The origin tale of Gretsch guitar colors reads like a secretive spy novel, including the influence of color marketing research done by Detroit's "BIG-4" auto makers, that changed rock & roll history, forever.
Drums. Gretsch knows drums. Some say they are the finest drum kits ever made. Respected by Jazz and Rock drummers alike, as well as many other diverse percussionists worldwide. But it is hard to imagine a time when Gretsch Electric Guitars were non-existant. No Gretsch White Falcon guitasr? :: tear:: No SPARKLE JETS ? (a Les Paul inspired shape ingeniously wrapped in big chunk glitter silver, glitter gold and glitter champagne colored sparkle drum material).:: sigh::There were no Round Ups with leather cactus and steer head motifs embossed in real leather around the edge of the "knotty Pine" semi-hollow orange stained Gretsch beauty, that has even more cows and cactus inlaid into the headstock and carefully engraved into the humped block inlays for safe measure.
But backing up, before Gretsch and their sometimes unothodox guitar color choices, a flashy cowboy musician was non-existant. Sure they had fringe, and a natural Martin style dreadnaut guitar. But a dark walnut guitar with all gold hardware had never been seen. An all guitar like the White Falcon just didn't exist. Gretsch saw a market in country and western performers, and was about to change things in the electric guitar industry, forever.
The story of Gretsch is long and takes many fascinating turns.
Here we opening the door to the fascinating and ever-interesting topic of Gretsch's color selection history for electric guitars. Gibson, Guild, Epiphone and Fender steered clear of avacado GREEN or sometimes called "Illness GREEN" (we avoided saying vomit-green there, catch that?) WHY DID Gretsch choose such, kitchy, cool and fascinating colors for their guitars? How can you not appeciate the subtle elegance of Bamboo and Copper mist finsihes on the Gretsch Electromatic with a single D'Armond from their 1954 line. Or a bright red 3/4 scale 1950's Rambler with a red matching truss rod cover (Later done on jet Firbirds tin homage). Do I even have to mention Orange. Orange and the man Chet Atkins would forever be assimilated into a great color combination for any player of any skill level. Not into the color orange, Gretsch made ya'll the walnut Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, 17" wide. In the early 1950's, to many guitar players, Gretsch meant DUANE EDDY, and his twangy vibrato and tone from that orange guitar with the unusual name, GRETSCH! Duane Eddy was equal to, and alot like Elvis at this time. Now back to the origins, of orange, and other odd Gretsch guitar color choices for 16", 16.5" & 17" standard production model guitars.
So here is the heart of the LEGEND of Fred's guitar color selction method.
Fred Gretsch senior was said to have waited for the major "Big Four" automobile manufatures to announce the years car colors forcasted and projected by professionals who had been paid significant marketing budgets from CHEVY, FORD, GMC and CADILLAC, as well as foreign car makers, like JAGUAR. Fred would then "borrow" the deeply accurate, corporate finaced and research marketing results for color projections for the coming year at Gretsch, (ie JAGUAR TAN and CADILLAC GREEN) to name a few. it has been rumored for decades that a portion of his guitar "color schemes" match that color palette used by the BIG CORPORATE auto-makers. Rumors suggest Fred Sr. didnt even ask Cadillac or Jaguar for permission, he just sort-of used their names in hit literature and went about business as usual. If rumors are true, then WOW Fred, Sr., what a rebel with a cause...and that cause was GROWING GRETSCH through intelligent, educated, legal and overall darn smart business decisions!
So next time you drool over an avacado geen 59 PAF filtertron Gretsch archtop, an orange 6120, or you see a Cadillac Green Country Club guitar, or a rare custom strange catseye acoustic OLIVE GREEN Catseye Syncro, like the one we have for sale currnetly, think of the BIG FOUR Auto Makers very deep pockets assisting gretsch, and rock & roll, pick colors that popular culture deemerd "preferred" or "forecasted to be popular". True of flase, you can decide. Fred was very ethical, and I love Gretsch history, as well as Gretsch mystery, this yarn posesses both. Plus, hot rods cars and guitars go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Somehow I really, truly enjoy the idea that I can buy a car to match my vintage Gretsch guitar. Talk about color coordination! Now if I can find a clothing taylor to make me a Cadillac green suit to perform in, with a Green Country Club, I'll be truly ready for the stage.
- by Phillip Tertron
You sent in a fine compilation of Cadillac Vehicles and Gretsch guitars - Thanks to the online community!
A spun yarn, or a true Tale? Fred SR., and employees like Duke Kramer would share many intimate, intersting and funny Gretsch stories form over the years. This one about COLOR SELECTION was somewhat guarded and when I asked Duke Kramer, prior to his death, he would simply say: "Yeah, I've heard that too" and start laughing to himself.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!