GRETSCH
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GRETSCH
Amplifiers currently produced in the Naperville, IL since 2005. Distributed by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in Scottsdale, AZ. Amplifiers previously produced by Valco in New York City, NY until 1970, and later produced in Booneville, AR until the late 1970s.
Gretsch dates way back to 1883 when Friedrich Gretsch began manufacturing instruments as the Fred Gretsch Company. Friedrich died on a trip overseas, and his son Fred took over the company in 1895 at the age of 15. Business boomed and the company had expanded to percussion, ukuleles, and banjos. In the early 1930s Gretsch introduced their archtop guitars. Fred Gretsch Sr. retired in 1942, and William Walter Gretsch took over until 1948 when Fred Gretsch Jr. became president. The 1950-60s became the heyday for Gretsch as their instruments became endorsed by Chet Atkins and George Harrison. Gretsch Jr., Jimmy Webster, and Charles "Duke" Kramer were all responsible for the success. Kramer was involved with the company until he retired in 1980. In the early 1950s, Gretsch decided to bring in an amplifier line to go with their guitars. Valco, a company that made amplifiers for many companies (Supro, National, Airline, & Oahu), also started to make amplifiers for Gretsch. Naturally, these amps were quite similar to other Valco made amplifiers.
Gretsch went through five distinct changes over the years to the amplifier line. In 1967, Gretsch was bought out by Baldwin, where Gretsch Jr. was made a director. Rumor has it that Baldwin slowed amplifier production after the buyout. Valco continued to make amplifiers for Gretsch until Valco went out of business in 1968-69. Amplifiers were then probably manufactured by Multivox/Premier and the Reverb units were made by OC Electronics. In 1972, Gretsch released the solid-state Sonax series that was relatively short lived. There was a big fire that pretty much wiped out everything in January 1973 (Booneville). This halted guitar production for three months when Bill Hagner of Hagner Musical Instruments formed an agreement with Baldwin to build and sell Gretsch guitars. Baldwin kept the trademark rights, and everything was good until another fire in December of 1973. However, they recovered and squeeked through the 1970s, when Baldwin came in 1978 and took over again. Baldwin bought the Kustom amplifier company in 1978, and it is rumored that some Gretsch amps were actually Kustoms in disguise!
The 1970s took their toll on Gretsch for a number of reasons. Quality control went downhill in a hurry, and it is rumored that disgruntled employees were sabatoging product. Sales were way down and Chet Atkins withdrew his endorsement in 1979. Gretsch stopped producing everything except for drums (produced in Tennesse) in 1981. There were some attempts to get Gretsch going again in the early 1980s, but to no avail. Amplifier production had been long gone by this time. Kramer got Baldwin to sell the rights back to the family and Gretsch III was in charge again. He started producing guitars from Japan that were mainly offered in the U.S. In 1995, Gretsch introduced three reissue models built in the U.S. In 2005, Gretsch contracted Mark Baier from Victoria Amplifiers to build a new line of U.S.-built Gretsch-branded tube amplifiers. In 2008, Gretsch introduced a small tube amp called the Electromatic that is produced overseas, and they also produced a limited edition Variety amp for Gretsch's 125th Anniversary. Source for Gretsch History: Michael Wright, Guitar Stories:Volume 1; The Gretsch Pages.

From Blue Book Publications:


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