Archive for the ‘Gretsch.com’ Category

Greg Gretsch Appears On CNN News

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Contributes Expert Commentary Regarding Facebook IPO

Greg Gretsch on CNN

Greg Gretsch—son of Gretsch Company president Fred W. Gretsch and managing director of investment firm Sigma Partners—was featured on CNN News this past Tuesday, May 15. Greg’s expertise was sought regarding the status of social network giant Facebook versus its competitors. The topic is a hot one because of Facebook’s initial public offering this week—the biggest ever for an Internet company.

“Facebook, from the very beginning, has focused like a laser on the quality of their product…the quality of the user experience,” said Greg. According to CNN’s report, this was something that wasn’t done by rival sites like Myspace and Friendster.

Still, no company, no matter how seemingly large and invulnerable, is immune to the possibility of threats from an unexpected source.  “What [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg worries about is not the Googles of the world,” said Greg Gretsch. “What he worries about is the upstart…the three guys in a garage who figure out the new social network.” The full CNN news item can be seen HERE.  Look out for more of Greg on CNN in the coming days.

As a former founder and executive of four start-up technology companies, Greg Gretsch uses his expertise to assist entrepreneurs in building strong businesses. Greg has been in the high-technology industry for more than twenty years. He joined Sigma Partners in 2000, and brings to the firm expertise in new venture creation and marketing. More information on Greg is available at sigmapartners.com/gretsch.php.

Introducing the New Gretsch Roots Collection

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

From the Gretsch Guitars website:


Gretsch is very proud to take players on a musical journey through nearly a century of great Gretsch history by introducing its Roots Collection of acoustic instruments. This exciting new family of banjos, mandolins, resonator guitars and ukuleles feature classically authentic Gretsch designs that transport players to a bygone era well before rock ‘n’ roll blasted off in the 1950s.

The Collection:

Banjos -
The Gretsch Roots Collection’s five new banjo models feature solid modern craftsmanship and sparkling good-time sound and feel while authentically evoking the company’s innovative banjo models of the early 20th century. From the 5-string mahogany-neck Broadkaster® Deluxe and Broadkaster Special resonator models and Dixie open-back model to the diminutively striking Clarophone™ Banjo-Ukulele and the guitarist-friendly Dixie 6 Guitar-Banjo, all provide a splendid Southern surfeit of outstanding sound, performance and value for established artist, seasoned player and eager student alike.

Resonators -
Three remarkable Gretsch Ampli-Sonic™ resonator guitars add powerfully distinctive tone to the Roots Collection. The mahogany-body Boxcar™ Standard and Bobtail™ Deluxe each come in round-neck and square-neck models, and the round-neck Honey Dipper™ has a nickel-plated brass body. The heart of each richly resounding guitar is the new Gretsch Ampli-Sonic resonator cone, hand-spun in Eastern Europe from nearly 99-percent pure aluminum for fantastic volume and sonic projection.

Ukuleles -
At the request of Gretsch fans worldwide, the Roots Collection also presents half a dozen new Gretsch ukulele models. The uke is experiencing one if its phenomenal resurgences in popularity, once again bringing the lilting sounds of the South Sea islands to delighted ears everywhere, Gretsch’s three deluxe ukuleles—the Concert Deluxe, Tenor Deluxe and Tenor Cutaway Electric models—boast premium construction features such as quartersawn solid mahogany top, back and sides; one-piece mahogany necks and handsome semi-gloss finishes. The three standard ukes—the Soprano Standard, Concert Standard and Tenor Standard models—deliver laminated mahogany build and other fine features. All six new Gretsch ukuleles deliver great looks, smooth feel and wonderfully singing tone.

Mandolins -
The Roots Collection also heralds the return of the revered Gretsch New Yorker™ mandolin. Styled after the brightly ringing 1950s classic, a trio of modern—day models-the New Yorker Standard, New Yorker Deluxe and New Yorker Supreme—offer premium features with authentic vintage touches, full-bodied tone, smooth-playing performance and eye-catching design beauty.

For all the details including demo videos, visit the Gretsch Guitars website HERE.

The Stones’ First Roll Through Georgia

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Charlie Watts backstage at the Georgia Southern show.

By Fred Gretsch

I’ve been a fan and follower of Charlie Watts and the Rolling Stones for many years. After all, Charlie is one of the longest-running Gretsch drum artists—a fact of which I’m very proud. But though I thought I knew a good deal about the band’s history, I recently discovered a bit of that history that I wasn’t familiar with . . . and which connects the Stones with the Gretsch family’s current home state of Georgia.

In 1965 the Rolling Stones were at the vanguard of the British Invasion. They were contemporaries of the Beatles, but they took a very different approach than the Fab Four. Instead of creating happy pop melodies, the Stones’ music was more heavily influenced by the raw, earthy sound of American blues. The band also looked different, with longer hair, a street-oriented wardrobe, and a generally grittier overall attitude.

After two successful European tours, the Stones headed for North America in April of 1965. They started out in Canada, then worked their way through the US Northeast . . . a routing that took them into New York City and their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 2.

The Rolling Stones play their first-ever college show on May 4, 1965 at Georgia Southern College in Statesboro.

Following their TV appearance the band headed south. And that’s where the Georgia connection comes in. On May 4, 1965 the Rolling Stones played their first college show—and their first southern-US performance—in Hanner Gymnasium at what was then Georgia Southern College in Statesboro. The show was sponsored by the school’s Sigma Epsilon Chi fraternity, and tickets cost $2.50.

Charlie Watts and bandmates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Bill Wyman headlined a show that featured a popular local band called The Bushmen as an opening act. The Stones played ten songs to a subdued audience that, frankly, was largely unfamiliar with their music. Although the Stones had appeared on American TV twice, they had yet to break into the US recording scene with the sort of mega-hits that the Beatles had enjoyed.

A ticket for the show cost $2.50.

According to an item that appears as number 38 in Georgia Southern University’s 100 Things You Should Know About GSU, “The Rolling Stones performed their first United States college act at the college on May 4, 1965. Some concert attendees reported a successful show, but the George-Anne reviewer praised the opening act for saving the concert. The review suggested that the Rolling Stones would be easily forgotten.”

As we all know, The Rolling Stones were not forgotten. They went to Florida on the day after the Georgia performance, and while they were there they wrote a little ditty called “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”  Some Stones historians say that the song title was connected to a blues tune that was a favorite of Keith’s. But other Stonesophiles speculate that it might have been a response to the lukewarm reception that the band received at their Statesboro show.

After finishing the southern leg of their tour in Jacksonville, Florida on May 8, the Stones moved to Chicago. While there they worked on “Satisfaction” at the Chess recording studios.  Two days later they were in Los Angeles, where they recorded the song at RCA studios.  It was in this session, the story goes, that Keith Richards rigged a version of a “fuzz box” to his guitar, giving the song’s opening riff its signature sound and sending  “Satisfaction”—and the Rolling Stones—straight up the charts.

A pensive Mick Jagger in Florida the day after the show in Statesboro…and one day before co-writing “Satisfaction.”

Spotlight: Gretsch Rancher Acoustic Guitars

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

From the Gretsch Guitars website:

A great Gretsch name is back with the return of Rancher acoustic guitars. The richly resonant Rancher first appeared in the early 1950s with its highly distinctive triangular sound hole and sweepingly elegant pickguard, and Gretsch is now very proud to re-introduce the model. With a great new selection of body sizes, styles and features that combine the best of the guitar’s acclaimed past with the best in modern sound, strength, style and playability, Gretsch now gives you the best of all Ranchers.

The biggest and fullest-sounding Rancher is the G5022CE Rancher Jumbo Cutaway Electric, which produces great volume and broadly expansive tone complemented by its elegant Venetian cutaway for easy access to the fingerboard’s upper reaches and onboard electronics that let it be heard even more loudly and clearly. Premium features include a solid spruce top with scalloped X bracing and the traditional Gretsch Rancher triangular sound hole, flame maple back and sides, mahogany neck, 21-fret rosewood fingerboard with Neo-Classic™ thumbnail inlays, 1940s-style pickguard with Gretsch logo, compensated bridge with rosewood base, gold-plated hardware, deluxe die-cast tuners and a classic gloss Savannah Sunset finish. Onboard Fishman® electronics include a Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Isys+ preamp system with onboard tuner, battery life indicator and controls for volume, treble, bass and phase.

Pictured below:  G5022CE Rancher Jumbo Cutaway Electric.

Specs HERE.

G5022CE Rancher Jumbo Cutaway Electric

Enter HERE for your chance to win this guitar.  Enter until June 6, 2012.

For information on other Rancher models and other Gretsch acoustics, visit the Gretsch Guitars website.

Spotlight: Gretsch Brooklyn Series Drums

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

From the GretschDrums.com website:

Gretsch drums were born in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. They were proudly crafted in the vibrant city for the better part of the 20th Century. Brooklyn and Gretsch share an inseparable history that is part of American music history and folklore. It is a shared legacy that cannot be duplicated. Today, Brooklyn represents a renaissance community that vibrates with contemporary artistic expression, youthful innovation and passionate musical commitment. Gretsch Brooklyn series celebrates the rejuvenated Brooklyn city passion and spirit and expands on its distinctive shared American experience.

Proudly hand crafted in Ridgeland, South Carolina, USA, by a team of veteran drum builders, Gretsch Brooklyn has a sound that is at once recognizable and essential, yet distinctively reinvented. The Gretsch drum design team molded the Brooklyn series by combining classic Gretsch elements while infusing it with new attributes. They expanded upon traditional drum designs to shape a sound that retains fundamental Gretsch characteristics while projecting a fresh voice.

Click HERE for videos featuring Gretsch drum artist Keith Carlock.

Smoke Grey Oyster Finish

Royal Red Oyster Finish

Royal Blue Oyster Finish

Click HERE for more color options.

Click HERE for specs.

Visit the Gretsch Drums website for all the details and to purchase your kit today!  Enjoy and happy drumming!

On The Passing Of Levon Helm

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Along with music fans around the world, I mourn the April 19 passing of the great drummer and singer Levon Helm. His was a special talent: the ability to bring unequivocal honesty to every note that he sang and every beat that he played. That talent was a major ingredient in the success of The Band, the stellar roots-rock group whose repertoire included the Levon-sung classics “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up On Cripple Creek.”

Later in his life Levon delved even deeper into the historic roots of American music. He won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his 2007 studio album, Dirt Farmer, and his 2010 album Electric Dirt won the first-ever Grammy for Best Americana Album. He followed his win in 2011 by taking home the same award for his live album, Ramble at the Ryman.

Levon had an affinity for Gretsch drums throughout his career, and I’m proud to say that he became an official Gretsch artist a few years ago. Whether behind those drums or behind a microphone, Levon Helm was immediately identifiable and totally unmistakable. I’m saddened by his passing, but I celebrate his life and his unique contributions to American music.

Fred W. Gretsch

Levon Helm

Dinah & Fred Visit With The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Enjoying A New Venture For Drum Great Charlie Watts

Virtually every serious music fan knows that great Gretsch drummer Charlie Watts has been the rhythmic foundation of the Rolling Stones for almost fifty years. But those fans may not know that while Charlie’s drumming anchors “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll Band,” his talents shine in other musical genres. In past years he’s led his own jazz groups, including a critically acclaimed big band. And this year he’s joined forces with German pianist Axel Zwingenberger to tour in a unique group dubbed The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.

Alex Zwingenberger is the key figure of the boogie woogie revival. Labeled by British critics as “Boogiemeister of the world,” he’s the “A” in the group’s name. Charlie Watts is the “C.” The “B” is British pianist Ben Waters, while the “D” is bassist Dave Green. Together the band toured Europe during the month of March. They played several dates in Germany and in Austria, along with a memorable show at London’s Pizza Express Soho.

Boogie woogie music has been fascinating audiences with its youthful freshness for more than 100 years, making it uniquely appealing to new generations of enthusiastic musicians. But there’s more to it than that: Boogie woogie is one of the most important roots of modern popular music—especially rock ‘n’ roll. Charlie Watts himself has mentioned boogie woogie as a foundation of the Rolling Stones’ music. Dinah and I had the great pleasure of visiting with Charlie and the band prior to one of their late March performances in Vienna Austria. We chatted with Charlie about the 125th Anniversary Gretsch poster, and we had a good time looking at old Gretsch photos and catalogs dating back to 1912. Charlie then mentioned that he planned to call noted vintage drum dealer Steve Maxwell to arrange for a loaner Gretsch kit for the ABC&D Of Boogie Woogie’s New York City dates this coming June.

Drum enthusiasts may be interested to know that over and above all of his remarkable playing credits, Charlie is an avid drum collector. Among the interesting drums he owns are a Gretsch Birdland kit, an original Mel Lewis kit in burgundy sparkle, and a black kit similar to the early setup used by Tony Williams.

We showed the members of the band the roster for the Savannah Music Festival, which ran from March 20 to 27. Gretsch provides drums for the three-week program that showcases 100 world-class musical acts. The guys knew many of the performers either from personal experience or by reputation. Unfortunately, Charlie can’t book a year ahead for a gig like that due to the priority held by the Stones 50th Anniversary year—which will certainly include many special performances.

When The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie played in London, Times critic Clive Davis raved, “Jazz lover Charlie Watts looked more than happy to be sandwiched between the pianos of his old friend (and German boogiemeister) Axel Zwingenberger and our own Ben Waters. Watts has rightly won praise for his previous forays into bebop, but the visceral roar of a boogie-woogie riff is even more intoxicating.”

When we saw the band play at the Weiner Metropole in Vienna, the club was literally packed with boogie woogie fans. Piano players Alex and Ben performed on black Bösendorfer grands, whose size frankly overwhelmed the drumkit and the stand-up bass. Bösendorfer pianos have been hand-crafted in Vienna for over 250 years. Dave Green on stand up bass rounds out the quartet.

Vienna offers many other examples of musical history. The city is packed with concert venues and museums. The New Burg Museum currently features an exhibition of historic musical instruments—including drums that are hundreds of years old, as well as guitars made by noted 19th-century Viennese craftsman Johann Stauffer. In the early 1800s Stauffer had a young German apprentice by the name of Christian Friederich Martin. In 1833 Martin emigrated to America. He made guitars for six years in New York City before finally settling in Nazareth, Pennsylvania—where he established what we know today as the CF Martin guitar company.

In addition to playing on the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie’s live tour, Charlie Watts has also recorded with Alex Zwingenberger and Dave Green on a terrific album titled The Magic of Boogie Woogie. It features a mix of spontaneously created numbers and boogie classics, and the three talented musicians express the swinging magic of blues and boogie woogie in full glory. It’s also the first time that Charlie Watts’ drum artistry is featured in such an intimate setting. More information about the album—as well as some great musical clips—is available here.

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie will be in New York and performing at the Lincoln Center and the Iridium Jazz Club from June 28 through July 2.  Check their tour schedule here.

Gretsch Family Connection to Titanic Passengers

Monday, April 16th, 2012

RMS Titanic

A family note from Fred W. Gretsch . . .

The Titanic has been back in the news lately, owing to the 100th anniversary of its ill-fated voyage on April 15. The stories arising from the tragic sinking of the legendary liner have captured the imagination of millions of people. Interestingly, the Gretsch Family has a direct connection to at least one of those stories.

My younger sister, Gretchen Gertrude Gretsch, is the namesake of that connection. She’s also our “family historian,” and she relates this particular story as follows:

As many fans of the Titanic story (or even just of the James Cameron blockbuster movie), one of the wealthy first-class passengers aboard the Titanic was John Jacob Astor IV, whom the New York Times referred to after his death as the man who “had put up and owned more hotels and skyscrapers than any other New Yorker.” Astor was traveling with his much younger wife, who, although they had only recently been married, was pregnant at the time of the voyage.

John Jacob Astor IV went down with the Titanic. His pregnant wife boarded a lifeboat and was rescued. When the child she carried was born, he was named John Jacob Astor V. And, twenty-nine years later, he would become the husband of Gertrude Gretsch, the cousin of my father William “Bill” Gretsch.

Gertrude Gretsch Astor was born in 1923 to Walter and Gertrude Gretsch—both of whom were in their early 40s. Gertrude’s father Walter and his older brother, Fred Gretsch Sr.(my grandfather), ran their late father’s musical instrument company for almost twenty years together after the business was incorporated around 1903. Fred Gretsch Sr. was the president of the Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company. As the younger brother, Walter had a less noble title and a smaller role in the business. So in 1923 he started his own business—Gretsch & Brenner—in partnership with a man who had once worked for the Gretsch Company.

Gertrude married John Jacob Astor V in 1943. Her father Walter had died the previous a year, so she asked her uncle Fred Gretsch Sr.—whom she barely knew—to walk her down the aisle. The family story goes that Gertrude was actually a lot closer to her uncle Louie Gretsch. Gertrude had spent a lot of time with Louie’s daughter Marion as a child, and Gertrude wanted to ask her Uncle Louie to walk her down the aisle. But Gertrude’s mother thought it would look better in the newspapers to have Fred Gretsch Sr. (who was then president of the Lincoln Savings Bank as well as of the Fred. Gretsch Manufacturing Co.) walk her daughter down the aisle. Gertrude’s mother insisted, Gertrude reluctantly agreed, and Fred Gretsch Sr. walked the soon-to-be Mrs. John Jacob Astor V down the aisle.

More information about the Gretsch family, particularly the ladies of Gretsch, can be found here.