Author Archives: Jeff Owens
Posted: April 8, 2013
What’s the deal with the zero fret found on some Gretsch guitars? What is it, why is it there and what does it do?
A “zero fret” is an extra fret located directly in front of the nut. You don’t often see them these days, although they were once fairly commonplace. Regarded today as an antiquated feature, they nonetheless still appear on a small number of instruments as an item of vintage-style authenticity.
Nonetheless, a zero fret isn’t merely a cosmetic touch—it does serve a subtle purpose appreciated by discerning players. In effect, it takes over the role of the nut in determining string height above the fingerboard. A zero fret can even out string action even more uniformly than the nut.
It’s easy to understand how the zero fret achieves this. On most guitars and basses, the nut serves as the anchor point for the vibrating length of the string at that end of the instrument (the bridge saddles serving the same function at the other end of the instrument) and as the string “spacer.”
The slots cut into the nut are of a generally uniform depth, but there can be very slight variations, which in turn produce very slight variations in the height of each individual string above the fingerboard. Guitarists with a discerning fretting hand feel may be able to detect such small variances.
The zero fret eliminates these variances and uniformly evens out string height even more finely because all the strings rest on it as they pass over it, with the nut relegated solely to its role of spacing the strings apart evenly across the width of the fingerboard.
Posted: November 27, 2012
One of the most distinctively stylish features of Gretsch guitars past and present is the “G arrow” control knob. If you already own a Gretsch, you know what we’re referring to—the volume and tone knobs on your instrument, which are in most cases adorned with an engraved later “G” pierced by an arrow. This was an early but not original development.
Gretsch’s earliest electric guitars of the late 1940s and early 1950s—mostly Hawaiian lap steel and arch-top Electromatic models—had plain control knobs. When the original golden age of Gretsch electric guitars began in earnest in 1954, a much more distinctive control knob style was adopted, quite unlike that of contemporaries such as Fender and Gibson. 1954 saw the introduction of gold- and chrome-plated brass knobs with plain unadorned tops and a crosshatched pattern around the circumference. (more…)
Posted: November 5, 2012
Today, Gretsch makes several highly acclaimed bass guitar models prized by players worldwide for their elegant style and seismic sound. When you see a Gretsch bass, it’s usually in the hands of a bassist who truly prizes a fine instrument and who truly appreciates the Gretsch name and tradition.
Well before its fine modern-era basses, however, Gretsch made some very, shall we say, interesting forays into the bass guitar world. From its first, shall we say, unusual model in the early 1960s to another, shall we say, distinctive model at the dawn of the 1980s, Gretsch indeed truly went its own, shall we say, unconventional way when it came to anchoring the low end.
Submitted for your approval here are six remarkable—and quite extinct—examples of Gretsch bass guitar history, starting at the very beginning. (more…)
Tags: Bikini bass, Grestch Broadkaster bass (1975), Gretsch 6070 bass, Gretsch 6071 bass, Gretsch 6072 bass, Gretsch 6073 bass, Gretsch 7615 bass, Gretsch Committee bass, Gretsch TK300 bass
Posted In: Product Plugs, Top Five | Leave a comment
Posted: October 18, 2012
Gretsch guitars and basses are loaded with distinctively stylish features that all contribute greatly to their very “Gretsch-iness.” From pickups to bridges, trem arms to tailpieces, and control knobs to switching layouts, few instruments are the sums of their parts – and much more – quite like a Gretsch.
This is especially evident right at your fingertips, because Gretsch instruments have a fingerboard inlay tradition all their own. Several of the styles adopted in the 1950s are still in use today and have long since become distinct Gretsch traditions. Here’s a look at what you’ll find on Gretsch fingerboards today: (more…)
Posted: September 20, 2012
Gretsch electric guitars loomed large in the 1950s with original-era rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly; even larger in the 1960s with the British Invasion. They were certainly still around during the musically tumultuous 1970s, although you did have to look a little harder. And then the 1980s arrived.
The 1980s. That was the decade when Gretsch guitars came roaring back in ways both traditional and unexpected, as post-punk, new wave, the rockabilly revival and other fast-proliferating subgenres blasted their way to the forefront of popular music on both sides of the Atlantic. Below, in chronological order, are five fine albums you can thank for that happy development. And we’re not just talking about a Gretsch guitar appearing on a song or two—we’re talking about entire albums that are scorching, swinging, soaring and singing examples of Gretsch guitar artistry all the way through from first track to last …
READ MORE »»
Tags: AC/DC, Back in Black, Billy Duffy, Bow Wow Wow, Brian Setzer, Built for Speed, I Want Candy, John Squire, Matthew Ashman, Stone Roses, Stray Cats, The Cult
Posted In: Artists Blogs, Top Five | Leave a comment