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Gretsch on ’60s U.S. Series TV

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Gretsch guitars were all over the tube in the 1960s. Big hollow-body guitars remained in widespread use in rock and pop throughout the entire decade, and it seemed at times as though you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a TV set that was showing some variety or music show featuring some band that had at least one Gretsch instrument in the lineup. Pretty cool.

From the Beatles and the Stones and the Animals on The Ed Sullivan Show to the Kinks on Shivaree to the Zombies on Shindig! and more, Gretsch guitars were a staple on U.S. programming. Even across the pond, the Who’s John Entwistle wielded a Gretsch 6070 bass on Ready Steady Go! in 1965.

And yet there was a whole other category of U.S. television programming in the ’60s that also showed Gretsch instruments: prime-time series television on the three major networks at the time—ABC, CBS and NBC. Not only did you see and hear Gretsch guitars on variety shows and music shows; you also saw them on top-rated sitcoms, action-packed cop shows, cool spy shows and more.

Here are five notable examples of That Great Gretsch Sound on U.S. network series television in the 1960s. Some of these shows and the musical acts on them are well known and some are pretty obscure, but there’s simply no mistaking a Gretsch when you see one.

The Monkees

Gretsch instruments appeared in nearly every Monkees episode from first (Sept. 12, 1966) to last (March 25, 1968). In this clip, from fall 1965 pilot episode “Here Come the Monkees” (which, oddly, aired Nov. 14, 1966, as episode ten), NBC’s simian heroes swing their way through “Let’s Dance On.” Sort of.

And that’s three Gretsch guitars out front, wielded not only by Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork, as usual, but here even by Davy Jones. Nesmith’s guitar undergoes an interesting change toward the end, but it’s nothing compared to the utterly magical transformation of Tork’s bass. And pay close attention to the logo on that kick drum head, by the way …

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Five Rockin’ Gretsch Movie Moments

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The Edge laying down guitar tracks in Rattle and Hum.

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The summer blockbuster movie season is upon us, and we’ve got movies on the mind after thinking about some of the best Gretsch moments that have graced the silver screen over the years.

From rock to country to rockabilly, bands both real and fictitious have reached for Gretsch instruments, whether electric or acoustic.

So with that in mind, here are five great Gretsch moments from feature films: (more…)

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Five Great Gretsch Songs of the 90s

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Ask most people about music in the 1990s, and they’ll probably point to grunge’s dominance during the early part of the decade and bubblegum pop towards the end as main mile markers.

Gretsch artists and their trusty guitars certainly had several standout moments in those areas. But whether it was the straightforward punk from Tim Armstrong and Rancid or the infectious rockabilly of Brian Setzer, Gretsch played a big part in many other genres, as well. (more…)

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Five Great Gretsch Holiday Songs

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By this time of year, we’ve all been inundated with holiday music for weeks. The standards are inescapable, as it seems that every radio station is blaring some version of “Silent Night” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

We tend to look in different places for our Christmas tunes. Sure, there might be a time and a place for some Manheim Steamroller, but there are so many more gems out there that can serve as a much-needed changeup.

So as we get ready to unwrap presents and sip on some nutmeg-infused eggnog, here are five great Gretsch holiday tunes that should be on your playlist right now: (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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