Archive for the ‘Gretsch News’ Category

Dick Gretsch Tribute/Retrospective

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Fred and Dinah Gretsch are saddened to announce the passing of Richard “Dick” Gretsch Sr. “Uncle Dick,” as he was known to the family, passed away on Saturday, May 22—less than a month shy of his 102nd birthday. A unique and colorful individual, Dick Gretsch led a fascinating life full of noteworthy milestones.

Dick Gretsch with Proclamation from Governor Ralle.

Dick lived independently in his own Danbury, Connecticut apartment until the very last months of his life. The walls were covered with framed photos, newspaper articles, and certificates documenting Dick’s personal and professional accomplishments. This memorabilia included a Developer of The Year award from the state of Connecticut, a letter of congratulations on the occasion of his ninety-ninth birthday from president George W. Bush, and a proclamation from Connecticut governor Jody Ralle officially designating June 14, 2008 as Richard Gretsch Sr. Day.

One room in the apartment served as Dick’s office. In it, his desk was often piled high with correspondence, stock market reports, and the latest copy of The Wall Street Journal. A printer would frequently spit out emails from friends and business associates.

Dick in his office at the Housatonic Industrial Development Corp.

Even past the age of one hundred, Dick regularly worked as chairman of the board of directors of the Housatonic Industrial Development Corporation. He was also a fixture on the Danbury social scene. He was an avid golfer and a lifelong member of the Ridgewood Country Club. As an expression of their esteem for Dick, the club commemorated his hundredth birthday in 2008 by installing “The Dick Gretsch Birthday Birdhouse” just outside the window adjacent to his favorite dining table.

Dick Gretsch Birthday Birdhouse at the Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury.



A Life Well Lived

As the son of Fred Gretsch Sr. and the brother of Fred Gretsch Jr. and Bill Gretsch, Dick Gretsch was a member of the family that has made Gretsch instruments for more than 125 years. He grew up in the family home in Forest Hills, New York, and as a young boy he worked in the Gretsch factory at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn. “I filled orders on Saturdays for twenty-five cents an hour,” Dick recalled in a 2008 interview with author Rick Van Horn. “Gretsch was manufacturing drums and guitars in those days. And what we didn’t manufacture we imported for wholesale distribution. One of my jobs was to pack phonograph needles—which we’d buy by the barrel—into little boxes for retail sale. I made a dollar and a quarter each Saturday.”

When Dick was ready to enter college, he attended the University of Michigan, where he studied engineering. When he returned to New York following his graduation, Dick didn’t go into the family business. “I had a father and two brothers who were already in that business,” he said in 2008. “There didn’t appear to be much room for me. So I started working for various utility companies, and my career went in that direction.”

Dick’s career began with a job at the Brooklyn Edison company. At the same time, he earned a law degree, studying at St. Johns University at night. Later, a job with the Kleigl Company took Dick to Hollywood, where he got involved with lighting for motion pictures.

When it came time for Dick to return to New York from California, he made a fortuitous discovery. “I found out that it was cheaper to come back to New York by boat going west across the ocean than it was to come back by train going east across the country. So I took a trip around the world. I think it cost me about $135!”

 When America entered World War II, Dick joined the army. His experience with movie lighting landed him a job supervising the setup of lighting systems for The Army War Show, a production that traveled the country to give the folks at home an idea of what their war bonds were being used for.

One day, while at the Pentagon, Lt. Dick Gretsch met Lt. Barbara Jean Ininger. The two were married in 1943, and they had eight children. Jean later enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. She graduated in 1973 and went into private practice. She passed away in 1980. 

When Dick and Jean left the military, they settled in Connecticut, and Dick went back into the utilities field. He held senior posts at several companies, and he also became active in the general business community, including the Danbury Industrial Corporation. He joined the DIC in 1949 and became chairman of the board in 1964, helping to bring industry into Connecticut. Later, he helped found the non-profit Housatonic Industrial Development. Dick was proud of the letters of appreciation he received from many successful businesspeople in Connecticut that he helped to get started.

Dick was also proud of his connection to the Gretsch family. The current president of the Gretsch Company, Fred W. Gretsch, is Dick’s nephew. Dick was very close to Fred, his wife Dinah, and their children. And even though he was generally not personally involved with the Gretsch musical instrument business, there was one occasion when he definitely was involved. The story comes from author and drum industry historian John Sheridan.

“Though I never met Dick Gretsch,” says John, “I remember a story that Frank Banko of Banko’s Music in Ansonia, Connecticut told me some twenty years ago. When Frank started his business in 1953, he had called in an order to the Gretsch Company. However, on his first day of business he had no power in his store—despite the fact that the utility company had said he would. When he called Gretsch to postpone the order, company president Fred Gretsch Jr. told Frank to call the utility company back and ask for Dick Gretsch. Frank did, and within an hour a man from the utility company showed up, the lights came on, and Banko’s Music was open for business. Frank was amazed at what one phone call to the right man could do!”

Fred and Dinah Gretsch with Uncle Dick.

Fred W. Gretsch describes his uncle as “the best Gretsch fan ever. A few years ago my wife Dinah and I traveled around the world with Uncle Dick. We visited more than fourteen countries together, and Uncle Dick was always on the lookout for a Gretsch drum or guitar along the way. He also had a life-long interest in music and musical instruments. He was keenly fascinated by the Beatles Rock Band video game, which features a simulated Gretsch Duo Jet guitar as a controller. And he loved all the publicity about the game that he observed, including a TV spot featuring George Harrison, as well as news coverage in The New York Times and Men’s Health magazine.”

Continuing his recollection of Dick Gretsch, Fred adds, “Although his health eventually failed him, his fun-loving nature never did. Dinah and I treasure a hand-written card he sent us just two years ago that contained lots of his trademark humor. He was and will remain the icon of the Gretsch family.”

Fred Gretsch Brings History to Chicago Drum Show

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Fred W. Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company, recently appeared at the 20th annual Chicago Drum Show. America’s premier vintage and custom drum event, the show was held this past May 15 and 16 at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Illinois. A tremendous turnout of avid drum buffs made this anniversary edition of the Chicago Show particularly noteworthy.

Fred Gretsch Giving His Master Class Presentation.

Fred Gretsch was the perfect candidate to offer historical presentations 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. Fred gave a presentation on Saturday, May 15 that went out live on the DrummerCafe web site. He also conducted a master class on Sunday, May 16. Joining Fred for his presentations was John Palmer, Gretsch Drum Manager for KMC Music, which distributes Gretsch drums world-wide.

Gretsch Drum Artist Hannah Ford Speaking During Her Clinic.

Also appearing for Gretsch was talented young artist-endorser Hannah Ford. A native of the Chicago area, Hannah has made a name for herself as both a performing artist and an exciting clinician. Hannah wowed those in attendance with her combination of fiery rock chops and solid grooves.

The Chicago Drum Show also featured a display of Gretsch drums. These included three beautiful USA Custom Special Edition kits and several Special Edition snare drums, each hand-crafted in the Gretsch factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina.

A Beautiful Gretsch USA Custom Special Edition Kit On Display.

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. 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 Fred W. Gretsch’s presentations at the Chicago Drum Show proved fascinating and informative to all in attendance. Fred celebrated four generations of family and musical history, as well as offering a look forward to the next 125 years of “That Great Gretsch Sound!”

Hannah Ford with Fred Gretsch and Fred’s sister, Gretchen Elsner-Sommer.

Gretsch Springs A Birthday Surprise

Friday, May 21st, 2010

A surprise birthday party is always nice. But when the surprise comes from your colleagues at work–and the person whose name is on the drums you make–it’s even more special.

Harry Dailey received such a surprise recently on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, when he was presented with a cake by Fred Gretsch and the production team at the Gretsch USA factory in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Harry and his co-workers are continuing the long history of hand-crafted quality represented by Gretsch USA Custom drums.

Fred Gretsch Presents Harry Dailey with a Cake

Harry Dailey has been helping to create Gretsch drums for over twenty years, having started at the Ridgeland factory in March of 1990. He began as a buffer, and he’s worked in several different production areas since. Today, Harry handles the critical drilling operation, as well as working in the final assembly area where finished drums are ultimately created. 

Harry’s experience at the Gretsch USA factory has allowed him to interact with many great Gretsch drum artists. Says Fred Gretsch, “Over the years, Harry has met with Vinnie Colaiuta, Stephen Ferrone, Bill Stewart, Harvey Mason, Cindy Blackman, and many others from our great roster of drum stars. Those drummers have always enjoyed their conversations with Harry. He’s a soft-spoken guy, but he knows his drums. We’re proud to have a craftsman like Harry on the Gretsch production team.”

The Gretsch Company has been manufacturing the world’s greatest drums since 1883. For more information on Gretsch drums and company history, go to

Gretsch Foundation Supports Sav’h Banjo Workshop

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The third Banjo Assembly Workshop presented by the Savannah Folk Music Society (SFMS) was held on Saturday, May 1. The event took place on the grounds of the Ships of the Sea Museum (SOSM) in Savannah, Georgia and drew many avid enthusiasts.  The workshop focused on the construction of real, playable banjos by amateur banjo enthusiasts.

Members of the Third Banjo Workshop

Hank Weisman of SFMS and Tony Pizzo of SOSM were the workshop teachers. Twenty-three participants were thrilled to create instruments for themselves using banjo parts donated by the Gretsch Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Gretsch family. Fred and Dinah Gretsch—owners of the Pooler, Georgia-based Gretsch Company—are long-time supporters of the Savannah Folk Music Society.

Workshop Participants Busy at Work

Based on the excitement of those who participated, as well as the availability of additional parts in Gretsch’s Ridgeland, South Carolina warehouse, plans are under way for additional workshops in 2011 and 2012.

The Gretsch Company and the Gretsch Foundation are pleased to be  a part of this unique workshop for the benefit of Savannah area  musical enthusiasts.

For more information on the Savannah Folk Music Society visit . For more  information on the Gretsch Foundation and the Gretsch Company, visit

Colin Schofield Joins Gretsch Team

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Colin Schofield has been named to the position of  Business Development Manager for The Gretsch Company. In this newly created role, Schofield will be assisting company president Fred Gretsch in the development and execution of strategies to further build and strengthen the Gretsch brand worldwide. To this end Schofield will be working out of Gretsch company headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.

Dinah Gretsch, C.F.O. (seated); Lena Gretsch-Thomas, Inventory Control Manager; Fred W. Gretsch, President; Colin Schofield, Business Development Manager (standing L-R).

Schofield has extensive experience in the music products industry, in US and international markets alike. He spent nearly twenty years with the Avedis Zildjian Company, eventually serving as vice president of marketing worldwide. Responsible for global brand management and for the development of worldwide marketing strategies, Schofield was the driving force behind numerous innovative marketing programs as well as new product introductions including the A Custom and K Constantinople cymbal ranges. More recently he held sales and marketing management positions with Premier Percussion and Aquarian Drumheads.

Says Fred Gretsch, “We’re excited to have Colin joining our team. We look forward to the significant contributions he will make to the continued growth and success of the Gretsch brand.”

Three Great Gretsch-Sponsored Events in May

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Gretsch Guitars and Drums will be on display and in the hands of many great musicians at three noteworthy events happening next month.  Don’t miss your chance, not only to see some great Gretsch instruments in action, but to meet Fred Gretsch himself in Chicago and Louisville!

The Revival Festival – May 7 and 8

The 3rd annual Revival Festival is happening May 7 and 8 at the Nutty Brown Amphitheatre in Austin, TX.  You’ll not want to miss this annual music festival that celebrates the genres of Rockabilly, Country, Blues, Honky Tonk, Punk, and Americana.

Sounds like the perfect place for multiple Gretsch guitar sightings.  Sure to be some swag there as well.

The Chicago Drum Show – May 15 and 16

America’s premier vintage and custom drum event, The Chicago Drum Show, will be held May 15 and 16 at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St Charles, Illinois.

Fred Gretsch

Fred Gretsch, president of the Gretsch Company and fourth-generation drum maker, will be on hand to offer a presentation on Gretsch history.  As the only man in America still actively involved with the drums that have born his family name for 127 years, he’s the perfect candidate to make a historical presentation.  You won’t want to miss it!

Abbey Road on the River – May 27 through 31

The world’s largest Beatles-inspired music festival is happening May 27 through 31 in Louisville, KY.  They have an amazing lineup of musical talent scheduled to perform at several different venues.  Be sure to check out their website for all the important details.  And if you can’t make it to Louisville, the festival happens again in DC in September.

At a festival with a Beatles theme, you’re bound to see several Gretsch guitars in full swing.  Fred Gretsch will also be there on Saturday and Sunday, May 29 and 30!

The World and Gretsch Came Together in Frankfurt

Monday, April 19th, 2010

In addition to the outstanding combo display of Gretsch Guitars and Drums, Bigsby was in Frankfurt in a big way this year.

The old saying goes that “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Apparently, that goes for guitar vibratos too.

Bigsby Vibratos Were Seen on a Host of Different Manufacturer's Guitars

When the musical instrument world came together at the 2010 Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany this past March, Bigsby vibratos were displayed on no fewer than 108 guitar models from twenty-seven different manufacturers. These included major names like Gretsch, Gibson, Schecter, and Hofner, as well as specialty lines like TV Jones, Collings, and LTD. A special highlight was the exhibit of Germany’s Warwick guitars, which featured what may be the largest graphic image of a Bigsby vibrato ever put on display.

This record showing at the Frankfurt Messe reflects the respect and regard that guitarists and guitar makers have felt for Bigsby vibratos ever since Paul A. Bigsby designed his now-legendary tailpieces in the mid-1940s. They were the “better mousetrap” that revolutionized guitar sounds, and the world has been beating a path to Bigsby ever since. Today, that path leads to ten different vibrato models designed to fit virtually any size or style of electric guitar.

Biggest Bigsby Vibrato Display Seen to Date

Get on the path yourself, and hear for yourself what the guitar world regards as the finest vibrato available. Visit your Bigsby dealer, or go to

And don’t forget to check out the lastest in Gretsch Guitar products at and Gretsch Drum products at

That Great Gretsch Sound Summer Tour

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Mark your calendar now! Don’t miss these great events scheduled throughout the US now through the end of summer.  See some gorgeous Gretsch Guitars and Drums on display and hear That Great Gretsch Sound live and in person.

Check back often as more dates are sure to be added.

Gretsch Guitars

April 9 - 11, 2010
Lonestar Rod & Kustom Round Up
An annual festival of like-minded gearheads, artists, and musicians who love traditionally-styled Hot Rods and Kustoms.
Travis County Expo Center – Austin, TX

May 7 – 8, 2010
The Revival Festival
Annual music festival that celebrates the genres of Rockabilly, Country, Blues, Honky Tonk, Punk, and Americana.
Nutty Brown Amphitheatre – Austin, TX

May 27 – 31, 2010
Abbey Road on the River
The world’s largest Beatles-inspired music festival.
Galt House Hotel, Belvedere Festival Park – Louisville, KY

July 7 – 10, 2010
Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention
An annual convention in honor of the late great Chet Atkins–great music, non-stop workshops.
Music City Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center – Nashville, TN

Gretsch Drums

May 15 – 16, 2010
Chicago Drum Show
The world’s largest and longest-running vintage and custom drum expo.
Kane County Fairgrounds – St. Charles, IL

Look for Gretsch Drums and Guitars at an event near you this summer!