Dinah & Fred Gretsch Honored At Georgia Family Business Gala

December 15th, 2011

Dinah & Fred Gretsch (president and CFO of Savannah’s Gretsch Company respectively) were recently honored at the Georgia Family Business of the Year Awards 20th Anniversary gala. The event was held November 29 at the Cobb Galleria Center of the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the awards, notable former honorees were invited to the gala to receive special recognition plaques. This included the Gretsches, who were the recipients of the Cox Century Award in 2007 as part of the Georgia Family Business of the Year program.

The Cox Century Award award recognizes companies that are one hundred years old or more. The Gretsch Company was chosen because of its 129-year history as a family-owned operation, its importance within the worldwide music industry, and its contributions to the Georgia business community. Since receiving the award the Gretsch Company has proudly displayed the Century Award logo on its business correspondence.

For more information on the Cox Family Enterprise Center, visit their website.

Paul Bigsby Remembered

December 12th, 2011

Paul Bigsby

On December 12, 1899, Paul Adelbert Bigsby was born in Elgin, Illinois.  Paul was many things:  a successful motorcycle racer, expert pattern-maker, machinist, inventor, poet, guitar-maker, and musician. Most widely known for inventing the Bigsby True Vibrato tailpiece, Paul also made the first modern solidbody electric guitar for musician Merle Travis in 1948.  Paul Bigsby was the “man who could build anything”.

Following are a couple of excerpts from The Story of Paul Bigsby:  Father of the Modern Electric Solidbody Guitar by Andy Babiuk.  This well-researched book tells the fascinating story of Paul’s life and work and is loaded with hundreds of photos and illustrations.

“The musicians who played their custom-made Bigsby guitars helped shape the core of modern electric-guitar playing.  Merle Travis’s inspiration gave rise to the Chet Atkins style, and both men were the fathers of the Scotty Moore and early rockabilly style.  These players in turn heavily influenced the guitarists of the British Invasion and almost every rock player who has ever picked up a guitar since then.”

“P.A. Bigsby achieved nothing less than changing the world of American music. He was a man of vision and extraordinary imagination who possessed the abilities and sense of craft to turn that vision and imagination into a reality.”

To learn more about Paul Bigsby, get a copy of The Story of Paul Bigsby today and visit Bigsby.com.

You can also check out the article in the December issue of Premier Guitar magazine featuring Paul Bigsby. In a series of articles entitled “Forgotten Heroes”, light is shed on 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.

Christmas 4 Kids Concert & Gretsch Guitar Auction

December 5th, 2011

From the Christmas 4 Kids Organizers:

Santa & Mrs. Claus and the Gretsches pictured with a Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar.

This year was the 10th Anniversary of the Charlie Daniels and Friends Concert benefiting Christmas 4 Kids (C4K).  The concert was held on Monday, November 21 at The Ryman Auditorium and was the 10th consecutive sellout event.  With so much to celebrate, the Gretsches sent another amazing guitar to be auctioned off.  This year’s guitar has previously been exhibited at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Macon, Georgia, as well as at the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport in a Georgia Music Hall of Fame exhibit.  It has been photographed extensively and admired by musicians and the public alike.

The winning bid went to the Erickson family from Des Moines, Iowa.  They were on their way to spend Thanksgiving with their family and heard about the C4K concert on a Nashville event calendar.  Being avid country music fans, they decided to stop; however, the concert was sold out.  As they were discussing what to do, a gentleman overheard them and offered his tickets to the Ericksons.  Mr. Erickson offered to pay him, but the man said, “Go and enjoy – in the end, it’s all for the kids.”

Cole Erickson happily accepting his family's new Gretsch Guitar.

The Ericksons placed the first bid on the guitar and as the bidding was about to close, checked their status on the list and saw that someone had bid higher than they had.  So, at the last minute, they placed the winning bid.  Fred and Dinah Gretsch presented the Erickson’s son, Cole, with the prized guitar on the Ryman stage.  Clearly, an event this young man won’t forget.  Needless to say, the Ericksons have said that the Christmas 4 Kids concert is going to be a new annual Thanksgiving tradition for the family.

C4K wants to extend their deepest gratitude for the support that the Gretsch Foundation continues to show through their donation of guitars for the concert auctions.  Most importantly, Christmas 4 Kids appreciates Fred and Dinah Gretsch’s personal commitment to the children and their valued friendship.

For more information on Christmas 4 Kids, please visit their website.

For more information on the Gretsch Foundation, click here.

Spotlight: Catalina Club Limited Edition Drum Sets

November 29th, 2011

From the Gretsch Drums website:

Gretsch Drums added three Limited Edition shell pack kits to the Catalina Club series. These kits feature original pearloid finishes and there are three unique configurations. A limited number of a matching 7×10 add-on toms are also available in each finish. These kits have been available since October 2011.

Catalina Club Funk Jazz CC-J684-WKP

The Catalina Club Funk Jazz (CC-J684-WKP) set in Whiskey Pearl includes a standard 18” diameter bass drum with a 16” depth. The 2” extra depth (standard jazz size is 14”x18”) projects a punchier and deeper tone with tight articulation. The Whiskey Pearl finish gives a distinctive vintage appearance. This kit is limited to 90 pieces North America.

Retail: $1075, sale price starting at $699.
Sizes: 16×18, 8×12, 14×14, 5×14 8 lug snare

Catalina Club Jazz 20” CC-J404-WKP

Drawing from classic configurations of the 1960’s, the Catalina Club Jazz 20” (CC-J404-WKP) includes a 14”x20” bass drum. This classic bass drum size delivers warm, punchy tones and provides flexibility that can be used in a wide variety of music settings. The 4.5”x14” snare provides a crisp attack that still retains the sensitivity needed for brush work. The Whiskey Pearl finish gives a distinctive vintage appearance. This kit is limited to 90 pieces North America.

Retail: $1075, sale price starting at $699.
Sizes: 14×20, 8×12, 14×14, 4.5×14 8 lug snare

Catalina Club Jazz CC-J484-WMG

The final addition to this limited run of kits is the Catalina Club Jazz (CC-J484-WMG) in White to Mint Green Pearl fade. The traditional “bop” sized drums perform well as a jazz kit, but it is also capable of performing in low volume situations where space is limited. The White to Mint green pearl fade gives a boutique look and vibe. There are 250 kits available worldwide.

Retail: $999, sale price starting at $649
Sizes: 14×18, 8×12, 14×14, 5×14 8 lug snare

For more information on these and other Gretsch drums, please visit the Gretsch Drums site.

Remembering the “Quiet Beatle”

November 29th, 2011

Remembering George Harrison

Ten years ago today, the world lost George Harrison–the Beatles’ “quiet” lead guitarist and spiritual explorer who added both rock ‘n’ roll flash and a touch of the mystic to the band’s timeless magic.

Harrison died on November 29, 2001 in Los Angeles following a battle with cancer.  “He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends,” the Harrison family said in a statement shortly after his passing. “He often said, ‘Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.’”

George accomplished much during his life.  He was a guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor, film producer, humanitarian, and avid gardener.  In the early 70s he grew “tired of people saying, ‘But what can I do?’” and organized hugely successful benefit concerts for Bangladesh.  George also had a keen sense of humor, as could be seen when he made a cameo appearance as the Interviewer in Eric Idle’s 1978 film, All You Need Is Cash, about a rock band called “The Rutles”.  According to George, the parody told the Beatles’ story “much better than the usual boring documentary.” Of course, at millennium’s end George–along with Paul and Ringo–took part in one of the biggest documentary projects ever with the Anthology film/disc/book series.

Among George’s other accomplishments was the formation of the successful group the Traveling Wilburys in 1988 with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.  In 2001, he also oversaw the reissue of his great solo work, All Things Must Pass, marking its 30th anniversary. The double-disc included a new version of the classic “My Sweet Lord”, which remains a masterpiece today.

Earlier this year, Gretsch proudly introduced a special limited-edition instrument—the Gretsch Custom Shop G6128T-GH George Harrison “Tribute” Duo Jet—in his honor.  Producing the replica of George’s prized Duo Jet, the guitar he often referred to as his first truly good guitar, was a labor of love for those involved.  With only 60 pieces produced, the guitar meticulously replicated the all-black 6128 Duo Jet George purchased in the summer of 1961 and used with the Beatles through the spring of 1963.  Every scratch, ding, and rust spot of George’s guitar can be found on the tribute model including a black Phillips head pivot bolt on the Bigsby® B6C tailpiece arm and the offset strap button on the lower bout relocated to accommodate the Bigsby.

George and his Duo Jet can be heard on many early Beatles’ recordings.  And although George used other guitars during his career including a Gretsch Country Gentleman and Tennessean, when it came to deciding on a guitar to be pictured with on the cover of his 1987 album Cloud Nine, George selected his beloved Duo Jet.

George earned an Academy Award with the Beatles in 1970 and received the first Billboard Century Award given out in 1992.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and also given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009.  His impact on music and the world will not soon be forgotten.

Upon learning of George’s passing ten years ago, the Gretsch family had this to say:
We sadly mourn the tragic loss of our good friend and brother. Thanks for making our world a better place, George.  We love you.

Cover of the new LIFE magazine commemorative book about George Harrison. Credit: LIFE Magazine

Legendary Guitarist Paul Yandell Passes Away

November 22nd, 2011

From the GretschGuitars.com website:

Legendary guitarist Paul Yandell, known for his longtime rhythm role alongside Chet Atkins, passed away Monday morning in Hendersonville, Tenn., following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Yandell was Atkins’ right-hand man for over 25 years, but he has also played on records from Dolly Parton, George Straight, Perry Como, Steve Wariner, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Everly Brothers.

The Kentucky native moved to Nashville in 1955 and began recording as a professional with the Louvin Brothers.

Following a stint in the Army, Yandell recorded primarily with Kitty Wells and Johnnie Wright, spent a year with George Hamilton IV, and then began an incredible run with Atkins in 1975 that lasted until Atkins’ death in 2001.

“Nobody was closer to [Atkins] than Paul,” Atkins’ daughter, Merle Atkins Russell, told The Tennessean.  “He was literally a lifelong friend, his right-hand man and a very dear friend off the stage.”

Yandell recorded five solo albums and most recently appeared on Wariner’s latest record, Guitar Laboratory, which was released earlier this year.

After Atkins’ death, Yandell became the prime source of information on Atkins’ techniques and equipment, even working with Gretsch to create guitars with Atkins’ favorite specs.

For a video of Yandell and Wariner performing at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society in 2010, visit GretschGuitars.com.

Merle Atkins Russell presents Certified Guitar Player award to Paul Yandell on August 13. (photo: Caryn Wariner)

Forgotten Hero: Paul Bigsby

November 17th, 2011

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.

Paul Bigsby

Gretsch Previews New Brooklyn Series at PASIC

November 12th, 2011

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.

New Gretsch Brooklyn Series at PASIC 2011

Stay tuned for more details to come.

Check out Drum! Magazine’s report and video here.