Rewriting History – The Return Of Gretsch Guitars

Updated 23/5/16

The long history of Gretsch is a rollercoaster ride of success and setbacks. But where are they in 2014?

Gretsch Electromatic G5420T FSR Cadillac Green

Fred’s the name

Gretsch began their journey in 1883 under the control of German immigrant to the USA, Friedrich Gretsch but it wasn’t until his son (also named Fred) took over, that the company really bloomed. In the early 1930s Gretsch began producing guitars, having previously been in the business of drums, banjos and tambourines, and by the 1950s and 60s were a sought after brand. Spurned by the support of one Chet Atkins as an endorsee, the company rivalled Fender and Rickenbacker at the time. The legendary Chet Atkins had several signature models built for him by Gretsch over the years and in fact Chet influenced many of the early designs which, coupled with his incredible talent, went on to influence countless generations of players such as Mark Knopfler of Direstraits fame. Sadly, Chet left as an endorsee for various reasons but recently his estate have allowed Chet’s name to return to the Gretsch brand, a sign that they are back at the top maybe?

Rocky Times

Things were very different in the 1970s and 1980s as Rock and Metal began to emerge and dominate guitar driven music, making the semi-hollowbody guitars of yester-year look old hat and redundant. Players were favouring the looks and feel of Hot-rodded Fender strats and Gibson Les Paul’s, over the more traditional looks and sounds that had given Gretsch their name.

Return of the Fred

Eventually Gretsch slid into bankruptcy until, in the late 1980s, the great grandson of the original Gretsch founder (who is also named Fred!) took over and became president. With his influence and guidance Gretsch eventually regained momentum in the guitar business and since the noughties they have been aided by the frankly huge development and sales power of Fender. Just like their founder 130 years ago, they still make Banjos, ukuleles etc But it is their iconic guitars that have found huge popularity over the century.

Fresh Ideas

The latest models don’t disappoint either. Take the G5622T-CB (as pictured above). The arched top, back and sides of the G5622T-CB are crafted from solid 5-ply maple, a beautiful tonewood that yields bright, precise tones, with lots of high-end sparkle and tempered lows, not bad at all for a non custom shop! Their price doesn’t show through in either the look or feel at all.

Rewriting the Rule Book

2014 also saw the release of some, dare we say, ground-breaking designs by Gretsch. Those of you who were always looking for a Dreadnought acoustic with a Tremolo will be wowed by Gretsch Rancher G5034TFT.

Gretsch

Lots of R&D went into making this Bigsby equipped electro acoustic a reality and we think it looks and sounds superb.

Check out the full range of Gretsch guitars, including the brand new Gretsch Streamliner models over at the Dawsons website.

Lee is the Dawsons in-house Guitar presenter for all guitar related videos. He is also the UK demonstrator for Roland & BOSS, performing all over the UK.