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Thread: A Good Read

  1. #1

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    Default A Good Read

    Every November, my wife and I try to take a trip to the beach condo in Florida..........we go in November because the rates are the lowest of the year and the weather is still good...........it is a bonus that the beach is empty and all is quiet.

    Our favorite past-time is to catch up on reading books on the spacious deck of our 5th-floor condo while listening to the waves..............pure bliss !

    The first two books I read this year are :
    GRETSCH DRUMS, THE LEGACY OF "THAT GREAT GRETSCH SOUND"
    by Chet Falzerano
    and
    THE GRETSCH DRUM BOOK
    by Rob Cook

    The first book is a compilation of the history of the Gretsch family and the Gretsch business from the beginning in 1883 until the present (this book does not contain the association with DW; at the time of publication, Gretsch was still doing business with KMC).
    The history describes the four generations of Gretsch leadership........
    Friedrich (Fritz) Gretsch -- Fred Gretsch Sr. -- Fred Gretsch Jr. -- Fred W. Gretsch.
    And the men they employed that would make this company successful through the years..........
    Duke Kramer -- Phil Grant -- Bill Hagner.
    The fact that the Gretsch operation was in Brooklyn provides the opportunity for the company to take their products and services directly to the players in New York City during the time when almost all of the music was coming from that locality............all the Broadway shows, the birth of Radio City Music Hall, the Orchestras and Carnegie Hall, and of course the clubs...........especially the jazz clubs of Harlem.
    The Gretsch personnel would personally work these venues and top drummers to get their endorsements and provide them with the best American-made drums available.
    Because of this close relationship built over the years, it is unbelievable that the 1967 sale of Gretsch to Baldwin would result in the move from Brooklyn to Arkansas..............this move would prove to be about the dumbest idea Baldwin could have considered..........among a few others............and ultimately they went bankrupt.
    Fortunately, the company is now in the hands of Fred W. Gretsch and producing quality drums from the plant in South Carolina.

    The second book is a rich and detailed look at the Gretsch operation and it's evolution in the product line............here we find descriptions and photos of the parts and craftsmanship in the years of drum-making and one can use this book to track and date a specific drum............you can learn that a snare drum without the silver sealer would not have been made after 1967, etc.
    Many facts are available in that you could take this book with you to a potential purchase and learn dates and facts about the drum before you buy it........and even spot a counterfeit badge or part.

    I could write all day about the information included within these two books but I'll keep this post (somewhat) short and just say that anyone interested in the Gretsch legacy and history should take a look at both books.

    Here is a short list of industry innovations credited to the Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn :
    In association with Billy Gladstone (resident snare-drummer with Radio City), Gretsch would be the first to offer simultaneous tightening of the top and bottom heads (calf skin at that time); the "lightning" throw-off, and even the hi hat..............one of which was a bass drum mounted design with a cable, similar to the remote hi hats we use today.
    Gladstone had previously been affiliated with Camco and through that partnership he invented the sock cymbals and the bass drum pedal.
    In todays market, the Gretsch-Gladstone snare drums are collectors items.......and also still very good drums.

    Other firsts from Gretsch :
    the first multi-ply shells;
    the first cast hoops;
    the first rail consolette;
    the first 42-strand snare wires;
    the first adjustable internal muffler tone control.

    One interesting note about the shells that I ordered and received in 1977......
    The "Baldwin Era" was 1967 to 1984............these were the gray years when the products might still be the best in America, or they might be shoddy craftsmanship.......many inconsistencies in the outcome.
    Because Baldwin found themselves out of their league (and had ventured off into banking/finance as well) the Gretsch operation was for sale as early as 1976..............it was purchased by Bill Hagner, one of the old family-faithful from Brookland. Hagner took the business through a new quality-control routine that would ensure the finest possible product was coming out of the plant. Hagner found himself in over his head and could not keep production up to the level of demand............so in 1978, the operation reverted back to the Baldwin group.

    But the shells that came out of the plant in those three years under Hagner's strict control (1976, 1977 & 1978) are considered top-notch quality and the best of the Gretsch USA line during the Baldwin years.

    It is pure luck that I ordered my shells in March of 1977..............I was in my second year of music school and just happened to walk into my favorite music store in Dallas one day. There in the drum room sat two new USA kits from Gretsch............I was immediately impressed by the vision of these new wood finishes, one rosewood and one walnut. I went back to school and asked around about these new shells.............all positive replies from the older students. But these things were expensive............I traded in a nice 8-pc. set of Ludwigs (what would now be considered the Legacy line) and still owed a hefty balance to be paid by the time of delivery.
    I got the call in August, 1977..............I did not know until last week that these shells were actually produced by the Hagner group (The Hagner Musical Instrument Company of Arkansas), under the names of Baldwin and Gretsch.
    I remember driving a borrowed pick-up truck to get the new drums..........the shipping labels said "Baldwin Piano Company, Gretsch Drums Division, Booneville, Arkansas".
    I also learned that 1977 would be the first year that the EBONY MAPLE finish was offered.............which is the finish I chose.
    That finish has proven popular enough that it is still available today.

    Cool stuff...........................
    Last edited by Ricardo; 11-08-2015 at 11:42 AM.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  2. #2

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    Sure learned a lot about Gretsch drums from your post. Thanks for sharing Ricardo.

  3. #3

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    Good stuff ...

    Since I have been a Ludwig person throughout my playing career, I have a similar book for them, "The History of the Ludwig Drum Company" by Paul William Schmidt. I have read that book more times than I can remember and I never cease to be amazed at the incredible history that these great American drum companies were part of for so long ... they were there through it all ...

    I have not read Rob Cook's "The Ludwig Book" yet but it is on my wish list ... perhaps this Christmas ...

    Another good book is "The Drum Book" by Geoff Nicholls which documents the historical evolution of the drum kit within the context of the evolution of music throughout the years ...

  4. #4

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    You guys know of any books on Pearl drums.

  5. #5

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    I've got the books and the one on their guitars as well. Can't help it. Been a Gretsch-nic since watching the Monkees on TV.

    all the best...

  6. #6

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    Many guitar companies have dabbled in drums, and vice versa, I suppose.
    Gretsch is the only major company that comes to my mind that built an iconic reputation with both instruments.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePasko View Post
    Many guitar companies have dabbled in drums, and vice versa, I suppose.
    Gretsch is the only major company that comes to my mind that built an iconic reputation with both instruments.
    That's right! I think Gretsch must have had an arrangement with the producers of The Monkess. They played Gretsch drums, guitars including an electric 12 string, and a bass.

    all the best...
    Last edited by kay-gee; 11-10-2015 at 02:17 PM.

  8. #8

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    My only Gretsch instrument is a 1930's Gretsch "Clarophone" banjo-uke. I actually bought it several years ago, as a fixer-upper, from a guy at a bluegrass festival. But I didn't get around to fixing it up until late last year. It's a fun little player now.

    [IMG][/IMG]


    [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by JoePasko; 11-11-2015 at 06:04 AM.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl MCX Man View Post
    You guys know of any books on Pearl drums.
    All I could find was this -- condensed but still informative.................

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Drums
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by kay-gee View Post
    I think Gretsch must have had an arrangement with the producers of The Monkees.
    This is absolutely true............and covered in the book.
    The man behind the Monkees was Don Kirshner.
    It was a priority (at least at first) to make sure he had the Gretsch deal before he had the personnel for the band.
    Kirshner and his partners made a great deal of money from the TV show while the four band members were paid on a per-show basis.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


  11. #11

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    Because of that TV show and the Ringo (and other 60's drummers) thing, I was kinda torn between Gretsch and Ludwig as my dream sets. I eventually owned both...Ludwigs before settling on my current set in 1983.

    all the best...

  12. #12

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    Also interesting to note that the entire be bop jazz drum sound was built on Gretsch drums.
    Just about everybody who was anybody during that era played Gretsch drums at least early in their careers. some notables...Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Roy Haynes, Papa Jo Jones, Art Taylor, Tony Williams etc...etc...

    I got the feeling from the book that the Monkees deal was an attempt to get a piece of the rock and pop market that they had largely ignored up till then, while the Ludwig plant was running 3 shifts churning out the drums!

    all the best...

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePasko View Post
    My only Gretsch instrument is a 1930's Gretsch "Clarophone" banjo-uke. I actually bought it several years ago, as a fixer-upper, from a guy at a bluegrass festival. But I didn't get around to fixing it up until late last year. It's a fun little player now.

    [IMG][/IMG]


    [IMG][/IMG]
    Really cool Joe. Way back, Gretsch was a music jobber of sorts, manufacturing all kinds of stuff for department stores etc... Believe it or not, there actually Gretsch violins around. Needless to say, probably not very good!

    all the best...
    Last edited by kay-gee; 11-11-2015 at 08:09 AM.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by kay-gee View Post
    Really cool Joe. Way back, Gretsch was a music jobber of sorts, manufacturing all kinds of stuff for department stores etc... Believe it or not, there actually Gretsch violins around. Needless to say, probably not very good!

    all the best...
    I don't know about their fiddles. And I don't know if they were overall best-noted for drums or guitars or both equal. If anyone here at DC plays drums in a rockabilly outfit, I'd say it is quite likely that one of your guitarists has a big fat hollow-body Gretsch.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by kay-gee View Post
    I got the feeling from the book that the Monkees deal was an attempt to get a piece of the rock and pop market that they had largely ignored up till then, while the Ludwig plant was running 3 shifts churning out the drums!
    The Gretsch family realized a large jump in drum (and guitar) sales during the Beatles craze, as did all the manufacturers at that time.............as you note, the Ludwig folks (understandably) saw the largest.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoePasko View Post
    I don't know about their fiddles. And I don't know if they were overall best-noted for drums or guitars or both equal. If anyone here at DC plays drums in a rockabilly outfit, I'd say it is quite likely that one of your guitarists has a big fat hollow-body Gretsch.
    During the peak of the Gretsch Brooklyn business, they manufactured guitars and drums, as well as banjos, ukes, and components of other instruments............they were also known as distributor for all musical instruments (from other makers) brass, woodwinds, strings, etc., in New York which was at the heart of music business in that time period.
    Gretsch USA & Zildjian
    (What Else Would I Ever Need ?)


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