Vintage Gretsch Guitars



2015-06-26 10:32:14

Vintage Gretsch Guitars are musical instruments made by the American Gretsch Company.


Gretsch guitars are the instruments of choice by several musicians and artists in the recording industry not only because of their superb craftsmanship but also because of their distinct tonal quality that produces what is referred to as "That Great Gretsch Sound!"

It was 1895 when Friedrich Gretsch unexpectedly passed away on his way to visit his land of birth, Germany and left behind a business to his son of fifteen-years at that time, Fred Gretsch. Friedrich’s son proved to be an able manager and he was able to steer the company built by his father to success. Through his business sense and tireless energy, Fred built a positive image based on precision and quality.

Twenty years after he took over the little shop that his father established in Brooklyn, New York in 1883; Fred Gretsch moved his headquarters to a ten-story office building on 60 Broadway, still within Brooklyn.

When Fred retired in 1942, his two sons, Fred “Junior” and William “Bill” who have been involved in the company since 1927, took over the management of the business. Fred “Junior” served in the company for a short time as he accepted a post in the Navy. It was up therefore, to Bill to run the company. However, it was unfortunate that he passed away too soon in 1948 so control returned to the Navy veteran, Fred Gretsch, Jr.

He steered the company towards a new ocean of success and through the '50s and '60s at the height of the rock and roll era with the likes of Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones leading the way.


In 1967, the Baldwin Piano Company, a large US based musical instrument manufacturer, acquired Gretsch Guitars. However, in the absence of a committed family that propelled the company to many of its successes throughout the years, it soon wavered. Fred Gretsch took the company back in 1985 and with a renewed passion, the company was able to recover much of the glory it had lost. The new base of operations is now Savannah, Georgia; where the Gretsch guitars and drums in the vintage and classic designs are now being manufactured.

Collecting Gretsch Guitars

Gretsch wasn't into the guitar scene until midway into the 1930s when it came out with the acoustic guitars under the American Orchestra line. These guitars originally retailed at $25 each.

In 1939, the Synchromatics guitar line with their art-deco design came out with its own strong contender against Gibson's Super 400. Though the Synchromatics was not able to significantly curb Gibson's lead in sales then, the Synchromatic 400 is as sought-after by collectors as its Gibson counterpart.

Gretsch's electric guitar line, the Electromatics were introduced in the same year, 1939. Then after WWII, Gretsch released flat-top acoustic models- the 6607, 6021, and the 6042. They were notable for their triangle sound holes.

In the 1950s, Gretsch guitars became more distinctly its own. The Duo-Jet, Electro II, were launched in this decade and placed in the limelight in the '60s and '70s by such big names as Jeff Beck and George Harrison. The much-desired Chet Atkin guitars, later renamed the Country Gentleman, also came out in this decade. So did the pair of guitars painted white called the Penguin and the Falcon which are a hit among collectors now as they were by customers then.

Auction Results

In July 2011, Heritage Auctions of Texas, USA, sold a 1963 Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentlemen Burgundy Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar in pristine condition for $4,500.

In July of 2005, CooperOwen, a UK-based auction house specializing in musical instruments, was able to sell for £26,000 a 1960 Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar previously owned by multi-awarded country musician, Chet Atkins.

A 1955 Gretsch Electric Guitar offered by Massachusetts based vintage auction house, Skinner in October of 2007, went for $21,000.

Of the completed eBay online auctions, the George Harrison model of the Gretsch Country Classic design fetched the highest so far at more than $ 2,800. A Chet Atkins Signature Hollow Body might bid for $ 4,000.

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