Founded by Friedrich Gretsch, the first model was crafted in 1883. The company began as a small shop located in New York. After passing away in 1895, the business was left to his son, Fred Gretsch. After creating a well known, high quality music company, Fred retired from Gretsch, leaving his two sons Fred Jr. and Bill in charge. Although the Gretsch company had suffered for a few years after being sold to Baldwin, it soon came back as thriving as ever, when it was bought back by Fred Gretsch Jr. in 1983. even today, Gretsch instruments are popular among many musicians, George Harrison or Jack White, just to name a few.
There are three main types of pickups on a Gretsch guitar. These are the filtertron, the hilotron and the dynasonic. Due to hum from the single coil pickups on their guitars, Gretsch produced the filtertron. The filtertron pickup consists of two single coil pickups parallel to each other, designed to mute or ‘buck’ the humming sound. The filtertron pickup was known as the humbucker on the Gibson Les Paul. Some Gretsch electric guitars have two switches, pickup select and tone control. The tone control has three positions to switch to. When the switch is down, high frequencies are released. When up, the high frequencies are cut off. When the switch is in the middle position, the sound of the pickups are at their purest, with no altered frequencies. Many Gretsch guitars also include a tail piece, a part of the guitar that holds a tremolo, attached to the bridge in order to keep the guitar in tune when the bar is used. Although rarely included now, Gretsch used to include ‘zero frets’ as standard on their guitars. Located just beneath the head of the guitar, it does nearly the same job as the nut, but a little more accurate.
Musician and legend Chet Atkins, prominent through the early 60’s, was known to use a Gretsch 6120 hollow body as his preferred guitar, the same model Pete Townshend of the Who would later use. George Harrison used a Gretsch G6128t throughout his time with the Beatles, saying “ it was my first proper guitar ”. Guitarist and singer Jack White heavily modified his Gretsch Double Jet, giving it a double cutaway, adding a third humbucker and fitting an MXR micro amp inside to give an instant over-driven sound at the flick of a switch. The variety of musical styles the Gretsch has been used with shows just how iconic the brand has been and will be throughout modern music.
Rob from Farlingaye High School (Work experience week September 2014).