Gretsch Guitar Facts

Posted April 25, 2008.
Courtesy: Noel Lorica

The look and the sound of the Gretsch electric screams rock and roll more than any other guitar. Flashy looks and aggressive tones made them a favorite during the mid 50s rock n roll players.

1. Fredrich Gretsch emigrated to the USA from germany in 1872 at the age of 16. After working for a drum and guitar manufacturer he decided to strike on his own in 1883.

2. Frederich's oldest son Fred took over at the age of 15 due to his father's premature death in 1895.

3. In 1916 a new building was constructed near Brooklyn, NY

4. 1939 - The first gretsch archtop electric was made but its stay was short lived.

5. Fred, Sr. retired from Gretsch in 1942 and was replaced by his third son William (Bill). Bill placed more emphasis on upgrading their guitar line.

6. The Electromagnetic Spanish Archtop was born in 1949 alongside a number of Acoustics. The single coil pick-up is the main feature of the guitar.

7. The first Demond pick-up soon followed the later models with its first signature Gretsch pickup called Dynasonic.

8. Cutaway-body electric followed in 1951. Then Jimmy Webster develop the touch playing system, similar to the one popularized by Eddie Van Halen. Webster became an important ambassador for Gretsch guitars.

9. Gretsch noticed the fender solid bodies called Broadcaster... at Gretsh request fender drop the name and went with Telecaster instead.

10. 1953 Gretsch launch their solid body guitar called Duo jet.

11. The Duo Jet had innovative strap system and a the Melita Synchro-Sonic Bridge, offering independent intonation adjustment for each string, ahead of Gibsons Tune-o-matic bridge.

12. 1955 - Newer Duo Jets were added plus some new Hollow body non Cutaway spanish was added namely: Corvette, Country Club, Streamliner.

13. The Country Club model became the most enduring.

14. In the 1950s Gretcsh adopted some color schemes for the time like: Cadillac green for the Country Club, Jaguar tan for the streamliner, the paint techniques were adapted from Gretsch experience with their drum line. They added more varietion toward the mid 50s like yellows, coppers, ivories, contrasting color schemes.

15. The success of Gibson's signature Les Paul prompted Gretsch to come up with the Chet Atkins Hollow body 6120. Atkins wasn't keen on the decorations and eventually it was taken out of the newer models.

16. 1955 - the birth of the White Falcon-gold plated metal work, gold plastic pick guard, fingerboard engravings, etc simply a stunner, priced at $600.

17. In the mid 50s Gretsch benifited from some high profile rock n roll players like: Eddie Cochran, Duane Eddy, Cliff Gallup, etc.

18. 1968 marks the 75th anniversary of gretsch and a guitar was built for the occasion ... this model lasted well into the 70s.

19. 1962 - the Country Gent, White Falcon transformed into double cutaway, no doubt Gibson influenced this move by the company.

20. During the 1960s there was a boom in guitars particularly Gretsch due to the use of the model Country Gent. by George Herrison.

21. Mid 1960s - The new version of the White Falcons had the following innovation due to Jimmy Webster: Weird slanted frets in the upper register, standby on/off switch, vibrato tailpiece had a telescopic adjustable arm, padded string dampers.

22. 1967 - Gretsch was bought by Baldwin and the entire operations was moved to Booneville Arkansas.

23. The first guitars in the Baldwin Era was the unremarkable cutaway thinline Rally. In 1975 two more reactionary models (from Gibson) were released the Broadkaster with a bolt on neck and strong Strat influence, the other was a semihollow electric. Neither guitar caused any stir in the market.

24. 1979 - The last models to appear in the Baldwin era was the unappealing Beast solid body.

25. Early 1979 - Baldwin bought the Kustom amplifier company and merge Gretsch this new venture.

26. 1980 Baldwin decided to stop procustion of Gretsch guitars ... during this time the a man called Charlie Roy bought Gretsch/Kustom and was running the business from Tennessee just outside Nashville. During this time the agreement with Chet Atkins ended and he transferred to Gibson.

27. 1984 - Baldwin seized control of Gretsch and attemps were made from a Mexican factory to revive the line to no avail. He sold it yet to another Gretsch Fred III

28. Fred III decided to update some of the old classic models and after some factory search settled in Tarada Japan.

29.1989 - the first models were introduced - Five Hollowbodies: (Tennessee Rose, Nashville, Nashville Western G, Country Classic,Country Classic double cutaway). Four Solid bodies: Duo Jet, Silver Jet, Jet Firebird, and Round up. Since then Gretsch has concentrated its production along the classic past.

30. 2002 - Fender took over the Manufacturing and distribution of Gretsch guitars still in Terada Japan.

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