The Chet Atkins Country Gentleman (the model’s official name) had at least two distinct incarnations (and several variations) during its long life span: originally as a single cutaway model and later as a double cutaway version.
The development of the original single-cutaway model probably began in late 1956/early ’57, years which saw competition in the electric guitar market really begin to escalate.
If this is the case, the only other way to date your guitar is by looking for a date ink-stamped on the side of the original box switch.
However, as 1990 approached, the use of one digit for the year presented the issue of repeat serial numbers.
The earliest version of Chet’s vision/philosophy was produced in mid 1957 and has come to be known by Gretsch aficionados as the “White Gentleman” (appropriately named for its white colored top).
Its walnut/mahogany stained finish was quite a contrast to the rest of the Grestch line which featured wild colors like Oriental Red, Bordeaux Burgundy, Cadillac Green, Lotus Ivory, Bamboo Yellow, Copper Mist, Spotlight Sparkle silver, Smoke Green, Jaguar Tan, and Amber Red/Orange.
From the sophisticated Art-Deco stairstep Grover Imperial tuners, to the ebony fingerboard with the neo-classical position markers, to the exquisitely figured curly maple used to construct many Gents from this period, it’s clear that this is a very fine, high-end instrument.
The Country Gentleman (numerically designated in Gretsch catalogs as Model PX61232) made its official debut in late 1957, as a 1958 model.
While the name “Country Gentleman” could aptly describe Chet Atkins himself, it’s more likely in reference to a song of the same name that Chet originally recorded in 1953.