Fred Gretsch Brings History to Chicago Drum Show

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

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 www.gretschdrums.com.

Gretsch Foundation Supports Sav’h Banjo Workshop

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  www.savannahfolk.org . For more  information on the Gretsch Foundation and the Gretsch Company, visit www.gretsch.com.

Colin Schofield Joins Gretsch Team

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

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.

http://www.revivalfest.com/

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!

http://www.rebeats.com/drumshows_schedule.html

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!

http://www.abbeyroadontheriver.com/

The World and Gretsch Came Together in Frankfurt

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 http://www.bigsby.com.

And don’t forget to check out the lastest in Gretsch Guitar products at http://www.gretschguitars.com and Gretsch Drum products at http://www.gretschdrums.com.

That Great Gretsch Sound Summer Tour

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 
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
http://www.lonestarroundup.com/

MAY  
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
http://www.revivalfest.com/

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
http://www.abbeyroadontheriver.com/

JULY  
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
http://misterguitar.us/index.html

Gretsch Drums

MAY
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
http://www.rebeats.com/drumshows_start_page

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

Gretsch on Display in Savannah and Frankfurt

March 23rd, 2010

The Savannah Music Festival is currently running through April 3 and is dedicated to presenting the finest in American and international musical talent. Read the full story.  

Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany was held March 24 through March 27.  Check out Fred Gretsch’s daily show report below.

Savannah Music Festival:

The Savannah Music Festival is currently running through April 3 and is dedicated to presenting the finest in American and international musical talent. So it’s logical that the Festival would want their stages equipped with the finest drums available. Fortunately, the Savannah suburb of Pooler, Georgia is home to the company that makes the world’s finest drums: Gretsch.

Gretsch USA Custom Kit in Rosewood

But there’s much more to Gretsch’s involvement in the Savannah Music Festival than a hometown connection. The producers of the Fest understand that Gretsch USA Custom kits represent the ultimate in hand-crafted quality. Manufactured in nearby Ridgeland, South Carolina, Gretsch USA Custom drums feature specially configured maple shells with Gretsch’s original Silver Sealer inner finish, 30-degree bearing edges, die-cast hoops, and hand-applied outer finishes—all factors that contribute to the creation of “That Great Gretsch Sound.” The kits for the Festival are equipped with Gibraltar and Dixon stands and hardware provided by Gretsch distribution partner KMC Music.

Gretsch USA Drum Manufacturing production manager Paul Cooper and production assistant Josh Safer (both talented drummers in their own right) worked closely with Ricardo Ochoa, the Savannah Music Festival’s production director, to provide five Gretsch USA Custom kits for use on the various Festival stages. These kits will be played by the drummers for many of the Festival’s high-profile artists, including country singers Kathy Mattea and Patty Loveless, rocker Derek Trucks, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Henry Butler & Friends, zydeco specialists Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys, and soul singer Kristina Train.

The Savannah Music Festival is Georgia’s largest musical arts festival and one of the most distinctive cross-genre music festivals in the world. The event regularly presents commissioned works, unique and imaginative productions, and rare regional appearances by renowned artists in jazz, classical, blues, bluegrass, gospel and other styles of American and international roots music. More information is available at www.savannahmusicfestival.org. For more information about Gretsch drums, go to www.gretschdrums.com.

Musikmesse – Fred Gretsch’s Show Report:

Day 1:  

Gretsch Guitars on Display

So many Gretsch team members in Frankfurt for Messe. Sales, marketing, manufacturing, all assembled to greet customers. Best Gretsch Guitar and Drum display ever. . . that is the challenge so check it out to see if you agree that we have hit that mark again.

Gretsch Drums on Display

It’s always a kick to come into the hall on the first day and see all the carpets and drapes and flowers in place and looking super. The entire Gretsch Guitar and Drum display is in one stand in Hall 4 on the ground level. That is the first time in 10 years that we have it all consolidated. Stop by and say hello if you are here. Come on down, weather in Frankfurt, Germany is spring like.

Day 2:

Larger crowds at the Messe today. Visitors from as far away as New Zealand stopped by and many more from places like Croatia, Brazil, Israel, and more. And the noise level goes up . . . though there is a new 70 db noise level limit at displays. Not sure if it is enforced. The weather continues to cooperate with bands playing on the courtyard between Halls 3 and 4 in the warm afternoon. Photos posted shows the Gretsch Drum and Guitar displays that are located in the same stand (booth) in Hall 4. Friday attendance to rise further in anticipation of Saturday, the big attendance public day.

Day 3:

Messe Grounds

My first Messe was in 1971. Gretsch was here after the war in 1955. One thing we are researching is Gretsch participation at fairs (Messe means fair) before the war. We know that there was a Gretsch company office in Markneukirchen, Germany in the 1920s for many years up to WW2. So it is easy to take for granted so many things about Messe. Back in ‘71 there was just one large hall, #8, that made up the Musikmesse then. Since they have built out the fairgrounds to be truly spectacular. Visit www.musikmesse.com to see the fair layout today with all the halls being used, central courtyard, and facilities that sparkle.

Dick Dale had an interesting comment after signing autographs at the fair yesterday: more people on an escalator than he has seen anywhere. Dick is here through Saturday which is the public day when the crowds are spectacular. At NAMM the Eddie Cochran guitar was in a glass case, at messe it is hung up with all others to be played and checked out by all. Lots of up close and personal contact at Messe. Peter, a local musician stopped by enroute to a gig at Shadow where he will be playing zitar electronically. Cool. He has lots of Gretsch guitars too. Plenty of Duane Eddy fans here, too, waiting for the next Gretsch Duane Eddy model . . .  Stay tuned and check www.gretschguitars.com for more news.

Day 4:

Today we had visitors and friends from South Africa, Turkey, and old friend Bernhardt from Hamburg too. Several bearing gifts for our trip home. As predicted, the  crowds grew throughout the day as did the loud performances. Must be a finesse to the noice control that we have yet to understand.

Memories, too, from my first Messe show in 1971 when the whole event was in Hall 8. Frankfurt was under heavy construction for a new subway back then and it took a decade or more to complete it. All very modern and conveninet at the moment. It is a tickless system with signs saying that if you get caught without a ticket, the fine is 40 Euro and there are no excuses. Fortunately, the Messe ticket provides travel on the trains and busses so not to worry.

Messe Attracts Many Visitors

Get ready for Saturday public day when the halls will be crowded to a point where some places you can’t even move. The good thing is all are enthusiastic music makers out to see the latest gear. At the Gretsch Guitar booth today we spotted a couple photographing their 2-year-old son in a stroller in front of a row of Gretsch Guitars. Wonder where that picture will be 10 years from now.

Final Day & Post-Show:

More than 2,300 exhibitors and 110,000 visitors . . . that’s the tally for Messe Frankfurt for 2010. The numbers are very close to last year which is a good sign for business in the year ahead. Messe 2011 will be in early April and that’s already on our calendar.

A trip to Germany would not be complete without a chance to sample the culture in Frankfurt and again in Dusseldorf. Saturday evening was festive in Frankfurt with music playing in public areas around town and crowds out enjoying the pre-Easter atmosphere. Accordion music is front and center and they celebrate Easter season with a greater flair than in the USA.

Monday we visited the FMIC regional office in Dusseldorf that services 6 countries with ample multi-lingual staff, repair facilities, and a custom shop showroom.

Spring is just getting started and we got to experience Daylight Savings Time in Europe for a second time in 2010 as we “sprung forward” 1 hour early Sunday the 28th. It may be the only time we ever get to do that twice in the same season in the same year again.

The trip home on the Delta non-stop from Dusseldorf to Atlanta of 9+ hours included many musicians carrying their guitars, some of which were Gretsch guitars. One band was returning from a mission trip to the Czech Republic. We sensed that there were US Air Marshals on the flight as well providing an extra level of security. Thanks go out to them and all those who keep us safe.

Weather in Georgia is in the high 70’s and sunny. Back in the saddle again . . .