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When Fred Gretsch retired in 1942 his son William took
over until Fred Gretsch, Jr. took the helm in 1948. Fred Jr. went
on to lead the company through its guitar heyday.
THE GOLDEN YEARS
Gretsch had dabbled in electric guitars prior to 1955,
producing a limited number of Hawaiian lap steels and the Electromatic
arch-tops, among other models, but around 1954 the Golden Age of Gretsch
guitars began. In quick succession the Electromatic evolved into the
Country Club, the Jet solidbodies were introduced and two of Gretsch's
best-loved models, the 6120 Chet Atkins model and the White Falcon
hit the market.
Gretsch this year celebrates their 125th anniversary. They
are now located in Savannah, Georgia. Fred W. has created an incredible
museum as well as a great legacy of the history of this company.
About Fred Gretsch, Jr., Music Pioneer
Born in Brooklyn, NY - 1905
"that Great Gretsch Sound"
Fred Gretsch Senior was born on February 10, 1880. His father Friedrich,
a German immigrant opened The Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company in
1883. His small musical shop in Brooklyn, New York produced drums, banjos,
tambourines, and other popular instruments.
In 1895, shocking news came that the 39 year old father died suddenly while visiting Germany. Fred was attending Wright's Business College and was fifteen years old. With strong influence from his mother Rosa, he traded his knickers for long pants and took over the family's music business with twelve employees. He also served as president of the Lincoln Savings Bank of Brooklyn and vice president of the Lincoln Savings Bank and a director of the Manufacturers Trust Company in his lifetime. He passed away in 1952.
Fred Gretsch Junior was born in Brooklyn on March 10, 1905. Fred
attended and graduated Richmond Hill High School in January of 1922.
The RHHS Domes from that time mentioned many times that he had a promising
Although he grew up in the family business, he officially joined the company upon his graduation from Cornell University in 1926.
During the 1930's through the early 1940's, Fred Jr. patented and registered most of the Gretsch's progressive guitar, drum and banjo innovations. After his father retired in 1942, Fred Jr. managed the company briefly then left the company to serve with distinction as a commander in the Navy during World War II. He returned to the family business after the war and became president in 1948 when his brother Bill died at the age of 41.
In 1967, the Gretsch Company was sold to The Baldwin Company and for many years suffered under this ownership.
Without the family leadership, it lost most of its appeal at a time when all the world was hit by the success of the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many artists of the day.
In 1985 Fred W. Gretsch, great grandson of Friedrich assumed presidency of the company and under his leadership brought the company back to a status of fine workmanship and leadership. They began to offer new vintage styled guitars and classic drums and became again a huge success. Fred W. has also honored all the forefathers of this company and has turned this company into one of the most respected in the world to this day.
The factories in Williamsburg, Brooklyn also have gone under some transformation.
The 10 story Gretsch building number 4 on Broadway was converted to
condominiums, with a hefty price tag for restoration of 75 million dollars.
The once Bohemian neighborhood has become a haven for ex-Manhattanites
and basically pushed out the locals because of the escalating real estate