Gretsch Model 6199 Sal salvador Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1961)

Gretsch  Model 6199 Sal salvador Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1961)
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Item # 12241
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Gretsch Model 6199 Sal salvador Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1961), made in Brooklyn, NY, serial # 43215, sunburst lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original two-tone tolex hard shell case.

Here is a very rare and truly superbly preserved Gretsch guitar, about the best example of this mostly forgotten high-end 1950-60s model we have seen. The "PX-6199 Sal Salvador Jazz Guitar" was the Brooklyn boys' answer to how to electrify a large-body archtop while retaining its acoustic response. As always with Gretsch, the instrument is unique, slightly skewed from the norm, and full of character! It was introduced in 1955 as the Convertible; in 1959 the 6199 was renamed as a signature model for Gretsch endorser Sal Salvador.

The PX-6199 under either name is a 17" full-depth archtop with the pickup suspended above the top, along with controls mounted not to the top wood but to the gold Lucite pickguard. This similar to what many jazz players of the time were doing with the DeArmond company's floating pickups, and Gibson had tried with the "McCarty" floating pickup/pickguard assembly earlier in the decade. Around the same time this guitar was built Gibson introduced the Johnny Smith model along the same lines.

The Convertible had originally been equipped with the DeArmond DynaSonic, quite a heavy pickup which required a large hole cut in the top beneath it to clear the long polepieces. By the time this guitar was made Gretsch had developed the Hi-L 'Tron single coil which did not require any hole at all. At the same time the 6199 was given a fully carved top so as a purely acoustic instrument it was better equipped to challenge the high-end carved top Gibson, Guild and D'Angelico instruments it would presumably be compared to.

While perhaps not the artistic equal of a D'Angelico (or for the most part the Johnny Smith) the 6199 is still a very fine instrument, absolutely in the highest echelon of Gretsch product. These were very a limited production guitar, and one of the most expensive Gretsch offerings. The guitar features a multi-bound top, headstock, and ebony fingerboard with pearl "Neo-Classic" inlays. The finish is a lovely dark sunburst on all surfaces, which was the only finish offered on the model at the time, though the Convertible had been used an automotive-derived two-tone metallic! The extender Synchromatic style Lucite pickguard carries the floating pickup and gold-plated mini volume and tone knobs.

Despite the exposure with Sal Salvador this has remained a seldom seen guitar, while the wildly successful Chet Atkins models made the company's reputation. In 1961 the PX-6199 was billed as "designed for Jazz playing'" and listed at $375, plus case. While never a popular hit, the 6199 is a very cool and imposing guitar; this example is absolutely one of the nicest vintage Gretsch guitars we have had, now back home in Brooklyn!
 
Overall length is 42 7/16 in. (107.8 cm.), 17 1/4 in. (43.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 7/16 in. (8.7 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This guitar is in remarkably fine original condition, showing very little use at all with no alterations and none of the issues that often plague older Gretsch guitars. All the hardware is original and complete, with just some minor plating loss to the gold. The binding shows no signs of distress with minimal shrinkage and no crumbling anywhere. The finish also has minimal checking mostly to the top area and scattered small dings and dents, but no notable losses except some small chips and scrapes mostly to the lower rim.

The neck has never been reset and the angle remains excellent. The frets are original with very little wear and the guitar plays and sounds positively great, with the unusual combination of a floating Hi-Lo'Tron pickup over a carved spruce top giving it a unique sonic character. This is simply a spectacular example of an extremely rare and classy Gretsch, complete in the original deluxe hardshell case. Overall Excellent + Condition.