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Go Ahead and Ask: Gretsch

Go Ahead and Ask: Gretsch

5. How did the Masterbuilt series come about and how are these guitars different from both regular production models and the original models they replicate? —Greg Kishaba, Eau Claire, WI

How did it come about? Well, it’s sort of like the amplifier that goes to “11.” It’s one louder! With that in mind, instead of a Custom Shop instrument built by a team of luthiers—each responsible for specific duties of guitar building—the Masterbuilt version is meticulously created by one person. In the world of Gretsch, the kingpin guru daddy with that prestigious title is Stephen Stern. How are they different from regular production models and the original models they replicate? Every detail of the one-off guitar is personally attended to by Stern. Extra attention to detail is painstakingly considered by the man whose signature will appear on the back of the headstock. It’s one thing to own a Gretsch Custom Shop guitar. It’s “one louder” when the guitar is personally built by Stephen Stern. —Joe Carducci

6. What are the chances of doing a special- edition Electromatic Duo Jet with a Bigsby B70 tremolo and TV Jones pickups? I’m sure there are loads of us who would buy one! —Mike Riddle, Kennington, Oxford, England

If you’re confident there are loads of players who would buy one, the chances are favorable. See your favorite Gretsch dealer and let them know what you want. The dealer should then contact their Gretsch sales representative with the request. If we can get enough dealers to come onboard with the same specs, the guitar could very well turn into a regional special offering. —Joe Carducci

7. My uncle has a Silver Duke Corvette that is amazing but he won’t let me touch it. What should I do? —Scott Dudley, San Antonio, TX

You should order one from the Gretsch Custom Shop built by Stephen Stern with a set of TV Jones Super’Tron pickups, a Tru-Arc bridge, custom graphics by JimmyC, and a custom tweed case lined in Lilac crushed velvet plush. Then your guitar will be more amazing than your uncle’s. And be sure not to let him touch it! —Joe Carducci

8. I own #26 of a seemingly rare 7594B double-cutaway Black Falcon II. I have read that only 100 were made. I’d love to hear your take on the history of this awesome guitar. —Robert Heyl, Santa Rosa, CA

Cool colors are part of the Gretsch DNA going back to the 1930s. Collaborations with terrific artists and musicians are another key element of the Gretsch psyche. It was the suggestion of a good friend from Germany who got us to try out black for the Falcon. Similarly, Bono energized us to do green for his Irish Falcon. —Fred Gretsch III

9. What’s the difference between similarly priced high-end Gretsch guitars (like the White Falcon) made in the US and those made in Japan?—Larry Dubin, Williston, VT

For starters, the Custom Shop G6136CST White Falcon is $12,000, while the comparable G6136DS White Falcon from Japan is $4425. What’s the difference? The Custom Shop version is crafted by Stephen Stern and his crew. These guys build Gretsch guitars from scratch, by hand, one at a time. With the exception of specific requested components, they utilize the same OEM hardware found on the Professional Collection guitars produced at our Terada factory located in Nagoya, Japan. Most of the hardwoods used at the Custom Shop are sourced from Northern America. The DynaSonic pickups are specially designed and built by Seymour Duncan. Features also include a spruce top, three-ply maple back and sides, and nitrocellulose lacquer finish.

The Professional Collection G6136DS White Falcon guitars are built at the Terada factory, which is the original facility Fred Gretsch found to produce his guitars after obtaining the Gretsch company back from Baldwin. These guitars are created by skilled luthiers who specialize in producing high-end hollowbody electric guitars in an old-school, batch-run style. They source the majority of their woods from Asia. They feature OEM DynaSonic pickups, three-ply maple tops, backs, and sides, and gloss urethane finishes. —Joe Carducci

10. I understand that Gretsch has a family museum here in Savannah, Georgia. Is it open to the public or available to be viewed by appointment? —Jim Wadsworth, Savannah, GA

The Gretsch family has resided in Savannah since 1978. Stay tuned for more news on opportunities to view parts of the Gretsch family’s collection of instruments and artifacts covering three centuries of production of musical instruments of all types. —Fred Gretsch III

For next month’s “Go Ahead and Ask,” head to and let us know what questions you’d like to ask Andy McKee.
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