Gretsch is an American company that manufactures musical instruments. The company was founded in 1883 in Brooklyn, New York by Friedrich Gretsch, a 27-year-old German immigrant, shortly after his arrival to the United States. Friedrich Gretsch manufactured banjos, tambourines, and drums until his death in 1895. In 1916, his son, Fred Gretsch Sr. moved operations to a larger facility where Gretsch went on to become a prominent manufacturer of American musical instruments. Through the years, Gretsch has manufactured a wide range of instruments, though they currently focus on electric, acoustic and resonator guitars, basses, ukuleles,[2] and drums.[3]

IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1883; 138 years ago (1883) in Brooklyn, New York City
FounderFriedrich Gretsch
Key people
    • Friedrich Gretsch (founder, d. 1885) [1]
    • Fred Gretsch Sr. (Friedrich's successor)[1]
    • Fred Gretsch Jr.[1]
    • William Walter "Bill" Gretsch (former President)[1]
    • Fred W. Gretsch (President)[1]

Gretsch instruments enjoyed market prominence by the 1950s. In 1954, Gretsch began a collaboration with guitarist Chet Atkins to manufacture a line of electric guitars with Atkins' endorsement, resulting in the Gretsch 6120 hollowbody guitar and other later models such as the Country Gentleman. Electric guitars before 1957 used single coil pickups that have significant hum problems as an inherent part of their design. Frustration with the hum of these pickups prompted Atkins to collaborate with American inventor and engineer Ray Butts on the development of a new "humbucking" pickup by connecting two single-coil pickups serially and out of phase. This resulted in what may have been the first humbucker pickup (a claim lost to Gibson Guitars because Gibson was able to file a patent for their humbucker design first). Butts' design became the Gretsch Filter'Tron and was used on Gretsch guitars beginning in 1957, and is highly regarded for its unique sound properties. The popularity of Gretsch guitars soared in the mid-1960s because of its association with Beatles guitarist George Harrison, who played Gretsch guitars beginning in the band's early years.

In 2002, Gretsch entered a business agreement with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC). Under the terms of the agreement Fred W. Gretsch retains ownership while FMIC has the exclusive rights to develop, produce, market and distribute Gretsch guitars worldwide.[4][5]