Gretsch History

That Sound! Listen.

  • 1883 Factory

    Friedrich Gretsch, 27, who emigrated from Germany at 16, opens a small music shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., making banjos, drums and tambourines.

  • Brooklyn, N.Y.

    The company moves to a 10-story building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn, N.Y.

  • Multi-ply

    Fred Gretsch, Sr. develops revolutionary multi-ply drum lamination process resulting in the world’s first “warp free” drum hoop.

  • The largest manufacturer

    Gretsch was recognized as the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the United States.

  • Gretsch American Drum

    Company introduces historic Gretsch-American drum series, featuring the industry’s first multi-ply drum shell.

  • Broadkaster

    Gretsch introduces the original Broadkaster series, which eventually grows into one of the world's most revered drum sets of all-time.

  • Billy Gladstone

    Gretsch enters an historic partnership with master drummer and inventor Billy Gladstone. The Gretsch-Gladstone drum line is introduced.

  • Gretsch Boys

    Fred Gretsch, Sr. retires from the company, leaving the day-to-day operations to his sons, Fred Gretsch, Jr. (left) and William “Bill” Gretsch (right), both of whom had been active in the business since 1927. Gretsch stops instrument production to assist in war efforts. After a brief term at the company’s helm, Fred Gretsch, Jr. leaves the company to serve as a commander in the U.S. Navy. Bill Gretsch becomes president.

  • Phil Grant and Louis Bellson

    Following the war, Gretsch resumes instrument production. Phil Grant, master percussionist and innovator, joins Gretsch. Gretsch and Louis Bellson team up to introduce first production double bass drum kit.

  • Birdland Jazz Club

    Gretsch forges a relationship with the legendary Birdland Jazz Club in New York, N.Y.

  • Fred Gretsch, Jr.

    Bill Gretsch dies from illness. Fred Gretsch, Jr. assumes control of the business, kicking off a new age of prosperity for the company–the age of rock ‘n’ roll.

  • Max Roach

    As Be-Bop makes it's rise in popularity, the uncomparable Max Roach is officially introduced as a Gretsch Artist.

  • Art Blakey

    Legendary jazz drummer Art Blakey is added to the Gretsch Artist Roster.

  • Jimmy Cobb

    Gretsch artist Jimmy Cobb records "Kind of Blue" with Miles Davis.

  • Gretsch Night

    "Gretsch Drum Night at Birdland" is recorded by four lengendary Gretsch drummers: Art Blakey, Charlie Persip, Elvin Jones and "Philly" Joe Jones.

  • Tony Williams

    The remarkable Tony Williams is officially added to an already illustrious Gretsch Artist Roster.

  • Baldwin Music Company

    Fred Gretsch, Jr. retires and sells The Gretsch Company to Baldwin Music Company. His nephew, Fred W. Gretsch, vows to buy the company back.

  • The Rolling Stones

    The Rolling Stones tour the United States with drummer Charlie Watts playing Gretsch Drums. Over 50 years later, Watts still plays Gretsch with the Stones.

  • Phil Collins

    Gretsch Artist Phil Collins joins the prog-rock band Genesis and begins a long and very successful career, reaching multi-platinum status with both the band and as a solo artist.

  • 100th Anniversary

    In celebration of a century of drum making, Gretsch releases a very special limited edition birdseye maple drum set.

  • Fred W. Gretsch

    Eighteen years after the company was sold to Baldwin, Fred W. Gretsch, great-grandson of the company founder, fulfills his promise to buy the company back and return it to the family fold. Gretsch establishes drum manufacturing center in Ridgeland, S.C.

  • KMC Music

    Kaman Music (KMC Music) becomes the exclusive, worldwide distributor of Gretsch Drums. Two years later, KMC is acquired by Fender Musical Instruments along with the rights to develop, produce, market and distribute Gretsch Drums and Guitars.

  • Steve Ferrone

    Gretsch introduces the Steve Ferrone Signature Drum Set, a USA-made maple kit finished in 1955 Cadillac Green.

  • Taylor Hawkins

    Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins becomes a member of the Gretsch Artist Roster.

  • 125th Anniversary

    Gretsch celebrates its 125th Anniversary by releasing a limited edition drum set.

  • Brooklyn

    The USA-made Brooklyn Series is introduced.

  • 130th Anniversary

    Gretsch celebrates its 130th anniversary with USA-made limited edition drum sets and the original Gretsch Round Badge makes its return.

  • 2014 Broadkaster

    Gretsch introduces the modern-day version of the USA-made Broadkaster Series. The shell's design is nearly identical to the original and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

  • Drum Workshop

    The iconic American drum maker Drum Workshop (DW Drums) acquires the rights to develop, produce, market and distribute Gretsch Drums from Fender.

Gretsch Badges


Even though "That Great Gretsch Sound" hasn’t changed over the years, Gretsch Drums have featured a variety of iconic badge designs. Each badge is unique and in its own way has become a classic over time. Here is an overview of the badges used on Gretsch Drums throughout the company’s history.

 

 
 

Learn more about the iconic badges for each era.

 

 

1883-1971

ORIGINAL
ROUND BADGE

1972-1979

STOP SIGN
BADGE

1979-1980

REVISED
STOP SIGN BADGE

1980

SQUARE
BADGE

 

Early 1981

THE STOP SIGN
RETURNS

1981-2013

THE NEW
SQUARE BADGE

100th

ANNIVERSARY
BADGES

2013 to Present

RETURN OF THE
ROUND BADGE

 

 

Vintage Catalogs

 

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Vintage Artist Ads