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Gretsch could expand market share by embracing more female artists …

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According to this article 50% of new guitar buyers in the UK are female. They suggest those numbers are probably similar in the USA. Fender has been doing quite a bit to attract more female buyers. Gretsch would be wise to do the same.

On the Gretsch "Featured Artist" page there are 47 men and 3 women (3 of the 47 men are deceased so there's that). The male to female ratio on the Gretsch Instagram page is about the same.

In the attempt to increase market share I think Gretsch would do well to embrace more female artists and produce a model in each line that has a much slimmer neck for smaller hands. Not a pink guitar, nor a "Lady Gretsch" model but the same model but with a slimmer neck. Call it a 6120SL or 5420SL.

And to be clear I'm not posting to be critical of Gretsch, but pointing out that if this statistics are anywhere near correct Gretsch is ignoring a huge population of guitar consumers. And probably most male or females buy an acoustic guitar first, for those who stick with it an electric will likely be their next purchase.

Full disclosure I have a 15yo daughter who owns 2 electric guitars, 1 acoustic and plays one of my 2 Gretsches often (and remarks about the "ginormous neck" when she does.

The Jet series are lighter than a Les Paul, more functional (with a Bigsby) than any Fender, more attractive than both (in my biased opinion) and he hollow body models are reminiscent of an acoustic guitar not to mention gorgeous are more affordable and better quality than most competitors.

All of those traits, to me, would/should be appealing to a female artist. So it's like Gretsch you have the goods, so make a model with a neck that is friendly to smaller hands and promote more female artists. On your Instagram, your featured artists, etc.

Or stick to dudes...

edit: I don't have an Instagram account but dang the photos on the Gretsch Insta are absolutely gorgeous. Really fine photography who ever is running that social media!

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If modern Gretsch necks get any more slim than they already are, they won't be able to handle the string tension.

But I can see where you're coming from.

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More women in music, more girls playing guitar, absolutely.

But I'm wondering too ... "ginormous?" A GRETSCH neck? I appreciate the problems of small hands - but my 12-year-old granddaughter's hands are as big as mine, and I'm full-growed. I've been able to manage.

There's just a physical size limit below which it's hard to make a full-size, fully functional electric guitar. Shorter scale, yes. I've found it's the length of the neck - and/or body size and shape - that most daunts smaller players.

But if you narrow the neck much in width, to make less distance between strings, you'll be replacing the guitar every year as the player grows into normal-sized fingers. (Even for some of us small-handed folk, Rickenbacker necks are too narrow across.) Some European guitars of decades ago had extraordinarily narrow necks, which have presented most players with the same problem.

Or are we just talking about the thickness of the neck front-to-back? I suppose there's some room to play there, but I wonder how much. I have a 60s Fender Mustang, purpose-made for "students," and its neck is not much thinner - in either dimension - than most of my Gretschs' necks.

I'm curious what acoustic your daughter has which has a less ginormous neck than which Gretsch.

I'm not dismissing the idea out of hand, I just wonder what dimensions we're talking about - and if we're going to change the body size and scale at the same time, to shrink the whole instrument.

None of which is necessarily a bad idea - but, almost by definition, you're building such an instrument for a beginner who is soon going to graduate to needing a larger guitar. Since there are already a number of small, inexpensive beginner electrics on the market, I wonder how much money potential buyers of such instruments (be it parents or kids themselves saving their milk money) are willing to spend on Gretsch quality for a temporary guitar.

Because if it doesn't have Gretsch quality and playability...the point dulls considerably. And given labor costs and only slightly reduced material, it couldn't cost much less to build a 3/4 guitar (for instance) than a full-sized one.

A valid approach for smaller beginners is something 4-stringed: a uke, which tunes like a guitar; or the Loog guitar.

Most of the smaller girls I've seen playing electric guitar have been Korean - shredding on Ibanezezeses.

So are we talking mini-Jets with slim skinny flat shredder necks?

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Do this, take your average sized woman to a guitar shop have her try a 5420 and a Fender Telecaster, ask her which neck she prefers

And I am not talking about a smaller guitar, don't they already make one of those? Or a student model. I'm talking about a slimmer neck.

Gibson manages to do that, so does Fender. So I'm not sure about the string tension thing.

My Daughter has a Taylor and two Fenders, a Strat and a Telecaster

And guys, I'm not complaining. But I think Gretsch is missing a huge chunk of potential new buyers. Obviously some women (3 out of 50 apparently if the featured artist is any indication) buy Gretsch guitars and the neck doesn't chase those women away.

My point is I think they are missing out by not targeting and doing more for this consumer group. According to statistics about 50% of the new guitar buying public are female, females are smaller in size than men. That means they have smaller hands.

To ignore or minimize that market share seems counter productive.

I see low hanging fruit and a long term sale strategy is my point. The future for Gretsch is not aging baby boomers like me, it's young people. And according to statistics it's 50% female.

Or they can stick to dudes lol.

If I was the King of Gretsch for a day I would have a Jet, 5420 and 5120 model with a slim neck profile, I'd get a mix of close to 50-50 male to female featured artists and I'd get a Gretsch in the hands of Taylor Swift and similar female artists as fast as I could. Oh and I would flood my social media with images of women playing Gretsch guitars.

I'd sell me some guitars. That's what I would do.

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I mean Gretsch featured artists:

3 women 3 dead guys 44 dudes

I mean come on ha ha ha Women, as featured Gretsch artists, are as relevant as dead men.

Market share is what I'm talking about.

According to Rolling Stone "IBISWorld calculated Fender’s market share in U.S. acoustic and guitar manufacturing in 2017 as 37.2 percent, making it the industry leader ahead of Gibson (32.8 percent), C.F. Martin (10.9 percent) and Taylor Guitars (9.3 percent)." I'm not sure where Gretsch shows up but apparently less than Taylor.

If I'm Gretsch I'm not going to ignore increasing my market share and women represent a huge number of guitar purchases.

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I can see both sides to this and attest to what Rob is saying. Both my kids whom both play guitar,violin and dabble in bass could not,try as they might,not play my ‘15 Penguin.It had sort of this shallow D profile. Now my ‘06 Duo Jet and ‘14 6120 has to me a softer C profile and they both play the doodie out of those guitars.But like Rob says I don’t neither the Jet or 6120 could stand anything thinner.

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I'm not sure I do either, Buddy.

I distinctly recall female punk band Civet getting significant help from Gretsch, around 2008 or so.

And didn't Lady Gaga use several Falcon models a couple of years back?*

I'm really not a very big fellow. About the same size and build as Yuri Gagarin. Take it from someone who knows- the comfort and playability issue when you are somewhat smaller than average is almost never neck size or scale length. It's body depth, weight and somewhat surprisingly, the positioning of the neck-side strap button.

I hope your daughter does great with her music, Mr Christopher.

*Pardon me Buddy, just spotted your Gaga picture. Didn't quite see her for the fronds!

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Well, Gretsch necks vary quite a bit, but are generally -- usually -- on the thinnish side already. I'd say if you're giving a woman a Tele and a 5420, it's not the neck that's uncomfortable, it's a 16" relatively thick body.

I know quite a few women who play, some who started recently, some who've played for years, and every one has said it's the body that makes or breaks it for them.

Think of the Annie Clark (St. Vincent) sig guitar: she was all about making it comfortable for women to play, and that was all about the body shape, depth and contouring.

At the risk of being crass, a lot of us would be slower to pick up guitar if it hit us in the balls every time we played.

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I'm not suggesting there is a problem, I'm pointing out an opportunity. It's an important distinction.

And it's nothing more than idle chatter, it's not like Gretsch is going to contact me for marketing ideas.

But Fender is hip to what I have written about they are actively going after that 50% market. Fender is a fun company to follow, not sure what's going to happen to Gibson but Fender will remain a leader I think and continue to increase their market share. With all the talk about Hip Hop nudging Rock and Rock as the most popular music form last year, and guitar sales in general being a bit iffy these days, it's interesting to me to see how guitar manufacturers position and respond to market conditions.

This next ten years is going to be interesting to watch how guitar companies face market conditions and changes in popular music.

I'm super fond of Gretsch and I'd love to see them broaden their market share and appeal.

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I say bring back the Gretsch Princess.

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Joe Carducci does such a wonderful job marketing these instruments- I also believe he does many if not all the things you have suggested to appeal to as many people as possible. Fifteen years ago, Gretsch was a quirky niche guitar. Nowadays, it's third-choice mainstream. Not a bad showing, by any standards. I find it hard to criticise in any way the work he does- he works hard, he works smart, he gets results and he's a really nice fellow too.

It's a very rare combination in his discipline- we've all come across many in that field that are either superior, aloof, incompetent or resort to a default odious fake charm.

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It would be interesting to see how many of that 50% are buying electrics. Most female players I see performing are playing acoustics. Most acoustics seem to have a chunkier body and neck than a typical electric, as well as higher action and larger gauge strings. So, wouldn't the ladies currently playing acoustics find playing a typical electric to be a walk in the park by comparison?

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Besides Civet, Gretsch has supported the evergreen Rosie Flores, charming roots sisters Nik & Sam, a 3-piece roots-rock female band called Calico, the divine Lynda Kay (like, a LOT), and exquisite jazzer Michelle Marie Nestor - of people I met in the Gretsch circle at NAMM shows. I suspect Gretsch is as open as any brand to endorsing and supporting female artists. With Joe's even-handed, respectful, and enthusiastic outreach to all artists - women included - I'd say more so.

For one thing, I've never seen anything remotely sexist in Joe (and, by extension) Gretsch's treatment of these women. It's always about the music. In an industry that has often exploited and objectified women, that in itself has to be refreshing to female artists.

But as I understand it, finding Gretsch's support of female artists deficient is only one branch of your argument.

The other - as you've rejected smaller guitars and scale lengths - is that Gretsch make guitars with slimmer neck in order to attract more female players in the first place. Maybe not a bad idea.

Let's quantify it. Please submit some dimensions and profile suggestions. Note I'm not debating the issue or finding fault with your suggestion; I'm just trying to get specific suggestions, because you've doubled down on the same issue in all your posts and ignored other suggestions.


Do this, take your average sized woman to a guitar shop have her try a 5420 and a Fender Telecaster, ask her which neck she prefers.

Is this woman already a guitar player, or is she new to the instrument? It's pretty obvious to me that most women will initially find the body of the Tele more comfortable, because it's thinner and smaller and may fit more smoothly with the unique feminine anatomy. She'd probably find a Strat even MORE comfortable, thanks to its topside back contouring. All this before she ever GETS to the neck.

It's also quite likely that the Tele in the store, by default, will have lighter strings than the 5420 - and certainly playing tension will factor into preference for one neck over another. But a novice or non-player may have no idea which details of construction affect her preference.

Let's be fairer. Put her behind a Jet and a Tele - both with the same gauge strings, set up with similar action - and see what she thinks.


If I was the King of Gretsch for a day I would have a Jet, 5420 and 5120 model...

Typo? Did you mean a different third model there? The 5120 has been discontinued since sometime in 2012, I think.

I'd get a mix of close to 50-50 male to female featured artists

I'm sure Gretsch - or ANY brand - would love to get to this ratio. But if there just AREN'T enough qualifying female artists, the only way to do it would be to...lay off some of the guys.

I'd get a Gretsch in the hands of Taylor Swift and similar female artists as fast as I could.

But that's not the way I've ever known Gretsch to work. An artist has to already have an interest in Gretsch - and have proven it in some way, by playing Gretschs - before Gretsch wants to put them out there for the brand. They want true Gretschketeers, not hired guns who are just looking for free guitars - or, in the case of someone with Swift's or Gaga's visibility, who would know Gretsch had more to gain than they did by sporting the guitars. (And, as for Swift, I was in the booth at NAMM when two of her guitarists came by; I can assure you they were very well treated.)

At least so far - so far as I know - Gretsch hasn't "bought" artists by approaching non-Gretsch players and offering them deals. The company approaches known Gretsch players to offer support and formalize the connection between artist and brand; it also has artist relations people in the centers of music production who "liase" between the company and artists who have an interest in Gretsch. I'm sure those guys do approach other artists to see if they have an interest. But I think the sentiment in management is to want artists who already want Gretsch. As I've known it to work (and I may be naive), it's pretty organic.

ANYWAY, I know Gretsch is anxious and quick to support any artist who's out there making it happen, gigging with the guitars, building a following, releasing music, socially mediating, etc - whether they're male OR female.


Still, notwithstanding that nit-picking on my part, your argument seems to come down to "thinner necks." I assume you mean front-to-back rather than across the nut, though maybe both (I don't think you've specified).

So: submit some dimensions. I'm interested to compare your preferred neck profiles to what's already on some Gretschs. (Some of mine feel as sleek as any guitar I've ever played.)


Again, I'm not arguing with your sentiment: attract more women and girls to Gretsch, definitely. I don't know who would be opposed to that. I'm just trying to understand specifically what these downsized necks would be like. Shoot, maybe I'd like one.

I'm sure Gretsch is as alert to the female guitar market opportunity as Fender; they're in the same building, and some of the same marketing principles drive both brands. I'm sure Joe has sat in the meetings with the Fender guys when the statistics and demographics have been considered.

Your suggestion that there simply be slimmer necks may be valid - which is why I'd like to know how slim works for women.

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This is a very timely and interesting discussion! IMO, the single most important point regarding suggested changes to a guitar's features to better accommodate girls'/womens' [generally] smaller hands, is to deal with the neck. Tim makes great points regarding not making a guitar with a smaller width neck and then having to get used to a regular size neck when their hands have fully grown. I also agree a shorter - say 24.6"- scale would be helpful. That makes me think of hockey skates which you're having to constantly and expensively replace at least every two years or even every year if the child grows quickly. A narrower necked guitar is NOT the answer and I'll use myself as the example as to why not.

BTW, girls/women have more of a tendency to buy nylon string guitars because the string tension is lower. Now these guitars, a flamenco being the exception, have necks much wider than steel string acoustics and electrics yet many of the styles played don't find the neck width and depth to be a concern. Liona Boyd from Canada and Muriel Anderson from the US aren't hampered by the chunky necks even when plying Chet's fingerstyle.

I have a pair of guitars that clearly illustrate why there's no need to narrow the width of the fingerboard. My '72 Super Chet's width at the nut is 1.8", as wide as you'll find on a production electric guitar. I had the deep, chunky neck profile sanded down to match my '98 Gibson Gent, so it's what would be termed a 'thin' neck. My '42 Synchro's [asymmetric] neck is 1.68", the standard width for most guitars. That's a difference of .120".

The depth of the SC neck, measured just behind the 1st fret is .800" whereas the Synchro is .96", a difference of .160". Here's the importance of the comparison. Even with the wider width, I can easily fret with my thumb on the SC, whereas with the deeper neck Synchro, it's more difficult. This comparison shows that the neck width isn't the issue with how it impacts the comfort of a smaller hand but rather it's the neck's thickness or the mass of the neck to be concerned with and this is because the deeper neck can't be accommodated by the hand's flesh - the U formed between the left hand's thumb and index finger. Keeping the neck's width standard is important for the reasons mentioned; the area to focus on for female artists is keeping the neck thin. And BTW, this won't produce any harm to the neck.

The other area to be concerned with is not loading medium strings at the factory on a guitar targeting girls and/or for a beginner. The higher tension on young or not yet very strong hands and fingers that aren't even calloused won't help in maintaining interest in learning to play! This is the main reason for beginners including adults, why learning to play looses interest.....it's too hard!! This has always been a point of conflict for me. Go into any guitar store and no guitar in there will have been set up and many don't include a proper setup in the price!! Many a beginner or the parent who's buying the guitar, most often doesn't know what that is and how important it is. Combine too high an action with medium strings and you have a recipe for loosing interest rapidly!!!

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Current Gretsch necks aren't big front to back, I'd like it if they were a little clubbier - for my (relatively small) hands, the fingerboards can be a little on the wide side, especially with the relatively "flat" profile of the neck, my usualy thumb-over technique hurts after a while. Which is the main reason I don't own a Gretsch right now.

What Bax said - a lot of women have curves where men don't. my experience working in a guitar shop, with acoustics for example, if that when the average woman or girl tries out a dreadnought size guitar and I hand her a 000 or 00 size acoustic, I usually get smiles and "Ooo! now that's a lot easier to handle!"

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I'm really not a very big fellow. About the same size and build as Yuri Gagarin.

This really cracked me up. Thanks for the late night laugh, Ade! I’m in the same camp, btw. This is for you, my friend. Berlin Surf band Juri & the Gagarins:

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Just sayin'...Lindsay Ell has been playing Gretsch guitars, among others, as a serious player for the last few years. Opening for Brad Paisley and Sugarland this year, quarter of a million followers on Instagram, she’s sending the message out there. And I don’t know about girls buying nylon string guitars these days, I’d say Taylor Swift has sold many, many more steel string acoustics to loads of young players.

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And don’t we all remember this? Certainly do, and KT Tunstall has been rocking Gretsch all over the world since.

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And then there's Muriel Anderson. I once asked her how she was able to get her small hands around a big guitar neck. She replied, "Well, nobody ever told me I couldn't."

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Worked for Mary Osborne back in the days. Very well, btw.

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Excellent, Sascha. You've always got something fun and unexpected.

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Yes, Ms. Deed. K.T is great!

I actually think the new players edition with the 14" bout and thin body would be perfect for young ladies. It felt small in my hands at the Nashville Roundup. (that's what she said.)Sorry, couldn't resist.

I was watching the Voice recently and one young lady, in her pre setup, was playing a white G54** but she stated that her father was a classical guitarist so he probably had some influence. Which leads where I'm going. This is kind of on us, too. I have Daughters and Grand Daughters and if they decide to play, believe me, they'll be playing Gretsch. They already have the T-Shirts and have drank Papaws (Gretsch) kool-aid.

I know that Katy Perry's guitarist plays Gretsch too. Sure he's a guy but it still may translate to some young women. I believe he joins in on this forum, occasionally.

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Outreach to more women would be a good thing and the Gretsch Princess of the sixties was the first such attempt. Arguments about size of necks/bodies are moot as peoples' physical abilities are all over the place. Mr. Christophers' daughter complains of too chunky Gretsch necks and has no problem with Strats and Teles -- guitars that I've never been able to handle (along with anything over 24.75"). I had almost given up on guitar when I got my '56 6120 and suddenly I could do stuff that I couldn't on my Yamaha Martin copy. With the modern Gretsch brand there are so many possibilities of different guitars out there, it's just a matter of finding the right one for you. There's always Daisy Rock Girl Guitars (daisyrock.com) if you want to go that route.

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One thing this discussion brings up again... Why doesn't Gretsch make some chunkier necks?


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