Focus On: Gretsch Guitars
German immigrant Freidrich Gretsch founded Gretsch in 1883 in Brooklyn New York initially manufacturing banjos, tambourines and drums. Twelve years later he died and the company was taken over by his son Fred Gretsch and 20 years later Gretsch had grown sufficiently to populate a 10 storey building in the Williamsberg district and went on to be one of the premier US musical instrument manufacturers.
As electric guitars became popular in the 1950's Gretsch reacted to this demand and were aided by being endorsed by the era's most famous US guitarist Chet Atkins. Gretsch ultimately sold thousands of guitars with Chet's name on the scratch plate, most notably the 6120 Chet Atkins model, another popular model released at this time was the White Falcon. Other famous names followed suit and endorsed Gretsch guitars including Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran and in the early 1960's in Hamburg - a young George Harrison. Gretsch quickly became a legitimate competitor to both Gibson and its main rivals, Fender and Rickenbacker. Gretsch's fortunes were greatly aided when, in the mid-1960s, George Harrison played a Gretsch Country Gentleman on the Ed Sullivan Show. In the 12 months that followed, the number of Country Gentleman guitars jumped from the mid-fifties to over 2,000.
Demand for Gretsch guitars tailed off in the 1970's and the company was eventually sold to Baldwin Pianos, however the re-surgence of Rock-a-billy music in the early 1980's brought the Gretsch range back into mainstream focus. This led to the Gretsch family re-purchasing their brand name in 1989 and slowly but surely putting Gretsch back on the rock and roll spotlight by re-issuing classic models from the 1950's and 1960's.
However, many of the re-issues were expensive and therefore appealed only to a small group of affluent guitar players, but in time Gretsch increased their model catalogue to include guitars right across the price range and thereby made Gretsch guitars available to the masses. Finally, in 2003, Gretsch and Fender reached a business agreement giving Fender control over production and distribution of guitars (although the Gretsch family still owns Gretsch Guitars) - and a foothold in the hollow bodied guitar market traditionally dominated by Gibson.
Classic Models of Gretsch Guitars include :-
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23 Jan '12