Archive for 2010

Read Expanded NAMM Show Coverage

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The 2010 NAMM musical instrument show was held this past January 14 through 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. This annual event, sponsored by the International Music Products Association, is America’s largest trade show for the showcasing of musical instruments and accessories.

Gretsch Drums On Display

Gretsch Drums had plenty of great new gear to showcase at this year’s NAMM show. Here are just a few highlights:

US Custom Kits

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black & Silver

Gretsch 2010 Ltd Ed USA Custom Black and Silver (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Two new Limited Edition USA Custom kits headed up the new-product introductions. One featured an 18×22 bass drum, 8×10 and 9×10 toms, a 16×16 floor tom, and a 6½x14 ten-lug snare—each with a black lacquer finish and silver-sparkle inlays. The other featured a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a 5½ x14 eight-lug snare—all in a classy white finish with a gold sparkle inlays and gold-plated hardware. Each configuration will be limited to thirty total kits worldwide.

New Renown Maple Finish

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade

Gretsch Renown Maple Ruby Sparkle Fade (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The Gretsch Renown Maple series now offers a striking new finish called Ruby Sparkle Fade. It features mixed-size sparkle flakes that catch and reflect light differently so as to give the finish extra depth and richness. Three sizes of flakes are carefully applied in descending size—large to medium to small. Then each drum is hand-sprayed with a customized ruby red-to-ebony black fade paint. A highly detailed, multi-step lacquering process provides the final touch for a gleaming finish.

Stanton Moore Signature Snare

Stantion Moore Signature Snare

Stanton Moore Signature Snare (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch artist Stanton Moore has developed a reputation for his distinctive blend of New Orleans-influenced funky snare-drum grooves. Now Gretsch has collaborated with Stanton to create a snare drum that projects that swampy, nuanced style. The Stanton Moore Signature snare features a single-ply solid-maple shell with reinforcement hoops, thirty-degree bearing edges, eight tuning lugs, a Dunnett throw-off, 42-strand snares, and a gloss natural finish emblazoned with Stanton’s signature. The drum is designed to provide quick response, varying timbres, and a distinctive overall tonality.

Fred And Dinah Gretsch Meet The CoverBand 2010 Drum Winner

A special treat for Fred and Dinah Gretsch was the opportunity to congratulate Didi Negron of Northampton, Pennsylvania, who was the winning drummer in the CoverBand 2010 contest presented by Musician’s Friend and Latin Percussion. Gretsch Drums was a contributing sponsor for the online competition.

CoverBand 2010 Winner Didi Negron

CoverBand 2010 Winning Drummer Didi Negron (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The contest invited individual musicians and vocalists to upload a two-minute video to coverband2010.com between July 15 and September 15 of last year. A general-public vote determined the finalists. A panel of celebrity judges then selected the winners.

A trip to Anaheim to perform at the NAMM show was part of the prize for the seven winning CoverBand members. For twenty-three-year-old Didi Negron, that was just part of the thrill. She also received a brand-new Gretsch Catalina Ash drumkit, along with the chance to meet Fred and Dinah Gretsch personally. (Didi’s prize package also included Sabian HHX cymbals and a Gibraltar Stealth rack system.)

Dinah Gretsch was particularly pleased to meet Didi, since female participation in music is an issue that’s near and dear to Dinah’s heart. When Dinah asked Didi how she came to be a drummer, Didi replied, “I grew up with music in my family. My dad plays guitar and bass, and there was a lot of music in our church. When I was around eight I started playing along to records. I developed rudimental drumming skills when I was in my school marching band. When I was a teenager I started playing drumset and percussion, and things just went from there.”

Things went pretty far, as a matter of fact. Didi’s self-taught drumming skills were impressive enough to earn a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston. Now in her second year, she’s studying with such well-known drummers as Ralph Peterson, Terri-Lyne Carrington, Dave DiCenso, and Eddie Castillo. Not surprisingly, Didi’s goal is to become a professional drummer/percussionist. “It’s all I’ve ever really thought about,” she said.

Didi’s entry for the CoverBand 2010 contest displayed the influence of her Berklee instructors, along with a substantial amount of her own talent and originality. Her two-minute video was a mix of Latin, pop, and fusion-esque styles that burned and grooved at the same time. “I love to solo,” said Didi, “but I love a pocket, too. So for my contest entry I decided to show the groove . . . show the chops . . . just do it all!”

Stephen Ferrone & Gretsch Drums In Concert

An annual highlight of the NAMM show is an after-hours concert called Sabian Live!, presented by the Sabian Cymbal Company (and co-sponsored by Gretsch Drums). This year’s event opened and closed with Gretsch artists.

Sabian Live! Drummer    Photo by Rick Van Horn

Sabian Live! Drummer (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The opening act was a band of teenage musicians from the Little Kids Rock music-education program. Their performance was powered by a young drummer playing on a Gretsch Catalina Ash kit. What the band lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm, and their two-song set was well received by the audience.

At the absolute opposite of the experience scale was the evening’s closer: Stephen Ferrone & The Master Volume All-Stars. Made up of the cream of LA’s studio scene, the band was anchored by its namesake drummer, whose credits include the Average White Band, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and hundreds of studio projects.

Stephen Ferrone  (Photo by Jules Follett)

Stephen Ferrone (Photo by Jules Follett)

The evening’s audience was treated to a widely varying repertoire that included songs from all of Ferrone’s previous groups, as well as tunes by guest artists. These included “You Need a Man” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” led by surprise guest Jimmy Messina. The evening closed with a spirited rendition of “Man in The Mirror,” in tribute to Michael Jackson. Throughout the entire set Stephen Ferrone provided his legendary combination of groove, drive, and taste.

Gretsch Guitars Launches The Eddie Cochran Tribute Model

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute Guitar (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

Gretsch Guitars is famous for maintaining the highest standards of contemporary quality while still honoring the musical contributions made by great artists of the past. In keeping with that tradition, Gretsch Guitars debuted the Eddie Cochran Tribute model at this year’s NAMM show.

Eddie Cochran was a pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll. Starting out in country music in the early 1950s, he quickly gravitated toward the music being popularized by Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. In short order he became a contemporary of those stars, appearing in concerts and films throughout the mid to late ’50s. But besides being a talented vocalist, Cochran’s skill as a guitarist set him apart, and it earned him a place as one of Gretsch’s first rock ‘n’ roll endorsing artists.

Cochran was also a talented songwriter, and his teen-angst classic “Summertime Blues” has been covered by hundreds of artists including The Who and Blue Cheer. Tragically, his career was cut short by an auto accident in London on April 17, 1960. Eddie was only twenty-one.

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display

Eddie Cochran Tribute Display (Photo by Rick Van Horn)

The NAMM launch of the Gretsch Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar was accompanied by an extensive historic display featuring photos, records, and other memorabilia from Eddie’s meteoric career. Additionally, Fred Gretsch was on hand to underscore the personal connection between Gretsch Guitars and Eddie Cochran’s legacy.

2010 Gretsch Showcase

The Eddie Cochran Tribute guitar launch was celebrated with a pre-NAMM performance at the Gretsch Guitars booth on Wednesday, January 13. Bobby Cochran—Eddie’s nephew and a fine guitarist in his own right—was backed by Gretsch artist Paul Pigat and his band Uncle Harley on a rendition of Eddie’s classic “Summertime Blues” that delighted the specially invited audience. Meanwhile, models strutted at the foot of the stage displaying Gretsch’s iconic new G6120 guitars.

Paul Pigat

Paul Pigat

Wednesday’s performance kicked off the 2010 Gretsch Showcase. Throughout the NAMM show weekend a roster of stellar Gretsch artists entertained showgoers while demonstrating the unique sound and features of Gretsch guitars. Besides Paul Pigat & Cousin Harley, the lineup featured rockabilly artists including Brophy Dale, Mad Max & the Wild Ones, the Hot Rod Trio, and Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln. In addition, Lynda Kay brought her Americana roots style country music to the Gretsch booth, while rock guitar legend Steve Hunter & The Hurricanes proved that you can play blues on a Gretsch guitar.

Civet

Civet

On Friday the 15th the self-described “femme fatale punk rock” quartet Civet strutted their stuff. Friday’s Showcase was also notable for an appearance by Dhani Harrison playing a G6129T-1957 Silver Jet onstage during a performance by thenewno2’s. Dhani is the talented son of legendary Beatle and solo artist George Harrison, who helped Gretsch sell a ton of Duo Jet, Tennesseean, and Country Gentleman guitars.

Tim Armstrong

Tim Armstrong

Punk-rock mainstays Rancid rocked the booth on Saturday the 16th in front of a crowd that was so big it drew the attention of the fire marshal. Rancid’s performance also served to showcase the debut of guitarist/lead singer Tim Armstrong’s new Signature G5191BK Electromatic hollow-body guitar. It’s designed after the 1971 Country Club model that Armstrong has favored for decades. When asked what he particularly loved about his new Signature model, Armstrong replied, “The simplest way for me to explain it is that the sound is full-bodied and thick. I hear the chords as if I’m playing a piano.”

Special Appearances

In addition to the musical performances that highlighted the 2010 Gretsch Showcase, the Gretsch booth featured appearances by several notable individuals. Perhaps the most eye-catching of these was Great Gretsch Girl Kim Falcon, who was on hand to greet visitors and sign autographs throughout the NAMM weekend.

On Saturday the Gretsch booth was graced by a visit from twangy-guitar pioneer and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Duane Eddy. Duane and his wife Deed were hosted at the booth by Fred Gretsch himself, who enjoyed the opportunity to hang out with this musical icon.

For more information and detailed coverage, go to the “News” section of www.gretschguitars.com.

Gretsch’s 127th Year Promises Great Things

Monday, January 4th, 2010

As the Gretsch Company plans its 127th year in business, one event already on the calendar is the 20th Annual Chicago Drum Show. America’s premier vintage and custom drum event, the Chicago Drum Show will be held May 15 and 16, 2010 at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 South Randall Rd, St. Charles, Illinois.

Fred & Dinah Gretsch

Fred & Dinah Gretsch

Fred Gretsch is the perfect candidate to make a historical presentation at the Chicago Show, since as the fourth generation of Gretsch drum makers he personally embodies a major part of American drum-making history. He also holds the enviable position of being the only man in America still actively involved with the drums that have born his family name for 127 years.

Friedrich Gretsch

Friedrich Gretsch

The Gretsch family dynasty began in 1883, when a young German immigrant named Friedrich Gretsch founded a little shop in Brooklyn, New York. From that day to this, the Gretsch family has focused on making drums that offer unrivaled sound and uncompromising construction quality.

Friederich Gretsch passed away suddenly while on a trip to his homeland, leaving the company to his fifteen-year-old son, Fred Gretsch—who was still in knickers at the time. Energetic as he was enterprising, Fred Gretsch Sr. built the business on a reputation for precision and quality. Two decades after assuming direction of the company, he moved the operation to a ten-story building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn in order to respond to the growing demand for more specialized instruments.

Fred Gretsch, Sr.

Fred Gretsch, Sr.

Fred Gretsch Sr. retired in 1942. His eldest son, Fred Jr., managed the operations briefly before leaving for wartime service as a commander in the Navy. Fred Sr.’s younger son Bill stayed to run the family business. Long-time Gretsch employee Duke Kramer said of Bill Gretsch that “He had a subtle talent for inspiring people to do their best, and his sense of humor was irresistible. When he passed away in 1948, a legion of individuals felt they lost their best friend.”

One of those individuals was Bill’s son, Fred W. Gretsch. Young Fred had worked summers in the factory under the tutelage of his grandfather, Fred Gretsch Sr., and he grew up with a deeply ingrained understanding and appreciation of what the Gretsch family legacy represented.
Fred Gretsch, Jr.

Fred Gretsch, Jr.

 

Fred Gretsch Jr. returned from the Navy to lead the company into a new age of prosperity. The popularity of Gretsch drums grew with the explosion of rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll in the 1950s and ’60s, attracting famous endorsees including Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts.

Bill Gretsch

Bill Gretsch

In 1967 the Gretsch Company was sold to Baldwin, a music industry giant. But without the family dedication that had driven the business for so many years, the company began to falter. As a testament to his passion for the family business, Fred W. Gretsch, vowed to one day regain control.

In 1985, Fred made good on his promise. He bought The Gretsch Company back from Baldwin and moved its operations to Savannah, Georgia. There the revitalized company began to offer new custom-crafted Gretsch drums. The new products were immediately successful, and The Gretsch Company once again became a leading force in the musical instrument industry

Blending an emphasis on hand-craftsmanship with constant innovation, Gretsch has pioneered new drum designs and manufacturing techniques for well over a century. These include the first ply drumshells and the use of die-cast hoops. Today, Gretsch drums are the preferred instruments of drummers looking for unique tonal quality and hand-made craftsmanship. So it’s not surprising that the Gretsch artist roster boasts some of drumming’s most respected artists, including Vinnie Colaiuta, Charlie Watts, Mark Schulman, and Phil Collins. Talented up-and-comers like Hannah Ford, who’ll be appearing at the Chicago Show as a featured clinician, also recognize and endorse the unique qualities of Gretsch drums.

Fred W. Gretsch’s presentation at the Chicago Drum Show will be a celebration of four generations of family and musical history, as well as a look forward to the next 125 years of “That Great Gretsch Sound!” Don’t miss it!