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About Gretsch

AMERICAN SOUND & BEAUTY

For musicians, style is all about emotion. So, when Gretsch fans talk about the look and sound of our instruments, they’re really talking about how the music makes them feel. And while we could describe it, we’d rather you experience it yourself. Because your emotions, like a Gretsch, aren’t commonplace. They are personal.

THE GRETSCH STORY

More than a century after our Brooklyn beginnings, our refrain is still the same. Success isn’t an accident – it’s by design. And while we’ve grown from a small-scale maker to a world-wide brand, our grit and grace still define our sound, our sensibilities, and our story.

Gretsch Timeline Story

Gretsch Timeline Story

1883
1883

Modest Beginnings

From emigrant to entrepreneur, Friedrich Gretsch begins handcrafting banjos, drums, and tambourines in a small Brooklyn workshop.

1895
1895

Early Transitions

Friedrich Gretsch passes away, leaving the leadership of the company to his 15-year-old son, Fred Gretsch, Sr.

1916
1916

Onto the Next Level

A growing audience demands a larger venue, so Gretsch opens a 10-story factory in Brooklyn.

1918
1918

World’s First “Warp-Free” Drum Hoop

An innovator and an entrepreneur, Fred Gretsch, Sr. develops the multi-ply drum lamination process. This led to the creation of the world’s first “warp-free” drum hoop.

1920
1920

The Largest Instrument Manufacturer in the U.S.

Less than forty years after Friedrich Gretsch starts the company, Gretsch is recognized as the “largest musical instruments manufacturer in the United States”.

1926
1926

The First Gretsch-Branded Guitar

As the company grows and the business model changes, so does brand recognition with Gretsch selling branded-guitars for the first time.

1935
1935

Introducing the Broadkaster

Gretsch releases the iconic Broadkaster drum series, which was in production until the 1950s.

1937
1937

Partnership with the Legendary Billy Gladstone

Historic partnership with master drummer and inventor Billy Gladstone begins, leading to the introduction of the Gretsch-Gladstone drum line.

1939
1939

First Electric Guitar

Gretsch introduces the Electromatic – the company’s first electric guitar.

1942
1942

New Leadership For A New Era

After leading the company for nearly 50 years, Fred Gretsch, Sr. retires and names his son, Fred Jr., president.

1942

A Moment of Silence

With the war consuming America’s attention, Gretsch pauses production. Soon after, Fred Jr. steps down to serve in the Navy, leaving his brother, Bill, in charge.

1946
1946

The Music Resumes

As troops return home from the war and families rejoice stateside, Gretsch resumes the work of crafting premium American instruments.

1946

Gretsch Kicks Off the Double Bass

In concert with drumming legend Louie Bellson, Gretsch creates the first-ever double-bass drum kit.

1948
1948

A Veteran Leader

Bill Gretsch dies from illness, and his brother, Fred Jr., the former naval officer, reassumes the company’s presidency.

1950
1950

Be-Bop on the Rise

Inspired by the original Broadkaster drum kit, Gretsch releases the Broadkaster Be-Bop – a new instrument for a novel musical style.

1953
1953

Gretsch’s First Solid Body Electric

Gretsch introduces the Duo Jet – the company’s first solid body electric guitar.

1954
1954

“Mr. Guitar”

The start of a brand-defining creative partnership, country music icon Chet Atkins becomes the first signature Gretsch artist.

1957
1957

The Country Gentleman

At the Summer NAMM Show, Gretsch unveiled the still-famous Chet Atkins Country Gentleman guitar.

1958
1958

75th Anniversary

To celebrate 75 years of crafting premium American instruments, Gretsch releases four anniversary electric guitar models.

1960
1960

A Legendary Night

Art Blakey, Charlie Persip, Elvin Jones, and “Philly” Joe Jones record the “Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland” record.

1964
1964

Beatlemania

George Harrison plays a Gretsch Country Gentleman on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Sales of the iconic guitar model surge immediately.

1965
1965

Guitar Production Breaks Record

Gretsch’s guitar production hits the highest point in company history.

1966
1966

As Seen On TV

Gretsch supplies guitars and drums for “The Monkees” television program. Although only airing for two years, the show was seen by more than 30 million people.

1967
1967

A Brief Interruption

With his decision to retire, Fred Gretsch, Jr. sells the family-owned business to Baldwin Piano Company.

1969
1969

The World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band

Described as “history’s first mythic rock and roll tour,” Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones plays on a Gretsch drum kit throughout their 1969 tour.

1984
1984

The Family Business

Seventeen years after the company was sold, Fred W. Gretsch, the founder’s great-grandson, buys back the company.

1985
1985

Gretsch’s New Venue

Gretsch establishes a drum manufacturing facility in Ridgeland, S.C.

1993
1993

Brian Setzer Joins Gretsch

Rockabilly guitarist Brian Setzer becomes the first Gretsch signature artist since Chet Atkins.

1998
1998

A Drumming Legend

Gretsch introduces the Vinnie Colaiuta signature drum series.

1999
1999

Gretsch and Bigsby

The next chapter in a long-term partnership, Gretsch purchases Bigsby Accessories, a premium maker of vibratos since 1951.

2001
2001

Gretsch Gives Back

The Gretsch Foundation launches GuitarArt, an initiative to repurpose used guitars as artwork that schools and other non-profits can auction off at fundraisers.

2007
2007

Chet and Gretsch Reunited

After 28-year absence, Chet Atkins’ name graces 28 new Gretsch guitar models.

2008
2008

Time-Tested Heritage

Gretsch celebrates 125 years of crafting premium guitars and drums for a worldwide audience.

2012
2012

Revisiting Our Beginnings

While Gretsch no longer hails from Brooklyn, the brand’s birthplace still influences the company today. An acknowledgement of this heritage, Gretsch releases the Brooklyn drum series.

2014
2014

Ten Years of Custom

Gretsch celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Gretsch Custom Shop, the handcrafted line of Gretsch Guitars.

2015
2015

Reintroducing the Broadkaster

After years of sporadic and even halted production, Gretsch reintroduces the Broadkaster to the drum product line.

2016
2016

Celebrating Our Legacy

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum opens the American Sound & Beauty exhibit, showcasing 75 vintage Gretsch guitars. This is the largest collection of stringed instruments ever displayed by the museum.

2017
2017

Today & Beyond – Our Story Continues

Today, Gretsch drums and guitars are the instruments of choice for anyone looking for the distinctive style, tone, and vibe only Gretsch can offer.

THE MUSIC NEVER STOPS

As the audience evolves, so does the brand. And while music preferences may change and the product line may alter, That Great Gretsch Sound will stay the same.

GRETSCH DRUMS

When it comes to craftsmanship, for more than a century, we haven't missed a beat. That's why drummers around the world still prefer Gretsch drums.

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GRETSCH GUITARS

While we've long since outgrown our Brooklyn beginnings, we've never stopped crafting premium guitars and cheering on the artists who bring them to life.

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