Author Archives: Jeff Owens

GretschTech: “G Arrow” Control Knobs

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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…)

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Six Great (Extinct) Gretsch Basses

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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…)

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GretschTech: Fingerboard Inlays

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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…)

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Five Great Gretsch Rock Albums of the 1980s

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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 …
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GretschTech: Switches Everywhere …

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How does the switching work on Gretsch guitars?

Of the approximately 100 Gretsch electric guitar and bass guitar models available today, about half of them have a single switch on the upper bout. The other half have two switches on the upper bout. A dozen or so models even have a switch on the lower bout.

Welcome to the wonderfully idiosyncratic world of Gretsch switch configurations, which can differ quite substantially from other guitars. Once you fully understand what’s going on under your Gretsch guitar’s hood, we think you’ll agree that the switching layouts are really quite sensible. Ingenious, even. Here’s the deal …

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