Vintage Gretsch guitars for sale in a vintage guitar store
Gretsch were producing musical instruments from the end of the 19th century, however the first guitars appeared in the 1930s. The period that interests most vintage guitar collectors though, is that of the presidency of Fred Gretsch Jr. starting in 1948. Guitars were built in New York, USA.
In the 1950s, and especially 1960s, Gretsch guitars were very popular, and widely respected, with endorsements and use by the likes of Chet Atkins, Bo Diddley and Duane Eddy. By 1964, demand was far exceeding supply: the use of Gretsch guitars by Beatle George Harrison, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, (and later Mike Nesmith of the Monkees) placed the brand center-stage in the rapidly expanding guitar market of mid-sixties America. But it will always be the name of country artist Chet Atkins, that is most associated with Gretsch, appearing as it does on the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, Chet Atkins Nashville and Chet Atkins Tennessean guitars.
In 1967, Fred Gretsch decided to sell up. Buyers Baldwin, were already producing guitars in Booneville, Arkansas. They had previously bought British guitar company Burns, just two years earlier, and parts were shipped from the UK, and assembled in the US. With Gretsch production in New York, it was inevitable that one factory would close. In 1970 Gretsch moved to Booneville, where it remained throughout the 1970s.
Finally as the 70s turned into the 80s, a small number of Gretsch guitars were produced in Kansas and then Tennessee, before production ceased in 1981.
Today, Gretsch guitars are produced by Fender.