Gretsch Post

Streamliner Center Block Jr. Wins ‘Guitar World’ Gold

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The new Gretsch Streamliner Center Block Jr. Double Cutaway with Bigsby won Gold in Guitar World magazine’s July issue.

“I can’t even begin to express how much fun the G2655T is to play,” wrote reviewer Paul Riaro. “Out of the box the guitar is setup perfectly, with low action and strings that possess a springy feel, much in part to the Bigsby licensed B50 vibrato.  I found the Bigsby most effective when I used it for slight half-to-whole step vibrato wiggle. As long as you’re not whammy aggressive, the guitar will stay in tune. Also, the  snugly thin profile of the nato neck allowed me to sail across the fretboard.

“The Broad’Tron pickups are noticeably darker sounding with plenty of output, pushing forth deep lows, growly midranges and cutting highs, and sound deliciously smooth when confronted with distortion.”

Read the full review and see a video demonstration over at guitarworld.com.

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Exciting Gretsch Events Scheduled at Country Music Hall of Fame

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Photo by Jeff Daley.

Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has scheduled several exciting Gretsch events June to coincide with the Summer NAMM Show, including sessions hosted by Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell, musician and author Andy Babiuk and Gretsch’s very own Joe Carducci and Fred Gretsch.

These events also help support the Bachman-Gretsch exhibit, which runs through July 17.

Check out a rundown of events below:

Monday, June 20  – Sunday, June 26
10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.

Creative Zone—Embellished Instruments: Gretsch Style

Gretsch guitars have unique shapes, designs, and sounds. Young designers will learn about guitar design by looking at guitars in the new exhibit American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection. They will apply what they learned to make personalized guitar designs using the Gretsch instruments as inspiration. All ages. Taylor Swift Education Center. Presented in support of the exhibit American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members. Children and up to two accompanying adults may attend the program and tour the museum at a discounted rate.

Thursday, June 23                    2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Gretsch Bass Demonstration: Tom Petersson

Tom Petersson is a professional singer, songwriter, and bass player who has spent most of his life playing rock music. For over 35 years, Petersson has played bass for the recently inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Cheap Trick, and he has written a few of their biggest hits, including “Can’t Stop Falling into Love.” An avid guitar collector, Petersson will highlight some of his favorite guitars including the 12-string Gretsch White Falcon bass he helped design. Presented in support of the exhibition American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection, this bass demonstration will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members.

Friday, June 24                         2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

The Gretsch Fred and Joe Show: The Story of the Gretsch Guitar

Fred Gretsch, President of the Gretsch Company, and Joe Carducci, Gretsch Guitars Product Marketing Specialist, host this multimedia presentation tracing the history of the innovative guitar maker. The company was founded in 1883 when Gretsch started making musical instruments in Brooklyn. In 1985, Fred Gretsch, great-grandson of the founder, bought back the family business from the Baldwin Piano Company, relaunching the brand and ushering in an era of high quality and unique design. This program will discuss the musicians who’ve woven the Gretsch sound into the fabric of modern pop culture by playing the guitars on classic hits, and it will look closely at the instruments on display in American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection. Joe Hudson, 2015 “Thumbpicker of the Year” co-winner, will perform. The event will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members. Limited seating. Program pass required.

Saturday, June 25                     11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Songwriter Session: Lindsay Ell

Lindsay Ell began playing guitar and writing songs as a child, in Calgary. At age 13, she was discovered by Randy Bachman, who pushed her to learn new guitar styles as well as co-wrote and produced her first record. Ell moved to Nashville in 2013 and signed with Stoney Creek Records. She wrote her singles “By the Way” and “Trippin’ on Us,” as well as several songs with Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots, including “We Can’t Stand Each Other” (featuring Carrie Underwood) and “Netflix Love Song.” Presented in support of the exhibition American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection, this session will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members. Limited seating. Program pass required.

Saturday, June 25                     1:30 p.m.–2:30 p.m.

Beatles Gear: The Gretsch Invasion with Andy Babiuk

When the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, George Harrison played a Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman model, Aspiring guitarists across the United States immediately clamored to get one, sparking a boom in production for the guitar maker. In Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio, Andy Babiuk explores the story of the legendary band, as told through the equipment they used. This program will focus on the Beatles’ fondness for Gretsch instruments and the subsequent impact their embrace had on the company. Babiuk is a musician, writer, producer, founding member of the Chesterfield Kings, and owner of a boutique music shop. He is a staff consultant to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and consultant to major auction houses in London and New York. Presented in support of the exhibition American Sound and Beauty: Guitars from the Bachman-Gretsch Collection, this session will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org/streaming. Included with museum admission. Free to museum members. Limited seating. Program pass required.

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Fred Gretsch Receives Honorary Degree from Elmhurst College

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Fred W. Gretsch, fourth-generation leader of a family business that has helped shape American music history, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Elmhurst College at the school’s Spring Commencement over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

An Elmhurst alumnus, Gretsch is also president of the Gretsch Company, which was founded by his great-grandfather in 1883 and continues to make guitars and drums for musicians who appreciate “That Great Gretsch Sound,” top-quality craftsmanship, and classic style.

Elmhurst College confers honorary degrees on individuals whose commitments and achievements embody the College’s mission, vision, and core values. Fred Gretsch was recognized for his ongoing contributions to the music industry, as well as to his and his family’s stated mission, which is “to enrich people’s lives through participation in music.”

Fred, his wife and business partner Dinah, his family company, and the Gretsch Foundation have been generous supporters of Elmhurst College and its Department of Music. That support has funded a variety of scholarships, as well as the state-of-the-art Sylvia and William Gretsch Recording Studio (established in 1987 to honor Fred’s parents). In 1993, the Gretsch Electric Guitar Ensemble became a regular element of the music program, and in 2015, arrangements were made for the music department’s ensembles to perform exclusively on Gretsch drum kits. Gretsch has also been a major supporter of the annual Elmhurst College High School Invitational Jazz Festival.

“Fred Gretsch’s support has helped us develop one of the top music business programs in the country, from the Gretsch Music Business Student Scholarship fund to his multiple gifts that have allowed us to build and continually upgrade our state-of-the art Gretsch Recording Studio,” said Elmhurst College Music Business Program director Tim Hays. “The College, the Music Department, and generations of students have benefited from his vision and generosity.”

Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Joseph Emmick added, “We’re pleased to honor Fred Gretsch. Who better to receive an honorary degree than someone who has distinguished himself in his service to the musical community? Fred and Dinah together form one of the music industry’s most formidable teams, and their international success enhances Elmhurst College’s reputation across the globe.”

After receiving his honorary degree Fred Gretsch said, “I’m grateful and I’m honored. When it comes to enriching people’s lives through music around the country and around the world, I recognize that Elmhurst is a great place to start. I look forward to working with the college to create more music-makers in the generations ahead.”

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Live from Plum Creek Sound Studios: Matthew Vasquez

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As previously blogged here, Austin-based alt-country rock artist Israel Nash hosted an intimate event during SXSW called “Live From the Hills With Love,” an afternoon of good old southern hospitality, outstanding performances and free beer. For fans everywhere, Nash and his Plum Creek Sound Studios team are making those performances available to everyone with a unique video series.

The first video to be rolled out features Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit), who played what he introduced as a “really, really f*ing long song, but it’s all about growing up here, and then doing drugs, and then finding Jesus and then not finding Jesus, and then drinking a lot and then meeting my wife in Fresno and then moving back here.”

Indeed, the song spans 14 minutes so grab a beer and enjoy “Austin” below …

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GretschTech: Serial Numbers 1930s-1966

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Close-up of the label in a Gretsch New Yorker arch-top acoustic shows serial number 19730, dating the guitar to 1956.

Previously, we’ve discussed modern Gretsch serial numbers and how to read them. Now we travel to the other end of the spectrum; to the first 30 years or so of Gretsch guitars and their considerably different serial numbering schemes. Here, we’ll look at instruments from the 1930s to 1966.

Gretsch guitars from this lengthy period are fairly easily dated with accuracy because from about 1939 (and perhaps even earlier) to 1966 they were numbered sequentially.

Before the end of World War II, serial numbers were simply written in pencil inside the body; these have understandably tended to fade into illegibility and even vanish altogether in some instances. Post-World War II, serial numbers were sometimes stamped into the headstock (some confusion might arise with older Gretsch guitars because numbering re-started after the war, but if the instrument has a “light bulb”-style headstock, it’s likely pre-war).

Finally, around 1949, reliable serial-number labels were placed on Gretsch guitars; inside the body and visible through the f hole on hollow-body models, and inside the control routing on solid-body and chambered models. In any case, much like automobiles, design changes in Gretsch guitars went by model year rather than calendar year. For example, while a 1958 Chet Atkins 6120 model might have been built in 1957, it’s still considered a ’58.

Here’s how original-era Gretsch sequential serial numbering generally works:

Below 1000:                Pre-World War II

10xx – 20xx:                1945-1947 (approx.)

20xx – 30xx:                1948-1949 (approx.)

30xx – 40xx:                1950 (approx.)

40xx – 50xx:                1951 (approx.)

50xx – 70xx:                1952 (approx.)

70xx – 90xx:                1953

90xx – 130xx:              1954

130xx – 180xx:            1955

180xx – 210xx:            1956

210xx – 260xx:            1957 (Note: 1,000 serial number labels misplaced in 1957 were found in 1965)

260xx – 300xx:            1958

300xx – 340xx:            1959

340xx – 390xx:            1960

390xx – 450xx:            1961

451xx – 530xx:            1962

530xx – 630xx:            1963

630xx – 770xx:            1964

770xx – 840xx:            1965

Note: The misplaced 1957 serial numbers mentioned above, along with a small number of odd four-digit serial numbers, surfaced in 1965 and 1966 during the transition to a new date-code system in mid 1966.

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