Everything You Have to Know about the Gretsch Guitars

Everything You Have to Know about the Gretsch Guitars | MusicStreet

"That Great Gretsch Sound" has been around for almost 135 years. Gretsch began making drums in the latter half of the nineteenth century before becoming one of the world's most-known guitar manufacturers.

Gretsch won the respect of some of the finest guitarists in the decades that followed by pushing the technical and technological frontiers of instrument manufacturing. The brand has drawn a remarkable number of disciples over the years, from Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy to George Harrison and Pete Townshend, John Frusciante, and Jack White. It originated in Germany, as with many other American guitar stories.

Read on as we further discover everything there is to know about Gretsch guitars today.

Looking into the Brief  History of Gretsch Guitars

In 1883, Friedrich "Fritz" Gretsch, a German immigrant in his twenties, opened a banjo, drum, and tambourine shop in Brooklyn. Fritz worked as an accountant for Albert Houdlett, a banjo and drum manufacturer in Brooklyn. He was able to start his own business thanks to the Gretsch shop.

The Gretsch Industrial Company was founded in 1903 and had six locations in New York City before the onset of World War I, including a 10-story manufacturing complex on Broadway in Brooklyn that the family maintained until 1999.

By 1928, Gretsch had sold 3,000 instruments, including the first Gretsch guitar. Following the post-World War II boom in American broadcast radio, the business, like the rest of its competitors, first targeted jazz and country musicians.

Gretsch was still largely a drum maker after revolutionising drum shell production in the 1920s and capitalising on that success with the Broadkaster set.

Charles "Duke" Kramer, then only 19, began cleaning horns for $11 per week in 1935. It was the start of a 70-year partnership that would positively transform Gretsch guitars. His percussion musician links with Gretsch aided the guitar brand's meteoric rise to fame. He has since been known to make unique instruments for artists.

Gretsch guitars captured the first true pop music zeitgeist in the late 1950s with country superstar Chet Atkins and rock 'n' roll pioneers Duane Eddy, Eddie Cochran, and Bo Diddley.

Gretsch guitars such as the 6120 Nashville, White Falcon, Country Club, and Duo Jet were introduced in the mid-1950s. The Duo Jet's chambered solid body generated a distinct tone.

Gretsch Guitars: Making a Name in the World of Music

In the early days of The Beatles, the late George Harrison used numerous Gretsch models, most notably a Chet Atkins on the historic Ed Sullivan Show performance, just as Gretsch's star appeared to be fading in the face of Fender's space-age electric inventions. Gretsch Guitars then continued to contribute to the rock and roll explosion with Bo Diddley, the Beatles, and U2. 

Gretsch Guitars: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Gretsch guitars are known to have multiple layers of cool, which have been noted by the music world. First, there's the appearance: sharp, graceful, perhaps over-accessorized, yet proud rather than obnoxious. Glossy, weighty control knobs and complicated switches characterise a well-equipped Gretsch guitar. American design icons include the White Falcon, Country Gentleman, and Silver Jet.

The tone is friendly, yet piercing and authoritative. The distinct sound of Gretsches makes for a turned-down master volume that purrs sweetly.

The Gretsch tone gave birth to rock ‘n’ roll. These were the guitars chosen by Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, and Duane Eddy. Gretsch's fame grew in the 1960s when George Harrison used a Country Gent and Tennessean on Beatles songs and live performances. Gretsch guitars were used by members of the British Invasion.

Gretsch has appeared on classic recordings by the Who, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and AC/DC since then. Gretsch guitars are used by Jack White, Bono, the Edge, Brian Setzer, the Jayhawks, Fountains of Wayne, Tim Armstrong of Rancid, and Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. These sleek, timeless instruments have been used in a variety of genres, including country, jazz, and others.


It is no secret that Gretsch has a vast musical background for a business that has been around for more than a hundred years and counting. Today, the company is presently owned by Fender. Fred Gretsch III is Friedrich Gretsch's great-grandson who, alongside his wife Dina, runs the growing business of Gretsch as a pioneer of rock music guitars. Provides comprehensive information on Gretsch guitars, a brand known for its electric guitar models, making it valuable for those exploring electric guitar options.

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