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Gretsch is an American company that manufactures musical instruments. The company was founded in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York by Friedrich Gretsch, a 27-year-old German immigrant, shortly after his arrival to the United States. Friedrich Gretsch manufactured banjos, tambourines, and drums until his death in 1895. In 1916, his son, Fred Gretsch Sr. moved operations to a larger facility where Gretsch went on to become one of the most prominent manufacturers of American musical instruments.

IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1883; 136 years ago (1883) in Brooklyn, New York City
FounderFriedrich Gretsch
Key people

Most modern-era Gretsch guitars are manufactured in the Far East, though American-made "Custom Shop" models are available. In 2002, Gretsch entered a business agreement with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). Under the terms of that agreement Fred W. Gretsch would retain ownership while FMIC would handle most of the development, distribution and sales.[2]

Through the years, Gretsch has manufactured a wide range of instruments, currently focusing on electric, acoustic and resonator guitars, basses, ukuleles,[3] and drums.[4]


1950s, 1960s, 1970sEdit

1955 Chet Atkins 6120.
Bono playing a Gretsch Irish Falcon.
Former Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith plays his signature model Gretsch Model 6076

Fred Gretsch Sr. handed over the family business to his son, Fred Gretsch Jr., after retiring in 1942. Soon after taking over, Fred Jr. left to serve in WWII as a Navy commander, leaving the business in the hands of his younger brother, William Walter "Bill" Gretsch. Bill Gretsch died in 1948 and the company was again run by Fred Jr.

By the mid-1950s the company introduced several models, including the 6120 "Nashville," and the Duo Jet chambered "solid body", which was played by Bo Diddley.[5] Two other models were introduced - the Country Club, and the White Falcon.

During this time, Chet Atkins became an endorser of Gretsch and they sold guitars with Atkins' name on the pickguard.[6]

Sale to Baldwin, Gretsch family regains interestEdit

Fred Gretsch never found a suitable successor, and in 1967 Gretsch was sold to Baldwin Pianos,[7] becoming a subsidiary of that firm. Mid-1969, Baldwin moved Gretsch instrument manufacturing operations from Brooklyn to a plant in DeQueen, Arkansas.[8]

FMIC controlEdit

In late 2002, Gretsch and the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation reached an agreement giving Fender control over marketing, production, and distribution of guitars, with the Gretsch family retaining ownership of the company.[9]



  • Bacon, T. (2005). (Ed.). 50 Years of Gretsch Electrics. Backbeat Books. San Francisco. ISBN 0-87930-822-2.
  • Bacon, T. (2000). (Ed.). Fuzz & Feedback: Classic Guitar Music of the 60's. Miller Freeman Books. San Francisco. ISBN 0-87930-612-2.
  • Howe, Z. (2014). (Ed.). Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story. Polygon. Edinburgh. ISBN 978-1-84697-331-4.


  1. ^ a b c d e Remembering Bill and Sylvia Gretsch by Fred W. Gretsch
  2. ^ Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company - Jay Scott
  3. ^ Folk & bluegrass instruments on Gretsch website, 9 Nov 2019
  4. ^ Gretsch Guitars 2019 updates
  5. ^ Hilmar, Jim (2013-12-31). "Gretsch Jet Firebird". Vintage Guitar magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  6. ^ "Gretsch 6120 models: Gretsch-GEAR: The Gretsch Pages". Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  7. ^ Gjörde, Per (2001). Pearls and Crazy Diamonds. Göteborg, Sweden: Addit Information AB. pp. 35–37.
  8. ^ "Brooklyn Walking Tour: Traveling Through Gretsch History Today" by Fred Gretsch. [1]/
  9. ^ Tim Baxter/APTgroup. "Gretsch History". The Gretsch Pages. Retrieved 2012-12-20.

External linksEdit