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Gretsch Drums

Gretsch Drums · Drums and Percussion

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Gretsch Drums

Friedrich Gretsch started making banjos, tambourins and drums in Brooklyn in 1883. Unfortunately he died in 1895 at the age of 39, his son Fred took over the company.

Gretsch had tremendous success from around the mid 50´s. Fred’s sons, Fred jr. and Bill were running the company and introducing innovative new E-guitars, like the model 6120 and the white falcon. The most important contribution to the brands success was made by Chet Atkins, one of the most influential guitarists of the time. Thanks to his endorsements Gretsch hat a real chance to take on such famous companies as Fender and Gibson.

Many rockabilly guitarists such as Eddie Cochran chose Gretsch models, furthermore Gene Vincent guitarist Cliff Gallop and Elvis Presley himself chose Gretsch as their main instrument. Gretsch soon became a real rival to Gibson and their rivals Fender and Rickenbacker.

A further lucky coincidence was that George Harrison performed on the Ed Sullivan show in the mid 60´s using a Country Gentleman, In the following 12 months, the number of Country Gentleman guitars sold in a 12-month period jumped from the mid-fifties to over 2,000

Beginning in 1966, Gretsch had weekly television exposure when the company supplied the guitars and drums for The Monkees. This had an effect analogous to Jimi Hendrix´s adoption of the Stratocaster and Eric Clapton´s of the Gibson Les Paul; Gretsch was unable to keep up with demand.

Gretsch drums were very popular with jazz and rockdrummers of those times. A famous Gretsch drum range was called Broadkaster and this was the reasonn that Leo Fender had to change the name of his first solid body guitar from “Broadcaster” to “ Telecaster”

Unfortunately, Fred never found an adequate successor, and in 1967 Gretsch was sold to Baldwin Pianos, becoming a subsidiary. Gretsch´s name lost prestige as its models were seen as cheapening and their signature styles fell out of fashion. Factory fires in the early 1970s caused serious problems, and production was finally halted by Baldwin in 1981. In 1989, the Gretsch family once again acquired their namesake company, and production began anew. Models throughout the 1990s were high-quality but expensive and mostly consisted of classic models.

In the 1980s, rockabilly revival player Brian Setzer rekindled interest in the brand with his band the Stray Cats—he now has his own signature model. Chris Isaak´s emergence into mainstream rock & roll radio only added to the fuel. His band, Silvertone, boasted a signature Gretsch sound which
attracted the likes of renowned film director David Lynch

Billy Zoom of X played a Silver Jet, while in rock, Malcolm Young of AC/DC played a double cut Jet Firebird (with the top finish stripped off and one pickup removed), and White Falcon (as seen in the video "Back in Black") during the band´s career. U2 lead singer Bono´s signature guitar is an "Irish Falcon", green in colour with the phrase ´The Goal Is Soul´ printed on the pickguard in black text.

Finally, in 2003, Gretsch and Fender reached an agreement giving Fender most control over production and distribution of guitars. New models and improvements of old ones are being released quickly, and Gretsch appears on its way to a new golden age. The Gretsch family continues its involvement in the drum business, which is now part of the Kaman Music Corporation of musical instrument companies. Gretsch drums are reputed to sound as good as ever