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1956 Gretsch 6199 Convertible
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Serial #: 19593
Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 10 1/6" Body depth: 3 1/2" Neck depth: .86/.99, 1st /10th frets.
Materials: Arched spruce soundboard; arched maple body; solid maple neck; solid rosewood fingerboard with pearloid inlays; bound body, neck and f-holes; solid bone nut.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes DeArmond Dynasonic pickup, G logo tailpiece, Grover Imperial tuners; Gretsch logo Lucite pickguard with knurled mini volume and tone knobs, adjustable compensated rosewood bridge.
Notes: No, it wasn't named after a car, though with its snazzy metallic finish paint job, you might be excused for thinking so. In point of fact, the Gretsch 6199 was dubbed the Convertible to attest to its versatility, as an instrument designed for both electric and acoustic play.
A full depth 17" Venetian cutaway archtop, the Gretsch Convertible has a long scale fingerboard, parallel braced top, and pickguard mounted controls, all patterned closely after the iconic Gibson L-5C. The mounting of the pickup is unique, and designed to minimize damping of the soundboard resonance. Surface mounted, the pickup is suspended over the top on four rubber grommets, below which a small cavity accommodates the polepieces of the DeArmond Dynasonic pickup. The result is an electric archtop with a surprisingly lively voice when unplugged.
And indeed, it would be hard to imagine a full size archtop with more dramatic styling. From its Bamboo Yellow (or Lotus Ivory?) top and Copper Mist body, to its metallic Lucite pickguard and humped block inlays, the Convertible was the first Gretsch model with a two-tone finish, and has to be the most footlight-friendly jazz guitar ever created. This outstanding example from the second year of production has been maintained in gleaming condition, free of cracks, pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, and with all original finish, hardware, and electronics. Apart from some scattered wisps of normal checking, a few superficial buckle dents, and the usual repair at the pickguard screw, the guitar looks much as it did when it left the factory during the Eisenhower Administration.
DeArmond produced the very first floating pickups, and for many players they remain the benchmark to this day. The classic single coil Dynasonic pickups retain the clarity and detail for which the brand is famed, with their enhanced frequency response and acoustic fidelity. And the art deco Grover Imperial tuners echo the styling of D'Angelico's iconic archtops, crafted right across the Brooklyn Bridge.
With a gentle C profile neck, this remarkable instrument offers smooth, low action over fine original frets, with a fresh high-precision setup. And how could you tote a guitar this spectacular in anything less than its original Gretsch logo hardshell case, complete with faux-ostrich covering? With a run of just four years, the Gretsch Convertible remains one of the rarest American production archtops. Championed by jazz legend Sal Salvador, the model as finally named after him in 1959, but available only in a sedate sunburst finish. Ho hum.
So fire her up and take her out for a spin, in all her eye-popping glory. One only: call now.
Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation strobe tuned; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished. Electronics tested, pickups balanced. This instrument is strung with medium, gauge nickel roundwound strings. The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
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