A 1958 Gretsch Country Gentleman that saw use in the original Monkees TV series is set to be auctioned in the UK this weekend (May 21).
The instrument was originally owned by Michael Nesmith and made appearances both onstage with the band and in the TV show. It was then presented to Gary Arnold, then the Vice President of Best Buy, in appreciation of his company’s role as sponsor of the band’s 1986 reunion shows.
It is signed by all four members of the band, including Nesmith, and has an estimated value of £18,000 to £22,000 (approx. $22,500 – $27,500).
Historics Auctioneers usually handles classic car sales, but says the instrument came to the market after the current owner heard they were selling a 1966 Pontiac GTO Monkee-mobile that was also used in the Monkees TV show. The auctioneer has described the guitar as “a true piece of music history.”
We’d second that – even without the Monkees connection, a ’58 Country Gentleman would turn heads at the right sale. The instrument was originally developed in close collaboration with Chet Atkins and was both the first thinline Gretsch and one of the first models to feature the now-legendary Filter’Tron pickups.
The early models, such as this ’58, were particularly luxurious builds and carried the second-highest price in the late-50s range – only the White Falcon cost more. However, despite the price tag, Atkins favored an appealingly paired-down design and the aesthetic is positively understated by Gretsch’s standards.
Still there are flourishes: apart from those iconic pickups, they featured a 17” thinline body, a ‘mahogany stained’ walnut top, half-moon inlays and Grover Imperial tuners. Then there’s the metal name plate on the headstock.
With the Filter’Tron pickups came a rejigged switching and control system, including two volume knobs (at the bridge end) and a master volume on the horn, while the three-position toggle switches handled pickup selection and ‘tone color’ (a sort of choice of EQ settings between bass-y, neutral and treble tones).
The Chet Atkins Country Gentleman was debuted at the 1957 NAMM show and hit stores from 1958 onwards, meaning this Monkees-associated guitar must represent one of the earlier production line instruments.
If you’re interested in the sale, head to Historics Auctioneers.
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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.