A new article in the December issue of Premier Guitar magazine features Paul Bigsby. In this series of articles entitled “Forgotten Heroes”, light shall be shed on those legendary figures who have contributed great things to the world of music though their stories may not be widely known. This article details contributions made by Paul Bigsby to the world of modern music by focusing in on some of his most enduring designs. Included are details of how he modified the pedal steel guitar into the configuration we know today, used an aluminum case for the shielding of pickups, placed all 6 tuning machines on a single side to promote tuning stability, and, of course, designed the now-famous Bigsby True Vibrato. The article also discusses the sometimes-strained relationship with Leo Fender and the similarities of a few design components found of most modern electric guitars. A nicely crafted article to whet your appetite for more history of Paul Bigsby and how he contributed to the world of electric guitars. Available at your local newsstand and online here. When finished with the article, you can pick up a hard copy of the entire book The Story of Paul Bigsby: Father of the Modern Electric Solid Body Guitar paired with a classy Bigsby T-shirt in time for the holiday season here.
At this year’s Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Gretsch Drums provided a sneak peak of the new Gretsch Brooklyn Series drums. Pictured below in Cream Oyster, this USA-made kit made a huge splash with show attendees.
The Brooklyn Series kits will officially launch in 2012.
Stay tuned for more details to come.
Check out Drum! Magazine’s report and video here.
New for 2011: Two exciting new drum set packages designed for those just beginning their drumming adventures.
A complete drum set package designed specifically for the entry-level drummer and packed with value. Toms have “quick” sizes, which provide punchy tones and allow for lower positioning that benefits younger drummers. Hardware is double-braced and includes stylized Gretsch Renegade pedal boards and a comfortable drum throne. 13” hi-hats and 18” crash/ride brass cymbals are also included. All shells are 9-ply basswood with 45-degree bearing edges. Other features include ball-style tom holders, adjustable bass drum spurs and metal BD hoops with matching inlay.
A drum set package that comes complete with hardware and Sabian SBR cymbals. The toms feature “quick” sizes, which provide punchy tones and allow for lower positioning to benefit younger drummers. Hardware is double braced and includes stylized Gretsch Energy pedal boards. The 30 degree bearing edges, 5 Lug configuration and Gretsch style lug draw from the rich Gretsch lineage. The Gretsch Energy series is perfect for the first time buyer and packed with features that are found on semi-pro drum sets, including non-drilled bass drum.
Get complete specs at GretschDrums.com.
The Elmhurst College campus was bustling with activity as Homecoming 2011 took place from October 14 through 16. Included in the well-organized, nostalgia-evoking weekend were receptions and dinners, theater and musical performances, tours, a football game, and much more.
Elmhurst alumnus Fred Gretsch was on hand for the festivities and had the opportunity to meet with Peter Griffin, the college’s new music department chair. The two met and discussed some of Griffin’s program ideas and his vision for the music department. Griffin, with 28 years of marching band experience, is now responsible for Elmhurst’s prestigious music program in addition to the school’s annual Jazz Festival which is the second oldest continuously running event of its kind in the nation. In 2012, the Festival will be celebrating its 45th year.
The meeting between Gretsch and Griffin took place in the Sylvia & William Gretsch Memorial Studio which was established 25 years ago by endowment from the Gretsch Foundation for use by students and faculty alike. Fred Gretsch and the Gretsch Foundation have been long-time supporters of both the school’s
music and business programs. The Foundation has also endowed two ongoing scholarships for music business majors. During the course of the weekend, Fred was also able to visit the school’s aptly-named Gretsch Guitar Ensemble and jazz band.
Aside from being an Elmhurst College alumnus, Fred Gretsch is the owner and fourth-generation namesake of The Gretsch Company. The legendary instruments made by Gretsch have figured highly in the history of jazz with “That Great Gretsch Sound” helping such stellar artists as George Van Epps, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Sal Salvador, Harry Volpe, and Tony Williams. Gretsch guitars and drums are still favored by top jazz artists today, including Bill Stewart, Cindy Blackman, Stanton Moore, and Terry Silverlight.
Established in 1871, Elmhurst College, a nationally-recognized private liberal arts school affiliated with the United Church of Christ, has been preparing students for purposeful lives. The curriculum combines liberal learning and professional preparation to equip students for lifelong learning, service, and achievement. The College offers more than 50 majors and 9 graduate programs. Elmhurst College is considered a national leader in jazz music education.
For more information on Elmhurst College, visit their website.
On October 14 and 15, 2011 the Bigsby Division of the Gretsch Company was honored to exhibit at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) National Trademark Expo held at their headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia for a second time.
The annual event, with the goal of educating the public about the value of trademarks in the global marketplace, highlighted such themes as “non-traditional trademarks” and “brand evolution” and featured educational seminars and workshops suited for both adults and children. In addition, exhibits of authentic and counterfeit goods, children’s story time, and the always-popular costumed trademarked characters helped draw attention to the different types of trademarks and the importance of protecting trademark rights. Open to the general public, the Expo also drew enthusiastic groups of children from area schools and club groups who enjoyed the various exhibitor booths which were designed to be both educational and entertaining. This year’s Expo was the USPTO’s biggest to date with over 16,000 visitors attending over the two days.
The opening ceremony on Friday featured special remarks, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and music by the US Air Force’s rock band Max Impact. A guest appearance by the legendary Chubby Checker and some new trademarked costumed characters including The Pink Panther and The Very Hungry Catepillar also helped kick off the event. A specially-arranged musical performance took place at the Bigsby and Gretsch booth both days. A young, local guitarist named Enrique Romero helped entertain Expo-goers as they made their rounds through the exhibition. On Friday Enrique was paid a special visit by Chubby Checker who listened attentively while he played and then offered his encouragement. Enrique’s performances became so popular that he played more frequently than originally scheduled—performing every hour during the afternoon on Saturday. The costumed trademarked characters joined in the fun and danced along during many of Enrique’s performances to onlookers’ delight.
Another Expo highlight was when Deborah Cohn, the Commissioner for Trademarks, made a special point of introducing herself to all exhibitors and personally providing each with a copy of a Congressional Record honoring the Expo and exhibitors selected to participate in 2011. Bigsby was one of only 27 companies selected to exhibit this year. The distinctive trademarked shape of Bigsby’s famous vibrato tailpieces was in good company with other internationally-familiar trademarks belonging to other such notable exhibitors as Mattel Inc., Segway Inc., the U.S. Department of the Army, Bridgestone Corporation, Caterpillar Inc, Geico, and The Hershey Company.
Bigsby was able to demonstrate the practical use of trademarks and patents as applied to something as fun and universal as making music. Many in attendance were surprised to learn how much the Bigsby inventions have impacted popular music as created by artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In fact, Gretsch guitars have featured Bigsby vibrato tailpieces for more than fifty years. This year’s Bigsby/Gretsch display demonstrated the importance of Bigsby trademarks and the impact they have as source identifiers in the marketplace. Like most effective trademarks, the very shape of Bigsby tailpieces identifies them—even at a distance, when the brand name cannot be read. This allows Bigsby-equipped guitars to be recognized on concert stages and video broadcasts around the world. The inherent distinctiveness of the Bigsby tailpiece design has aided the Gretsch Company in getting the protectable portions registered. This, in turn, has helped Gretsch to pursue its campaign (as part of the Electric Guitar Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition) to stem the proliferation of counterfeit instruments wherever they are manufactured.
For more information on the USPTO, go to www.uspto.gov
For more information on Bigsby products and the Gretsch/Bigsby connection, go to the Bigsby site.
Videos from the Expo can be viewed at Bigsby’s YouTube page.
From the Savannah Folk Music Society–
The Annual Savannah Folk Music Festival began with a huge crowd in attendance at 7 pm on Friday, October 7, in Ellis Square with “FOLKFEST” showcasing Savannah Folk Music Society Members. The large audience, seated all around ELLIS Square and in the courtyard at City Market was entertained with a variety of different styles of music from the many genres that make up folk music. The Old Folkers, Jean Paul and Dominique Carton, Jamison Murphy, Hanson & Amburgey, Michael Maddox and Savannah Folk Music Society President Chris Desa performed for and were applauded by an appreciative audience of local area residents and out of town visitors who enjoyed the show. The best part was the ticket price . . . FREE.
On October 5th, Chris Desa and Fred Gretsch were hosted by local TV station WTOC on “Mid-Morning Live” to promote the festival and acknowledge the continued generosity and support of the GRETSCH FOUNDATION, with their donations of guitars for the Noteworthy Art Auction, which is the largest fund raiser for the festival. The entire interview and an abridged version of Chris’s rendition of Chet Aktins’ favorite tune “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye” can be viewed here.
Noteworthy Art and More Auctions
Friday, October 7, and Sunday, October 9 (Ellis Square and Forsyth Park)
All 14 guitars, generously donated by the GRETSCH FOUNDATION were sold at silent auction during the Friday and Sunday events. One brand new playable Gretsch Historic Series guitar, signed by all performers at the Sunday concert, was auctioned and sold on October 9th at Forsyth Park.
Additionally, a special multimedia art collage, created by Helen Weitz, was sold to the highest bidder on Sunday.
Saturday Old Time Country Dance: October 8th
Notre Dame Academy Gym was decorated with numerous colorful quilts in preparation for the Festival Dance, which was again very well attended by nearly 250 people, which also included a newlywed couple (regulars at SFMS dances) and their wedding party. The April Verch Band provided excellent music throughout the evening with veteran dance caller Janet Shepherd relied on to “call” and guide novices and veterans alike through a myriad of contras, squares, waltzes, and circle dances. April also gave the dancers a demonstration of her excellent dancing and fiddle-playing skills.
Sunday Concert at Forsyth Park: October 9th
Despite the threatening inclement weather, due to a developing gale offshore, the Festival began on schedule in Forsyth Park with Four Shillings Short, Boo Hanks, April Verch Band, and Tom Chapin each performing two sets for the benefit of audience members who could attend only a portion of the concert. It was a treat to see longtime fans of the performers position themselves on the grass in beautiful Forsyth Park, with small picnics and lawn chairs facing the band shell. Many others chose the steps in front of the fountain to gain a closer and better view. Every artiste gave a stellar performance to an appreciative and attentive audience scattered all over Forsyth Park
The wind and rain came down in full force for the latter half of the festival when Four Shillings Short and Boo Hanks took the stage for their second set, but many of the “die hard” folk music fans in rain coats and umbrellas stayed put. The remaining devoted audience members were invited onto the stage under the shelter of the band shell, for an up-close-and-personal concert for the second set of The April Verch Band and Tom Chapin.
Overall, the festival was a great success and next year we will be back in our usual location at Grayson Stadium, which was unavailable to us this year due to a previous commitment by the Sand Gnats said Chris Desa. The collective efforts of our SFMS leadership, members, volunteers, and numerous sponsors are greatly appreciated.
Major Festival Sponsors
City of Savannah Leisure Services Bureau: Dept of Cultural Affairs
The Gretsch Foundation
Portman’s Music Superstore/ Brighter Day Natural Foods / The River-FM 98.7
For more information call (912) 355-7172 or visit www.savannahfolk.org.
The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is paying tribute to one of country music’s most versatile and visionary artists, Chet Atkins, with Chet Atkins: Certified Guitar Player, a biographical exhibit which opened August 12, 2011 and runs through July 15, 2012 in the Museum’s East Gallery.
Get exhibition details and see exclusive online content here. Educational materials for children, families, and teachers recently added!
Schedule of Upcoming Special Programs: (All times are Central and subject to change)
*Sunday, July 15, 1:00 p.m., CDT, Fingerstyle Guitar Demonstration: Brooks Robertson
Oregon-based Brooks Robertson is a composer and arranger in the style of Merle Travis, Jerry Reed, Thom Bresh, and his own mentor, Buster B. Jones. In 2004, Robertson won first place in Prairie Home Companion’s Talent from Twelve to Twenty Contest.
*Sunday, July 15, 2:00 p.m., CDT, Film Screening: Austin City Limits: “Chet Atkins and Friends” (1987)
In this episode of the long-running public television series, Atkins demonstrates his trademark guitar style as well his love of collaboration. His guests include Thom Bresh, Larry Carlton, Johnny Gimble, Peter Ostroushko, Butch Thompson, and the Prairie Home Companion Band. Free.
Past Program Videos/Photos:
Photos from the October 1 concert in salute of Chet by Joe Robinson and Pat Bergeson can be viewed here.
A video of the August 13 standing-room-only panel discussion with Steve Wariner, C.G.P.; Billy Edd Wheeler; and Paul Yandell, C.G.P., can be viewed here.
Check out photos from the August 10 Opening Reception here.
Here are some highlights from the 2nd half of 2011:
CHRISTMAS 4 KIDS – 11/21
On November 21, Charlie Daniels Band & Friends held a sold-out benefit concert at the Ryman Auditorium. A Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman guitar was auctioned as part of their fundraising efforts.
BIGSBY AT PHILLY GUITAR SHOW – 11/12 & 11/13
The Great American Fall Guitar Show took place November 12-13 in Philadelphia at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Bigsby was there with a full line of products, demo guitars, as well as free installations and “pit-stop” program. Read more.
BIGSBY AT GUITARLINGTON – 10/15 & 10/16
Bigsby, along with Tom “TV” Jones and Gretsch Guitars, exhibited at the GuitArlington guitar show on 10/15 & 10/16. This one-stop GUITAR EXTRAVAGANZA included FREE Bigsby Installations (with restrictions) and guitar setups by TV Jones. Also offered were Bigsby Pit-Stops–a “refresher” for Bigsby-equipped guitars where our Bigsby technician checked to ensure guitars brought in by show attendees were at their tip-top vibrato playing performance. Read more.
USPTO Trademark Expo – 10/14 & 10/15
Bigsby & Gretsch exhibited at the USPTO Trademark Expo held at their headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The annual event is designed to educate the public about the value of trademarks in the global marketplace. This year included a special musical performance by a talented young guitar player named Enrique. Enrique was joined by the legendary Chubby Checker on Friday and by a variety of costumed characters on Saturday. Check out photos and videos from the event here.
THE SAVANNAH FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL & NOTEWORTHY ART GUITAR AUCTION – 10/7 to 10/9
The Gretsch Foundation—the charitable arm of The Gretsch Family—proudly supported the 2011 Savannah Folk Music Festival. The Festival kicked off Friday, 10/7, with concert performances in Savannah’s Ellis Square and part one of the “Noteworthy Art” guitar auction and concluded on Sunday, 10/9, with more music in Forsyth Park along with part two of the guitar auction. More information on the festival can be found here.
Fred Gretsch & Chris Desa, president of the Savannah Folk Music Society, appeared on WTOC11’s Mid-Morning Live on 10/5 to discuss the festival and Noteworthy Art guitar auction. Watch the program here. Immediately afterward, Chris performed a song on a beautiful art guitar he purchased at last year’s auction. Watch his performance. WTOC11 also aired a story covering the festival’s opening night.
GRETSCH NASHVILLE ROUNDUP WEEKEND – 9/30 to 10/2
The Gretsch Nashville Roundup happened over the last weekend in September. Our friends at GretschPages.com facilitated live streaming for those who couldn’t attend. In case you didn’t catch it, check out some videos from the weekend here. It was another great Roundup that included a special visit from Duane & Deed Eddy.
FRED & JOE SHOW CANADIAN TOUR – 9/25 to 9/28
Fred Gretsch & Joe Carducci took their “Fred & Joe Show” to Canada beginning with GuitarWorks in Calgary on 9/23, followed by the Edmonton Fall Guitar Show on 9/25, and the WestEnd Rock Shop on 9/26. Gretsch artist Paul Pigat also conducted a guitar workshop and clinic on 9/28 at Avenue Guitars in Edmonton. Check out some event pictures here.
GRETSCH AT ABBEY ROAD ON THE RIVER – 9/1 to 9/5
Another great event at Abbey Road on the River in DC took place over Labor Day weekend. The Fred & Joe Show brought standing-room-only crowds. A Gretsch guitar was also auctioned to help American Red Cross fundraising efforts bringing in $4,500. A fun, spontaneous sing-along broke out in front of the Gretsch exhibit while attendees waited for the doors to open for the “LOVE” performance. Check it out here.
CHET ATKINS: CERTIFIED GUITAR PLAYER EXHIBITION OPENING – 8/10
A special exhibition opening reception took place Wednesday evening, August 10, at The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in advance of the exhibit opening to the public on August 12. During the exhibition opening weekend, the public was able to enjoy an exhibit introduction and talk by a Museum curator; a panel discussion featuring Ray Stevens, Steve Wariner, and Billy Edd Wheeler and illustrated with photos, film footage, and recordings from the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive; film screenings; and much more. The exhibition runs until June of 2012. Check out pictures from reception here.
CREAM CITY MUSIC – 7/23
July 23 was “All About Gretsch Day” at Cream City Music in Brookfield, WI. George Harrison Tribute Duo Jet display, door prizes, presentations, and a whole lot more! Check out a video of the display here.
SUMMER NAMM – 7/21 to 7/23
Summer NAMM 2011 included the Wanna Play Music public day on Saturday, 7/23. The Bigsby booth was a hopping place featuring a display of all Bigsby vibrato models, handles, books, as well as guitars equipped with the appropriate vibratos. Get all the details here.
BALTO-DC ROUNDUP – 7/23
At the Harford Park Community Assoc Center in Baltimore on Saturday, July 23. Attendees were treated to a trivia contest, giveaways, and much more with live coverage that began at 4 p.m. Check out videos from this terrific event here.
CHET ATKINS APPRECIATION SOCIETY CONVENTION – 7/13 to 7/16
The 27th Annual “CAAS” (Chet Atkins Appreciation Society) convention took place at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville from July 13 to 16. Folks from around the globe once again gathered to pay homage to Chet Atkins at this annual event. Gretsch Guitars and local Gretsch dealer, Broadway Sound, had a magnificent display honoring Atkins with his signature model Gretsch guitars, rare vintage photos & memorabilia. More info here.
SWEETWATER GEARFEST – 6/24 to 6/25
Gretsch Guitars was at Sweetwater’s GearFest 2011 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fred Gretsch, Joe Carducci, and Paul Pigat attended with a special presentation at 1:30 p.m. on June 25. Check out a video of Fred & Joe talking with Mitch Gallagher here.
GRETSCH DAY AT STREETSOUNDS – 6/18
Gretsch Day at StreetSounds in Brooklyn, NY happened on Saturday, June 18. Included in the festivities were the Fred & Joe Show presentation, a performance by Gretsch artist Paul Pigat, an appearance by the lovely Kim Falcon, prizes, in-store sales, and a walking tour of the Williamsburg neighborhood by Fred Gretsch. View videos from the event here.