Gretsch Events

NAMM Winter Meeting 2018 — At the Crossroads of the Music Industry


I went down to the crossroads,
Fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy,
"Save me if you please."

And so begins another Winter NAMM meeting at the crossroads of the music industry. The National Association of Music Merchants annual trade show, which its organizers describe as “the world's largest trade-only event for the music products industry."

It is where manufacturers display their newest products. Where retailers purchase six months to a year’s worth of product to stock their stores. Where artists come to network with industry insiders and occasionally perform. And where they come to be seen, some simply so that they won’t be forgotten. Where consumers who are lucky enough to have a connection to the industry to gain admission to the Show have a chance to get a preview on the latest instruments, amplifiers, accessories, or music-related software. And it provides a great educational opportunity for music retailers to learn about how to improve their market outreach, and similar business-related topics.

It’s a gearhead’s nirvana. And it is a music fan’s ultimate people-watching opportunity.


For Gretsch fans, the NAMM Show kicks off on Wednesday night when Fender hosts a reception for its dealers thanking them for their patronage and also allowing them to get a chance to see new product under conditions which are better than the sometimes crushing environment on later days of the trade show. Traditionally, Gretsch uses the event to display (and sell) the highly creative work of Stephen Stern and the other master builders in Gretsch’s Custom Shop. Retailers literally from every corner of the world have an opportunity to acquire these special pieces. A dealer will slide a special card containing the dealer’s contact information under the strings of a guitar in hopes that his card will be later selected and he will be able to acquire that item for his store.

This year, Stephen Stern displayed a variety of Custom Shop pieces, some which were slight variations on existing models while others were huge leaps into Gretsch-building fantasy.


This is a G6134 Roasted Maple Penguin, masterbuilt by Gonzalo Madrigal, of Gretsch’s Custom Shop. It is a center-block with a roasted birdseye maple top, mahogany back and sides, and with tortoise shell binding and pickguard. Fitted with Grover Imperial tuners, Filter’tron pickups, and Cadillac tailpiece.

Gonzalo stated, “I put my heart and soul into this guitar. When I saw this birdseye maple top in the mill, I stashed it away for six months knowing that it would one day become this dream guitar. It was very difficult to build and the binding was an enormous challenge, but in the end, I feel this Penguin is a true work of art.”


Gretsch Custom Shop Masterbuilder Gonzalo Madrigal proudly displays his creation.


This is a G6609T Super Broadkaster, in Lake Placid Blue, built by Andy Hicks, of the Gretsch Custom Shop. It is a maple neck and body with block bracing, ebony fretboard, Broad’tron pickups, and a B6 Bigsby. Note the extra set of toggle switches – this was a part of a specialized wiring system which featured separate tone switches for the pickups.

Andy said, “The ‘Super’ Broadkaster is a nod toward the vintage multi-knob Gretsch models of our past. The five knobs and five switches all do something different and open up more dynamic control over the pickups than any other guitar I’ve ever seen or played. Adding center block muscle, there’s a million sounds you can get from this guitar – from an extreme low end to crystal-clear high-end.”


Next is one of Stephen Stern’s own creations. This is a G6118 135th Anniversary in two-tone Dark Cherry over Amber Flame. It has a maple body with trestle bracing, ebony fingerboard, and a flame maple pickguard. It features Filter’tron pickups, Waverly tuners, Space Control bridge, and a B6 Bigsby.


Here is a G6134 Penguin BT Flame Maple Burst designed by Chad Henrichsen of the Custom Shop. It is a center block model with book-matched solid flame maple top, mahogany back and sides, and mahogany neck with ebony fretboard. It has Grover Imperial tuners, a red “Penguin” pickguard, Broad’tron pickups, a Nashville style bridge, and a G-cutout tailpiece. The guitar has tone pot wiring with push-pull coil taps on the volume pots.

Chad stated, “Powerful – the way this Penguin is constructed and voiced with these Broad’tron pickups is simply powerful. The vintage Penguins are beautiful and amazing guitars, but my vision for this was geared toward louder, heavier rock. This is why I went with the solid maple top and why I was really excited about the new Broad’tron pickups – they’re a little meatier. These give a little more dirt and grind and I wanted something that was really going to jump out and push the front end of the amp when you really hit it!”


Another of Stephen Stern’s builds, this one a ‘55 G6120 Relic in Dark Walnut. The guitar has a knotty pine top with matching knotty pine headcap, and with curly maple back and sides. It has tortoise shell binding, tortoise shell truss rod cover, a flame maple neck, and a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Dynasonic pickups, a compensated Bigsby bridge, and a B6C Bigsby with a wire handle tailpiece.


Check out the tortoise shell pickup covers that match the tortoise shell pickguard.



– Ric12string

That's a great looking guitar, did you get to plug it in Bob? Or was it a look don't touch deal?


And yet another Custom Shop model designed and built by Stephen Stern. This one, a Black Metallic G6136 ‘55 Falcon. It has a European spruce top, maple back and sides, parallel bracing, ebony fingerboard with hump-block engraved inlays, Dynasonics, Grover Imperial tuners, Synchro-Sonic bridge, and Cadillac tailpiece. The metallic flakes in the black finish are quite visible, much like stars shining in the black skies of night.


With this being the year of the Jet (more on that later), here is a G6128T Dyna Jet built by Stephen Stern in Lake Placid Blue. Chambered mahogany body with maple neck, cloud inlays, Grover tuners, and Dynasonic pickups with white covers. Our pal, Joe Carducci, told me that this guitar really resonated with him, being the Dyna Jet guy that he is!

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