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Freeman Keller

Nylon string electric guitar

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I was out in the shop a couple of days ago minding my own business when a friend walked in with three Gibson cases. My friend is one of two incredible local jazz musicians and from time to time they both ask me to work on their instruments. Two of the guitars he brought this time were ES-335's, a 1990 (we think) Dot and a 1962 (we think)TD.

 

The other guitar was this very interesting Chet Atkins model. I knew Chet played some nylon strung guitars but frankly didn't know much about them. I also knew that Godin had made some nylon string electric guitars, but again, I had never seen one up close. Well, here was a Gibson Chet model and my friend knew there was something wrong with it but he couldn't remember what - but could I fix it.

 

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The body of the guitar is solid mahogany with some sort of a sound hole plug (with Chet's name). The sound hole thing looks like those feedback busters that you sometimes see on amplified acoustic guitars. I tried to remove it to see what was lurking behind but it wouldn't come out easily so I just left it.

 

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The saddle assembly seems to have the piezo crystals built into it - the whole assembly is one part. I don't see an easy way to change the action - I suppose you could shim this to raise it but there is no good way to lower it. I guess thats OK because typically classical guitars have a slightly higher action and this one seemed to be about right

 

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The saddle must have six individual sensors, they are brought to a little PCB with trim pots for each one - apparently to balance them (often a problem with piezo UST's). There is a battery and some preamplification on the PCB.

 

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What I determined was wrong with this guitar is that the volume pot was very scratchy - a bit of contact cleaner fixed that. Tied on a new set of strings and took it to the music room.

 

Unplugged the guitar has almost no acoustic sound. It will barely trigger my Korg tuner. Plugged into my little home made tube amp set completely clean it has kind of a mellow amplified acoustic guitar sound. There is a definite piezo quack, it really doesn't sound like a classical guitar but it doesn't sound like steel strings either. It seem most happy playing my very limited collection of jazzy standards - I play Chet's version of Starry Starry Night and that sounded just right on this guitar.

 

Interesting guitar but not necessarily one I would want in my quiver. I'll let the owner know its done, I'll know exactly what to do with it.

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The fake "soundhole" plug is up there with the unbroken seal across a new jar of coffee as something to drive you insane with temptation :)

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I love the part where he knew something was wrong with the guitar but he couldn't remember what and could you fix it? I got a chance to see Chet live years ago and it was pretty clear there was much more to his sound than his guitar. He could've made anything sound good. Mrs. DeepEnd and I were in a local (St. Louis) restaurant last weekend that had a trio playing. The guitarist alternated between a Godin Multiac nylon string and a Strat, playing both through what looked like a smallish Mesa amp. His setup sounded pretty good in the mix.

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Must be nice to have so many guitars you can't remember what's wrong with each of them. Unless you've got creeping dementia like me, of course. "Hey Rose... what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?" As long as I can remember riff to "Gray Slipper" I'll keep on with plinking notes

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That's Not a 62 335 with the extra togle.

 

Serial number indicates that it is. Owner really doesn't know or care.

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Those Chet acoustic are hard to find now days for me at least. Epiphone made them for a while but I don't think they had Chet's name on them. They called them SST models I believe. I think I remember Chet saying he switched to nylon because get started getting arthritis in his hands it was easier to play that than a steel string.

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Those Chet acoustic are hard to find now days for me at least. Epiphone made them for a while but I don't think they had Chet's name on them. They called them SST models I believe. I think I remember Chet saying he switched to nylon because get started getting arthritis in his hands it was easier to play that than a steel string.

 

Epiphone re-released "coupe" sized versions of both the steel (SST Coupe) and nylon string (CE Coupe) "solid body" acoustic-electric guitars at the last Winter NAMM Show... as far as I know, it's been ten or twelve years since Gibson has offered the Chet Atkins model shown in the OP.

 

I used to have a inexpensive Hohner TWP solidbody classical guitar in the 1980s that was obviously influenced by the Gibson Chet Atkins models.

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I don't know if you have seen this...

 

[video=youtube_share;_oeK-dM6aCQ]

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I tried a Chet Atkins nylon not too long ago and didn't care for its tone or weight.

I have a Godin Multiac Nylon though that I highly recommend.

 

 

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