Gretsch timeline

1883
Friedrich Gretsch founds the Gretsch company.
1895
Friedrich Gretsch dies. His fifteen-year-old son Fred Gretsch takes over.
1915
Gretsch expands, moving to the 10-story Gretsch building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn.
1933
Gretsch uses its own name on guitars for the first time, rather than just selling to wholesalers.
1935
Duke Kramer begins working for Gretsch.
1939
The first Gretsch electric guitar, the Electromatic, is offered. Production of these early Electromatics was farmed out, probably to Kay, and not many were made.
The Synchromatic line of arch top acoustics was introduced to considerable success.
1941
Bill Hagner joins Gretsch. He quickly becomes Production Manager.
1942
Fred Gretsch retires. His son, William, takes over briefly. Gretsch stops guitar production to assist in war efforts.
1946
Gretsch begins post-war production.
Jimmie Webster begins working regularly for Gretsch.
1948
Fred Gretsch, Jr. takes over from William as head of Fred Gretsch Enterprises.
1949
First post-war truly Gretsch Electromatic, debuts.
1951
First cutaway bodies appear on Electromatic and new Electro II guitar models.
1953
Duo-Jet production starts, kicking off the entire Jet line of solidbodies to come.
Electro II losses the Synchromatic headstock logo, and with the new T-roof logo (and truss rod adjuster on the headstock) the model is renamed Country Club, creating one of Gretsch's best-known and longest-lasting models.
Electromatic-cutaway (pre-Streamliner) debuts as the 6190-1 model.
1954
Jimmie Webster convinces Chet Atkins to sign an endorsement deal, and the Streamliner Special #13753 (6120 prototype) is developed for Chet to approve.
Final script logos disappear and the well-known "T-roof" logo becomes the standard across all models.
Silver Jets (model 6129) debut
1955
White Falcons introduced.
First Chet Atkins models, the 6120 Hollowbody and 6121 Solidbody, are introduced.
1956
Dan Duffy is hired to oversee Gretsch Quality Control.
1957
Duane Eddy buys a 6120 at Ziggie's Music in Phoenix.
Most models have "Humped Block" fret markers.
1958
Tennessean introduced.
Country Gentleman introduced, bringing the number of Chet Atkins models up to four.
Dynasonics are dropped. Most models switch to FilterTrons.
Gretsch celebrates 75 years in business with the introduction of the Anniversary models.
Jimmy Webster unveils "Project-O-Sonic" stereo White Falcons and Anniversaries.
1959
Zero Fret introduced.
1960
HiLoTrons are introduced and fitted on Anniversaries, Tennesseans and Clippers.
1961
Jets switch to double-cutaway bodies. For '61 only they retain chrome hardware.
6120 bodies narrow from almost three inches thick to about two. This was to be the last year of the classic single-­cutaway 6120.
1962
Thinline, closed-top Electrotone bodies debut.
1964
In February, the Beatles play on the "Ed Sullivan Show." George Harrison's use of a Country Gentleman creates a frenzy.
Blacktop FilterTrons make their first appearance on a batch or two of 6120s. The factory had run out of FilterTron covers, so they drilled HiLo covers for the extra row of polepeices.
1965
Limited run of cats-eye Anniversaries made for Sam Ash Music chain, harkening back to the Synchromatic era. They lasted from roughly 1965 to 1968 and were available in red and black.
1967
Fred Gretsch sells out to Baldwin Piano company.
"Made in the USA" stamp first appears on the back of headstocks mid-year.
1970
Guitar production moved to Booneville, Ark.
Jets revert to single-cutaway body with the introduction of the 6127 Porsche Pumpkin RocJet and the 6130 Mercedes Black RocJet. The classic Duo Jet, Silver Jet and Jet Firebird quietly disappear.
Rally models discontinued.
1972
Gretsch New York business offices shut down and moved to Chicago.
Guitar models are given new 7xxx model numbers. Numerous spec changes coincide.
1973
Baldwin signs over production duties to Bill Hagner and his newly-formed Hagner Musical Instrument Corp. Arkansas guitar plant suffers two disastrous fires.
1978
Production reverts from Bill Hagner back to Baldwin.
1979
Sales and administration offices moved to Chanute, Kan.
1981
Baldwin shuts down Gretsch guitar production.
1984
An abortive attempt to relaunch guitar production in Jaurez, Mexico fails after only a handful of guitars are built.
1985
Fred W. Gretsch, great-grandson of the company founder, regains control of the Gretsch company.
1988
Travelling Wilburys guitars signal a beginning of new Gretsch production.
1989
Modern Gretsch guitar production begins in earnest. Production lines are in Japan, with business offices in Savannah, Ga.
1993
Brian Setzer signature 6120 line begins.
1998
Ill-fated "Custom Shop" guitars are made (expensively) in America.
Duane Eddy Signature 6120 introduced.
Brian Setzer Hot Rods make a surprise debut on the December 21 Tonight Show on NBC. They were supposed to be unveiled a few weeks later at winter NAMM, but Setzer gave a rousing version of Jingle Bells on the show with the new models.
1999
The "Synchromatic" line announced late in year. It was pretty much a duplicate of the Electromatic line, only available through select retailers.
Budget-priced, made in Korea "Electromatic" line announced late in year.
Gretsch buys Bigsby Accessories.
Mid-range Historic line introduced.
2000
Elliot Easton signs on, and EE Signature Jets introduced.
2001
Sweet Sixteen Rancher models announced in September.
2002
On August 19, Gretsch and Fender Musical Instruments Corporation enter into an agreement that gives Fender virtually all control over the manufacturing and distribution of Gretsch guitars.
2003
Korea-made lines are overhauled and simplified. The revised and upgraded Electromatic line is given 5xxx model numbers.
Budget-priced Synchromatic line dropped in favor of revamped and simplified Electromatic line-up.
FMIC-era serial number system begins around May. Note the first couple of months were hpyhenated before switching to the standard, non-hyphenated style.
Historic line dropped.
Sweet Sixteen Rancher models dropped.
2007
Chet Atkins returns to the Gretsch family. After decades away, in January 2007 Chet Atkins name returned to Gretsch, and the Atkins-related models were allowed to revert to their classic names.
Tennessee Rose models revert to Tennessean naming.
Country Classic models revert to Country Gentleman naming.
2008
Gretsch celebrates its 125th Anniversary with a few special models: the 6118-T 125th Anniversary, the 6118-T-LTV 125th Anniversary (with special Jaguar Tan lacquer finish and TV Jones PowerTrons) and a very limited edition 6120 finished in gold leaf. Note that all 2008 guitars had "125th Anniversary" badge attached. This does not make them Anniversary models, it makes them 2008 models.
2011
George Harrison Jet unveiled.
Duane Eddy comes back into the Gretsch fold and an all-new Eddy Signature model is unveiled.