


The piece also delves into the collection of Atkins’ guitars on display, including his Gretsch Streamliner 6120 Prototype.

Notes Havighurst:

“This prototype had a carved top and back, in the traditional style. Fred W. Gretsch, current president of the company and great grandson of its founder, says the model quickly took an interesting turn toward a more rigid top and back to offer a more stable mounting for the pickups. ‘Plywood tops and backs with electric guitars made a lot more sense,’ Gretsch says. ‘And we were doing plywood drums and had been doing them since the late ’20s and we had done a lot of refinements in the early ’50s. So we tried out some plywood tops and backs with Chet and he dug the tone. So we migrated to plywood on this model.’

“Introducing the model just as Chet first hit as a recording artist with ‘Mr. Sandman,’ Gretsch couldn’t have timed it better. This guitar inaugurated a 25-year relationship between artist and company.”

Meanwhile, Havighurst recently contributed another piece about Atkins to NPR.

In it, he quotes Country star Steve Wariner, a longtime Atkins friend and protege. Count Wariner among those wowed by the Atkins exhibit, especially the workbench.

“I had goose bumps,” Wariner says. “It’s exactly the way it looked at his house when you walked into his control room.”

Read the full Premier Guitar article here, while NPR’s coverage of the hallowed finger-style guitarist can be found here.

For more information about the Chet Atkins exhibit, which is open until June of 2012, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame’s official website.

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