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With its emphasis on hand-craftsmanship and commitment to quality over a storied 135 years and counting, Gretsch has pioneered new designs and manufacturing techniques, winning endorsements from some of the music industry’s most respected artists, including Chet Atkins, Eddie Cochran, Billy Duffy, Bono, Duane Eddy, George Harrison, Brian Setzer, Stephen Stills and Malcolm Young.
It all began in 1883, when 27-year-old Friedrich Gretsch, a German immigrant, founded his shop in Brooklyn, New York, and began to make banjos, drums and tambourines. Only 12 years later Friedrich died, leaving the fledgling company in the hands of his teenage son Fred.
While it may be an unlikely start for a century-plus long musical legacy, young Fred wasn’t the typical teen. By 1916 he had built the company into one of America’s leading importers and manufacturers of musical instruments, and the operations moved into a 10-story building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn.Fred Gretsch, Sr. retired from the company in 1942, leaving the day-to-day operations to his sons Fred Jr. and William. In the late-’60s, Fred Gretsch retired and sold the company to Baldwin Manufacturing. But ever since the company had left the family, Fred W. Gretsch, the great-grandson of founder Friedrich Gretsch, had vowed it would return. In 1984, Fred W. Gretsch, along with his wife, Dinah, purchased Gretsch back from Baldwin, returning it to the family after a 17-year absence. Throughout the 1990s, Fred and Dinah brought Gretsch back into the limelight with a series of successful reissues and new models. In late 2002 a deal was struck for Fender Musical Instruments Corp. to handle Gretsch Guitars manufacturing and distribution, allowing “That Great Gretsch Sound” to be heard in even more places around the world.