Gretsch Guitars is an American guitar company that has been making world-class guitars and drums for over 139 years. From acoustic to electromatic to streamliner, they offer a wide range of guitars for beginners to professionals. Building their reputation for hand-craftsmanship and high-quality allowed Gretsch guitars to become known as “that great Gretsch sound”.
Their guitars can be purchased at many music stores around the world or you could order a custom guitar from the Gretsch Custom Shop.
However, with many American companies outsourcing their manufacturing overseas, the question is who makes Gretsch guitars and where are Gretsch guitars made? Below, you can read what we found out.
Who Makes Gretsch Guitars?
Gretsch guitars are distributed and sold through a variety of local distributors and dealers around the world. But they don’t manufacture ALL Gretsch guitars in the United States, as you might assume for an American company.
So who manufactures Gretsch Guitars? Interestingly, the manufacturing and distribution of Gretsch guitars is handled by Fender Musical Instruments Corp.
Fender Musical Instruments Corp. manufactures the guitars overseas, then distributes and sells them through various dealers around the world (as mentioned above). However, if you are looking for an American-made Gretsch guitar, you can order one from the Gretsch Custom Shop located in Corona, California. In fact, this custom store is located upstairs of the Corona, California Fender facility.
Where Are Gretsch Guitars Made?
Friedrich Gretsch established Gretsch in the late 1800s when he set up a small shop in Brooklyn, New York, where all the instruments (banjos drums, and tambourines) were produced and later expanded to include guitars. However, towards the end of the 1900s, much of the manufacturing was moved overseas. Today, several factories produce Gretsch guitars located in Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia.
In the 1980s, Japan’s Matsumoku (now gone out of business) and Fuji-Gen factories were building Gretsch guitars and since the 1990s, the Terada factory in Japan has also been building pro-line Gretsch guitars. Factories in South Korea, China, and Indonesia are mainly responsible for producing streamliner and electromatic Gretsch guitars.
While these factories outside of the United States are still producing high-quality guitars, you can still order a custom Gretsch guitar made on American soil. Located in Corona, California, The Gretsch Custom Shop provides American-made Gretsch guitars to order. This is the only place to buy a new American-made Gretsch guitar.
History of Gretsch Guitars
As mentioned previously, in 1883, Friedrich Gretsch established a small store in Brooklyn, New York, where he began handcrafting banjos, drums, and tambourines. Around 15 years later, Friedrich Gretsch passes away, and the company falls into the hands of his son, who takes over and expands the company over several decades. By the 1920s, Gretsch became the largest instrument manufacturer in the United States.
Through this period, from the late 1800s until the 1940s, Gretsch thrived by listening to what the public wanted and manufacturing accordingly. At this time, the public wanted guitars, and so Gretsch began producing guitars.
The company remained in the hands of the family until the late 1960s when it was sold to Baldwin Manufacturing. During this time, they moved manufacturing from New York City to Arkansas. Over 17 years, there was a gradual decline in the popularity of Gretsch Guitars as Baldwin failed to understand changes in the music market through the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Following a series of unfortunate fires at the Gretsch factory in Arkansas, Gretsch ended up shutting-down production in the early ‘80s. The company later returned in 1984 to the Gretsch family. Through new models and reissues, Gretsch was brought back into the light through the ‘90s and became popular once again.
In 2002, Gretsch Guitars struck a deal with Fender Musical Instruments Corp. to handle manufacturing and distribution. Gretsch guitars are often produced in the same factories as Fender guitars.
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