Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gretsch Bass Guitars

The Gretsch Musical Instrument Company, never well known as a maker of bass guitars, got a relatively late start in the bass manufacturing business.

Friedrich Gretsch
Gretsch Musical Instruments had its beginning in 1883 when a German immigrant named Friedrich Gretsch opened a small music store in Brooklyn, New York. It was there he manufactured drums, tambourines, and banjos and built a solid reputation. Friedrich Gretsch died at age 39, in 1895, at the age of 39.

His fifteen-year-old son Fred took over the business and maintained the drum manufacturing business. It was not until 1927 that Gretsch not only produced their first line of American made drum, they also started in the guitar manufacturing business. As early as 1939, Gretsch produced their first electric guitar.

A few years later, in 1942, Fred Senior retired and handed over the company to his sons, Fred Junior and Bill Gretsch. Bill passed away in 1948.

Fred Junior retired in 1967 and sold the company to the Baldwin piano company. Fred Gretsch III was able to buy what was left of the company and the Gretsch trade name back in 1985 and once again, Gretsch was in business.

Fred Gretsch III
In 2002, Fred III entered an agreement with the Fender Musical Instrument Company to distribute manufacture and distribute Gretsch guitars. Mr. Gretsch and his wife are still very actively involved in running the company.

The first Gretsch bass, produced in 1961, had a dismal reception. The Bikini Bass had a modular design and one model in the Gretsch Bikini line.

These instruments came with interchangeable necks that bolted onto a wooden slab that contained the instruments pickup(s), bridge, and tailpiece. The body of this bass came with a hinged back, made to be folded in half, for storage and transportation when the neck and slab were removed.

The Bikini line also offered a double neck option that could be set up as a bass/guitar or guitar/guitar combination. Not well liked, those that have played it state that it did not sound as good as other basses of the day. By 1963, the Bikini Bass was out of production.

In that same year, Gretsch produced a bass guitar with a similar appearance to the double cutaway Country Gentleman and dubbed the model 6070. The guitar had a 34” scale, which is comparable to most long-neck bass guitars, a single pickup placed near the bridge, a built in muffler, adjustable near the bridge, a padded back and 24 carat gold plated hardware.

Five years later, in 1968, Gretsch introduced an updated version with the same accoutrements, but twin pickups. This was the model 6072.

Nineteen-sixty-eight was a happening year for Gretsch. They released the models 6071 and 6073. These were both single cutaway, hollow body bass guitars, with short scale necks of only 29 inches.  The 6071 came with one pickup and the 6073 had two pickups. The bodies of both models were hollow, however the F holes were simulated.

The headstock had four-on-a-side chrome plated tuners. All the hardware was chrome plated and the back was padded. I will confess to seeing the Monkees in concert at the Cincinnati Gardens. (Hey, I was 13 years old!) Monkees bass player, Peter Tork, used a model 6073. Production on both models ended in 1972.

In nineteen-seventy-two saw the introduction of model 7615. This was a double-cutaway, solid body bass guitar, with a long-scale 34” neck.

This guitar, produced until 1975, when the Gretsch Broadkaster Bass became its replacement. The Broadkaster name was a Gretsch trademark, originally used on a drum kit.

Most recall that Fender had to cease use of the name Broadcaster, since Gretsch objected.

Ironically, the Broadkaster Bass looked somewhat like a Fender Bass, but for its two-on-a-side headstock. The solid-body Broadkaster came with a 30.5” scale.

The solid-body Gretsch Committee Bass, model 7629, was produced from 1976 to 1981 and came with a single Supertron pickup, two on side-chromed tuners, chromed hardware and a beautiful walnut finish.

The bass was made with a large black scratch plate that covered much of the body or with a laminated walnut and maple body.

The scratch plate was clear and the bass came with a matching maple neck with a walnut stripe in the center that runs into the body.

The Committe bass was a nice instrument with a 34" scale.

The 1979 Gretsch model TK300 was a very odd-looking instrument. Its appearance is reminiscent of a Teisco or old Ibanez model. The bodies’ cutaways are straight. The bottom of the body has a slight indentation and the headstock is almost rectangular. The guitars pickguard is also quite unusual.

This was a product of the Baldwin years. There are complaints about the quality of parts on this model.

Gretsch entered a deal with luthier/pickup designer T.V. Jones in 2005. They would market and sell his guitars and basses known as the Spectra Sonic series. By this time, all Gretsch manufactured all instruments in Asia.

Many famous players had switched out their Gretsch Filtertrons and Supertrons to TV Jones pickups. The Spectra Sonic Bass, model G6145, came with twin TV Jones pickups. The body came in black with a large white pickguard. The $2000 price point effected sales.

Gretsch has dropped the line; however, Jones is manufacturing Spectra Sonic guitars and bass guitars and selling them on his own.

Gretsch has introduced several new models at varying price points. The most expensive current model is the double-cutaway White Falcon Bass, model G6136L. This comes with gold plated hardware, ebony roller bridge, and twin TV Jones pickups. Scale is 34”. Suggested retail price is $4700.

The new Broadkaster Bass, G6119B, is a single cutaway design in the Tennessee Rose style. The hardware is entirely chrome plated. The F holes are simulated. The bridge is adjustable and the twin pickups are both Filtertron humbuckers. Scale is 30.3”. Suggested price is $2500.

The Gretsch Electrotone model G6073, is somewhat similar to the Broadkaster. Although it is a hollowbody instrument, the F-holes are sealed. Scale on this bass is 30.3”.

This bass comes with TV Jones pickups and retails at $2900.

The Gretsch Thunder Jet model G6128B bass is a chambered body, single cutaway instrument in the style of Gretsch Jet guitars.

Like the previous two models, this has chrome-plated hardware. It comes with twin TV Jones pickups. It has a 30.3” scale and retails at $2800.

The Gretsch 6199B Billy-Bo Jupiter Thunder Bass is the style of Bo Diddley’s guitar, with touches by the “Reverend” Billy Gibbons. The solid mahogany body is topped with twin TV Jones pickups and a rosewood “space controlled” bridge. This unique instrument retails for $3600.

For the more economically minded, Gretsch also produces the Electromatic series. There is only one current model.

The Junior Jet model G2202 comes with a bolt-on neck and a TV Jones mini-humbucking pickup. Like most other Gretsch basses, this also has a short scale 30.3” neck. It is only $250.
©UniqueGuitar Publications (text only)


electric guitar online lessons said...

Guitars are one of the famous musical instruments that bands do commonly use today. You cannot complete a band without these instruments. It does contribute a lot to make the tune of the song perfectly.

Anonymous said...

For all Gretsch fans and collectors... I found a cool item on ebay. Gretsch case candy. These info cards are cool reproductions from originals back in the 50's and 60's. A must have to keep in your guitar case. There are two different sets. One for the gretsch with a Stand-by Switch and another for the gretsch without the standby.

bass guitars said...

Great article #1 on google for gretsch solid body bass(tk300) guitar

New guitar store

Danica said...

Many individuals prefer on using guitars as their instrument. You can find different bass guitar in various styles and also according to the quality of sounds.

Anonymous said...

Your blog says the Committee Bass was developed in 1980. I own one that is 1972. To the best of my knowledge the Committee bass came out in 1971 and ran until 1981. It was probably developed in about 1969 or 1970.

Anonymous said...

the committee came out in 1978 I own one and bought it in 1978. I also have the Broadcaster 7606 that ran from 1975-77 - the one that came out in 1972 is the 7615 with hollowed out horn. If was discontinued in 1975

You don't actually have a 7615 do you? If so want to sell it?

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