Gretsch Drums is part of The Gretsch Company's line of musical instruments. Founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1883, Gretsch drum kits have been used by many notable drummers including Max Roach, Tony Williams, Art Blakey, Vinnie Colaiuta, Mark Guiliana, Phil Collins,Charlie Watts, and Steve Ferrone.
The company's motto is "That Great Gretsch Sound!"
Gretsch was founded by Friedrich Gretsch, a German immigrant who opened his own musical instrument shop on 128 Middleton Street in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. The operation moved to South 4th Street in 1894. After Friedrich's sudden death in 1895, his enterprising son, Fred Gretsch Sr., took over the business as a teenager. He expanded the business, adding Gretsch Building #1 at 109 South 5th Street in 1903, Gretsch Building #2 at 104-114 South 4th Street in 1910, and a new ten-story Gretsch Building #4 at 60 Broadway Street in 1916. The company ultimately owned or operated six properties in the immediate area, including a warehouse on Dunham Place. Gretsch Building #4 was owned by the Gretsch family until 1999, at which time it was sold and redeveloped into luxury condominiums.
Fred Gretsch Sr. handed over the family business to his son, Fred Gretsch Jr., after retiring in 1942. Soon after taking over, Fred Jr. left to serve in WWII as a Navy commander, leaving the business in the hands of his younger brother, William Walter "Bill" Gretsch. Bill Gretsch died in 1948 and the company was again run by Fred Jr.
Both guitars and drums were manufactured at 60 Broadway until the mid-1960s, at which time drum production was consolidated at 109 South 5th Street so that guitar production could be expanded.
Fred Gretsch Jr. ran the company until 1967 when Gretsch was sold to Baldwin Piano Co. In the mid-1969 Baldwin moved Gretsch instrument manufacturing operations from Brooklyn, NY to a plant in DeQueen, Arkansas.
In 1985 Gretsch was bought back by a member of the Gretsch family, Fred W. Gretsch, the son of the late William "Bill" Gretsch and great-grandson of original company founder Friedrich Gretsch. At that time drum production was relocated to Ridgeland, South Carolina, where it remains today.
In the late 1980s, Gretsch bought the remnants of the Slingerland Drum Company, which was later sold to Gibson, with Gretsch retaining the Leedy brand which had been part of the Slingerland purchase.
In 2000, Gretsch entered into an agreement with Kaman Music which granted them exclusive rights to manufacture Gretsch USA Custom and Signature drums. They also purchased the majority of the equipment used to make Gretsch drums.
In January 2015, the Lombardi Family announced that Drum Workshop had become the exclusive manufacturer and worldwide distributor of Gretsch Drums. Lombardi stressed that the factory in Ridgeland would remain open and that the Gretsch Family still owned the company. And in 2017, Hal Leonard joined the Gretsch Drums Team as the exclusive US distributor of the Renown, Catalina, and Energy series drums.
Gretsch's Custom & Signature Series drums continue to be manufactured in Ridgeland, South Carolina to this day.
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Current Gretsch Products
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- Renegade - Gretsch Renegade series is a complete drum set package designed specifically for the entry-level drummer. Toms have "quick" sizes (shallower depths) which provide punchy tones and allow for lower positioning.
- Energy - New for 2011, the Gretsch Energy drum set package comes complete with hardware and Sabian SBR cymbals. The Gretsch Energy series is aimed at the first time buyer.
- Catalina Club Rock - Gretsch's Catalina Club Rock kit features mahogany shells and 30 degree bearing edges for a deep, warm, classic sound. The Catalina Club Rock is 4-piece configuration featuring a large 24" kick drum of either 14 or 18" depth.
- Catalina Club Jazz - Jazz drum set made of 9-ply Philippine Mahogany shells. The set includes Gretsch's mini GTS tom suspension system. These 4-piece kits come in "bop" sizes: 14x18" bass drum, 8x12" mounted tom, 14x14" floor tom, and a 5x14" snare drum.
- Catalina Birch - These drums feature the distinctive sound of Birch shells, these are said to produce explosive attack with a deep low-end fundamental. The Birch shells are finished with 30-degree bearing edges and natural interiors which Gretsch says lends tonal punch and depth.
- Catalina Maple series - Catalina Maple series with Maple shells that are 7-ply, 7.2mm. Gretsch equipped the shells with "Gretsch Classic" features and hardware, including 30-degree bearing edges, fully adjustable Gretsch ball-and-socket tom holder with 12.7mm tom arms, 9020-style mounting brackets and the famous 5-lug configuration (a standard Gretsch feature for over 50 years). Available in two configurations - a 6-piece shell pack set and a 5-piece shell pack set. Add-on drums are also available.
- New Renown Maple- New high-performance features. The concept of the Renown redesign was to give the series fresh visual appeal and enhance sonic performance. This Gretsch-engineered line is said to produce explosive attack and power that is rich and warm. Each drum has Gretsch's 30° bearing edge and Gretsch's exclusive Silver Sealer interior. Available in a total of six colors--four UV styles and two wraps. Until 2016 the Renown (RN1) came with die-cast hoops. In 2016 Gretsch introduced the RN2 began using their 302, 3mm double-flanged hoops (the same hoops used on the Brooklyn and Broadkaster lines).
- Marquee Series- The Marquee series is said to deliver explosive, open tones, professional features and rock solid performance at an accessible price. Marquee shells combine 7-ply North American maple with a slight softer maple species that are cut with classic Gretsch 30-degree bearing edges and fit with 2.3mm triple flanged hoops.
- Renown Maple - Semi-professional level drum set made of 6-ply Maple shells with Silver Sealer interior. The set includes Gretsch's GTS tom suspension system.
- Renown57 - Gretsch shatters conventional drum design with the Renown57 in Motor City Blue. Inspired by the great American car companies from the 1950s, the Renown57 incorporates timeless, iconic car design elements and applies them to drums.
- New Classic - At a time when Retro is as hip as ever, Gretsch embellishes the retro vibe by offering a true new professional drum set in the New Classic series. Professional, retro-style drum set made of proportionate 100% Maple shells with Silver Sealer interior. Proportionate shells increase in thickness as shell diameters increase to give a full, balanced tonality across the entire drum set. The bass drum is made of a 6-ply shell for 18" and 8-ply shell for 20", 22" and 24", the toms are made of a 6-ply shell, and snare is made of a 10-ply shell. The set includes Gretsch's ITS tom suspension system.
- Brooklyn Series - The Gretsch drum design team molded the Brooklyn series by combining classic Gretsch elements while infusing it with new attributes. They expanded upon traditional drum designs to shape a sound that retains fundamental Gretsch characteristics while projecting a fresh voice.
- Broadkaster Series - Endeavors to be a faithful reproduction of the Gretsch 3 ply sound of Broadkasters made in their original Brooklyn factory. They are Handcrafted in Ridgeland, South Carolina, USA. Gretsch has a long history producing 3-ply drum shells, beginning in the 1920s in Brooklyn, New York when the company first engineered the laminate drum shell. Those shells were a 3-ply mix of maple/gum (or poplar)/maple, made without reinforcement hoops and were rounder, lighter and regarded by many as more musical than other shells typically found during that time period. As part of their flagship drums, Gretsch offered the original Broadkaster drums between the 1930s-1950s. Gretsch continued to produce that basic 3-ply Broadkaster shell through the mid-late 1950s, while experimenting with various bearing edges, including a "reverse roundover" beveled edge. Sonically, the classic 1950s 3-ply shells are known for their organic, woody tones with low frequency thump.
- USA Custom - Custom drums feature the original Gretsch formula 6-ply maple shell that has been utilized for over 50 years. Each drum includes 30-degree bearing edges, the original Silver Sealer inner shell finish and a choice of Nitron Covered or Nitrocellulose Lacquer finishes to give you that "Great Gretsch Sound." Curly Maple and Harlequin Finishes are also available.
Limited Edition/Anniversary Series
The original Gretsch factories were located in Brooklyn, New York. It was there that a design formula was developed that would result in what drummers all over the world would come to recognize as "That Great Gretsch Sound.(TM)" Today, Ridgeland, South Carolina is the home of Gretsch Drums and the craftsmen there are still using the same techniques and formulas to build the highly coveted Gretsch USA Custom Drums and Gretsch Brooklyn Series Drums.
- 130TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED SATIN BIRDSEYE MAPLE
- 130TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED SILVER SATIN FLAME
- 130TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED SATIN VINTAGE CHERRY BURST
- 130TH ANNIVERSARY BROOKLYN SERIES LIMITED PEWTER SPARKLE
- 130TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED GOLD SATIN FLAME
Discontinued Gretsch Products (partial list)
- Vinnie Colaiuta Signature - Signature drum set made of 6-ply Maple/Gumwood Shells. The set includes white wash high glass lacquer finish, black chrome plated lugs, brackets, and hoops, Gretsch's GTS tom suspension system, and Vinnie Coliauta's Signature badges. This kit was discontinued in early 2012 when Vinnie abruptly switched to Ludwig drums.
- Catalina Stage - Semi-professional drum set made of 6-ply Mahogany shells. The set includes Gretsch's GTS tom suspension system.
- Catalina Elite - Semi-professional drum set made of 6-ply Mahogany shells. The set includes Gretsch's GTS tom suspension system.tom size 10,12,14
- USA Broadkaster - Professional drum set made of 6-ply Maple/Gum "Jasper" shells. The set includes Gretsch's GTS tom suspension system.
- USA Maple - Professional, custom drum set made of 6-ply Maple/Gumwood shells.
- Renown Purewood Beech - Professional drum set made of 6-ply Beechwood shells.
- Renown Purewood Mahogany - Professional drum set made of 6-ply African Mahogany shells.
- Renown Purewood Walnut - Professional drum set made of 6-ply Walnut shells.
- Renown Purewood Cherry - Professional drum set made of 6-ply Cherry shells.
- Custom Series 70's LTD - Professional, custom drum set made of 6-ply Maple/Gumwood shells.
- Blackhawk SX - Entry level 7 piece drum set of mahogany shells.
- Blackhawk EX - Entry level 5 piece drum set made of basswood shells.
- Dorado By Gretsch Manufactured in Japan early 1970's
Gretsch does not currently make their own drum hardware, but instead offer hardware packs from Gibraltar Hardware.
Current Gibraltar Packs
- Gibraltar 5700PK - Medium-duty, double braced hardware.
- Gibraltar 6700PK - Heavy-duty, double braced hardware.
- Gibraltar 9500PK - Professional, double braced hardware.
- 1883 to 1971 - The original Gretsch Round Badge design. This was the first badge used on Gretsch drums going all the way back to 1883. The badge was round with GRETSCH written across the top and DRUM MAKERS SINCE 1883 along the bottom. The Round Badge was attached to snare drums and bass drums using a standard brass grommet which also provided a vent-hole for the drum, but it was attached to tom-toms using a carpenter's upholstery tack which therefore left those drums unvented. Final production of Gretsch drums with the Round Badge was in 1971.
- 1971 to 1979 - The next badge design for Gretsch was an octagon-shaped badge. This brass badge had the GRETSCH logo written in block type with an elongated letter "T" in the middle of the Gretsch name. On the right side of the brass grommet, the word DRUMS appears in block letters. To the left, the initials U.S.A. appear in block letters. The bottom section of the badge reads "THAT GREAT GRETSCH SOUND". Final production of Gretsch Drums with this badge was in mid-1979. This is the only badge to carry the famous "Great Gretsch Sound" tag line.
- 1979 to 1980 - The second version of the octagon badge went into production in late 1979. This badge is very similar to the previous badge but the tag line on the bottom was changed back to "DRUM MAKERS SINCE 1883" in block letters.
- 1980 - A brief glimpse into the modern day drum badge. In 1980, due to the popularity of multiple-tom outfits, the badge was changed to a square shape with the corners cropped. This would allow the badge to look the same no matter which way the tom was mounted. The brass badge had the GRETSCH logo in block letters above the grommet. The GRETSCH logo below the grommet was placed upside down to allow for the varied positioning of the toms. U.S.A. was on the left and right side of the grommet with the left U.S.A. letters upside down. This badge would be used in 1980 and then shelved for a brief period of time before it was brought back into production.
- Early 1981 - A short return to the octagon badge. This time the brass badge was redesigned with the GRETSCH logo in the drop "G" font above the grommet. U.S.A. appeared to the right of the grommet and DRUM MAKERS SINCE 1883 was at the bottom of this badge in block letters.
- Late 1981 to 2012 - Back to the square badge design. By late 1981, the brass square badge had returned and is still being used on Gretsch Custom Drums today.
- 100th Anniversary Badge This special badge was used in 1983 on a limited production of exotic wood grain kits with all gold hardware. Only 100 sets in these special finishes were produced. The badge was a large upright rectangle with the corners cropped. The Gretsch logo features the drop "G" logo style and the badge reads "THE CENTENNIAL 1883-1983" along the top in block letters.
- 120th Anniversary Round Badge
- Early 2013 to Modern Day Gretsch announced in late 2012 that they are going back to the round badge in early 2013.