Gretsch was founded by Friedrich Gretsch, an immigrant from Mannheim Germany, in Brooklyn in 1883. He was to create a dynasty lasting to this day yet due to his unexpected death in 1895, he never saw it bloom. Soon after his passing, Friedrich’s son, the now young Fred Gretsch, Sr. took over the company whilst he was still in school. Energetic as he was enterprising, he built the reputation of the company to be that of precision and quality and two decades after he’d assumed leadership of the business, he moved the operation to a 10 story building on 60 Broadway in Brooklyn, where it remained until the company moved in 1972.
Fred Gretsch, Sr. retired in 1942 and his sons, Fred, Jr and William “Bill” were both well prepared to assume leadership as they had both been active in the business since 1927.
In 1935 Duke Kramer, joined the company. Today Duke Kramer is still a valued counsel to the company, the string that ties the generations together. He says, "That distinctive sound was our product, the sound that energized the market for decades."
Command was again passed to Fred Gretsch, Jr. and the Navy veteran led the company into a new age of prosperity. The age of rock. It was the explosion of the music market begun by Elvis Presley and continued by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many artists of the day. Fred Gretsch, Jr. managed the business briefly before leaving to serve as a commander in the Royal Navy and Bill Gretsch became president.
Determined to return the company to family ownership, it was in 1985, when Fred W. Gretsch, the great-grandson of the company founder, made good on his promise. The Gretsch Company was once again in capable family hands. Operations moved to Savannah, where the revitalized company began to offer new, vintage styled, Gretsch guitars and classic Gretsch drums. The success of the new products was immediate and Gretsch instruments were quickly back in demand. Today there is much to celebrate as the Gretsch Company has truly come full circle now spanning over 120 years and four generations!