From the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly in the 1950s to the British Invasion of the 1960s; from punk and new wave and the rockabilly revival in the 1970s and ’80s to the alt-indie and roots-Americana movements of the 1990s to today, Gretsch guitars have provided a highly distinctive musical identity for musicians everywhere who prefer to stand out by wielding instruments of superior style, sound, construction and heritage. They’re perennially revered as instruments of magnificent quality, with a heavy dose of indisputable cool.
The Gretsch Custom Shop is where the time-honored legacy reaches its creative apex. No instruments epitomize the extraordinary expertise and attention to detail of Gretsch’s most trusted hands like Custom Shop instruments. From modern versions of legendary Gretsch instruments to artist tribute models and specially requested one-off guitars, the Gretsch Custom Shop takes “That Great Gretsch Sound” to an entirely new plane, but also preserves and perfects it.
For the 10th anniversary of the Gretsch Custom Shop, we’re giving you a look at some of the most esteemed projects from Gretsch master builders to date. In a place where no idea is too grand and anything is possible, here are some of the Custom Shop’s most ambitious undertakings, all transformed into reality.
Gretsch celebrates the very best of its best in 2014 with the dazzling new Gretsch Custom Shop 10th Anniversary Duo Jet NOS guitar. To mark the ten-year anniversary of the Gretsch Custom Shop (2004-2014), a limited edition run of only ten of these very special Duo Jet models have been created for the global market.
The most eye-catching feature is a laminated maple top in radiant red pearloid, accented by a silver pickguard emblazoned with the Gretsch Custom Shop 10th anniversary logo and an old-school script “Gretsch” headstock logo. Other premium features include a chambered mahogany body and mahogany neck with white pearloid binding, 12”-radius ebony fingerboard with pearloid “Hump-Block” inlays and red-dot side markers, bone nut and 22 vintage-style frets, dual Seymour Duncan® DynaSonic™ pickups with three-way toggle switching, four “G” arrow control knobs (volume for each pickup, master tone, master volume), Synchro-Sonic™ bridge with “Cadillac”-style “G”-logo tailpiece, Gotoh® open-back tuners, chrome hardware and gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish.
The first Gretsch Custom Shop guitars debuted at the 2004 NAMM Show with a striking pair of limited-edition original-era instruments—the G6136CST White Falcon and G6120WCST Nashville Western. These were based in part on meticulous specs culled from original-era guitars owned by noted Gretsch collector Randy Bachman (of Bachman-Turner Overdrive fame). Both guitars were warmly received and earned much acclaim, and with that the Gretsch Custom Shop was up and running.
The G6120WCST Nashville Western was renamed the G6120WCST Chet Atkins Hollow Body in 2007, in honor of one of the most significant musicians in Gretsch history and a key contributor to the design of the original 6120 guitar. Atkins (1924-2001) profoundly influenced guitar players everywhere and remains a beloved figure in music history in general and Gretsch history in particular. The G6120WCST Chet Atkins Hollow Body featured brilliant DynaSonic™ pickups, a cowboy case and a Deep Orange lacquer finish. The Gretsch Custom Shop subsequently paid homage to Atkins with other models, including the gorgeous G6120-125 Chet Atkins 125th Anniversary Hollow Body (2008) and the G6120DSW-R Chet Atkins Relic Hollow Body (2009-2010).
Gretsch’s line of Brian Setzer signature guitars proved wildly successful in the early 2000s, and in 2007 rockabilly’s preeminent revivalist was duly honored with the Custom Shop’s first "Tribute" model. The guitar is an exact recreation of the ’59 Gretsch 6120 guitar Setzer wielded during his Stray Cats heyday in the ’80s and beyond, right down to the thin nitro finish, dice control knobs, black cat and “Lucky Lady” body stickers, headstock skull sticker, and every last nick and scratch.
The silver-sparkle guitar wielded by Billy Zoom in seminal L.A. punk band X was integral to the band's raw late ’70s sound. The Custom Shop Tribute model was an authentic nod to the X axman; Gretsch Master Builders discovered that Zoom’s original guitar was 90-percent hollow, a feature replicated on the chambered Custom Shop model (and discovered by giving the guitar a CAT scan). Every effort was made to maintain the authenticity of the original, including the distressed back finish, pearloid banjo buttons and a Bigsby® B12 tailpiece.
More and more professionals were becoming aware of the Gretsch Custom Shop’s existence in the late 2000s. Morrissey guitarist and musical director Martin “Boz” Boorer contacted shop chief Stephen Stern in 2009 with a special request–a custom pink Penguin guitar. Stern obliged, and Boorer delightedly received the beautifully crafted pink Penguin–the first Gretsch Custom Shop one-off model–in spring 2010.
The great Eddie Cochran (1938-1960) received the Gretsch Custom Shop treatment in 2009-2010. To honor the rock and rockabilly forefather who died tragically in 1960 at age 21 after having contributed memorable and influential classics such as “Summertime Blues,” “C’mon Everybody,” “Sittin’ in the Balcony” and “Twenty Flight Rock,” Gretsch worked closely with Cochran's family on a faithful replica of his distinctively modified 6120 guitar. The result, the G6120EC Eddie Cochran Tribute Hollow Body, was all but indistinguishable from the original, including the “dog ear” neck pickup and DynaSonic™ bridge pickup, Western block fingerboard and headstock inlays, gold-plated hardware, and more. The 50 guitars also came with a fascinating wealth of reproduction Cochran memorabilia.
As the 10th anniversary of George Harrison’s November 2001 passing approached, Gretsch worked closely with the late guitarist’s estate in developing a Tribute model replica of his first Gretsch—an all-black 1957 Duo Jet that Harrison bought second-hand at age 18 in summer 1961. It was the guitar that Harrison played during the historic three-year period when the Beatles went from local favorites to U.K. sensations to worldwide phenomenon; the guitar used to record debut Beatles album Please Please Me and the title song that was the group’s first number-one hit. After many months of work, the G6128T-GH George Harrison Tribute Custom Shop Duo Jet was introduced in January 2011 in a limited edition of 60 guitars and immediately drew great acclaim and much glowing press.
For the 10th anniversary of the Gretsch Custom Shop, Stephen Stern and his crew created an astounding new Duo Jet model that honors a gret decade of great instruments and a great new legacy. Dazzling in looks and tone, the Gretsch Custom Shop 10th Anniversary Duo Jet NOS has a chambered mahogany body and mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, along with a wealth of premium features, including a laminated red pearloid maple top, a pickguard emblazoned with the Gretsch Custom Shop 10th Anniversary logo, dual Seymour Duncan® DynaSonic™ pickups with three-way toggle switching, and a Synchro-Sonic™ bridge with “Cadillac”-style “G”-logo tailpiece. Only 10 were built.
An exact relic-finish recreation of the Gretsch 6120 played by Brian Setzer since the raucous early days of the Stray Cats...
A meticulously crafted relic-finish replica of the modified Gretsch 6120 slung with such influential swagger and style by...
Hand-painted pinup girls from the talented palette of noted “Queenpin” artist Kirsten Easthope cavort all over this sultry...
A stunning relic-finish Nashville handmade by Master Builder Stephen Stern.
From acclaimed SoCal hot rod artist Sara Ray Artist Sara Ray comes this dark depiction of the demons that plague the outlaw...
From acclaimed SoCal hot rod artist Sara Ray comes this striking Gretsch 6120 homage to German World War I flying ace Manfred...
An elegantly stunning relic-finish White Falcon handmade by Master Builder Stephen Stern.