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Inside the

Gretsch Guitar

Factory

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 195711970 DAN DUFFY

195711970

DAN

DUFFY

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ISBN: 978-1-4120-6823-9

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Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

3

MY NAM E IS DAN D UFFY AND l 'M A GUITAR P LAYE R. I WAS H I RED BY THE GRETSCH GUITAR COM PANY IN 1 957 TO INSPECT AND PLAY EVERY GUITAR BEFO RE IT LEFT THE FACTO RY. IN THE PAST FEW YEARS I HAVE BEEN I NTERVIEWED BY PEOPLE WRITING BOOKS ON GRE TS CH G U ITARS P RODU CED IN THE YEARS I WO RKED TH ERE 1 957 I 1 970. NOW THESE GUITARS ARE IN A PRICE BRACKET THAT AMAZES ME. I SIGNED ALL THOSE GREEN O.K. CARDS THAT HUNG ON THE HEADPIECE OF THE G U ITAR. IN THE S IXTI ES. WH EN THE PRODUC­

DEMAND WE HIRED FRED

TION INCREASED B ECAUSE OF THE

RODRIGUE Z TO AS SIS T ME. VA R I OUS INSP ECTION POINTS WE RE

SE T UP

WITH A LACQ UER FINISH, IT WAS INSP ECT­

G U ITAR WAS SP RAYE D

THROUG HOUT TH E FACTO RY. FOR EXAM PLE, BEFO RE TH E

RAYE D THROUG HOUT TH E FACTO RY. FOR EXAM PLE, BEFO RE TH E ED

ED FOR ANY FLAWS IN THE WOOD THAT WE RE NOT SANDED OUT.

WHEN THE G U ITAR WAS READY FO R THE ASS EMBLY DEPARTM ENT

T HE

N ECKS, WERE CH ECKED TO SEE IF THEY WERE STRAIGHT AND TH E FR ETS WERE PUT IN PROPERLY BEFORE THE N ECK WAS FITTED TO

IT WAS LOO KED AT AGAI N. ALL PARTS OF THE GUI TAR SUCH AS

THE BODY. WH EN I STA RTE D T H ERE TH E FACTO RY WAS MA KING TEN

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Dan Duffy

OR TW E LVE G U ITARS A DAY. DURING TH E MIDDL E S I XT I E S IT WAS AROUND SEVENTY FIVE.

N OT APPLY IN

TH IS CAS E. EVERYONE WORKED TH EIR B UTT OFF TO MEET THE

D E MAN D AN D KEEP THE QUA LI TY AT AN AC C E PTABLE STAN DA RD.

BY TH E WAY THAT WAS MY TITLE "Q UALITY CONTROLLER"

WHEN I APPLIED FOR THE POSITION I R EALLY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IT WAS ABOUT. SAL SALVADOR RECOMM ENDED ME. HE

E NDORSED THE JAZZ G UITAR 6 1 99 CONVERTIBLE, A WIDE BODY

ACOUSTIC G U ITAR, WITH A FLOATING P IC KUP ATTACHED TO TH E PICKG UARD. HE TOLD ME THAT THE GRETSCH COMPANY WAS LOO K­ ING FOR SOMEON E TO TU NE UP THE G U ITARS . AT THAT TIME I WAS WORKING IN AN OFFICE DURING TH E DAY AN D PLAYING AT LEAST

TH REE NIGHTS A WEEK WITH MY BAN D. I WA NTED TO CHANGE MY DAY JOB B ECAUSE I WAS TIRED OF WAITING ON P ROM ISES THAT

N EVER HAPPENED, EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT THAT'S LIKE.

MY FI RST I NTERVIEW FOR TH E JOB WAS WITH PHIL G RANT TH E VICE PRESIDEN T. HE AS KED ME ABOUT MY EDUCAT ION AN D

PAST JOB EXP ERI ENCE. I GUESS HE TOOK IT FOR

PL AY ED THE G

MEMBER PRACTICING EVERY SPARE MINUTE I HAD, PRIOR TO THE

I NTERVI EW TO MAKE A GOOD IMPRESS ION. I HAD A COUPLE MORE

I N TERVI EWS AFT ER THAT AN D NO ONE EVE R AS KE D ME

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. LATER AFTER I WO RKED TH E RE AWH ILE I AS KED JIMM Y WE BSTE R ABOUT TH E FA CT THAT NO ONE AS KED ME TO PLAY. HE TOLD ME THAT SAL SALVADOR SAI D I WAS A GOOD PLAYER, AND THAT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM. HE ALSO TOLD

THE OLD SAYING "HASTE MAKES WASTE" DID

G RANTED THAT I

U ITAR BEC AU SE HE N E VER AS KED ME ABOUT IT. I RE­

TO PLAY.

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

5

ME THAT THEY NEEDED A PERSON WHO COULD HANDLE PRES­ SURE. IT WAS N 'T LONG BEFORE I KNEW WHAT HE M EANT. EVERY TIME I SIGNED MY NAM E TO THAT "O.K." CAR D I ASS UMED THE RE­ SPONSIBILITY FOR THE G U ITAR. I HAD TO TEACH MYSELF WHAT EVERY ON E CALLED "COMM ERC IALLY ACC EPTABLE." MY N U MBER ONE PRIOR ITY FOR THE G U ITAR WAS IT HAD TO PLAY EXTR EMELY WELL. G ETTING BACK TO MY I NTERVI EW WITH PHIL G RANT, EVERY TH ING WENT WELL AND HE TOLD I HAD TO SEE JIMMY WEBSTER N EXT. HE MAD E AN APPOI NTMENT FOR ME THE FOLLOWING WEEK. JIMMY WAS A VERY GOOD G U ITAR P LAYE R. HE WOULD DEMON­ ST RATE TH E G U ITARS AT TH E MUSIC SHO WS . HE USED A ME THOD OF PLAYING CALLED "TH E TO UCH SYSTEM" HE WAS ALSO RES PON­ SIBLE FOR ALL THOSE GADGETS ON THE G UITARS. SOME WERE VERY GOOD AND SOME WERE DUBIOUS. A PERFECT EXAM PLE OF DUBIOUS WAS THE "TONE TWISTER" A S MALL M ETAL P I ECE THAT

ATTACH ED TO TH E G U ITAR BE TWEEN THE BRIDGE AN D TH E TA I L ­

ACT LIK E A MINI VIB RATO. IT DIDN'T. IT

PIE CE. IT WAS SUPP OSED

WAS I N STALLED ON SOME OF TH E G U ITARS AN D TO MY AMAZEMENT ORD ERS CAM E IN FOR TH E "TONE TWISTER" . I ASKED TH E MAN­

OF TH E STORES ABOUT TH IS AN D HE TO LD ME THAT

AG ER OF ONE

SOME OF H IS C USTO M ERS LIKE TH E WAY IT LOOKS ON THE GUI� TA R, HE SA ID TH E MORE GADG ETS , KNOBS AN D SWIT CHE S ON TH E GUI TARS THE BETTE R. TH E SALES OF THE TO NE TW ISTER EVENTU­ ALLY TWISTED ITS WAY I NTO OBLIVION . J I M MY WAS RIGHT AGAIN, "J UST MAKE IT AND THE SAL ES WILL COME" WAS HIS MOTTO . TH E STO RY OF "TH E PAD DED BAC K" . JIMMY CAM E UP WITH

TO

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Dan Duffy

HARN ESS WAS VERY

I NTRICATE AN D BULKY. IN ORDER TO I NSTALL IT I NTO THE G U ITAR A FO UR OR FIVE INCH HOLE HAD TO BE CUT I N TO THE BAC K OF THE GUITAR. TO COVER TH E HO LE A PAD WAS MAD E. IT HAD S NAPS ON

IT AND IT SNAPPED ONTO THE BAC K OF THE G U ITAR. TH E "WH ITE FALCON" ST EREO GUITAR WAS I NTROD UCED W ITH THIS. A TRULY

B EAUTIFUL GUITAR WIT H A TRUE ST EREO SOUND. J IM MY USED

AND IT SOUNDED G REAT.

CALL S CAM E I NTO TH E FACTORY WITH R EQ U ESTS TO HAVE TH E

PADDED BAC K I NSTALL ED ON GUITARS THAT WERE JUST PUR­

C HASED. ONCE AG AIN I WAS AMAZED. WHO WOULD WA NT THI S

TH ING ON TH E BACK OF TH EIR G U ITAR? I KNOW I DIDN'T.

THEN T H E PA DDED BAC K WENT ONE STEP FU RTH ER. "T HE

PADDED G U ITAR" , OH GOD, WHAT N EXT. THIS TH ING LOOKED LIKE

G U ITAR WITH A S KI JAC KET ON. TH IS G U ITAR WAS N EVER PUT

I NTO P RODUCTION. T H E N EXT T H ING T H AT R EALLY G OT TO ME WA S THE TU N ­ ING FORK BRIDGE. TH IS WI LL BE A LITTLE HARD TO EXPLAIN. TH E BRIDGE WA S MAD E WIT H TH REE G OLD P LAT E D STE EL R O UND BARS .T H E M IDD LE BAR WA S ABOUT THR EE T I MES TH ICK ER THAN THE OTH ER TWO . IT HA D A TU NING FORK SCR EWED I NTO IT. A HOLE WA S MAD E IN TH E TOP OF TH E G U ITAR T O RECEI VE THE TU N I NG FO R K . A S PACER BRIDGE WA S P LACED BEH IND IT. TH IS D E VICE ACT UALLY MAD E THE G U ITAR SUSTAIN MORE, BUT CHANGING THE STR I NGS WAS THE BIG PROBLEM . THE ST RINGS CAM E THROUGH

A

TH E IDEA OF A "STEREO" GU ITAR. THE WI RE

TH IS GUITA R IN HIS

DEMON STRATIONS

GU ITAR. THE WI RE TH IS GUITA R IN HIS DEMON STRATIONS TH E TA

TH E TA I L PIE CE OVER TH E S PACER BRIDG E OVER THE FI RST BAR OF THE TU N I NG FO RK UNIT UNDER THE MIDDLE BAR T H EN UP AN D

Inside the

Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

7

OVER THE THIR D BAR THEN UP TO THE TU N I NG MACHINES. WHEN YO U STARTED TU NIN G THE STR I N GS UP THE UNIT STARTED TWIST­ ING. IT TOOK FOR EVER TO CHANGE THE STRINGS. WHEN EVER A RAC K OF TEN OR TWENTY OF TH ESE G U ITARS WAS OUTSIDE

S ET

MY TESTING BOOTH WA ITING FOR ME TO TEST, INSP ECT, AN D

THE I NTONATION I CALLED FRED TO HELP ME. FRED HAD A LOT MORE PATIENCE THAN I DID, OR THAT'S THE I M PRE SS ION HE GAVE.

MY BEST FRIEND FOR L IFE.TO TH IS DAY WE G ET

FRED B ECAME

MY BEST FRIEND FOR L IFE.TO TH IS DAY WE G ET FRED B ECAME TO

TO G ETH ER. WE STILL TA LK ABOUT TH E YEARS WE SPEN T AT TH E

GRETS CH FACTO RY. MY OTH ER BE ST FRIEND WAS FELIX PREVETE

H IS N ICKNAME WAS RED.

HE PA SSED AWAY RECEN TLY. RED STARTED WO RKING AT GRETS CH WH EN HE WAS EIGHTEEN YEARS OLD. HE KNEW EVE RY OPE RATION IN T H E FACTO RY, HE BECA M E T H E FO RE­ MAN OF TH E ASS EMBLY DEPARTM ENT. ON OCCAS ION FRED, RED AND MYSELF WO ULD GO TO TH E LOCAL BAR AND PLAY POOL OR

RED AND MYSELF WO ULD GO TO TH E LOCAL BAR AND PLAY POOL OR SH
RED AND MYSELF WO ULD GO TO TH E LOCAL BAR AND PLAY POOL OR SH

SH UFFLE BOAR D, HAVE A FE W BEERS AN D TA LK ABOUT G U ITARS.

TH EN AND I WAS TRULY IN G U I­

TAR H EAVEN. UP

LONG ISLAND TO SEE ME. RED STILL LIVED IN BROOKLYN AN D FRED LIVES IN TH E BRONX. WE WOULD GO TO TH E LOCAL MAR I NA, CAST OUR F I SHING LINES IN T H E WATER, S IT BACK AND TALK ABOUT TH E BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, WO RKING AT GRE TS CH GU ITARS. FRED GRETSCH JR. WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO BE SURROUNDED BY SUCH DEDICATED PEOPLE. EVERYONE WHO WO RKED TH ERE DID HIS OR HER BEST. MY TH I R D I N TE RVI EW WAS WITH HAROLD WOO DS THE FAC-

I WAS ABOUT TH I RTY YEARS OLD

U NTI L RED DIED, HE AN D FRED WOULD COM E TO

I N TE RVI EW WAS WITH HAROLD WOO DS THE FAC- I WAS ABOUT TH

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Dan Duffy

TORY MANAG ER AND H IS ASS ISTANT BILL HAGNER WHO LATER BE­

THEY AS KED

ME THE SAM E QU ESTIONS, PAST WO RK EXPERI ENCE AN D EDUCA­

TION . I ATTENDED THE SAM E SCHO OLS AS BIL L HA GNER SO THAT WAS ANOTH ER ONE FO R MY SIDE. EVENTUALLY THEY TOLD ME I HAD TH E JOB.TH IS WAS TH E B EGINNING OF MY CAR EER IN TH E MUSIC BUSINESS. THI RTEEN YEARS WITH GRETSCH, SEVEN YEARS

AS G UITAR SERVICE MANAG ER, THI RTEEN

YEA RS AS G EN E RAL MA NAG ER OF VINCI G U ITAR STRINGS AND FI NALLY FIVE YEARS AS PRESID ENT OF D 'AQUISTO STRINGS OF WH ICH I HAVE A SM ALL PERCE NTAG E OF . I NEVER GOT A DIME OUT OF IT SINCE I R ETI RED. ALL THESE ARE STORI ES IN THEMSELVES.

MY TO UR OF THE FACTORY WITH BILL HAGNE R WAS GREAT.

HAVING BEEN G U ITAR CRAZY SINCE I WAS ABOUT TWELVE YEARS

ALL EYES . TH E WOODSHOP WAS WH ERE THEY ACTU­

ALLY MAKE THE G U ITAR. THE WOO D WAS S E LECTED FO R TH E VA RI­ OUS PARTS OF T H E G U ITARS. N EC KS, BAC KS, TOPS AN D S I DES

WERE BEING CUT AND SANDED. BODY SIDES WERE BEING ROUTED OUT FOR TH E WH ITE BINDING. THAT'S WHEN I FI RST SAW "RED" . HE WA S ROU TING AWAY, WOO D DUS T FLYING EVE RY WH ERE, HE STOPPED, LIFTED H IS PROTECTION MASK AND GAVE ME H IS SPE­ C IAL "SO WHO TH E H ELL ARE YO U" ? LOOK. WE LA UGHED ABOUT THAT FOR YEARS. ONE TIME HENR Y THE FREIGH T ELEVAT OR OPE RATO R AS KED ME TO COME DOWN TO THE SECOND FLOOR BECAUSE SOMEONE

WANTED TO SEE ME. I AS KED HIM WHO IT WAS. TH E "SHYLOC K." THE DICTIO NARY DISCRIPTION

OF TH IS WO RD IS "A

CAM E THE MANAG ER AFTER HAROLD WOO DS D EATH.

WITH U N ICORD, I NC.

OLD I WAS

HE

TO LD ME IT WAS

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

9

RUTHLESS AND DEMANDIN G MONEY LEN DER" . WOW! !! NO ITS NOT

THAT BAD. HE AS KED ME FOR THE MON EY I OWED HIM. I TOLD HIM

I DIDN'T OWE HIM ANYTH ING AND l'D G ET BACK TO HIM. A LOT OF

THE WO RKE RS, INCLUDING TH E FO R E MAN AND OFFICE PERSON­ NEL PLAYED TH E N U MBERS AND HORSES AND ALWAYS OWED TH IS

G UY MON EY. TH EY ALSO USED OTH ER PEOPLES NAM ES IF TH EY

OWED TOO MUCH MONEY AND COULDN'T G ET ANY MORE CREDIT. I

WAS NOT A GAMBLER. HENRY TOLD ME THAT RED USED MY NAME

BE CA USE HE KN EW TH IS G U Y DIDN'T KNOW ME. I PA ID AND WE LAUGHED ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME.

TH E FIN ISH I NG ROOM

AND M ET JOHNNY DE ROSA TH E FOREMAN . I FORGOT TO M ENTION THE FOREMAN'S NAME IN THE WOODSHOP, JERRY PERITO. H IS COUS IN VI N NY WHO WAS TH ERE LONGER THAN ANYONE, USED TO BE IN CHARGE. HE N OW WORKED ON SPECIAL ORDERS. HE WORKED THERE BEFORE FRED GRETSCH JR. BILL GRETSCH WAS IN CHARG E WHEN HE STARTED TH ERE AS A TEENAGER.HE ALWAYS SAID BILL GRETSCH WAS TH E G R EATEST. FRED TOOK OVER AFTER HIS BROTHER DIED. VINNY FELT BETRAYED WHEN FRED SOLD THE COMPANY TO BALDWI N P IANO CO. THE COLORS OF TH E GUITARS ALL HANGING IN THE FIN ISH­ ING ROOM WAS EYE CATC HING BUT THE SMEL L OF THE LACQ UER

WAS N 'T. I HAD TO G ET OUT OF TH ERE FAST. J I MMY WE BSTE R WAS

COLORS . J UST ONE OF

RESPONSIBLE FO R TH ESE

RED S TA B

FROM THE WOOD SHOP WE WENT TO

MAG N IFICENT

ESE RED S TA B FROM THE WOOD SHOP WE WENT TO MAG N IFICENT MANY

MANY G OOD IDEAS J IMMY HAD FOR TH E GRETSCH G U ITAR. TH E FOREMAN JOHN D E ROSA ALSO STARTED TH ERE VERY YOUNG. HE WAS A VERY QUIET LAID BACK KIND OF G UY WHO WORKED H IS

10

Dan Duffy

BUTT OF F. HIS HANDS WERE SCAR RED. THEY LOO KED LIKE SOME­

ONES

FEET WHO N EVER WORE SHOES. I COULDN 'T BELI EVE IT. I

USED

TO AS K HIM TO "F E ET" ME

THE G U ITAR, HE WO ULD LAU GH

LIKE CRAZY. JOHN DIDN'T LAU GH TOO OFTEN HE WAS VERY SERI­ OUS AND VERY CONSCI ENTIOUS ABOUT H IS JOB. ALL THE YEARS

AN D PAI NT

OF HAVING HIS HAN DS

SUBJ ECTED TO SAN D PAP ER

T

H INNERS HAD TAKE N ITS TO LL ON HIS HANDS. HE WAS ALSO

U

PS ET WHEN FRED SOLD TH E COMPANY.WHEN JOHN PAI NTED A

G

U ITAR BY HIMSELF DOING ALL TH E D IFFE RENT OPE RATIONS IT

WAS A THING OF BEAUTY.

I REMEMBER ONE TI ME IN THE PAI NT SHOP SOM EON E P UT

TH EIR LUNCH ON ONE OF THE H EATING P I PES AND FORGOT ABOUT

IT. IT STARTED TO SMOKE A LOT S ETTING OFF THE SPRINKLERS.

T HERE WAS WAT ER EVERYWH ERE. WORKERS WERE RUNNING

AROUND ALL SOAKED. THE FIRE DEPARTMENT CAME ALSO. WHEN EVERYTH ING S ETTLED DOWN I WALKED OVER TO JOHN WHO BY THEN LOOKED LIKE "SWAMP TH I NG" AN D SAI D TO HIM "I TOLD YOU NOT TO SMOKE" HE DIDN'T LAUGH.

HIM "I TOLD YOU NOT TO SMOKE" HE DIDN'T LAUGH. FI RST VISI T TO THE

FI RST VISI T TO THE ASS EMBLY DEPARTM ENT I

WANT TO TELL YO U ABOUT MY FI RST G U ITAR. YOU WILL N OT BE­

L I EVE TH IS. I STARTED TEACHING MYSELF TO PLAY WH EN I WAS

A BOUT TWE LVE YEARS OLD. MY FATH ER PLAYED TH E G U ITAR

AND SANG. THAT OLD GIBSON ACCOUSTIC G UITAR H ELPED FEED MY MOTHER, BROTHER AND MYSELF DURING THE DEPRESSION,

C IRCA 1 929- 1 940. HE HAD THESE MUSIC SHEETS WITH THE GUITAR

CHORD BOXES ON THEM, HE SHOWED ME WHAT TO DO. HE WAS MY FI RST GUITAR H E RO. I USED TH IS GUITAR U NTIL I WAS TWENTY

B EFO RE MY

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

11

TH REE YEARS OLD . I WENT IN THE MARINE CORPS. AT AG E TWEN­ TY AND GOT OUT WHEN I WAS TW ENTY TWO . I COU LDN'T WA IT TO

G ET BACK TO PLAYING THE G U ITAR. ONE NIGHT WH I LE I WAS IN

ET BACK TO PLAYING THE G U ITAR. ONE NIGHT WH I LE I WAS IN

THE MAR INE S I WAS IN A BAR WITH SOME OF MY BUDDIE S IN JAC K­ SONVILLE NORTH CAROLI NA. TH ERE WAS A G U ITAR AND P IANO DUO PLAYI NG. AFTER HAVING A FEW BEERS I BET THE GUYS THAT

I COULD G ET UP THERE AND PLAY THE G UITAR. I WENT UP AND

AS KED THE GUI TAR PLAYER IF I COULD PLAY AND HE SA ID YES . I

P LAYE D "TH E WO RLD IS WA ITI NG FOR THE SUNRI SE "AN D" WHIS­

PERI NG". I HAD FREE BEERS THE R EST OF TH E NIG HT. ANYWAY, WH EN I GOT OUT I STARTED PRACTICING. ONE N I GHT MY FRI ENDS AN D I WENT TO SEE A G U Y PLAY. I DON ' T REMEMBER HIS NAM E BUT HE WAS A GOOD P LAYER, ABOUT TWEN TY YEARS O LDER THAN ME. HE HAD A D'ANGELICO GUITAR. MY FRIEND KNEW HIM SO WE STARTED TO TA LK. HE TO LD ME HE HAD A N E W TY PE OF GIB SON GUITAR THAT HE COULD'T GET USED TO PLAYING AS IT WAS VERY

D IFFERE NT. WE WENT DOWN TH E BASEM ENT OF THE CLUB AND HE

OPENED THIS SL IMLINE BRO WN GIB SON CAS E. AT FI RST I DIDN'T

KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF TH IS SOLID BODY GIBSON "GOLD TOP

LES PAUL" G U ITAR. YO U HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS WAS 1 955 AND I

N EVER SAW A SOLID BODY G U ITAR BEFORE. CAN YOU BELI EVE IT? THE MOST SORT AFTER

G U ITAR IN TH E

WO RLD TO DAY AN D HERE IT WAS LO OKI NG UP AT ME. IT HAD TO BE ONE OF THE F IRST ONES EVER MADE. I PICKED IT UP AND I KN EW I N STANTLY THAT I WAS HOLD ING T H E FUTU RE. I P LAYED TH IS GUITAR PROFESS IONALLY FOR ABOUT TEN YEARS , AND THEN AFTER TRYING ALL THE GRETSCH G U ITARS I SW ITCHED TO A 61 92

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Dan Duffy

"G R ETSCH COU NTRY CLUB GUITAR". IN THE FIFTIES AN D S IXTI ES A LOT OF TH E STU DIO PLAYERS USED TH IS MODEL GUITAR. IT WAS GOOD FOR ALL TYPES OF MUSIC. G ETTING BACK TO MY I NTERVI EW WITH J I MMY WEBSTER FOR THE JOB, EVERYTHING WENT WELL. HE EXPLAINED EVERYTH ING TO ME ABOUT THE N EW INSPE CT ION SYSTEM HE WANT ED. GREEN "OK" CARD SIGNED BY ME AND HUNG ON THE G U ITAR WHEN IT PASSED MY INSP ECTION AN D A "RED" CARD IF I REJ ECTED IT. EV­ ERYONE WHO BOUGHT A GRETSCH G UITAR GOT A G REEN CARD HANGING ON IT. ONE TIME THE OWNER OF A STORE CALLED UP AN D SAI D HE RECEIVED A G U ITAR WITHOUT THE "OK'' CARD HANG­ ING ON IT. THE OFFICE SAI D TH EY WO U LD SEND HIM A CARD BUT HE INSISTED ON SENDING TH E GUITAR BACK AND TO MAKE SURE THAT I INSPECTED IT. HE TOLD THEM THAT S INCE THE G RETSCH COM PANY PUT TH IS INSPECTION SYSTEM IN HE HAD LESS PROB­ LEMS WITH THE GUITARS. WHEN I HEARD THIS I THOUGHT NOW IS TH E TIME TO ASK FOR A RAISE. JIMMY TOLD ME DURING MY I NTER­ VIEW THAT l'D HAVE A JOB FOR LIFE BUT l 'D NEVER GET RICH. WELL HE WAS ONLY HALF RIG HT. I N EVER GOT RICH.

TH E RED

CARD". ONE DAY HAROLD WOODS CALLED ME DOWN TO THE FAC­

TORY OFFICE TO PUT AN E M PTY CUP I LEFT TH ERE ON TO P OF A FILE CABINET IN THE WASTE PAP ER BAS KET. WE J U ST HAD OUR

MO RNIN G M E ET ING AN D

AN D LEFT MY CONTAINER TH ERE . HE WAS VERY NASTY

AN D SAI D HE

ON E. LATER I CAME TO THE CONCLUS ION THAT HE DIDN'T LIKE THE

I FO RGOT

HERE IS TH E STO RY I CALL TH E ''THE POWER OF

WE ALL HAD OUR US UAL CUP OF COFFEE.

AN D THE OFFICE G I RLS DIDN'T CL EAN UP AFT ER ANY­

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

13

INS PE CTION TH I N G THAT I WAS DO ING . HE WAS TH E FACTO RY MAN­

FOR TH E P RO­

DUC TION AN D Q U ALITY. TH IS WAS N O T TH E F I RST TI ME HE SA ID

SOMET H ING ABOUT SOME TR IVIAL M ATTER. ONE DAY A LOT OF CHE T ATK INS 6 1 2 0 GUI TARS CAM E TH RU WITH THE TA ILPIE CES ON CR OOKE D. AS A RULE I WO ULD JU ST PUT A SM ALL PIE CE OF MAS K­ ING TA PE ON THE GUI TARS TA ILPIE CE AND TH EY WO ULD TA KE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. THIS TIME I FILLED OUT THE RED CARDS AND HUNG THEM ON TH E GUITARS. I LISTED EVERY TH ING THAT WAS

WRONG , C R OOKED

TA I L PIE CE, FR ETS BUZZING, CHE CK BRIDGE,

AG ER AN D AN ENGINEER AN D WAS RESPONSIBLE

BRIDGE IN WRONG PLACE, LOOSE ROD IN N ECK, ADJUST N ECK, ETC ; WH EN J I MMY WEBSTER TOOK H I S DA I LY WALK TO SEE ME, HE SAW ALL THE RED CA RDS AN D STARTED LO OKING AT TH E G U ITARS .

HE SAI D

I WAS DOING A GOOD JOB AN D WENT BACK DOWN STAIRS.

I H EARD HE WENT INTO TH E FACTORY OFFICE TO SEE WOODS AN D

QU AL­

HAD ONE OF TH EIR FA MOUS CON FRONTAT IONS ABOUT TH E

ITY. THE FOLLOWING WEEK HAROLD WOODS CALLED ME IN HIS OF FICE. HE SA ID I WAS DO ING A GOOD JOB, GAVE ME A RA ISE AN D

S POKE TO ME IN A C IVIL MANNER EVER S I NCE. ITS GOOD TO WAVE

TH E RED FLAG ONCE IN AWH ILE TO EXC ITE THE BU LL, BUT N EVER

THE WHITE ONE.

FINALLY BILL HAG NER WHO ALSO STARTED THERE YOUNG. TOOK ME TO THE ASSEMBLY DEPARTM ENT WH ERE I FI NALLY GOT

TO SEE TH E FINISHED G U ITARS. AT THAT TIME WERE S ET UP IN STATIONS . THE FI RST PERSON

TH E ASS E M BLERS CLEAN ED THE FIN­

GER BOARD AN D PUT ON THE TUN ING MACHINES. THE NEXT PER­ SON I N STALLED THE PICK U P S. TH EN TH E TA ILPI ECES AND ST RINGS

14

Dan Duffy

WE RE PUT ON. TH E G U ITAR WAS THEN PUT IN TH E RACK AT TH E TU NE AN D ADJ UST STATION . THIS PERSON WAS USUALLY A GUITAR

WITH

VA R IOUS S I ZE FI LES, SE T THE ACT ION AN D BRIDGE AN D THEN TEST

IT TO SEE IF TH ERE WERE ANY BUZZES. THERE WERE ALWAYS GUI­ TAR PLAYERS IN TH E ASS EMBLY DEPARTM ENT. I ASSUMED I WAS FI NALLY GOING TO P LAY SOM E OF THESE GUITARS. Bill I NTRO­ DUCED ME TO THE FOREMAN, I FORGET HIS NAME. THE FORMAN OF THE ASS EMBLY CHANGED OFT EN IN THOSE YEARS . LATER ON WHEN "RED" WAS MAD E FOREMAN THE WHOLE ASS EMBLY DEPART­ MENT TOOK A STEP FORWARD IN QUALITY. BILL TOOK ME JUST OUT SIDE THE ASSEMBLY DEPARTMENT WH ERE THERE WAS A D ES K, A PHON E, A BENCH FOR POLISHING

TH E G U ITARS AN D A RAC K OF E M PTY G U ITAR CASES. HE SA ID THIS WILL BE MY HOME BAS E. THERE WAS A RAC K OF ABOUT S I X GUI ­ TA RS RE ADY TO GO OUT TO CUS T OMERS. HE SA ID S I T DOWN AN D

TRY TH EM. AT LA ST I WAS GOING TO

TAR AN D PLUGGED IN TH E CHORD TO TH E AM PLIFIER. THE G U ITAR DIDN'T WORK. THE PICKUP WAS D EAD. I REACHED DOWN FOR TH E JACK I N P UT AND IT WAS LOOS E. I GAVE IT A TWIST AN D IT CAM E ON.

PLAYER. HE WOULD LEVEL THE FR ETS AN D ROU ND THEM OFF

PLAY. I P I CKED UP TH E GUI ­

BIL L LOO KED AT ME AND SAI D THAT'S WHY I NEED YO U. IT WAS

A STROKE OF LUCK . I FELT GOOD. I STAR TED TO P LAY VA RIOUS

CHORDS AND SCALES G RADUALLY PICKING UP SPEED. I PLAYED FOR ABOUT FIVE MIN UTES ENDING WITH THE CHROMATIC SCALE TO TEST EVE RY FRET. TH E G U ITAR P LAYERS FROM TH E ASS EM­ BLY DEPARTMENT CAME OUT AND NODDED THEIR APPROVAL. BILL

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

15

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 1 5 ALSO NODDED APPRO VA L. I FELT BEIT

ALSO NODDED APPRO VA L. I FELT BEIT ER THAN

THAT IS. BILL HAGNER STARTED TH ERE WH EN HE WAS A TEENAGER.

HE WO RKED TH ERE PART TIME AS AN OFFICE BOY. HE WENT FROM OFFICE BOY TO PRESIDENT. HE ALWAYS WO RKED VERY HARD.

WH EN THE COM PANY

OF A G R EAT LOSS. HE WAS BET RAYED BUT NE VER SAID IT. AFT ER AWH ILE HE SEEMED TO ACC E PT IT AND M OVE ON. BUT WH EN HE WAS TOLD TH E COMPANY WAS BEING MOVED TO ARKANSAS TH INGS CHA NGED. EVER Y ONE WAS IN A STAT E OF CON FUS ION AN D DISBELIEF. CAN THIS BE TRUE? DID FRED SELL US O UT? YES HE DID. AT FI RST I COU LDN'T BELIE VE IT. TO ME FRED GRETS CH WAS ONE OF TH E NIC EST PEOPLE I EVE R WO RKED FO R. DURING TH E GUITAR BOOM EVERYONE WO RKED TH EIR BUTTS OFF FO R HIM, WE PRODUCED S EVENTY G U ITARS A DAY WH EN NEE DED. TWICE TH E FO REM AN AN D I EAC H GOT A BO N U S OF S E VENTY FIVE DOL­ LARS. VERY FRUGAL I THOUGHT AFTER TH E HUGE PROFITS TH EY MADE. I TRULY BELIEVE THAT THESE HIGH PRODUCTION FIGURES

S I GNS

GO OD, WHAT EVER

THAT THESE HIGH PRODUCTION FIGURES S I GNS GO OD, WHAT EVER WAS SOLD H I

WAS SOLD H I S FACE SHOWED TH E

PROM PTED THE SALE OF THE COM PANY. WE LITERALLY WO RKED SO HARD WE ALL LOST OUR JOBS. TO TO P TH INGS OFF WE WERE TOLD THAT IF WE LEFT TH E COMPANY BEFORE TH E F I NAL OFFl­ CAL CLOS ING DAY WE WOULD NOT G ET ANY SEVERAN CE PAY. CAN YO U BELIEVE IT? NOW TH EY WERE TH R EAT ENING US. "STAY AND LOAD THOS E TRUCKS WITH YOUR LIFES WORK AN D LIKE IT!" TH IS MAY SEEM A BI T HA RSH BUT HO W ELSE CAN YO U TA KE IT. TO TO P TH INGS OFF FOR ME, TH E LAST DAY WAS UNBELI EVABLE. WHEN WE WERE HANDED OUR FINAL CHECKS I DIDN'T GET ANY SEVERANCE

16

Dan Duffy

PAY. AGAIN l 'M STUNNED. IS ALL THIS R EAL? AM I H EARING RIGHT?

BIL L SAI D BECA USE HALF OF MY SALARY WAS PA ID BY THE OFFICE HE DIDN'T HAVE TO G IVE ME ANYTH ING. I STORMED I NTO FREDS OFFICE. I M U ST HAVE LOO KED LIK E AN UNCAG ED LION . I TO LD HIM WHAT HAPPENED AND HE IMMEDIATELY SAID TO COME IN THE FOL­ LOWING WEEK AND I COULD PICK UP MY CHECKS. I CALMED DOWN AND LEFT. TH E FOLLOWING WEEK I WENT I NTO FREDS OFFICE. ON

MY WAY TO HIS

OFFICE I PASSED TH E G I RLS DIL IGENTLY WO RKING

AS USUAL BUT TH EIR SMIL ES WERE N OT THERE. IN TWO YEARS

TH EIR JOBS WO ULD BE GONE. I WENT I NTO FREDS OFFICE AN D

G OT MY CHECKS, FRED WI SHED ME LUCK AND I THAN KED HIM.

ONCE AGAIN I PASSED THE G I RLS. THIS TIME TH EY HALF SMILED,

I NODDED BACK. I WENT OUT TO THE ELEVATOR, G OT ON, WENT

DOWN TO THE LOBBY, OUT THE DOO R, AND I WAS GONE. WELL THAT WAS THE WAY IT ENDED. LETS G ET BACK ONCE AG AIN TO THE BEG INN ING AND MY F I RST TO UR OF THE FACTO RY. AFTER P LAYING THE G U ITAR AT MY DESIG NATED TESTING AREA, BILL SH OWED ME MY N EXT RESPONS IBILTY, THE REPAI R DEPART­

MENT. I WAS I NT RODUCED TO A VERY H UMBLE MAN CARMINE

COPPOLLA. HIS JOB WAS TO FIX ALL THE G U ITARS THAT WERE RE­

TU RNED.

I WOULD EVER KNOW. ONCE WE GOT BACK A 6022 "RANCHE R"

ACOUSTIC G U ITAR. TH E BACK OF TH E G U I TAR WAS S MA S HED. WHEN THE G UY FIRST CALLED ABOUT THE G U ITAR HE SAID H IS WIFE H IT HIM WITH IT. HE SAID HE LOVED THIS G U ITAR MORE T HAN

HIS WIFE AN D SHE KN EW IT. HE B EGGED ME TO SEE IF I COULD SAVE H IS FI RST LOVE, HIS GRETSCH GUITAR. CARM INE REPAI RED

HE T U RNED OUT TO BE

T H E B E ST G U ITAR M EC HANIC

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

17

THE GUITAR TO ITS

HE SENT ME A LETTER THAN KING ME. HE ALSO SAID HE WAS NOW

G ETTING

TO CARMINE AN D SAID "YOU N OT ONLY FIXED THE G U ITAR,

SAVED THE MARRIAG E" CA RMINE SHO OK H I S H EAD AN D WALKED AWAY

I HAD MANY I NSTANCES LIKE THIS. ANOTHER TIME A G UY'S G I R LFRIEND H IT HIM WITH H IS GRETSCH BLACK DUO J ET AND BROKE H IS ARM. THE GUITAR FELL TO THE FLOOR AN D BROKE THE N ECK. HE CALLED ME AND WAS CRYI NG ON THE PHONE "PLEAS E H E LP ME" I ASS URED HIM THAT WE WO ULD. ANOTH ER FAMOUS

RHYTH M G U ITAR PLAYER CAM E TO THE FACTORY TO SEE ME. HE HAD TH IS BIG 6040 GRETSCH ACO USTIC GUITAR. TH E H EADPI ECE WAS SNAPPED OFF. HE TO LD ME THAT HE ALWAYS TOOK H IS GUITAR TO BED WITH

HIM TO PLAY HIM SELF TO SLEEP. DURING TH E NIGH T

OVER ON IT AND BROKE THE N ECK. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED TWICE. MOST PEOPLE DON 'T UNDE RSTAND A PLAYERS ATTACH M ENT TO H IS GUITAR. I N EVER LIKED ANYONE TOUCH ING MY GUITAR. I ALWAYS LIVED BY TH IS COD E. DON'T TO UCH MY G U ITA R , DON'T TO UCH MY AMP, AN D DON 'T TO UCH MY W IFE. IN THAT ORDER. THE REPAIR DEPARTMENT WOU LD BECOME MY TEACHER. WHAT BETTE R WAY COULD I FIND OUT WHAT GOES WRONG WITH TH E GUI TARS ONCE TH EY LEAVE TH E FA CTORY. AT FI RST G LANCE IT LOOKED LIKE MORE G U ITARS CAME BACK EVERY DAY THAN WERE SH IPPED OUT. NO WONDER THEY H IRED ME. I FIGURED THEY

SO HAPPY

ORIG I NAL CON D ITION. TH E GUY WAS

ALONG BETTER WITH H IS WIFE. I S HOWED TH E LETTER

YOU

SMIL ING.

HE ROLLED

SO HAPPY ORIG I NAL CON D ITION. TH E GUY WAS ALONG BETTER WITH H

18

Dem Duffy

NEE DED SOMEON E TO FIX TH E S ITUATION OR SOMEON E TO BLAM E IT ON. ON THE LATTER i WAS WRON G. EVERYONE CO-OP E RATED WITH ME FROM THE BEG I NNING. TH E R ETU RNS WOULD BE A TOUGH PROBLEM. THE F I RST T H�NG I WANTED TO DO WAS MAKE SURE

GUI TAR P LAYED. A P LAY ER WI LL AC CEPT C E RTAI N FINISH

FLAWS IF THE GUITAR P LAYS G OO D . I SHOWED A FINGERBOARD TO THE FO REMAN IN THE ASSEMBLY DEPARTM ENT, ONE THAT CAR­

WERE SMOOTH AN D POLISHED. I ASKED HIM

TO PLAY THE G U ITAR AFTER ABOUT ONLY TEN S ECONDS HE SAID IT PL AY ED LIK E A DRE AM . HE AG REED THAT TH IS IS THE WAY THE

GU ITARS SHOULD PLAY. WH EN A GU ITAR FE ELS GOOD AN D PLAYS GOOD THERE IS NOTH ING BETTER. EVEN A N EW SET OF STR INGS CAN G IVE A GUITAR N EW LIFE. ONE DAY A PLAYER BROUGHT HIS GUITAR I NTO TH E FACTORY COMPLA I NING ABOUT EVERY TH ING. HE SA ID THE G U ITAR WAS ONLY A YEAR OLD AND NOW IT WO ULDN'T STAY IN T U NE A N D HE WAS SORRY HE BOUG HT IT. I ASS U R ED

HIM EVE RY THING WO ULD BE F I NE BUT IT WO ULD TAKE ABOUT AN HOU R. I GAVE TH E G U ITAR TO CARM INE . HE LOO KE D AT THE NECK AND SAID HE DIDN'T SEE ANYTH ING WRONG.I SAID I KNOW,

JUST CHANGE THE STR INGS. AFTER AWH I LE I BROUGHT TAR BACK TO HIM. HE TRIED TH E G U ITAR AN D STARTED

H OW G R EAT

HAN DED HIM A S ET OF STR INGS AN D A POLIS HING CLOTH. I

HIM TO CHANGE TH E STR INGS MORE OFTEN AND ALWAYS WIPE THE STR INGS OFF WH EN H E'S FINISHED PLAYING. HE WENT AWAY HAPPY. LIKE I SAI D, N EW STRINGS START TH E HON EYMOON All OVER AGAIN.

TH E GUI­ TO RAVE

EV E RY

MINE DID. THE FRETS

TH E G U ITAR WAS.

HE AS KE D ME WHAT I DID AN D I

TO LD

Inside the Gretsch Gu itar Factory 1957-1970

19

THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH ALL THE RETU RNS WAS THE N ECKS COMING LOOSE FROM THE BODY. WHAT A D ISASTER. I IMMEDI­ AT E LY PICTURED MYSELF CHE CKING IN TH E RETU RNS LIK E I DID EVERY DAY AN D SEEING A G U I TAR, B RAN D N EW, WITH THE "OK" CARD HANGING ON IT AN D SIGNED BY ME. WELL THE NIG HTMAR E CAM E TRUE. I WAS ON "ELM" STR EE T AND "F REDDIE KR UGER " WAS CHASING ME. IN ON E OF HIS HAN DS, W I TH THO S E LO NG DAGGER

LIKE FINGERNAILS, HE H ELD A G UITAR BODY AND IN THE OTHER HAN D A G U ITAR N E CK AN D SWI NGIN G IT AT ME. I COULD H E AR HIM SCREAM ING "WAKE UP MAN AN D DO YOUR JOB". G ETTING BACK TO REALITY, I AS KED CARM INE WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS CAUSING TH IS PROBLEM. HE WAS RELU CTANT TO SAY, NOT WAN TING TO CA USE PROBLEMS FOR ANYONE. I EXPLAINED TO HIM THAT THE PRESENT S I TUATION WAS VERY BAD FOR THE I MAG E OF THE COM PANY. IT WAS S I M PLE I SAI D. A BAD I MAGE M EANS LESS SALES, LESS SALES EQ UALS NO MON EY, NO MONEY, NO BUS INESS, NO JOB. I LO OKED AT A GUI TAR THAT CAM E BAC K. I COULD SEE THAT

TH E DOVETAIL FIT WAS VERY LOOS E.

CARM INE SAID THAT A GOOD

DOVETAIL FIT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE TO BE G LUED. WELL, THAT MIGHT BE STRETCHIN G IT A BIT I THOUG HT. I LOO KED AT ANOTH­ ER ONE AND IT HAD SH IMS IN IT. WH EN TH E N ECK IS FITTED TO

THE BODY A CERTAIN N ECK PITCH OR ANGLE IS NEEDED. WHEN TH E WO RKER CHIS ELED OUT THE DOVETAIL FIT TO SET TH E PROP­

N ECK P ITCH HE TOOK OUT TOO M UCH WOOD. WOOD SHIMS

DO NOT HOLD UP UNDER THE TENSION OF THE STRINGS. WELL I TH INK EVERY ONE IN THE FACTO RY KN EW TH IS BE CA USE WH EN I SHOWED THEM TH EY ACTED AS IF THEY KN EW.

ER

20

Dan Duffy

A GOOD STANDARD NECK PITCH MUST BE ESTABLISHED. ALL

HEIGHT OF TH E STR INGS

DEPEN DS ON TH E N ECK P ITCH. IF TH E N ECK P ITCH IS OFF, TH E

DOWN . TH EY

LOOK WR ONG, TH EY ARE WRON G, AND TH EIR UGLY. IF ITS AN ELEC­

TRIC GUITAR AND THE N ECK IS P ITCHED BACK OR FO RWARD TOO

STRI NGS WILL H IT THE PICK UPS. BESIDES CUTTING

CUT THE TOP BRAC ES TO

LOWER THE PICKUP. ONE DAY HAROLD WOODS CALLED ME DOWN TO TH E FACTO­ RY OFFICE. HE TO LD ME WE WERE GOING TO THE N EW YO RK TEST­ ING LABO RATO RY WITH TWO G U ITARS. T H EY DID EVERY T H ING TO THEM SHORT OF USING A HAN D G R ENADE TO SEPARATE THE

N ECK FROM THE BODY. WHEN WE GOT BACK AND HAROLD WOODS

WAS

ALR EADY KNOW WE

THE ONLY

SOLUTION WAS A LARG E SCR EW. HE AS KED ME WHAT I THOUG HT AND I SAI D I DO N 'T KNOW. I WAS N 'T R EALLY IN FAVOR OF GOING

AG AI NST THE TRAD ITIONAL CO NSTRUCTION. WE HAD A P ROBLEM AND IT HAD TO BE SOLVED. SAMPLES WERE MADE AN D TESTED. TH E SCREW WAS COVE RED BY A BLACK ROUND INSERT AND LOOKED GOOD. IT G OT THE NAME "NECK LOCK" LE TS STOP THIS SERIOUS TH I N KING FO R A MINU TE. TALKI NG ABOUT THESE S OLID BODY G U ITARS REMINDS OF TH E STORY I CALL "I HAD TO GO TO COU RT B ECAUSE I PLAYED A SOLID BODY

TA LKI NG ABOUT THE RESULTS TO J I M M Y WEBS TER. J I M M Y

SAI D THAT ONLY P ROVES WE CAN DO IT. WE

TH E G U ITARS

M U ST BE THE SAM E. TH E

BAS E OF TH E BRIDGES HAVE TO BE BU I LT UP OR CUT

MUCH THE

DOWN THE BRIDGE BAS E YOU HAVE TO

CAN DO IT BE CAUSE WE DID IT FOR YEARS. J I M MY SA ID

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

21

GUITAR". FRED GRETS CH CALLED ME TO HIS OFFICE AN D SA ID HE HAD A P ROBLEM AN D WOULD I H ELP HIM WITH IT. I SAID OF COU RSE. HE SAID THE FOREIGN G U ITAR MAKERS WERE SENDING THEIR AL­ READY I N EXP ENS IVE I NSTR U M ENTS I NTO THE UN ITED STATES"DUTY FREE." THEIR CLAIM IS "ITS NOT A COMPLETE INSTRUMENT WITH­ OUT TH E AMPLIFIER." HE AS KED ME IF I COULD PLAY TH E GUI TAR WITHOUT THE AMP AND I SA ID YO U CAN 'T PLAY A "G IG" BEC AUSE

EY CAN 'T H E AR YO U BUT YO U CAN PR AC TICE AT HOME WITHOUT

TH E AM P. HE AS KED ME "WHAT'S A G IG." FRED WAS NOT VERY HIP SO I EXPLAINED THAT A MUSICIAN CALLS A JOB A "G IG" I WENT ON

TO SAY, I EVEN CALLED WORKING FOR HIM MY "G RETSCH GIG." HE

SAID "PEOPLE HAVE CALLED WORKING FOR HIM MANY

TH INGS BUT N EVER A G IG."

HE REALLY LOOKED AMAZED WHEN I TOLD HIM THAT I SPENT ABOUT S EVEN YEARS IN THE BATHROOM P RACTICING WITH MY SOLID BODY G U ITAR. IT WAS A VERY LARGE ROOM. I HAD PLENTY OF ROOM FOR MY CHAIR, BOOKS , MUSIC STAND AND G U ITAR. IT WAS VERY QUIET AND PRIVATE MOST OF TH E TIME. THE ACOUS­ TICS WERE G R EAT. FRED LOO KED AT ME WITH G R EAT I N TE R EST. YO U CO ULD SEE HE WAS TH INKING VERY DEEPLY ALMOST CUNN ING. HE TH EN AS KED ME IF A SOLID BODY G U ITAR COULD BE HEARD IN A COU RT ROOM WITHOU T THE AM P. I H E S I TAT ED A MOMEN T TH I N KI NG HOW

SMILED AN D

TH

HE SAID "I LIKE THAT."

I N KI NG HOW SMILED AN D TH HE SAID "I LIKE THAT." QUIET A

QUIET A COURT ROOM M UST BE AND SAID YES. HE THEN ASKED WOULD I GO TO WAS HINGTON D.C. AND DEMONSTRATE THE GUI ­ TA R WITH O UT THE AM P. IN A C O U RT H EARING TH E FOLLOWING

WOULD I GO TO WAS HINGTON D.C. AND DEMONSTRATE THE GUI ­ TA R WITH O

22

Dan Duffy

WEEK. ST I L L BEING "G UNG HO" THE FLIGH T LEFT AT 9AM

I JUM PED AT THE

CHANCE.

FROM LA G U AR D I A AIRP ORT. IT WAS

THE PLAN E THE STEWARD­

ESS SAID G OOD MORN ING, CHECKED MY TICKET, DIRECTED ME TO MY S EAT AND SAID "YOU CAN P UT THAT TH ING IN TH E OVER HEAD COM PARTMENT" I HATED WHEN PEOPLE CALLED MY G U ITAR

"A TH ING." "HEY DUFF GO HOME

HAVE SOM E FUN" THAT'S WHAT I H EARD WHEN I WAS A KI D. GOD, i HATED THAT. "HERE'S MY TH ING" I G ESTU RED. THEN l'D G ET MY GU ITAR. ALL THE WR INKLED "S U ITS" HAD STARED AT ME WH EN I WALKED PAST THEM ON MY WAY TO MY S EAT. THESE G U YS AL L LOO KED LIKE LAWYERS. TH EY LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS A "BEAT­ NIK" WITH A SUIT ON. THEY KNEW I WAS N 'T ONE OF THEM B ECAUSE MY SUIT WAS P RESSED. I COULD H EAR THEM TH INKING WHO IS

AN D G ET YOUR TH ING AND LETS

ONLY AN HOUR FLIG HT. WHEN I GOT ON

TH

IS G U Y. THIS COULD BE THE G U Y WH O'S GONNA P LAY THE GUI ­

TA

R IN TH E CO U RT RO OM. H I S SUI T IS P R ESS ED, WE'RE GONNA

LOS E, LETS THROW HIM O FF TH E P LAN E. I DID TH IS FOR THREE

DAY'S . I WO RE A D I FFERENT CLEAN PRESS ED SUIT EV ERY DAY.

WORSE EVERY DAY.

TH EY KEPT CH ECKING ME OUT. TH EY WERE G ETTING SCARED. I

WAS G ETTING MORE CON FIDENT. WHEN I FINALLY WENT I NTO THE COURT ROOM

THE COURT

CL ER K ESCORTED ME TO MY S EAT. I WAS IN FRONT OF A PAN EL

THE WRINKLED SU ITS WERE LOOKl lNG

WAS IN FRONT OF A PAN EL THE WRINKLED SU ITS WERE LOOKl lNG OF S

OF S IX MEN. I DIDN'T R ECOG N I ZE ANY OF TH EM FROM TH E PLAN E.

I KNOW TH EY W ERE PART OF TH E C LAN BECAUSE TH E IR S U ITS

WERE WRINK LED. TH EY SAT TH ERE LOO KING AT ME AN D MY GUI -

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

23

TA R. TH EIR G LAS SE S HUNG ON THE END OF TH EIR NOS E AN D EAC H HAD A PENCIL IN HIS HAN D. THEY STARTE D TO LOOK LIKE MY NUNS IN CATHOLIC G RAMMER SCHOOL WH EN I WAS YOUNG, I STARTE D TO SWEAT. TH EY ASKE D ME IF IT WA S TRUE THAT I P LAYED MY S O LID BODY G U I TAR IN TH E BATH ROOM FO R S EVEN YEA R S. I ANS WERED YES. THEN THEY AS KED ME TO P LAY. IMMED IATELY I STARTED TO TH I NK "WHAT IF TH E NECK COMES OFF WH ILE I WAS PLAYING." I STARTED TO PLAY ANYWAY. I KNEW TH EY COULD H EAR ME BEC AU SE ONE OF TH E SU ITS STARTE D TO TA P HIS PENCIL TO

TH E RHYTHM I WAS PLAYING AN D

HE WAS SMILING. HE WAS HAV­

ING A GOOD TIME. I FORGAVE HIM FOR H IS SU IT. WH EN I FIN ISHED PLAYING TH EY SAID "THANK YO U MISTER DUFFY" I SAID "MY PLEA­ S U R E" AN D LEFT. A FEW MONTHS LATER FRED TOLD ME HE WON

TH E CAS E BUT NOW TH EY WERE SENDIN G IN TH E GUI TARS WITH­

OUT STR INGS TO BE AT TH E DU TY TAX. I SAID "S ORR Y I CAN 'T H E LP

YOU WITH THIS ONE." G ETTI NG BACK TO TH E SCREW IN TH E N EC K, EVE RYONE AGREED TO TH E N EW "NECK LOCK SYSTEM." J IMMY SURE HAD A WAY WITH WO RDS. HE COULD ALWAYS TURN A N E GAT IV E INTO A

POS ITIVE. l 'M SURE HE'S MA KI NG L IFE BETTER FOR EVE RYONE WHERE EV ER HE IS.

JIMMY CAME TO MY TESTING BOOTH WITH P IC­

TU RES OF N EW BMW CARS. HE WENT ON AND ON ABOUT TH E ONE HE WAS GOING TO BUY. EV ERY TIME HE WAS IN HE WO ULD SHOW ME PICTURES OF A DIFFERENT MODEL. HE COULDN'T MAKE UP HIS MIND. FI NALLY ONE DAY HE CAME IN AND TOLD ME HE BOUG HT A N EW CAR . A DODGE. I COU LDN 'T BELIEVE IT.

ONE DAY

24

Dan Duffy

I SAID THERE'S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DODGE AND

A BMW. HE SAI D I KNOW "THE P R ICE." HE THEN WENT ON TO TELL

ME ALL ABOUT THE DODG E. WHAT A G R EAT CAR IT WAS . AFTER A

SAY ANYTH ING,

THEN ONE DAY HE CAME AND TOLD ME THAT WE HAD TO GO TO NEW ENGLAND AND SEE A GUITAR P ICKUP SOMEONE HAD. HE SAID WE WO U LD GO IN HIS BMW. HE SAI D THAT HE TRAD ED THE LEMON

IN FOR A REAL CAR. WE LEFT EARLY ONE DAY AND WERE ON THE

TU RNED TO ME

AN D SAI D "RUNS GOOD?" I SAI D G R EAT. HE HAD THAT STI N KING

PIPE HANGING CLINCHED BETWEEN H IS TEETH. HE HAD THAT LIT­ TLE SMIL E ON HIS FACE AS HE WAS SLYLY LOO KING OV ER AT ME. WE WERE DOING A HUNDRED MILES PER HOUR. I PRETENDED I DIDN'T KN OW. SOON AFTER HE SLOWED DOWN , PU LLED OV ER AN D STOPPED. WE LOO KED AT EAC H OTH ER WITH NO EXPRESS ION AT ALL, AN D TH EN WE BURST I NTO TEARS OF LAUG HTER, WE COULDN 'T STO P. EV ENTUAL LY HE SAI D "DON 'T TELL ANYONE" AN D WE WERE ON OUR WAY AGAIN. TH E REPAI R DEPARTMENT WAS SUFFERING FROM A VE RY BAD OLD DECISION TO G IVE A LIFETIME GUARANTEE ON THE NECK. G U ITARS THAT WERE TWENTY TO TH I RTY YEARS OLD WERE BEING

REPLACE M ENT OR REPAIR. I HAD TO HONOR

SENT BACK FOR N ECK

THE G UARANTEE BUT I WOULD

C HARG E TO REPLACE TH E FR ETS

AS TH EY WERE WORN DOWN TO TH E FINGER BOARD. OTHER CHARGES WERE BEING I MPLEMENTED FOR OBV IOUS ABUSE OR NEGLECT. SOME OF THESE GUITARS WERE PROBABLY STORED IN

WH I LE HE WAS HAVING TROUBLE WITH IT I DIDN'T

TH R U WAY ROL LING ALONG

AT A GOOD PAC E. HE

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957=1.970

25

VERY DAM P PLACES FOR YEARS. EVE R SO OFTEN WE WO ULD GET ONE BACK AND WHEN I OPENED THE CAS E A MUSTY AND PUNG ENT

ODOR LEAP ED OUT AT

TA R BY TH E N E CK AND PL ACE IT HIGH IN

A S P RAY AT

THE LOCAL HAR DWARE STORE TO H E LP NEU TRAL IZE TH E ODOR.

CARMINE TOLD ME THE ODOR CAME FROM THE AN IMAL GLUE USED

CASE. IF TH E

GUITAR TO UCHED YO UR CLOTH ING YO U SMELL LIKE YO U PASSED

AWAY S IX MONTHS AGO AND YO U WE REN'T BURIED. WH EN TH E

TH E CUSTOMER AN D TELL

THEM TH EY N EEDED A N EW CASE. TH EY US UALLY AG REED. ONCE A G UY TOLD ME THE SMELL DIDN'T BOTHER HIM AN D DIDN'T U NDER­ STAN D WHY I WAS MAKING SUCH A BIG "STINK" ABOUT IT. I HAD TO PUT TH IS N OW BEAUTIFUL GUITAR I NTO A USED COFFI N. SEEING AN D PLAYIN G A TWENTY FIVE YEAR OLD "CATS EYE" GUITAR MADE MY JOB VERY I NTER ESTI NG. TH IS WAS A COLLEC­ TORS DREAM JOB. I OFTEN WON DERED ABOUT THE G U ITAR AS I PLAYED IT. WHERE ITS BEEN, WHO PLAY ED IT OR WAS IT BO UG HT AN D P LAY ED J U ST ONCE AND FOR SOME RE AS ON PUT IN THE ATT IC FOR TWENTY YEARS. I HAD SUCH A G U ITAR IN MY HAN DS ONE DAY. TH E G U ITAR WAS SO GOOD I CALLED THE G UY TO SEE IF HE WO ULD SELL IT TO ME. HE TOLD ME HE COULDN 'T B ECAUSE IT WAS HIS FATH E R S GUI TAR WHO N EVER CAM E BAC K FROM OVE RS EAS DUR ­ ING WORLD WAR TWO. HE NEVER KN EW HIM AN D TH E GUITAR WAS ALL HE HAD OF H IS. HE CALLED ME TH ROUG H TH E YEARS EVERY TIME HE BOUGHT A GUITAR FROM THE LOCAL MUSIC STORE. THE

REPAIR WAS FIN ISHED I WOULD NOTIFY

AT THAT TI ME TO SECURE TH E PLUSH LININ G OF THE

WIN DOW AND TH E CLOS ED CAS E N E XT TO IT . I FO UND

ME. I WO ULD G E T A RAG AN D HOLD TH E GUI ­

THE RAC K NEAR TH E OPEN

DOW AND TH E CLOS ED CAS E N E XT TO IT . I FO
DOW AND TH E CLOS ED CAS E N E XT TO IT . I FO
DOW AND TH E CLOS ED CAS E N E XT TO IT . I FO
DOW AND TH E CLOS ED CAS E N E XT TO IT . I FO

26

Dan Duffy

STOR E WO ULD OR D ER IT WITH SPEC IAL I N STRUCTIONS FOR ME

H I S FRIEND S WERE OR DERING

G U ITARS AND I HAD TO PICK THEM OUT. I N EVER CALLED ANYONE

AGAI N

RIES, I WISH THEY COULD TELL THEM. ALL EXCEPT MINE. "BUY A GR ETSCH G U ITAR AN D BLEED TO DEATH WH I LE YOUR PLAYING IT" THIS IS THE BOLD PRINT I PICTU RED ON THE COVERS OF ALL THE GUI TAR MAGAZINE S WHEN GUI TAR S WERE BEING RE ­ TURNED BECAU SE THE FRETS WERE STICKING OUT OF THE S I DES OF THE FINGERBOARD. THE EBONY FINGERBOARDS WERE SHRINK­ ING AN D ANOTH ER NIGHTMARE BEGINS. NOW WHAT DO WE DO. WE WERE PAYING FOR PURE LO NG TERM DRIED WOO D. IT WAS ALWAYS CH ECKED FOR THE MOISTU RE CONTENT WHEN WE RECE IVED IT. WE STACKED THE FINGERBOAR DS FOR MONTHS. WE EVEN ROTAT­ ED THEM. TH IS HAPPENED EVERY ONCE IN AWH ILE. THIS PR OBLEM WAS N EVER REALLY RESOLVED. LATER IN MY CAREER WHEN I WAS

ROS E WOO D GUI TAR S

I SAW A CONTINUIN G D I SASTER.THEY EVEN SENT ME TO

THE FAC­

WORKING FOR AN IMP ORTER OF BRAZI LIAN

ABOUT TH E IR GUI TAR . OLD GUI TAR S HAVE S P ECIAL STO­

TO P I CK IT OUT. BE FORE LO NG ALL

TORY IN BRAZIL. MY CONCLUS ION OF WHAT I CALL WET WOOD IS "YOU CAN THAW IT YOU CAN STOR E IT, YOU CAN DYE IT YOU CAN

FRY IT" AND IT WILL STILL WAR P ON OCCAS ION. IT CAUSES MOST

OF ALL TH E

H ERE IS A STO RY I CALL "THE CAS E OF THE SWI NGING CLAR I­

N ET" TH IS DOES NOT M EAN SWI NGING IN A MUS ICAL SE NSE, BUT A

CLAR INET SWI NGING BY A ROPE FROM A S EVENTH FLOO R BALCONY OR WIN DOW l'M NOT SURE WH ICH. FOR THOSE NOT FAM I L IAR WITH TH E GR ET SCH BUILDING AT SIXTY BR OADWAY BR OO KLYN IT IS A

PROBLEMS IN G U ITAR CONSTRUCTION.

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957=1970

27

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957=1970 27 BLOCK LONG, A BLOCK WI DE WITH A S

BLOCK LONG, A BLOCK WI DE WITH A S MALL PARKI NG LOT iN THE

R EAR FO R SUITS ON LY, AN D IT IS TEN STORIES HIGH WITH EACH

LEVEL HAVING AN EXTREMELY HIGH CEILING, IN OTH ER WORDS IT IS

BIG. THE GRETSCH COMPANY OCCUPIED THE SEVENTH AND NINTH FLOORS. THIS G UY WAS SENDING DOWN IN STRUM ENTS ON A ROPE TO TH E PARKING LOT BELOW. HE WAS ON THE S EVENTH FLOO R. FRED ALSO HAD A MUSICAL ACCESSORY WHOLESALE BUSINESS THAT TOOK UP ONE HALF OF THE SEVENTH FLOOR. I GUESS TH IS

G UY WAS GOING TO SEND D OWN TH E WHOLE BUS INESS PIECE

IS G UY WAS GOING TO SEND D OWN TH E WHOLE BUS INESS PIECE BY

BY PIECE ON THAT ROPE. IT'S A GOOD TH ING THAT SOMEON E SAW THAT CLARINET SWINGING IN THE BREEZE. THE WHOLE BUILDING IS NOW BEING CONSTRUCTED I NTO VERY EXPENSIVE CONDOS.

l'M SURE THE ECHOS OF ME PLAYING THE "FRED GRETSCH BLU ES"

USED FOR TES TING ) ST I L L HAU NTS THE

BUILDING. L ETS GO BAC K TO TH E REPAIR D E PARTM E NT AN D TALK

ABOUT FLAT TO P G U ITARS. ALL THESE GUI TAR S LOO KE D GOOD AN D SOUN DED GOOD BUT CARM INES RACKS WOULD ALWAYS HAVE

A FEW G U ITARS TO REPAIR. SOM E OF THESE WERE CUSTOMER RE­

TURNS AND SOME WERE N EW THAT I REJ ECTED. THIS COST THE COM PANY EXTRA MONEY B UT IS WAS WORTH IT. AS TH E YEARS WENT ON TH E F LAT TO PS B E CAM E HIGHLY RESP ECTED AND WE SOLD A LOT OF TH EM.I MEAN A LOT! MY F IRST GR IPE WAS WITH THE BIG BODY 6022 RANCHER GUI TAR . THE TO P WO ULD ALWAYS SINK DOWN AT THE SOU ND HOLE IN FRONT OF TH E BRIDGE AN D AT THE END OF THE FINGE RB OAR D. WHEN I FIRST STARTED THERE THE TUNE AND ADJUST M EGHAN-

( TH E CHR OM AT IC SCALE I

28

Dan Duffy

IC WOULD I NSTALL A RIDICULOUS LOOKING H IGH SADDLE IN THE BRIDGE. TH IS I WOU LD NOT ACCEPT. CARMINE SAID HE WOULD REPAI R THEM BUT IT WO ULD TA KE TIME. MOST OF THE TIME THE Y WERE MAD E ACCEPTABLE. THOS E THAT WERE NOT GOT THE AX OR BE CAM E FIRE WO OD. AT FI RST I WAS N 'T TOO POPUL AR WITH THE WOO DSHOP BUT BILL HAGNER WO ULD G ET TOG ETH ER WITH CAR­

MINE, VINNY, JERRY AN D RED AND ALWAYS

COME UP WITH A SOLU­

TION.ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE TO THE TOP AN D THE BRACES. THE TOP WAS MAD E WITH A SLIGHT CROWN TO IT WITH BRACES TO HOLD IT. ALL FLAT TO PS WO ULD EV ENTUALLY BE MAD E THIS WAY.

THE B R ACING UNDER THE FING ER BOARD WAS CHA NGED

HOLD IT UP IF OUR OLD FRIEND "W ET WOOD "STARTED D RYI NG.

AS A RULE N OTH ING CAN HOLD BACK TH E D RYI NG. IF IT DOES IT

TO H E LP

CRACKS

AN D HAS TO BE FIXED. TH E RANCHER MODEL HAD A BIG

DRIVING

FO RCE SOUND AN D WAS A GOOD SELLER.

THE MODEL 601 0 SUN VALLEY ACOUSTIC FLAT TOP WAS AN­ OTHER GOOD SOU NDING GU ITAR. IT WAS A GOOD LOOKER WH EN IT HAD ROS EWOOD BAC K AN D SID ES . ALL TH E FLAT TOPS HAD SOLID SPRUCE TOPS. NOT MANY P ROBLEMS WITH THIS GU ITAR. IF YOU

HAVE ONE OF THESE INSTRUMENTS CHERISH IT AND MAKE SURE YOUR SON OR G RANDSON DOES THE SAM E. THE FOL K G U ITAR MODEL 6003 WAS ALWAYS A HUGE S ELL­

ER. T H E LITTLE G U ITAR WITH TH E BIG SOUND. WE ALWAYS HAD BRIDGES COM ING OF F TH ES E L ITTLE MONSTERS. IF A BEGINNE R

STU DENT CO ULD AN EASY PLAYING

N U T. THE STR INGS HAD TO BE EASY TO P R ESS DOWN AT THE N U T

AFFO RD THIS G U ITAR HE HAD AN ADVANTAG E. GUI TAR IS VERY IMP O RTANT, ESPECIA LLY AT THE

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

29

BECAU SE THAT'S WHERE YOU BEGIN. GETTING THE STR I NGS LOW WITH OUT H ITIING TH E F I RST FRET AN D CAUSING A B UZZ WAS VERY TIME CO NSUMING. TH E "F RET NUT", WAS I N TROD UCED AT

TH IS TIME. I DON 'T KNOW WHERE TH E NAM E "ZERO FR ET" CAM E FROM . WITH TH IS CHA NGE ALL THE ACTIONS AT TH E N U T WERE UNIFORM AN D EASY TO PLAY ONE OF TH E BEST ACOUSTIC GUITARS MADE IN THE S IXTI ES WAS TH E NYLON CLASSICAL HAUSER MODEL. THIS GUITAR HAD A

RICH FAT SOU ND. IF YO U STARTED

PUT IT DOWN . I HAVE ONE. IT HAS CRACKS ALL OVER IT. I KEEP

FIXING THEM WITH SMALL PIECES OF D IAMON D SHAP ED SPRU CE WOOD. THE G UITAR IS A SIMPLE PIECE, MAHOGANY N ECK, BACK, S I DES AN D A SOLID SPRUCE TOP. THE GUITAR WAS SENT TO FRED GRETSCH FOR HIS WHOLE­ SALE MUS ICAL I N ST RUM ENT BU SINE SS. HE AS KED ME TO PLAY IT AND LET HIM KNOW WHAT I THOUG HT. TH E GUITAR "SANG". I TOLD HIM IT WAS VERY GOOD AND WHY DON 'T WE MAKE IT OURSELVES. I TOLD HIM WE SHOULD MAKE THE G U ITAR I NSTEAD OF BUY­

PART OF TH E GRETSCH LINE. WE DID

PLAYI NG ONE YO U COULD N 'T

TH E GRETSCH LINE. WE DID PLAYI NG ONE YO U COULD N 'T ING TH

ING TH EM, AND MAKE IT A

JU ST THAT. AT F I RST WE HAD A LOT OF P R OBLEMS WITH TH E TO PS CRACKI NG. THAT'S RIG HT, OUR OLD FR IEND "WET WOOD" WAS VIS­

ITI NG US AGAI N. WHEN IT STARTS DRYING IT CRACKS , ESPEC IAL­

LY DOWN THE CEN TER OF TH E TO P WHERE TH E TWO P I ECES

SPRUCE WE RE G L UED TOG ETH ER. CARMINE REPAI RED A LOT OF

OF

THESE. SOMETIM ES IT WOULD CRACK AGAIN RIGHT ALONG SIDE THE PIECE OF SPRUCE THAT WAS USED TO FIX TH E CRACK. SOME-

30

Dan Duffy

TIMES TH E WOODSHOP WOU LD MAKE THE TOP TH I CKER TO PRE­ VENT THE CRACKING, THIS ONLY KILLED THE SOUND AND GOT ME TEED OFF. TH INGS WORKED OUT BETTER WH EN TH E TO PS WERE KEPT IN I NVE NTO RY LONGER. MORE RAW MATER IAL EXPENSE WAS

N EC E SSARY, B UT WO RTH EV E RY CENT. THI S WAS TRULY A T E R­

RIFIC GUITAR.

HER E 'S A SHORT I NTERESTI NG QUALITY CON TOL STO RY. SHO RTLY AF TER I WAS H I RED I WAS TES TING A CHE T AT KINS GUI­

TA R MODEL # 61 20. A FTER

P LAYING TH E U S UAL FRED GRETSCH BLUE S I WO U L D P LAY THE

GUITAR FOR A WH I LE. AS I WAS P LAYI NG MY US UAL REPERTOIRE

I NOTICED THE GUITAR WAS NOT

IN TUNE ABOVE TH E 12 TH FR ET. I BROUG HT THIS TO TH E ATTEN­ TION OF EV E RYONE BUT NO ON E HAD TH E ANSWER. SOME SAID I WAS HEARING THINGS. FINALLY VINNY CH ECKED THE FRET SCALE

OF SCALES, CHO RDS AND TU N ES

TESTING IT FOR B UZZING F R ETS BY

AN D SAI D THE F R ETS WERE OUT OF PLACE ABOVE THE 1 2TH FRET. HE SAI D TH IS COULD HAVE HAPPENED WH EN THEY TOOK THE

PUT BACK IN TH E

RIGHT POSITIONS. HAROLD WOODS DREW UP A N EW SCALE AND

RESP ECT AFT ER THAT. HE THREW MY EM PTY

COFFEE CONTAIN ERS AWAY IF I FORGOT TH EM.

ALL YOU CHET AT KINS FA NS CHECK YO UR G U ITARS. IF YO U

THESE G U ITARS MAD E AROU ND 1 9 56 OR 1 957 SEND

IT BACK TO TH E FACTORY

SAI D IT WAS "OK" BACK IN TH E REPAIR SHOP WE HAD AN OCCAS IONAL RETURN OF AN ARCH TOP "F" HOLE ACOUSTIC GUITAR TO HAVE THE N ECK

"WH ERE EVER THAT IS" AND TELL TH EM I

FRET SAW APART FOR SHARP ENING AN D WAS N 'T

EVEN GAVE ME SOME

ERE EVER THAT IS" AND TELL TH EM I FRET SAW APART FOR SHARP ENING AN

HAVE ONE OF

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 31 RES ET. GRETSCH WAS REALLY RESPECTED FOR THESE

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

31

RES ET. GRETSCH WAS REALLY RESPECTED FOR THESE G U ITARS . THESE WERE USED MAI N LY BY JAZZ AN D COU NTRY P LAYERS . TH E "ELDORADO" BEING THE TOP OF TH E LINE WAS A MAG­

N I FICENT

HAVE ONE BUT I WISH I DID. l 'D PUT AN EMG JAZZ P ICK UP ON IT AND PLAY IT TILL IT NEEDED A FRET JOB. THE LINE OF ARCH TOPS WITH TH E LAM INATED WOOD TOPS

AN D SOUNDING G U ITAR. NO I DON 'T

LOOK ING, PLAYING,

WERE ALSO GOOD SOUNDING INSTRUMENTS. THESE WERE CALLED "NEW YORKER" , "CORSAI R", "CONSTELLATION" AN D I BE­

LI EVE "SYNCHROMATIC".

SOMETI M ES I WOULD MOUNT A PICKUP ON THE G U ITAR, ONE OF THE DEARMAND PICKUPS THAT WE ALL USED ON OUR ACCOUS­

TIC G UITAR BACK THEN TO SEE WHAT KIND OF SOUND I WOULD

G ET FROM

EACH D IFFERENT MODEL. ONCE I HAD A B EAUTIFUL

ELDOR ADO MODEL MOUNTED UP FOR DAYS PLAYING IT. I P LAY ED

ELDOR ADO MODEL MOUNTED UP FOR DAYS PLAYING IT. I P LAY ED IT EVERY DAY

IT EVERY DAY U NTI L TH E STORE CALLED AND WANTED TO KNOW "WHAT HAPPENED TO MY ORDER?" EVE R SO OFTEN A G U ITAR WOULD HAVE THAT SOMETH ING

S P ECIAL S OUND. T H IS P ROVES THAT EVERY TH ING C REATED

EQUAL IS NOT EQUAL. YES THE REPAIR DEPARTMENT AND CARMINE WERE MY TEACHER. H ERE'S A "BELIEVE IT OR NOT STORY". ALL MY YEARS AT GRE TS CH I N E VER FIXED A G U ITAR WITH MY HAN DS. I WAS N ' T HIRED TO DO THAT. I WAS ONLY TO TEST TH E G U ITAR AND TELL THEM WHAT I FOU ND WRONG WITH IT. WHEN MY TO UR OF D UTY WAS OVE R WITH GRETS CH I WENT BACK TO PLAYING AN D TEACH­ ING. AFTER ABOUT TWO YEARS A FR IEND CALLED ME AN D TOLD

D UTY WAS OVE R WITH GRETS CH I WENT BACK TO PLAYING AN D TEACH­
32 Dan Duffy ME A COMPANY ON LONG ISLAN D WAS LOOKING FOR ME. I

32

Dan Duffy

ME A COMPANY ON LONG ISLAN D WAS LOOKING FOR ME. I CALLED THEM AN D THEY TOLD ME THEY WERE HAVING A LOT OF TROUBLE WITH TH EIR GUITARS AN D WOULD I COM E IN TO SEE TH EM. TH EY IMPORTED GUITARS FROM JAPAN AND BRAZIL". AFTER A LONG IN­

TERVI EW I WAS HIR ED. MOST OF THE I NTERVI EW WAS ABOUT WHAT

I DID AT THE GRETSCH COM PANY AND THEY TOLD ME ABOUT TH E

PROBLEMS THEY HAD. WH EN I REPORTED FOR WORK TH EY TOOK ME IN BACK TO TH E GUITAR DEPARTM ENT. AT ONE G LANCE I COULD TELL TH EY SOLD A LOT OF G U ITARS . EVE RY DAY THE H EAD OF THE DEPART­

M ENT WOULD RECEIVE A BUNCH OF ORDERS FROM THE FRONT

OFFICE. THE G U ITARS WERE PULLED FROM I NVENTORY AND G IVEN

TO THE SERVICE PEOPLE TO SERVICE BEFORE THEY WENT OUT.

TH ERE WA S A B OUT S I X OR SEVEN MEN

H EAD OF

SO I SAID WHAT EVER YOU NEED. HE TOOK ME TO THE BACK AN D

S HOWED ME A BOUT FIVE HUND RED GUITARS FROM JA PAN THAT

HAD TA PE ON EA CH ONE STATING WHAT WAS WR ONG. I OPENED

ONE

NEEDED WA S A N E CK ADJ US TM EN T WITH TH E WR ENCH. ANO TH ER SA ID BAD PICKUP, P R OBABLY T H E JA CK WI RE WA S OFF. I TO OK

THE TWO PIEC ES BACK TO TH E DEPA RTMENT WHERE HE GAVE ME

A BENCH A ND SOME TOOLS. I FIXED TH E TWO PIECES, AND GAVE

A SM ALL CO NCERT TO SH OW I COULD PLAY. I TO LD THE H E AD OF

THE DEPARTMENT TO BRING OUT SOME MORE OF THE P ROBLEM

G U ITARS. HE WA S ALL SMIL ES

OUT A SK ID FU LL. I FIXED ONE AFTE R THE OTH ER WITH ALL SORTS

DO ING TH IS WO R K . TH E

T H E DEPA RT M ENT AS KED ME WHAT I WA NTED TO DO

UP THAT SAI D BAD N ECK . ONE LOOK AN D I KNEW THAT ALL IT

AN D SAI D SURE. WELL HE BROUGHT

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957=1970

33

OF PROBLEMS. IT TOOK ME ABOUT TWO MONTHS TO FIX ALL THESE G U ITARS . I WAS HAVING TH E TIME OF MY LIFE. CARMINE WOULD BE PROUD

OF ME. WELL (MAYB E) HE ALWAYS SA ID "I FIX, YO U PL AY" I CA UGH T

UP

WAS FIXI NG TH EM AS FAST AS

TH EY COULD REJ ECT THEM. A FEW OF THE G UYS QU IT. THE ONES

WHO REMAI NED DID A BETTER JOB. WH EN TH EY HAD A PROBLEM I SHOWED THEM HOW TO FIX IT.

WAS WATC HING ME EVERY DAY) TOLD

ME THAT I WAS NOW IN CHARGE OF TH E WHOLE GUITAR DEPART­

TO THE GUYS ON TH E BENCH. I

TH E PRESID ENT (WHO

GAVE ME A DESK AN D A PHONE AND THEN HE HAN DED ME

A BONUS CH ECK

YOU. (BELI EVE IT OR NOT) ONE OF TH E GU ITARS THAT YOU RARELY SEEN IN THE REPAIR DEPARTM ENT WAS THE SOLID BODY MODEL 61 34 "CORVETTE" TH IS GUITAR HAS A UN IQUE D ESIGN. ALL OTHER BOOKS ON GRETSCH

G U ITARS FAIL TO M ENTION THE FACT THAT TH E N ECK HAS THE

ADJUSTMENT ROD I NSTALLED THE FULL LENGTH OF THE N ECK. ALL OTH ER MOD ELS ARE FROM TH E HEAD PIECE TO TH E TWELFTH FRET. TH IS G U ITAR WAS D ESIGNED TO G IVE THE P LAYER TOTAL ACCESS TO ALL FRETS WITH NO EFFO RT. THIS G U ITAR WAS NO WAY COP I E D FROM TH E LESS PAUL JR. THESE N ECK S ADJ USTED EASILY WHEN THERE WAS A PROBLEM. THEY WERE VERY RAR ELY RETURNED. THIS WAS MADE INTO VA RIOUS MODEL G U ITARS BY CHANGING THE COLORS AND PICKG UARD. TH E TWI ST AND PRIN­ CESS MODELS TO NAM E A FEW. HE Y, H E Y, WE'RE THE "MONK E E' S" IS A SHOR T STO RY. WHEN

FOR ONE THOUSAN D DOLLARS AN D SAI D THANK

MENT. HE

34

Dan Duffy

3 4 Dan Duffy WE CREATED TH IS MODEL G U ITAR ACCORDING TO WHAT TH

WE CREATED TH IS MODEL G U ITAR ACCORDING TO WHAT TH EY

AP­

PEAR ON THE ROD SHIELD COVER AND THE PICK GUARD. AFTER WE STARTED SENDING THEM OUT, LITTLE BY L ITTLE, REQU ESTS CAM E IN FOR REPLACEMENT ROD SHIELD COVERS AND PICKG UA RDS WITHOUT THE (MONKEE) NAME ON THEM. THE REQUESTS BECAME SO GREAT THAT WE DECIDED TO SEND P LAIN PICKG UA R DS AND

ROD SHI ELD COVERS I NSIDE TH E CASE

I GUESS NO ONE WANTED TO PLAY LIKE A MONKEE. COULD TH EY PL AY ? I DON' T KN OW. TH E MODEL 6 1 99 JAZZ G U ITAR E N DORSED BY SA L SA LVA­ DOR WAS A GOOD G U ITAR. I BOUGHT ONE SHO RTLY AFTER I WAS TH ERE AWH ILE. IT HAD A G R EAT SOUND BUT WAS PRONE TO FEED BAC K. I HAD CA RMINE I N STALL SOUND POSTS (WOO DEN DOWELS) UNDER THE BRIDGE. THIS CUT SOME OF IT DOWN. THEN I GOT THE IDEA OF STUFFING IT. I USED FIBER G LASS , YOU KNOW THAT ITCHY STUFF. ON THE G IG THAT NIGHT I SHOOK MORE THAN "ELV IS" DID. SOMEHOW I G OT IT DOWN MY N ECK AN D WAS JUMPING OUT OF

MY PANTS ALL NIG HT. TH E N EXT DAY I EMPTI ED THE FIBER G LASS

FROM TH E G U ITAR I NTO A BAG . I WAS

ITCHY AGAIN. I HAD TO G ET

W ITH ALL N EW ORDERS.

WANTE D, EV E RY ONE TH OUGHT THE "MON KEE" LOGO SHOULD

OF IT OUT SO I BROUGHT IT TO WOR K. I P UT TH E AI R

PRESSURE HOSE INSIDE THE G U ITAR AND BLEW IT OUT. TH E N EXT DAY SOME OF TH E WORKERS COMPLAI NED THEY HAD A TERRIBLE

ITCH ALL N I G HT. I SAI D "M E TOO" I KN EW THIS WAS STUPID WH EN I WAS DOING IT. I DIDN'T SAY ANYTH ING TO CARM INE ABOUT TH IS, ESPECIALLY WHEN I SAW HIM SCRATCHING HIS BACK WITH A G U ITAR N ECK.

EV ERY BIT

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

35

"SOM ETH ING EVIL THIS WAY COM ES" BACK IN THE REPAIR DEPARTM ENT CARMINE WAS STAN DIN G OVER THE BENCH WITH H IS HAMMER IN HAND ABOUT TO STRI KE

TH E BEAST THAT WAS LAYING THERE. WAS IT TH E B EAST

FROM

TWENTY THOUSAN D FATHOMS? NO? WAS IT "TH E

TH ING"

FROM

OUTER S PAC E? NO, IT WA S T H E GRETSCH "BI KI N I " G U ITAR AND

BASS COMBO. CARM INE WAS ABOUT TO TRY TO SEPARATE THE GUITAR N ECK FROM THE BODY. THE G U ITAR SHAPED BODY WAS A SLAB OF WOOD C UT DOWN THE MIDDLE AND FOLDED IN HALF LIKE A BUTTERFLY. IT WAS H ELD TOG ETH ER WITH SMALL HINGES.

T H ERE WAS T RACKS MOUNTED WITH SCREWS . T H E N ECK WAS MOUNTED ON A PIECE OF WOOD AND SLI DES I NTO THOS E RECE IV­ ING TRACKS . THE N ECK AN D PIECE OF WOOD WAS THE COMPLETE GUI TAR WITH TU NING MA CHINE S, STR INGS, PICK U P, TA IL PIE CE ETC. TH ERE WAS A LOT OF P ROBLEMS WITH TH E E LECTRONICS BECAU SE ALL THE WIRING WAS JAMMED I NTO A SMALL S PAC E. TH E BIG PROBLEM WAS THE TRACKS AN D HINGE S. THE PARTS WO U L D NOT GO TOGETHER, AND WHEN THEY DID YOU COULDN'T G ET TH EM APART. THE SCREWS CAME OUT OF THE H ING ES. THE BEAST ALWAYS FELL APART. IT WAS A PIECE OF CRAP. IT ALSO CAM E IN A BASS N ECK. YOU COU LD MOUNT THE BASS AND G UITAR TO A SINGLE BODY OR EACH INDIVIDUALLY. THE G UY WHO CAME UP WITH THIS IDEA CAME FROM N EW

P R ETTY GOOD GUI TAR AN D BA SS. H I S PR O­

JER S E Y AND PLAY ED

TOTYPE WAS ROUGH BUT IT WORKED. TH E WHOLE PROJ ECT WAS BAD LY ENGIN EERED. IT WA S THE B EAST A N D IT WAS EVIL AND CAUSED MANY S LEEPLESS N IG HTS FOR ME. IF YOU OWN ONE

WAS BAD LY ENGIN EERED. IT WA S THE B EAST A N D IT WAS

36

Dan Duffy

HOLD AN EXORCISM. SO MUCH FOR THE "BIKINI" THE JAC K WEBB TV S H OW "D RAG N ET" TOO K P LAC E IN TH E COM PANY SOMETIME AFTER THE G UY WITH THE STRING TRIED TO HIE ST EV E RYTH ING DOWN OFF THE BALCO NY FROM THE S EV E NTH FLOOR. THE CHICAGO OFFICE REPORTED TH EY WERE RECEIVING GU ITAR CAS ES WITH OUT THE G U ITAR IN THEM. TH ERE WAS DRUM S ETS AN D OTH ER I N S TRUMENTS MISSING FROM I NVENTO RY. I GUESS TH ERE WAS A LOT OF MERCHANDISE MISSING FOR THE

TWO G UYS TO I NTER ROGATE ALL OF

COM PANY TO HIRE THESE

THE EMPLOYE ES ONE AT A TIME. THESE TWO USED THE GOOD G UY

BAD G UY TECH N IQUE. I 'll CALL THEM PAT AN D RAT. PAT WAS THE OBV IOUS GOOD G UY AN D RAT TH E ( IN YOUR FACE) BAD G UY.

PAT SAI D V ERY SOFT AND S I NCERE "DAN , WE KNOW

DIDN'T TAKE ANYTH ING, BUT DID YO U EV ER SEE ANYONE DO ANY­

TH ING SUSPIC IOUS." I SAI D NO. IMMED IATELY

AN D AS KE D ME ( IN A NASTY TON E) IF I EV ER SAW ANYONE BRING I NSTRUM E NTS TO TH E MUSIC S TOR E I WAS TEACHING AT TWO NIGHTS A WEEK. APPARENTLY TH EY KNEW ALL ABOUT ME. I SAI D

YES AN D BY WHO. HE SAI D "WE KNOW YOU WOR K AS A GUI TAR PLAYER ON WEEKEN DS, WHY DO YOU NEED ALL THAT MON EY?" I

SAID "TH E PERSON

STORE AT N I G H T IS THE SALES MAN FOR THAT ACCO UNT, HE HAS ALL THE BEST ACCOUNTS IN BROOKLYN, QUEENS, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK, TH E BRONX, AN D N EW JERS EY AN D IF THERE'S A STORE ON M ARS IT'S H I S. HE IS AL SO THE WAREHOUSE MANAG ER OF FREDS MUSIC ASSESSORY BUSINESS. HE MUST HAVE MADE MORE MON EY THAN EV EN FRED G R ETSCH. I SAID 'WHY DOES HE NEED

YO U

RAT GOT IN MY FACE

WHO D EL IVERED THE I NSTRUMENTS TO THE

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

37

ALL THAT MON EY?" THE Y LOO KED AT EAC H OTH ER, I YAWN ED, THE Y

SAID "THAN KS" AN D I LEFT. THE WHOLE UNDE RSTAN D THE TH IEF WAS CAUGHT

PRODUCTION. THE REPAIR D EPARTMENT RARELY SAW ANY OF THE CHET ATKINS MODELS. THERE IS NO DOUB'T IN MY MIND THAT CHET AT­ KI N 'S NAM E SOLD A LOT OF GUITARS. ALSO TH E QUALITY SAI D A LOT ABOUT THE SALES TOO. AS C H ET'S POP U LARITY GREW SO DID TH E SALES . JIMMY W EBSTER HAD A LOT TO DO WITH SIGN­ ING HIM AS AN ENDORSER. JIMMY P ROMOTED HIM AND HIS GUI­ TA RS AT EVERY MUSIC TRAD E S H OW. TH EY WO RKED VERY HARD TO S E LL TH E CHET AT KI N 'S NAM E AND THE G U ITARS . CHET SA ID THAT AFTER TH E COM PANY MOVED OUT OF B ROOKLYN TH E GUI­ TA RS WERE N E VER TH E SAM E. WELL ANY ONE WITH HALF A BR AIN WOULD KNOW THIS. MOST OF THE FOREMAN STARTED THERE AROUND 1 940 TO 1 946. A LOT OF TH E WORKMAN ON TH E BENCHES WERE SKILLED C RAFTSMAN, ALSO THERE MANY YEARS, BEING GUI DED DA I LY BY TH E FO REM AN , WHAT A G R EAT SI TU AT ION FO R A COM PANY TO BE IN. THEN IN 1 970 TH E P IANO BU I LDING PIN H EADS DECIDE TO MOVE THE COMPANY TO "BOONSVILLE" ARKANSAS AND HAVE THE "BEVERLY H ILLBILLIES" STOP MILKING THE COWS

AND BUILD THE PRESTIGIOUS GRETSCH G UITARS. THINK ABOUT IT! WOULD YOU DO IT? OF COURSE NOT. YOU'RE NOT A PIN H EAD. YO U'RE A GUI TAR PLAYER, YO U GO T YO UR EDUC AT ION IN SMOK E FILLED BARS WITH GUN SHOT HOLES IN TH E CEILING. YO U DON 'T S IT IN YOUR OFFICE WITH ALL YOUR DEG REE'S HANGING ON TH E WALL BEH IND YOU TO SHOW HOW S MART YO U ARE. YO U DIDN'T

TH ING WAS RID ICULOUS. I WITHOUT TH IS TELEVISON

ON TH E WALL BEH IND YOU TO SHOW HOW S MART YO U ARE. YO
ON TH E WALL BEH IND YOU TO SHOW HOW S MART YO U ARE. YO

38

Dan Duffy

NEED ALL THOSE DEGREE'S TO KNOW THAT TO MOVE THE COM­ PA NY WAS A M I STAKE. I GUE SS WHEN TH EY WERE IN SCHOOL TH EY

CLASS WHEN THE PROFESSOR SAID "FARMERS AN D DON'T BUILD G U ITARS, ONLY SKILLED CRAFTSMAN

DO." IF THEY DIDN'T LEARN IT IN SCHOOL TH EY WERE LOST. THEY

MOVED THE COMPANY BECAUSE SALES WERE DOWN. THE GUITAR BOOM WAS OVE R.

N EVER GOT A DEGREE IN "WHAT TO DO IS OVER." WE HAD I NVENTORY FOR THE

WHEN THE G UITAR BOOM

FIRST TIME IN TH E H ISTORY OF THE COMPANY. DO I M OVE THE COM PANY AND WA IT FIVE YEARS AN D MAYBE I 'll G ET A GOOD GUI ­ TAR OR DO I G ET THE SALESMAN TO DO TH EIR JOB? THAT'S WHERE

THE PR OBLEM WAS. T H E SALESMAN B ECAM E ORDER TAKERS,

M ISSED THE

ENG I N EERS

WELL I GUESS TH EY

TH EY

MAD E ALL THAT MONEY S ITT ING ON TH EIR ASS TAKING OR­

DERS

ON TH E PHONE. TH EY DIDN'T WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK.

IT WAS TI ME TO GO OUT AN D POU ND THE PAVEM ENT LIKE TH EY DID

BEFORE TH E GUITAR BOOM.

EVEN THE CHICAGO BRANCH WOULD COMPLAIN THAT THEY N EVER G ETTING TH EIR FAIR SHARE OF G U ITARS . WH EN TH E

BOOM

CALL TH EIR EXCUSE FOR SALES BEING DOWN WAS TH E MARKET

WAS SATURATED. IT WAS TI ME

SULTS FROM THE SALESMEN, BUT NO ONE DID. NO ONE KNEW

HOW. EVE RY ONE PA ID TH E PRICE. H ERE'S A STORY A BOUT A FEW G UYS CALLED ENGINEERS

FOR TH E OFFICE TO DEMAN D RE­

WAS OVER YOU DIDN'T H EAR FROM TH EM. WH EN TH EY DID

WERE

WHO J UST COU LD N 'T H EAR. FRED GRETSCH AS KED ME ONE DAY

SOU NDING AM P LIFIER. I TOLD

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS THE B EST

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

39

HIM "T HE TW IN REVE RS." AT THAT TIME EVERY ONE WAS TRYI NG

HE TW IN REVE RS." AT THAT TIME EVERY ONE WAS TRYI NG TO MAKE SOLID

TO MAKE SOLID STAT E AM PLIFI ERS.

WERE VERY THIN SOUNDING. NONE OF THEM HAD THE SOUND OF A TUBE AMP. A FEW WEEKS LATER A PROTOTYPE ARRIVED AN D FRED AS KED ME TO TRY IT. I TOLD HIM IT WAS VERY GOOD FOR A SOLID STAT E AM P BUT IT DIDN'T SOUND LIK E THE TW IN RE VE RS. HE SA ID

THEY COP IED TH E SOU ND WAVES EXACTLY AND IT HAS TO SOU ND

PUT ME ON

A PLANE.

TH E SAME. I SAID IT DON 'T. ONCE AGAIN MY BIG MOUTH

ALL OF THE SOL ID STAT E AMPS

ONCE AGAIN MY BIG MOUTH ALL OF THE SOL ID STAT E AMPS I WAS ONCE
ONCE AGAIN MY BIG MOUTH ALL OF THE SOL ID STAT E AMPS I WAS ONCE

I

WAS ONCE AGAIN H EADED INTO THE WORLD OF TH E SU ITS.

ONCE

AGAIN I WAS SU RROU NDED BY INTIMI DATING EYES TRYING

TO MAKE ME SWEAT. BY NOW I HAD A LOT MORE EX PERI ENCE THAN

TO MAKE ME SWEAT. BY NOW I HAD A LOT MORE EX PERI ENCE THAN WHEN

WHEN I PLAYED THE SOLID BODY GUITAR IN THE COURTROOM.

THERE WAS AN E ERIE FEELING ABOUT TH IS WHOLE S ETUP. WE WERE ON A STAG E IN AN AU D ITORIUM. J I M MY WAS ALSO WITH ME, HE WA SN'T THE SA ME AS B EFORE. EVER SINCE THE CO M PANY WAS SOLD HE DIDN'T SMILE AS M UCH AS HE DID. TH E S IX SU ITS HAD S ET UP THE TWO AM PS SID E BY SIDE. TH EIR CLAIM WAS TH EY SOU NDED TH E SAM E. TH EY HAD TH E AM PS S ET UP TO A BOX THAT SWITCHED THE AMPS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN EACH OTHER. THEY WERE REALLY READY FOR ME. JIMMY HANDED ME THE GUI­

TA R AND

SA ID "TH IS IS YO UR SHOW." TH EY SA ID TH EY WA NTED ME

TO TELL TH EM WHICH AMP TH E SOUND WAS COM ING THROUG H AS I PL AY E D. I SA ID OK AND STARTE D TO PL AY. AS I PL AY ED TH EY STARTED SWITCHING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN AMPS. I CALLED

ONE AM P "TH E TWIN" AN D THE OTH ER "SOLID." AFTER A COU PLE OF MINUTES OF TH IS THEY SAID TO STOP

40

Dern Duffy

40 Dern Duffy PLAYING AND TH EY HUDDLED TOGETHER LIKE A FOOTBALL TEAM OU T OF

PLAYING AND TH EY HUDDLED TOGETHER LIKE A FOOTBALL TEAM

OU T OF THE H U DDL E AN D

TO DIS CUSS THE N E XT PLAY. TH EY CAM E

THE H U DDL E AN D TO DIS CUSS THE N E XT PLAY. TH

AS KED ME TO TURN AROUND AN D P LAY NOT FAC ING THE AM PS. I

KN EW I CALLED EV E RY TH ING RIGHT BECAUSE I H EARD THE DIF­ FERENCE. I STARTED TO PLAY AGAIN WITH THE AMPS BEHIND ME, THEY STARTED SWITCHING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN AMPS. I STARTED TO CALL OUT "TH E TWIN" OR "SOLID." FOR SOME REASON

I COULD H EAR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO AM PS BETTER

WITH THEM BEH IND ME. EV ENTUALLY THEY SAI D TO STO P PLAYI NG. TH EY AG REED THAT I HEARD TH E D I FFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO AMPS BUT TH EY STILL DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT. TH EY TH EN TOOK

TO LUNCH AND WE D I SCUSSED D I FFERENT SUBJ ECTS .

NO ONE M E NTION ED TH EIR TA KI NG OV ER THE GRETS CH COM PA­ NY. THEY MUST HAVE KNOWN THAT WE WERE NOT HAPPY ABOUT THAT.

AFTER LUNCH TH EY AS KED ME TO PLAY AG AIN. THEY WANTED TO TA KE SOME READ I N GS WH I L E I PLAYED. TH EY WA NTED ME TO PLAY WITH A FORCEFUL ATTACK WITH TH E PICK AND THEN A LIGHT

ATTACK. I DID TH IS FOR AWHILE UNTI L TH EY SAI D TO STO P. THEY SAID THEY WOULD HAVE TO MAKE SOME ADJ USTM ENTS WITH THE AMP. I DON 'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT BECAUSE THE FACTO RY MOVED AND I WAS GONE.

US OUT

U NION DECIDED TO STRI KE.

THEY WERE OUT FOR ABOUT THREE MONTHS. I TH INK THIS ACTU­ ALLY WO RKED IN FAVOR OF TH E COM PANY. SALES WERE DOWN ,

TH E SALES MAN WERE

STI LL ASLEEP, AND WE HAD A FEW HUND RED

GUI TAR S IN I NVENTO RY. TH E FO REM AN WERE MAD E TO WO RK

SOME TIME AROUND 1 967 THE

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

41

N IG HTS IN THE OTH ER GRETSCH BUILDING A FEW BLOCKS AWAY.

THIS BUILDING MADE GRETSCH

WERE ALSO CONS I DERED THE BEST. THE FOREMAN MADE DRUMS,

FI LLED THE ORDERS AND S ENT THEM OUT. TH E STR I KE WAS NOT

WITHOUT INCIDENT . ONE FOR EMAN HAD H I S S HARE OF FLATS AND

A WIN DOW B ROKEN ON HIS CAR. HE ALSO HAD ABOUT TWENTY

PO UNDS OF DOGG IE POO ALL OV ER HIS CAR. TO TH IS DAY I CAN

STILL P ICTURE THESE P EOPLE

ME THAT

WALKI NG TH EIR DOG .

HIS TE CHN IQUE WAS TO FOLLOW SOMEON E

WHEN TH EY STOPPED HE STOPPED. HE SAI D HE LEAR NED TO HAVE

DRUMS. THESE I NSTRUMENTS

HUNTING FOR DOGGIE POO ALL

OVER B ROOKLYN . ONE OF TH E HUNTERS LATER TOLD

POO ALL OVER B ROOKLYN . ONE OF TH E HUNTERS LATER TOLD A LOT OF

A LOT OF PATIENCE ON TH IS PARTICULAR MISSION. WHEN THE DOG

SQUATTED HE SAID HE KN EW HE WAS GOING MAKE A SCORE. ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS GO UP TO TH E PE RSON AND AS K THEM IF HE COULD HAVE THE POO. HE SAI D TH EY US UALLY LOOKED AT HIM STRANGE AND WANTED TO KN OW WHAT HE WANTED THE BAG OF POO FOR. HE SAID HIS WIFE USED IT IN HER GARDEN. HE SAID TH EY USU ALLY HANDED HIM THE BAG OF GOLD AN D WA LKED AWAY VERY QUICKLY D RAGGING THEIR DOG WITH THEM. HE TOLD ME HE LIKED FOLLOWING THE PEOPLE WHO WEREN'T CARRYING THE SMALL DOGGIE SHOVEL AND BAG . HE KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO LITTE R, BUT AT LE AST HE DIDN'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN H I S WANT­

ING T HE D EPOS IT. TH IS WENT ON FOR DAYS HE SAID UNTIL HE GOT ARRESTED. HE SAI D A WOMAN HE WAS FOLLOWING STARTED SCREAMING AND THE POLICE WERE N EARBY AND G RABBED HIM. HE EX P LAINED TO TH EM THAT ALL HE WANTED WAS THE DOGG IE POO AN D HANDED TH EM THE BAG TO SHOW TH EM. AFTER TH EY

HIM. HE EX P LAINED TO TH EM THAT ALL HE WANTED WAS THE DOGG IE

42

Dan Duffy

LOOKED INSIDE THE BAG AND SHOOK THEIR HEADS IN D ISBELIEF THEY TH R EW IT DOWN A N EARBY S EWER. THEY CALLED HIS WIFE TO COME DOWN TO THE STATION HOUSE AN D G ET HIM. SHE EX­

PLAI NED ABOUT THE ST R IKE. THE Y TO LD HER TO TA KE HIM HOME AND KEEP HIM OUT OF TROUBLE. THE DESK SERGEANT SAID HE SHOULD G ET A JOB WITH TH E DEPARTM ENT OF SAN ITAT ION WITH HIS SKI LLS AT COLLECTING. WHEN G EORGE HARRISON FIRST APP EARED ON NATIONAL

AT KINS "C OUN TRY GEN­

TLEMAN" GUITAR LETIERS STARTED TO COME IN BY THE SACK FULL. T H E OFFICE PEOPLE HAD TO WO RK SATURDAYS J U ST TO OPEN IT. TH ERE WAS SO MUCH MAI L IT HAD TO BE SEPARATED I NTO CATEGORIES TO BE READ AN D ANSWERED. R EQU ESTS FOR CATA­

LOGS MUST HAVE PUT A SMILE ON THE PRINTER'S FAC E. SOME

KNOW WH ERE TO GO TO BUY A GRETSCH CHET AT­

KINS GUITAR AS TH EIR LOCAL MUSIC STORE WAS OUT OF STOCK. PEOPLE CAM E TO N EW YORK TO BUY GU ITARS . TH EY CAM E FROM ALL OVE R TH EY CALLED TH E FACTORY AS KING FOR TOU RS OF THE FACTO RY. I BECAM E A TOUR GUIDE. THEY AS KED ME ALL KI N DS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT CHET ATKINS AND HARRISON. MANY WANTED TO KNOW IF WE GAVE TH E "COU NTRY GENTLE­ MAN" G U ITAR TO HIM. I TOLD THEM HE BOUGHT IT IN ENGLAND AN D HE WAS A G R EAT FAN OF CHE T AT K INS AN D HE WA NTED THE COU N­ TRY G E NTLE MAN GU ITAR. TH EY WANTED TO K N OW IF HARRISON'S PLAYING TH E G RETSCH G U I TAR INCREASED SALES AN D I TOLD TH EM YES , BUT IF HE WAS N'T A FAN OF CHET ATK INS HE P ROBABLY WOULDN 'T HAVE BOUG HT TH E G U ITAR. WHO WAS R ESPONS I BLE

TELEV I S I ON PL AYING H I S GRE TS CH CHE T

WANTED TO

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 43 FOR THE SALES? l ' D HAVE TO SAY

43

FOR THE SALES? l ' D HAVE TO SAY CHE T ATKINS. BUT IF HAR R I SON WASN'T SEEN ON T.V. WITH IT WHO WO U L D IT BE? AND AR OUND

AN D AROU ND WE GO! J UST REMEMBER THAT AFTER ALL WAS SAID

AN D DONE ABOUT WHO OR WHAT CAUSED THE G ROWTH OF SALES

ONLY ONE PERSON SMILED ALL THE WAY TO TH E BANK . G ETTING BACK TO THE G U ITAR BOOM, PLAYERS WERE COM­

ING UP TO N EW YO RK FROM DOWN SOUTH AN D SLEE PIN G IN TH EIR

CARS AND VA NS JU ST TO G E T THE WELL KNO WN 48TH ST. D I SCOUNT ON TH EIR PU RCHASE OF A GRETSCH GUITAR. AS THE BOOM WENT

ON TH E D IS COUNTS G OT LESS AND LESS. TH E STOR ES W ERE CHARG ING N EAR TH E LIST PRICE. THE STORES WERE ASKING FOR FA STER AND FAS TER D E LI VER Y. TH EY SAI D THE Y WO ULD FINISH

GUI TAR TH EMSELVES, J U ST SEND TH E GUI TAR BODY WITH

THE NECK ON IT. NATURALLY WE DIDN'T. ALL THIS MADNESS OVER

G U ITAR S WAS UNBELIEVABLE. I

OF THE LATE FIFTIE S WITH J U ST TEN GUI TARS A DAY, LITTLE DID I

KNOW THOS E DAYS WERE

GOING BACK TO TH E GOOD YEAR OF 1 957, NEXT TO THE RE­

PA IR DEPARTM ENT WAS TH E MACHINE SHOP. TH E FO REMAN WAS SID LAKEN. HE WAS ONE OF THOSE G UYS WITH ALL THOS E DE­

G R EES HA NGING ON THE WA LL BEH IND HIS DESK. HIS COLLECTION

KEPT G ROWING. I D I DN'T KNOW IF HE WAS GOI NG TO SCHOOL OR

A PRINTER.

HE WAS A VERY GOOD MACH I N IST AND DID A GOOD JOB. IN TH E S IXTI ES HE WAS MOVED TO TH E FACTO RY OFFICE AN D PUT IN CHARG E OF TH E TI ME STUDY OPERAT ION. PIE CE WO RK WAS I NTRODUCED AN D SID WAS IN CHARGE OF TIMING ALL TH E D I FFER-

SURE M I SSED TH E QUIET DAYS

TH E

WO RK WAS I NTRODUCED AN D SID WAS IN CHARGE OF TIMING ALL TH E

RETURN ING.

44

Dan Duffy

ENT OPERATIONS .AT FI RST IT WAS A DISASTE R. SOME JOBS WERE TIMED SO BA D LY THAT THE WORKER WENT OVER HIS QUOTER IN HA LF A DAY, H IS PAY CH ECKS WERE HUGE. QUALITY TOOK A STEP BACK A LSO. AFTER A LOT OF WOR K R ET I MING TH E D IFFERENT JO BS TH INGS WO R KED OUT. THE WO RKERS WERE BEING PA ID A

FA IR WA GE FOR TH EIR

LA BOR AN D THE FA CTO RY AL SO BENEFI TED.

THIS METHOD HELPED CONTROL COST AND PRICING. THE MA C HINE SHOP MA DE MOST OF TH E M E TA L PA RTS FO R TH E G U ITARS AND DRUMS. NE XT TO TH E MACH INE SHOP WA S TH E PLATING DEPA RTMENT WH ERE THE M ETA L PARTS RECE IVED TH EIR THIN COATING OF GOLD OR CHROME PLATING. NOTH ING I NTER­ ESTING EVER HAPPENED IN THESE TWO DEPARTMENTS BECAUSE

TH EY WE REN'T D EALING WITH TH E WOO DEN PA RTS OF TH E GUI­ TAR.

MY ASSOCIATION WITH TH E "7" STRING GUITAR GENIUS "GEORG E VA N EPP S" WA S A PRI VI LEG E. TO TA LK TO HIM AB OUT GUI ­ TA RS, MUSIC AND OTH ER SUBJECTS WAS ALWAYS A MA IN EVENT IN MY LIFE. HE ALWAYS GAVE ME TIPS ON P LAYING TH E "7" STRING GUI TAR . WH EN WE SAT ONE ON ONE VERY EA R LY IN TH E M ORN­ ING AT TH E NAM M SHO WS HE WO ULD SHO W ME D I FFEREN T WAY S OF PLAYING A RRAN G E MEN TS OF SONGS I WO RKED OUT. I WO ULD PL AY AN D HE WO ULD STO P ME AT CER TA IN PARTS AND SAY "THAT'S GREAT DA N N OW TRY IT LIKE TH IS." WH EN HE S H OWED ME HOW HE DID IT I A LMOST FELL OFF THE CHAI R. SOME OF THE TH INGS

S HOWED ME W ERE REAL FINGER TWISTERS. TH IS MAN WAS

HE

SO H U MBLE AN D SINCERE IT WAS OVERWH ELM ING. HE SENT ME A CHRISTMAS CAR D ONCE. I COU LD N 'T BELIEVE IT. I WENT TO SEE

U MBLE AN D SINCERE IT WAS OVERWH ELM ING. HE SENT ME A CHRISTMAS CAR
Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 4 5 HIM P LAY IN N EW YORK
Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 4 5 HIM P LAY IN N EW YORK

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

45

HIM P LAY IN N EW YORK C ITY EVE RY TI ME HE MA DE A RA RE AP­ PEA RANCE TH ERE. ONE TIME WHEN I WENT TO SEE HIM PLAY HE CA ME RIGH T OVE R TO ME, SHOOK MY HAN D AND SA ID "H I DAN , ITS

GREAT TO SEE YO U. "

G E ORG E WENT ON TO SAY THAT HE WA S R EALLY HA PPY THAT I WA S TH ERE TO SEE HIM, AND HE AR HIM PL AY. IN OUR' CON­ SE RVATION HE SA ID "AT LEAST I KNOW ONE PER SON IS HERE TO LISTEN TO ME P LAY AND N OT HERE TO COUNT TH E M ISTA KES I MA KE ." MAYBE HE KN EW THAT TH E MAJOR ITY OF THE AUDIE NCE WA S G U ITAR PLAYERS AND SOME HA D SUCH LA RG E EGOS THAT EV ER Y SLIGH T BLU NDER IN H I S TE CHN IQUE PA C I FIED TH EM. WELL THEY DIDN'T GET TH EIR EGOS SATI SIFIED THAT N IG HT. H IS P LAY­ ING WA S OU TSTANDING AND TE CHN IQUE FLAWLESS. TO PERF ORM

IN FRONT OF SUCH AN AUDI ENCE HA D TO BE SUPER PRESSURE. EVERY GUITAR PLAYER WHO COULD POSS IBLY BE TH ERE WO U LD

SHO W UP EV EN TUALLY. G E ORGE WA S TH E ONLY GUI TAR PLA YER WHO USED HEAVY GAUGE STR INGS ON H I S GUITAR AND NOT G ET FINGER NOISE. I ASKED HIM HOW HE DID THIS AND HE SAID YOU LIFT YO UR FING ERS UP OFF ONE NOTE AND DOWN ON TH E N EXT NOTE WITH OUT SLIDING TO IT. N EVER SLIDE FROM NOTE TO NOTE

U N LESS YO U WA NT THAT SLURRING EFF ECT. TH IS TA KES A LOT OF

PRACTICE. GEORGE WO ULD ALWAYS PLAY AT THE NAMM ( NATION AL AS­ SOCIATION OF MUSIC MERCHANTS.) CONVENTION. THIS IS A TRADE

S HOW WHERE ALL THE MAN U FACTURERS RENT A SPACE IN A CON­

M U SICAL INST RUM ENTS.

VENTION HA LL

TH EY USUALLY HAVE TH E ARTISTS WHO EN DORSE TH EIR INSTRU-

AN D D I SPLAY ALL TH EIR

U SICAL INST RUM ENTS. VENTION HA LL TH EY USUALLY HAVE TH E ARTISTS WHO

46

Dan Duffy

ME NTS PLAY. G E O R GE WO U L D PLAY H I S G R ETS CH "7" STR ING GUI ­ TAR TO AB SOLUTE PERF ECTION. EV E RY TIME HE P LAY ED I WA S THERE LISTENING, WATCHING AN D WON D ERING H OW HE MA S ­ TERED TH IS FINGERSTYLE M ETHOD OF P LAYING "WALKI NG BASS, CHORD AN D MELO DY AT THE SAM E TIME WITH SUCH PROFOU ND EFFIC IENCY. I HAV E H EARD MANY G U YS P LAY TH IS STYL E. TH EY WERE VERY GOOD BUT THEY NEVER CAME UP TO GEORGE. I RE­ MEMBER ONE G UY COMING UP TO G EORGE WITH AN ACOUSTIC GU ITAR. HE WAS TELLING G EORGE TO LISTEN TO HIM PLAY "SATIN DOLL" J UST THE WAY HE DOES BY TU N I NG THE G U ITAR DIFFER­ ENT. HE PLAYE D THE F I RST EIGHT BARS AN D IT SOUNDED LIKE TH E CHORD CHANGES G EORGE USED. G EORGE TOLD HIM THAT HE SOU NDED G R EAT BUT IT WAS EASIER TO DO IT WITH NORMAL TUN­ ING AND HE PROCEEDED TO SHOW HIM. THE GUY SAID HE LIKED

HIS WAY B ETT ER AND WA LKED AWAY. G E OR GE JUS T

ME AN D SMILED. HE TOLD ME THAT OTH ER THAN TU N I NG THE S IX

STR ING DOWN TO "D" HE DIDN'T LIKE ALTERED TU NINGS AS TH EY

LOO KED AT

G ET I NTO BA D HAB ITS . MOST PLAYERS THAT I KNOW OF WHO PLAY TH IS STYLE USU­

ALLY CAN MAKE A N ICE ARRANGEMENT OF THE MAIN MELODY BUT

THE Y CA NT KE EP THE BA SS LINE

WH EN ITS TIME TO TA KE A SOLO

GOING BEH IND TH E

IMPROV ISED LINE TH EY ARE PLAYING .

A LSO ADMIRE D

G EORGES PLAYING. I REMEMBER ONE TIME AT A NA MM CONVEN­

CHET ATKINS ANOTH ER P LAY E RS P LAYER

AT A NA MM CONVEN­ CHET ATKINS ANOTH ER P LAY E RS P LAYER TION

TION G EORGE WAS PLAYING . CH ET, JIMMY WEBSTER AN D I WERE STAN DING IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM WATCH ING. C H ETS EYES WERE FIXED ON GEORGE.

Inside the Gretsch Guitar

Factory 1957-1970

47

HE WAS HAVING ONE OF H IS SUPER PLAYING DAYS AND EV­ ERYONE WAS IN AWE OF HIM. ALL OF A SUDDEN G EORGE MAD E A SPECTAC ULAR MOVE IN TH E PIECE HE WAS PERFO RMING, CH ETS

MOUTH OPENED WIDE AND HIS CIGAR FELL TO THE FLOO R. HE WAS SU PPO SED TO PL AY NE XT. HE DIDN' T. G E ORG E IS A TO UGH ACT TO

FOLLOW.

PO I NTED THAT CHET DID N 'T PLAY. HE PLAYED LATER AN D WOWED

THEM. I REMEMBER THE BROTH ERS "LOS INDIOS TRABAJARI ES" HAD NO TRO U BLE FOLLOWING G EORGE. TH EY HAD A H I T RECORD AT

TH E TIME "MAR IA-E LENA." TH EY BOTH P LAYE D WH ITE FALCON S. ON ONE OF THE WH ITE FALCONS WE HAD TO I N STALL AN EXTRA FRET UNDER TH E FI RST STRING N EAR TH E BRIDGE. I R EALLY CAN 'T REMEMBER HOW WE DID TH IS, BUT I TH I NK IT WAS ATTAC HED TO AN EXTENSION ATTACHED TO THE PICK G UAR D. I DON 'T REMEM­ BER IF IT WAS SILVER OR GOLD, BUT I WAS TOLD IT WAS ONE OF HIS TEETH . FORG IVE ME IF I WAS MISINFORMED BUT IT SOUNDED WE IRD BACK TH EN AND IT STI LL SOUNDS WE IRD. WHEN WE MADE "BO DIDLEYS" G UITAR I THOUGHT "WOW" ANOTH ER WEIRDO. WHEN I SAT DOWN TO TEST IT, IT WAS VERY

UNCOMFOR TA BLE. I PUT A STRAP ON IT AND

U P. IT PLAYED VER Y WELL. I DIDN'T R E ALIZE AT TH E TI ME I MIGH T

BE TH E ONLY ONE TO EVER ACTUALLY PLAY TH E GUITAR U N LESS SOMEON E ELSE WOULD PICK IT U P.WH EN I SAW HIM PERFORM HE DIDN'T PLAY IT IN A MELODIC SENSE. HE J U ST STRU MMED TH ES E DAMPENED RHYTHMS WHILE HE SANG. WEIRD OR EXTRAORDI­ NARY I STILL DON'T KNOW.

HE TO LD J I MMY "I 'll PLAY LATER." EVE RYONE WAS DISAP­

PLAYE D IT STAN DING

Dan Duffy I REMEMBER A B LAC K FALCON, A G R EEN FALCON AND

Dan Duffy

I REMEMBER A B LAC K FALCON, A G R EEN FALCON AND YOU

SHOUL D HAVE SEEN THE RED FALCO N, IT HURT MY EY ES. THE YEL­ LOW FALCON GOT THE AWARD FO R "GAU DY." SOME PLAYERS HAD

THEIR NAMES INLAID ON THE FINGER BOARD WITH MOTHER OF PEARL LETTERS. ONCE AN ORDER CAM E IN FROM A STORE FOR AN ALL BLACK SAL SALVADOR G U ITAR MODEL # 6 1 99. HIS CUSTOMER WANTED TWENTY FIVE COATS OF LACQUER ON IT. THE OFFICE TOLD HIM THAT FOUR OR FIVE COATS IS TH E MOST YOU CAN DO. ANY MORE AND THE LACQUER WOULD C RACK. TH E STORE SAI D TO DO IT THE NORMAL WAY. WHEN THE G U ITAR WAS R EADY TH E OWN ER OF THE STORE SAID THAT HIS CUSTOMER WOULD PICK UP THE G UITAR.

WH EN HE CAM E TO TH E FACTO RY HE AS KE D FO R ME. WH EN HE

P I C KED UP TH E G U ITAR AND LOO KE D AT IT HE STA RTED YELL­

ING AND SCREAM ING ''TH IS ISN'T TWENTY FIVE COATS OF PAI NT" OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THIS G UY WAS TOTALLY OUT OF CONTOL.

I GUESS THE STORE OWNER DIDN'T TELL HIM THAT WE COULDN'T

HONOR H IS REQUEST. AFTER A LONG PERIOD OF THIS RANTING AND RAVING HE PUT THE GU ITAR DOWN AND STORMED OUT MUM­ BLI NG TO H I MSE LF. I SHOULD HAVE TO LD HIM TO TAKE TH E GUI TAR TO "EARL SCH I E B" TH E AUTO PAI NTER, HE DID CARS BACK TH EN FOR$29 .99 HOW DID HE KNOW TH ERE WASN 'T 25 COATS OF LAC­ QUER ON THE G U ITAR.? MAYBE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TWICE ITS SIZE. I WISH WE DID II. ONE TIME AT A NAM M CONVENTION I HAD TO GO TO A BR EAK­

FAST W ITH JIMMY WEBSTE R. IT HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH COU NTRY MUSIC AWARDS I TH INK . IT WAS AT TEN O'CLOCK IN TH E

FAST W ITH JIMMY WEBSTE R. IT HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH COU NTRY MUSIC AWARDS
Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 49 MORN ING AND REP RESENTAT IVES OF EAC

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

49

MORN ING AND REP RESENTAT IVES OF EAC H COM PANY WERE IN­ VITED TO ATTEN D.

AM N OT A

COU NTRY MUSIC FAN. I DON'T DISLIKE I T, I J U ST LIKE STRAIGHT

AH EAD JAZZ. NOW REMEMBER, IT WAS TEN O'CLOCK IN THE MORN­ ING AN D TH E WHOLE AU DITOR IUM WAS PACKED. SUDDENLY TH E WHOLE PLACE GOES DARK AN D A DEEP VO ICE SAYS . "H I, l'M JOHN­ NY CASH." THE S POTLIGHT OPENS ON THE "MAN IN B LACK" ON STAG E. THE WHOLE PLAC E EXPLODES WITH SCREAMS AND THUN­ DERING APPLAUSE ALL AROUND ME. THE BAND STARTED PLAYING. THE GUITAR STARTED PLAYING THAT SIGNATURE STRING MUTED VA M P. JOH N N Y STARTED TO SING AND AGA IN TH E EXPLOS ION OF

C HEERS AND APPLAUSE AND THEN A SUDDEN SILENCE AS THEY

FIXED THEMSELVES IN A STATE OF REVERENCE TOWARD THE STAG E AND TH E "MAN IN BLACK" .

I STOOD TH ERE LOOKI NG AROU ND AT ALL THE PEOPLE WITH

THEIR M IXED E MOTIONS. SOME HAD B LANK EXPRESSIONS ON TH EIR FACES WITH TH EIR MOUTHS OPEN, SOME WERE SMILING AND THE ONES WHO WERE C RYING I THOUGHT "HOW REDICU­

LOUS" .

I STOOD TH ERE LISTENING TO SONG AFTER SONG AN D START­

ED TO G ET CAUG HT UP IN THE C HAR ISMA OF THE "MAN IN BLACK" I LISTENED TO TH E WORDS HE SANG AND THE STORIES THEY TOLD.

I G OT CAUG HT UP IN TH IS MOMENT OF TOTAL REVERENCE WITH

EVERYONE E LSE. I WALKED OUT OF THAT B R EAKFAST VERY RE­ LAXED AN D KIND OF HIGH ON LIFE. I SPOKE TO HIM VERY BRIEFLY LATER THAT DAY. HE WAS VE RY SINCERE THE WAY HE SPOKE, J UST

BRIEFLY LATER THAT DAY. HE WAS VE RY SINCERE THE WAY HE SPOKE, J UST "JOHNNY

"JOHNNY CASH" AND HIS BAN D WERE TH ERE. I

50

Dan Duffy

LIKE THE SONGS HE WRITES AND PERFORMS. IT SADDENED ME A GREAT DEAL WH EN HE GOT SICK AND EVE NTUALLY PASSED AWAY. HE LEFT HIS MUSICAL MARK ON THIS WORLD WITH HIS SONGS THAT YOU STILL H EAR TODAY. I M ET LU IS BON FA' WHEN I WO RKED FOR THE ONE "THOUSAN D DOLLAR MAN ." HE D RESS ED LIKE A FARMER. HE WORE THOS E ONE PIECE DUNGEREES WITH THE STRAPS OVER THE SHOULDERS. I THOUG HT HE LOOKED VERY COOL. HE WAS THE ORIG I NATOR OF THE "BOSSA NOVA" RHYTHM. HE WROTE THE TUNE "A DAY IN TH E

LIFE OF A FOOL." TH IS TU NE IS IN EVERY JAZZ MUSICIANS BOOK. THEY ALSO USED THS TUNE FOR THE MOVIE "BLACK ORPHEUS."

TH E ONE

ING "TH IS IS DAN DU FFY HE WORKED FOR GRETSCH GU ITARS FOR

MANY YEARS AN D HE CAN FIX YOUR G U ITAR." I IMMEDIATELY TOOK

A DEEP BREATH AN D SAI D TO MYS ELF "OH GOD H ELP ME." I SHOOK

HIS HAND AND TOLD HIM H OW MUCH I E NJOY H IS PLAYING AND THE MUSIC HE WRITES . HE SAID HE NEEDS TO G ET ANOTHER H IT LIKE TH E TH EME FOR THE MOVIE "BLACK ORPHUES" SO HE CAN GO BACK TO JUST FISH I NG.I TOLD HIM THAT I GO FISHING EVERY CHANCE THAT I G ET, WITH THIS WE START ED TALKING ABOUT FISH­ ING. WH ILE WE WERE TALKI NG I COULD SEE THAT THE ON E THOU­ SAN D DOLLAR MAN WAS G ETTING NERVOUS. THIS I DLE CHATTER

WAS COSTI NG HIM MON EY. ANYWAY, LUIS TOLD ME THAT TH E FR ETS ON HIS G U ITAR WERE TOO HIGH AND WAS HARD TO P LAY.

IT WAS ONE OF THOS E

FROM B RAZIL. TO BAD THESE G UITARS HAD SUCH A MOISTURE PROBLEM. WH EN HE SAID THAT THE FRETS WERE TOO H IGH I IM-

PROBLEM. WH EN HE SAID THAT THE FRETS WERE TOO H IGH I IM- THOUS AN

THOUS AN D DOLLAR MAN I N TRO DUCED HIM TO ME SAY­

BEAUTIFUL FLAM ED ROS EWOOD

G U ITARS

Inside the Gretsch

Guitar Factory 1957-1970

51

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 51 MEDIATELY THOUGHT OF SAL SALVADOR. CARMINE USED TO LEVEL

MEDIATELY THOUGHT OF SAL SALVADOR. CARMINE USED TO LEVEL THE FR ETS ON H IS GUITARS ALL TH E WAY DOWN AND TH EN ROU ND TH EM OFF. WH EN YO UR DON E WITH THE FILES YOU HAVE TO USE VA RIOUS G R ADES OF SAN D PAP ER AN D WO RK ON ONE FRE T AT A

TIME BRINGING IT TO A BRI LLIANT SHINE AN D A SMOOTH E G LASS LIK E FINISH. YO U HAVE TO TA KE YO UR TIME DOING TH IS. YOU HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL ROUN DING OFF THE ENDS OF TH E FR ETS

BECAUSE THERE ISNT

YO U TA KE OFF TO MUCH YO U WILL HAVE A SHORT FR ET. THIS FRET

WILL POP UP AND CAUSE A BUZZ. NO G LUE WILL HOLD IT DOWN .

IT MIGHT HOLD FOR A WHI LE BUT EVENTUALLY IT WILL POP U P. REPLACING ONE FRET IS KI ND OF HARD. YOU US UALLY HAVE TO REPLACE ALL TH E FR ETS . ALL MY G U ITARS WERE DON E TH IS WAY BY CARM INE.

I COULD SEE THAT TH E ONE THOUSAN D DOLLAR MAN WAS

G ETTI NG VERY NERVOUS AND ABOUT TO JUMP OUT OF H IS MONEY

EAS E HIS PA IN I TO LD HIM I WAS ALMOST DON E. AS I WAS

OF TH E OFFICE AND WALKED

OVER TO ME.I STOPPED PLAYING AND HANDED THE GUITAR TO HIM. I TOOK HIM TO TH E S HOW ROOM WHERE ALL THE I NSTRUMENTS WE RE ON D ISPLAY. IT WAS VERY QUIET THERE. HE SAT DOWN AN D PLAYED TH E G U ITAR. HE PLAYED FOR QU ITE AWH ILE. HE KEPT NOD­

DING HIS H EAD WITH APPROVAL AS HE PLAYED. HE EVENTUALLY SAID THE GUITAR PLAYED TERRIFIC. THE ONE THOUSAND DOLLAR MAN SMILED, I SHOOK HANDS WITH LUIS, HE COULDN'T THANK ME ENOUGH. I SAID GOODBYE AND WENT BACK TO WORK. THE ONE THOUSAN D DOLLAR MAN WAS RELIEVED.

BELT. TO

TESTING THE GUITAR LU IS CAM E

MUCH M EAT LEFT ON THE FRET ITSELF. IF

OUT

52

Dem Duffy

BACK IN THE REPAIR DEPARTMENT AT 60 BR OADWAY, BROOK­

LY N, AR OUND THE GOOD YEAR OF 1 9 63 , CARM INE WAS TR YING TO

SOUNDING PICKUP. THE GUI­

TAR CAM E BACK FOR A REFI N ISH AN D N EW PICKU PS. WE GOT A LOT OF REFINISH JOBS DURING TH E G U ITAR BOOM. G UYS WERE PICK­ ING UP TH EIR G U ITARS AG AIN AN D IT WAS CHE APER TO TA KE TH IS ROUTE. I TOLD CARM INE THAT I KN EW WHAT WAS CAUSING TH E PROBLEM. THE PEOPLE DOWN STAIRS WHO MAKE THE P ICKUPS WERE PUTTING THE MAGNETS IN TURNED AROUND. THIS CAUSED THE PICKU PS TO BE OUT OF PHASE. THE POLAR ITY WAS OFF G IV­ ING THE G U ITAR A VERY D I FFERENT SOUND WHEN BOTH PICKUPS WERE ON AT THE SAM E TIME. YOU HAD TO RA ISE TH E VO LU ME TO H EAR IT. LATER TH IS SOU ND WOU LD BE PERFECTED ELECTRON I­

CALLY AN D OFTEN USED. OUT OF P HASE BECAME

SOU ND IN LATER YEARS AN D HERE I WAS FIXING IT. JUST LIKE THE

AM PS WE WERE MAKI NG. WE WERE TRYI NG TO MAKE AN AM P THAT PLAYED AT A HIGH LEVEL WITHOUT DISTORTING. THIS WAS A N EVER ENDING QU EST. LOUD AND CLEAN IS WHAT WE WANTED. THIS P ROBLEM WAS EVENTUALLY SOLVED BY THE D ISTORTION PEDAL. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? ALL THE YEARS TRYING TO PERFECT A CLEAN SOUNDING AMP AND THEY KILL IT WITH A PEDAL. TH E ACCEPTED SOUND WAS NOW LOUD AN D DISTORTED. THE AMPS NOW HAD TO BE BIG ALSO. SOME WERE LARG E ENOUGH

TO STAND IN.

IT HAD TO BE CUSHIONED IN CASE THE FIVE G UYS WHO WERE

CAR RYING IT TO TH E GIG FOR YOU D ROPPED IT. THIS AMP

R EALLY A DUMB LOOKI NG TH ING. IT BELONGS IN TH E SAM E CAT-

SOLVE TH E MYSTERY OF THE WEAK

AN ACCEPTED

ONE HAD CUSHIONED VINYL COVERING. I G UESS

WAS

IT BELONGS IN TH E SAM E CAT- SOLVE TH E MYSTERY OF THE WEAK AN

Inside the Gretsch Guitar

Factory 1957-1970

53

EGORY WITH THE PADDED GUITAR. TH EY WOULD LOOK GOOD SIDE

BY SIDE. DUMB AND DUMBER. ONE SERI OUS NOTE AT TH IS TIME,

I WON DER WHERE TH E PA DDED G U ITARS ARE? TH ERE WAS

ONE WAS G R EEN AND TH E OTH ER WAS TA N. DON 'T FO RG ET TH EY LOOK LIKE CAR SEATS OR A SKI JACKET. ABOUT A MONTH LATER TH INGS WO ULD TA KE A D R AMATIC TURN. I H EARD THIS GUITAR BEING BANGED ON OUT SIDE THE FACTO RY OFFICE. NOT BEING P LAYE D, J U ST BEING STRUMMED OPEN STR I N GS AN D LO UD AS H E LL. I WALKED DOWN TO TH E OF­ FICE TO SEE WHO WAS G IVI NG EVE RYONE A H EADACHE. FRED

OVE R TH E

GRETS CH WAS TH ERE TRYI NG TO TALK TO TH IS G UY

NOISE THIS LITTLE RED H EADED KI D WITH FRECKLES WAS MAK­ ING. THE KID LOOKED LIKE HE BELONGED ON TH E COVE R OF "MAD MAGAZIN E." YOU KNOW, TH E KID WHO SAYS 'WHAT ME WOR RY?" TH E KID KN EW HE WAS ANNOYI NG ME BUT HE KE PT BANGING AWAY

TWO .

KN EW HE WAS ANNOYI NG ME BUT HE KE PT BANGING AWAY TWO . AT

AT TH E G U I TAR. THE O LDER G UY WAS TELLI NG FR ED THAT THE

NO W WAS SM ALL AMPS THAT P LAY ED LO UD. "HERE WE GO

AGAIN" I THOUG HT. FRED AS KED ME WHAT I THOUG HT, I SAID I DON 'T KNOW BUT I

WOULD G ET J I MMY WEBSTER. I WAS N 'T GOING TO LET J I MMY G ET AWAY WITHOUT CATCHING TH IS KIDS ACT. J I MMY CAM E I NTO TH E FACTO RY WITH THAT STI NKING PIPE

TH E "W HAT ME

CLENCH ED B ETWEEN H I S TE ETH

WO R RY KI D" WAC KI NG AWAY AT HIS CRAPPY G U I TAR S HOWI NG

H OW LO UD THE AM P WAS. JIMMY WALKED RIGHT OVER TO THE

TR END

AND LOO KED AT

KI D, PUT H I S HAN D ON THE G U ITAR AND SA ID "O KAY, OKAY WE ALL KNOW YOU CANT PLAY" THEN HE LOO KED AT ME, I WAS LA UG H I NG

54

Dan Duffy

LIKE CRAZY. I STARTED TO WALK AWAY AN D THE KID STARTED TO

J I M MY TU RNED AROUND AN D LOO KE D AT

HIM AND HE STOPPED. I WALKED AWAY STILL LAUGHING AN D THAT WAS THE BEGINN ING OF THE N EXT BIG CHANGE IN AMPS . YESTERDAY 5/28/05 I DECIDED TO TAKE A RIDE TO TH E GRETSCH FACTO RY IN B ROOKLYN . I H AVEN'T BEEN TH ERE IN 35 YE ARS. I WA NTED TO TA KE SOME PICTU R E S OF THE BU ILDING. I WAS TO LD THAT IT WAS MAD E I NTO VERY EXPENSIVE CONDOS. MY WIFE PAT CAM E WITH ME TO TAKE THE PICTURES. I DID THE POSING AND MY TWO SONS B RIAN AN D JOE DID THE DIRECTING. MY SONS STILL LIVE IN MASPETH WHERE I G REW UP. ITS ON THE QUEENS, BROOKLYN BORDER LINE AN D IS ABOUT 10 MILES FROM

THE GRETSCH BUILDING. MY SON BRIAN D ROVE SO I COULD CHECK OUT THE BROOKLYN AREA THAT I HADN'T SEEN FOR A LONG TIME. I COULDN'T BELIEVE HOW MUCH THE AREA CHANGED. THE STREETS WERE ACTUALLY CLEAN. THERE IS A SM ALL RES TA U RANT AC ROSS

THE STREET FROM THE BUILDING WITH AN OUTSIDE DINING AREA. THE ONLY O UTSIDE DINING I EVER SAW WAS A G UY PUSHING A FRAN KFU RTER CART. I SAW A POLIC EMAN WALKI NG A BEAT. I N EVER SAW THAT DOWN THERE, THEY WERE US UALLY TWO TO A CAR.

BA NG ON TH E G U ITAR,

WAS R ESTORED INSIDE AND OUT.

IT LOOKS REALLY GOOD. THE CONDOS ARE VERY EXPENSIVE. I R EAD IN THE PAPER THAT ONE SOLD FOR $350, 000. IT WAS 700 SQUARE F EET. I DON'T KNOW WHO OWNS THE BUILDING N OW. I AS KED THE SECURITY GUARD IF I COULD GO INSIDE AN D HE SAI D HE WAS ON A B REAK. THAT'S THE N I CE WAY OF SAYING NO. TH E G LASS ENTRANCE IN FRONT AND BACK ARE LOCKED. THE SECURI-

TH E G RETSCH BUILDING

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

55

TY G UARDS LET YO U IN WITH PROPER I. D. l'M SURE THE TENANTS AR E HAU NTED BY THE FA I NT SOU ND OF THE GRETS CH G U ITARS PLAYING THE "FRED GRETSCH BLUES." IT WAS A GOOD DAY FOR ME. A DAY OF M IXED EMOTIONS, BUT A GOOD DAY. THE PICTU RE OF ME STAN DING IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING WITH TH E G RAFFITI ALL OVER IT IS WHATS LEFT OF "RED'S" BAR. RED QU IT GRETSCH WH EN THE P IANO G UYS TOOK OVER THE COM­ PANY. HE J U ST SA ID "l' M OUTTA HERE." RED WO RKED THERE S I NCE HIGH SCHOOL. HE BOUGHT THE BAR BUT IT ONLY LASTED A FEW YEARS.FRED, RED AND MYSELF HUNG OUT HERE EVERY CHANCE WE HAD. EVERY TI ME I TALKED TO THEM WE WO ULD R E MIN ISCE ABOUT THOSE G R EAT TIMES.

ME WH ERE EVER I WENT.

IN 1 980, TEN YEARS AFTER MY TOUR OF DUTY WITH THE GRETSCH COM PANY, I GOT S I CK. I WAS IN TH E HOSPITAL FO R A FEW WEEKS.

TH ERE I M ET TH IS H OSPITAL ATTEN DANT WHO

W H ILE I WAS

WORKED THE NIGHT SHIFT. AFTER A WEEK I STARTED TO FEEL BETTER SO I SPENT MOST OF MY NIGHTS IN THE VISITORS ROOM. I WAS N E VER A GOOD SLEEPER. THE ATTEN DANT BROUG HT ME CO F­ FEE EVER Y NIGH T AND WE WO ULD S I T AN D TA LK. HE TO LD ME HE PLAYED TH E G U ITAR AND THAT HE HAD A GRETSCH CHET ATKINS

MOD EL G U ITAR. WHEN I TO LD HIM THAT I PL AY ED THE G U ITAR AN D SIGNED TH E GREEN OK CARD THAT HUNG ON TH E G U ITAR WH EN HE BOUGHT IT HE FLIPPED OUT. THE N EXT NIGHT HE BROUGHT IN HIS G U ITAR. THE PIECE WAS FIFTEEN YEARS OLD AN D WAS IN

HE OPENED TH E CAS E HE HAD TH E BODY IN­

SIDE A TEESHIRT AND THE N ECK WAS WRAPPED IN TH E POLISHING

TH E BODY IN­ SIDE A TEESHIRT AND THE N ECK WAS WRAPPED IN TH E
TH E BODY IN­ SIDE A TEESHIRT AND THE N ECK WAS WRAPPED IN TH E

THE GREEN OK CARD FOLLOWED

GR EAT SHAPE. WH EN

56

Dan Duffy

CLOTH THAT CAME WITH THE GUITAR. THESE WERE ALL THE SIGNS

THAT I KN EW HE CAR ED FOR HIS I N STR UMENT. I P I CKED UP THE

N EEDED A N ECK ADJUSTMENT

SO I TOLD HIM TO BRING THE RIGHT H EX WRENCH SO I COULD AD­ JUST IT. I FIXED THE N ECK THE N EXT NIGHT AND WE BOTH SPENT TI ME PLAYING THE G U ITAR AN D TA LK ING. HE TOLD ME ABOUT A LOT OF STRANGE DISEASES HE SEEN WOR KING AT THE HOSPITAL. I

TOLD HIM PLAYING THE GUITAR WAS LIKE A DISEAS E. HE LAUGHED AN D AG REED WITH ME. WH EN I WAS GOING HOME HE SMILED AN D SAI D" l 'M G LAD YOU GOT SICK, COM E BACK SOON". I LEFT THE HOS­ PITAL FEELING P R ETTY GOOD, I ENJOYED MY STAY. A FEW WEEKS AGO I GOT THE IDEA FOR THE COVER OF THIS BOOK SO I TOOK A RIDE TO THE SAM ASH MUSIC STORE IN CARL

P LACE, LONG ISLAND I STI LL GO TO SAM ASH FOR MY STUF F. I

STARTED GOING TO THE BROOKLYN STO RE WH EN I WAS VERY

TO TH E G U ITAR

YO UNG. MY SON B R IAN CAM E WITH ME. I WENT

DEPARTMENT WHERE THEY HAD SOME G RETSCH GU ITARS HANG­ ING UP, THEY HAD THE NEW VERSION OF THE GREEN OK ON THEM.

I ASKED THE PERSON IN CHARGE IF I COULD HOLD THE G REEN

CARD WH ILE MY SON TOOK A PICTURE OF ME HOLDING IT. HE SAID YES RIGHT AWAY.WH EN HE WAS G ETTING THE G U ITAR DOWN HE AS KED ME WHY I WANTED JUST TH E CARD, SO I TO LD HIM WHO

I WAS AN D

AND THEY BOTH STARTED ASKING ME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GRETSCH G U ITARS FROM THE 60'S. THEY TOLD ME THEY BOTH

HAD TH E CHET AT KI NS MODELS FROM

THEY WERE. THEY SAID THEY WERE THE BEST SOUNDING GU ITARS

GU ITAR AND PLAYED IT. THE G U ITAR

WHAT I WAS DOING. ANOTH ER PERSON CAM E OVER

THE 60' AN D HOW GOOD

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 5 7 EVE R. TH EY CON VINCED ME

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

57

EVE R. TH EY CON VINCED ME TO TA KE A PIC TU RE HOLD ING THE GUI­ TA R AND THE G R EEN OK CAR D. THE Y WERE VER Y CORD IAL TO ME AND MY SON. l 'M 73 YEARS OLD NOW AN D HEARING TH EM SAY THOSE GOOD TH INGS ABOUT THE GRETSCH GUITARS PRODUCED IN MY YEARS AT THE FA CTO RY MADE ME FEEL GOOD . I TR IED VER Y HARD DUR­ ING THOS E YEARS AND NOW THAT I KNOW I DIDN'T FA IL EVE RY THING IS FINE WITH ME. WH EN MY TIME COMES TO LEAVE THIS EARTH I HOPE SOME­ ONE HAN GS TH E GRE EN CAR D ON ME. THE BIG G U Y AT TH E GATE OF GUI TAR H E AV EN WIL L SEE IT AND SAY "LET HIM IN H E 'S OK"

EN CAR D ON ME. THE BIG G U Y AT TH E GATE OF GUI
EN CAR D ON ME. THE BIG G U Y AT TH E GATE OF GUI

58

Dan Duffy

A tN 1 954. WAS I OF HAPPY ? YOU 1:1>11::·rrie::lt!I YEARS THIS l HAD
A
tN 1 954. WAS I
OF
HAPPY ? YOU 1:1>11::·rrie::lt!I
YEARS
THIS
l HAD TH�S
JACKET.
Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957�1970 THIS JS A PICTURE OF ME AND MY MODEL

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957�1970

THIS JS A PICTURE OF ME AND MY MODEL # 6192 G R ETSCH COUNTRY
THIS JS A PICTURE OF ME AND MY MODEL # 6192
G R ETSCH COUNTRY CLU B GUITAR
.
THl RTY THREE YEA RS OLD . IN MY
l WAS
OPIN ION THIS

WAS THE BEST ALL AROUND PIECE MADE BY US.NOTICE THE NAME " DANNY SHAW. " WHEN I WAS OFFERED TO PLAY THE HOTEL ROO MS fN NEW YORK CffY THEY A'SKED ME TO CHANGE MY NAME BECAUSE MINE DIDN'T SOUND · " SHOW BJZZ. " WHEN I WENT BACK TO THE CLU BS , I TOOK THE NAME WITH ME . I G OT USED TO IT.

SOUND · " SHOW BJZZ. " WHEN I WENT BACK TO THE CLU BS , I

59

60

Dan Duffy

THIS IS A MODEL OF THE GRETSCH BU ILDING. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE VARiOUS
THIS IS A MODEL OF THE GRETSCH BU ILDING.
IT LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE VARiOUS T REES
AND PLANTS SCATTERED AROUND. I ooN·T
KNOW
WHAT ELSE IS UP THERE BUT WHAT
EVER iT IS I
WISH IT WAS THERE IN 1 957!l970.
THE SMALL BUILDING ON THE LEFT GROUND
FLOOR WAS THE BANK FRED GRETSCH
WORKED AT ALL DAY EVERY THURSDAY. I
WAS TOLD THAT HE WAS ON THE BOARD OF
DIRECTORS TH ERE.
HE WAS A VERY HA RD
CARRIED TWO LARGE
BRIEFCASES
WORKING MAN.
TO AN D FROM WORK EVERY

DAY .

OF DIRECTORS TH ERE. HE WAS A VERY HA RD CARRIED TWO LARGE BRIEFCASES WORKING MAN.

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

61

THIS IS A PtCTURE OF THE OLD BUILDING BEFORE THE NEW RENOVATION. DON 'T BE
THIS
IS
A PtCTURE OF THE OLD
BUILDING BEFORE THE NEW
RENOVATION. DON 'T BE FOOLED BY
·me: PHOTO,
IT WAS VERY WELL
MAINTATNED.

62

Dan Duffy

FR ONT OF BUI LDING ON 5/28/0 5 TH1S IS A HUGE DIFFERENClt FROM THE
FR ONT OF BUI LDING ON 5/28/0 5
TH1S IS A HUGE DIFFERENClt FROM
THE FACTORY l KNEW.

ON lT,

l'D PASS IT B Y.

lF IT WAS IN A

DIFFER.ENT LOCATION AND NO NAME

A HUGE DIFFERENClt FROM THE FACTORY l KNEW. ON lT, l'D PASS IT B Y. lF

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 THIS IS THE BACK OF THE BUILDING ON 5/28/05. ALL

THIS IS THE BACK OF THE BUILDING ON 5/28/05. ALL TH E CONSTRUCTION lS NEW. THE BALCONIES ARE MUCH BIGGER NOW . THE THlRD BALCONY FROM THE TOP IS SUPPOSEDLY THE LAUNCHING SlTE OF THE CLARIN ET ON TH E RO PE.

G3

BIGGER NOW . THE THlRD BALCONY FROM THE TOP IS SUPPOSEDLY THE LAUNCHING SlTE OF THE

64

Dan Duffy

HER,E I AM BACK AFTER 35 YEARS STANDING JN FRONT OF ''REDS" BAR.ITS TWO BLOCKS
HER,E I AM BACK AFTER 35 YEARS
STANDING JN FRONT OF ''REDS"
BAR.ITS TWO BLOCKS FROM THE
GR.ETCH BUILDING. ALONG SIDE THE
BUILDlNG IS THE WILLIAMSBURG
BRIDGE. THIS PLACE HOLDS MANY
MEMORIES OF
GOOD FRIENDS.
AND
LOT OF GOOD
THEY'RE OQJNG TO TEAR IT OOM.t
TIMES. rr LOOKS LIKE
" RED" PASS.ED A\VAY TWO YEARS
AGO BUT WE' EL MEET UP AGAIN. AS
HE ALWAYS SAID "
THAT'S A FACT' '

A

PASS.ED A\VAY TWO YEARS AGO BUT WE' EL MEET UP AGAIN. AS HE ALWAYS SAID "
PASS.ED A\VAY TWO YEARS AGO BUT WE' EL MEET UP AGAIN. AS HE ALWAYS SAID "

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

65

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 65 THE MON:KEES GUITAR MODEL WAS A GOOD SELLER. NO

THE MON:KEES GUITAR MODEL WAS A GOOD SELLER. NO ONE WANTED THE MONKEE NAME ON THE GUITAR PICKGUARD OR THE ROD SHIELD COVER.I WISH f HAD ON E.

'
'

66

Dan Duffy

ALL THB CHET ATKlNS GRETSCH GUITARS WERE BEST SELLERS FOR THE COMPANY ra1w WERE WELL
ALL THB CHET ATKlNS GRETSCH GUITARS
WERE BEST SELLERS FOR THE COMPANY
ra1w WERE WELL DESIGNED.THEY
PLAYED GREAT, LOOKED GREAT, AND
SOUNDED GREAT. I WlSH I HAD
ONE
'
,

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957q1970

TH IS 6 l 99 JAZZ GU ITA R . I STUFFED IT WITH FfBER
TH IS
6 l 99 JAZZ GU ITA R . I STUFFED IT
WITH FfBER GLASS TO REDUC E

IS THE SAL SALVADOR MODEL

FEED BACK . I GET THE ITCH JUST TH INKING ABOUT IT.

I I - ( \ \
I
I
-
(
\
\

67

GLASS TO REDUC E IS THE SAL SALVADOR MODEL FEED BACK . I GET THE ITCH

68

Dan Duffy

THIS MODEL # 6 135 WAS ON E OF THE BEST DESIGNED GRETSCH GUITA RS.
THIS MODEL # 6 135 WAS ON E OF THE
BEST
DESIGNED
GRETSCH
GUITA RS.
THE
NECK
ADJUSTME"-JT
ROD
WAS
INSTA LL ED
THE
ENTIRE
LENGTH
OF
THE
NECK.
ALL
OTHER
MOD ELS
ADJUSTED
ON LY
FROM
N UT
TO
THE
TWELVE
OR
FOURTEENTH
FRET .
IF
THE
PLAY ER
HAD
A
PROBLEM IT
COULD
BE
ADJUSTED
EASILY .
THE
OTH ER
r"10DELS
USUALLY
REQU IRED
FRET
REPLACEMENT FROM THE 12 TH FRF:r TO THE
EN D OF THE FINGERBOARD.
ALSO
THE
PLAYER
HAD
AN
EASY
REAC H
TO
AU .
THE
FRETS.
THIS
GU ITAR
PLAYED GREAT. l WISH I HAD ON E.
ALSO THE PLAYER HAD AN EASY REAC H TO AU . THE FRETS. THIS GU ITAR

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

69

THE "GRETSCH- EN- STINE " MONSTER BASS WAS BIG AND CLUMSY. ONCE YOU LEARNED TO
THE "GRETSCH- EN- STINE "
MONSTER BASS WAS BIG AND CLUMSY. ONCE
YOU LEARNED TO HOLD IT YOU HAD THE
FATTEST SOUND ON STAGE, IN THE STUDIO AND
AT THE ADAMS FAMILY REUNI ON. I WISH l HAD
ONE

70

Dan Duffy

TH IS MODEL # 6022 FLAT TOP GUITAR HAD PROBLEMS BACK IN ! 957. TH
TH IS MODEL # 6022 FLAT TOP GUITAR HAD
PROBLEMS BACK IN ! 957.
TH E TOP WOULD
SfNK
lN BETWEEN THE BRIDGE AND THE
SOUND HOLE.
CU RED

A SLIGHT CRO\VN TO THE TOP

IT. THEY SHOULD CALL IT A CROWN TOP NOT A FLAT TOP .I DON 'T WANT ON E.

CU RED A SLIGHT CRO\VN TO THE TOP IT. THEY SHOULD CALL IT A CROWN TOP
Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 71 THIS IS TRULY A GREAT CLASSIC GUITAR .

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

71

THIS IS TRULY A GREAT CLASSIC GUITAR . I HAVE ONE OF THESE GREAT INSTRUMENTS.
THIS IS TRULY A GREAT
CLASSIC GUITAR . I HAVE ONE OF THESE GREAT
INSTRUMENTS. ITS MODEL NUMBER 600 I. AT
THIS VERY MOMENT ITS IN THE LIVING ROO M
NEXT TO MY CHAIR.
I PLA y IT EVERY DAY, EVEN IF rrs J U ST FOR
FIVE M INUTES. ITS BEEN NEXT TO MY CHAIR
SINCE THE DAY I GOT IT 45 YEARS AGO. THAT
M UST BE SOME KIND OF RECORD.

72

72 Dan Duffy THIS FOLK GUTTAR #6003 FOUND ITS WAY JNTO THE COFFEE HOUSES IN THE

Dan Duffy

THIS FOLK GUTTAR #6003 FOUND ITS WAY JNTO THE COFFEE HOUSES IN THE 60 '$.
THIS FOLK GUTTAR #6003 FOUND ITS
WAY JNTO THE COFFEE HOUSES IN THE
60 '$.
BEGINNERS GUITAR, DESIGNED FOR
IT WAS ALSO A GREAT
HAND
POSITION PLAYING.
THE
SMALL
AND
EASY FIRST
USUALL Y THE
STIJDENT STARTED OUT ON THE.
HARMONY "STELLA" GUITAR
( GRETSCH ALSO SOLD THESE) THEN
TO THE MODEL # 6003.

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

Jf YOU HAVE ONE OF THESE JAZ.:Z TODAYS " E M G " PICKUPS ON
Jf
YOU HAVE ONE OF THESE JAZ.:Z
TODAYS " E M G
" PICKUPS ON ITTHEY
HAVE ONE THAT YOU CAN HAVE
OF AMER1CAN KNOW HOW,
OLD BROOK.LYN,RY. I WISH f HAD
ONE.

GRETSCH ACOUSTIC GUITARS PUT ONE OF

ATTACHED TO THE PICKGUARD. DON 'T CUT ANY HOLES IN THIS BEAUTIFUL PIECE

MADE fN GOOD

GUITARS PUT ONE OF ATTACHED TO THE PICKGUARD. DON 'T CUT ANY HOLES IN THIS BEAUTIFUL

73

74

Don Duffy

74 Don Duffy "Great Chord Changes" Ta ugh t to me by Hy Wh ite 1

"Great Chord Changes"

Ta ugh t to me by

Hy Wh ite 1 9 54/1 955

Three groups of chords -root on 6th string. Roots on 1 -3-5-of a Major chord . G,B, D=G Major Memorize the sequence Major (M), Major 7th(M7), 7TH, 6th . The root note descends the scale Chromatically. G, F#, F, E, or one fret chang ing the name of the chord, M,M7, 7th, 6th. All chords move up and down the fingerboard. The name of the chord changes according to the root note.

Root

- G

rd

F ret

3

1

changes according to the root note. Root - G rd F ret 3 1 Root position

Root

position

<G6

<G 7

<G M7

<G M

G l st

I Inversion

<G6 <G 7 <G M7 <G M G l st I Inversion I '"-+-'-+-i--t�--1 3 rd

I '"-+-'-+-i--t�--1

3 rd in

b ass

St h

fret B

5t h in

3 rd in b ass St h fret B 5t h in b ass D- 10

b ass

D- 10

fret -

G

<G6

<G 7

<G M7

<GM

2nd

Inversion

<G6

<G 7

<G M7

<G M

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

75

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 75 · 3 rd II ( I) 1• 0 u
· 3 rd II ( I) 1• 0 u II H 0 ii II Ii
·
3 rd
II
( I)
1•
0
u
II
H
0
ii
II
Ii II
U
0
II
Ill

ROOT

G

FRET

GM

GM?

G7

G6

Play this exercise in all keys- Root on 6th string

II: GI

I

I

I

G M? I

I

I

I

G7

I

I

I

I

G6

I

I

I

:II

 
 

II:

FI

I

I

I FM? I

I

I

I

F?

/

//

I

F6 I

I

I

:II

II:

CM?

I

C6

I CM?

IC6

 

:II

II:

BbM7

I

Bb6

I AbM7

 

1 Ab6

:II

IMP ORTA NT - Play these exerci ses . Memo rize them . Make up yo ur

Play the 4 Ab

own .

chords.

Play the 4 G chords, then move up one fret to Ab.

Move up one fret to A. Continue like this through the 12 keys .

76

Dan Duffy

E6

Contin ued practice with root on 6 stri ng - M- M7- 7- 6 This practice session has you jumping all over the Fingerboard - it will help you finger each chord without hesitation - learn the notes on the 6th string - they are the roots for these chord changes.

I

CM?

I AbM7

EM?

C6

Ab6

I

I

C7

Ab?

E7

C7

Ab?

E7

I

I

FM?

I

DbM7 I

F7

Db?

I

I

8bM7 I

GbM7 I

AM? A7 I DM7 I F6 F7 8b6 Db6 Db? Gb6 A6 A7 D6
AM?
A7
I
DM7
I
F6
F7
8b6
Db6
Db?
Gb6
A6
A7
D6

8b7

Gb7

D7

8b7

Gb7

D7

I EbM7 I Eb? I DbM7 I Db? I GM? I G7 Eb6 Eb? 86
I
EbM7 I
Eb?
I
DbM7 I
Db?
I
GM?
I
G7
Eb6
Eb?
86
87
G6
G7

Inside the

Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

77

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 77 Contin ued practice with root on 6th string c

Contin ued practice with root on 6th string

1957-1970 77 Contin ued practice with root on 6th string c F Bb Eb Ab Db

c

F

Bb

Eb

Ab

Db

Gb

B

E

A

D

CM?

C6

C7

FM?

F6

F?

BbM?

Bb6

Bb?

EbM?

Eb6

Eb?

AbM?

Ab6

Ab?

DbM?

Db6

Db?

GbM?

Gb6

Gb?

BM?

86

87

EM?

E6

E?

AM?

A?

A?

DM?

D6

D?

Play 4 beats to each Chord.

Memorize.

78

Dan Duffy

3 rd in

bass

B

G

' II u II (1j) 11 •• II ID
'
II
u
II
(1j)
11
••
II
ID

GM

GM?

G7

G6

1 st Inversion

Or you can use the root note (G) on the 4th string.

It's best to u n der stand the 1 - 3- 5 - Roots .

G Major 3rd (b) in bass on 6th string.

Yo u should know bo th .

Play the following

down.- This is very important.

studies of the

1 st inversion

in

all keys. Write them

ll: G

I GM7

IG7

IG6

:II

ll: G M7

I G6

I GM?

I G6

:II

II:

FM?

I F6

I FM?

I F7

:II

II:

F6

I F7

I BbM

I Bb7

:II

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

79

FM .A FM l F M ? F M ? l F II \ (I
FM
.A
FM
l
F M ?
F M ?
l
F
II
\
(I D
II
II
••
(11

This exercise is on the ROOT position chord and the 1 st inversion

of the chord, marked with a #1 .

Major?. Using the same format do the two Maj? and 6th .

The exercise written below is on the two

IBbM7

IBbM7 1

I FM7

IFM7 1

ICM?

ICM? 1

IGM7

IGM7 1

I F#M7

I F#M7 1

IBM?

IBM7 1

IAM7

IAM7 1

IAbM7

IAbM7 1

I

1 IGM7 IGM7 1 I F # M 7 I F#M7 1 IBM? IBM7 1 I

80

Dan Duffy

Conti nued practice on root position and 1 st position

chords.

Make a copy of page 74. Keep it next to this page for Reference as you practice these exercises if you need it.

Reference as you practice these exercises if you need it. Play 4 beats each. IF IF1

Play 4 beats each.

IF

IF1

I F?

IF7 1

IBb

1Bb1

1 Bb7

1Bb71

1 Eb1

1Eb7

I Ab

1Ab1

1Ab7 1

1Ab7

1 0b6

10b7

IGbM7

1Gb7

1 86

187

IE 1

IE71

IA1

IA

IA7 1

IA?

1 07

1071

IG6

IG7 1

IG7

ICM

1Gb7 1 86 187 IE 1 IE71 IA1 IA IA7 1 IA? 1 07 1071 I

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

81

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970 81 2 f\J D i nversion 3 rd in bass

2 f\J D i nversion

3 rd in bass or

root on 5

·wh en p l ayed out c,f

the

the

p rogress i on ad d note on 2 nd strinq

- - �- / - II s• ::1•Ji' ( ifiu II l -·- '7 CM7
-
-
�-
/
-
II s•
::1•Ji'
( ifiu
II
l
-·- '7
CM7
CE.
H (1 1) Iii
H
(1 1)
Iii

CM

Finger placement for 2nd inversion - or root on 5th string Optional to play. Remember to learn 1 - 3 - 5 - of scale = a Major chord . Learn in all 12 keys. The 2nd inversion chords will be marked with a 2 after it. On standard sheet music the inversion is not marked the choice is you rs. For example if the music calls for a G chord for 2 or more bars, play the other inversions to add variety to the sound.

bars, play the other inversions to add variety to the sound. PLAY IN ALL KEYS -
bars, play the other inversions to add variety to the sound. PLAY IN ALL KEYS -

PLAY IN ALL KEYS - A ll 2nd In ve rsion

IC

ICM?

IC?

IC6

IEb

IEbM?

IEb?

1

Eb6

ICM?

IC6

ICM?

IC6

IEbM?

1Eb6

IEbM?

1

Eb6

82

Dan Duffy

Continued practice on Root - 1 st and 2nd inversions Memorize each line - do in all keys

IC

ICM7

IC7

IC6

II

IC1

ICM71

IC7 1

IC6 1

II

IC2

ICM7 2

IC7 2

IC6 2

II

IC7

IFM 2

IF7 2

IBb

II

1Bb7

1Eb1

1 Eb7 2

!Ab

II

IA7

106 2

107 2

IG

II

IG7

1Gb7

IF?

IE7 2

II

ICM7

IC7

IFM7 2

IF6 2

II

11Bb7

1Eb72

1Ab7

10b7 2

1Gb7

187

IE7 2

IA7

107 2

IG7

IC7 2

I F?

II

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

83

The following chart

Major,

12 keys.

shows the th ree inversions of the

and 6th.

Must be learned in the

Major?th, 7th,

F

Fl

F2

h-F. e n / m •• F II (-,/ A"'
h-F.
e
n
/
m
••
F
II
(-,/
A"'
8 4 Dan Duffy MAJOR TO AUGUMENTED - Root position (root on 6 string) 1

84

Dan Duffy

MAJOR TO AUGUMENTED - Root position (root on 6 string) 1 st and 2nd I nversions. The + sign after the chord name Means (Aug) augmented (raise the 5th note of the chord)

Root pos.

c

C+

C6

Cl

c ���····

Root on 3

c

C+

C6

pos. c C + C 6 C l c ���···· Root on 3 c C+ C6

Root on 5

G�- C+

C6

c

C+

C6

11111

Root position exercise - This is used the most

IC

IC+

IC6

Transfer to all Keys

IC7

II

on 5 G�- C+ C6 c C+ C6 11111 Root position exercise - This is used

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

85

Minor Prog ressions - Root position - 1 st and 2nd Inversion - M inor to augmented - minor always has a smal l m as the sym bol or min after the chord.

Example: Cm or Cmin - Sometimes

.,.+-+--+--t--t Cm6 Cml Cm Ml Cm Cm Cm+ Cm6 Cml
.,.+-+--+--t--t
Cm6
Cml
Cm Ml
Cm
Cm
Cm+
Cm6
Cml

Cm6

Cml

CmM 7

Cm

c

Eb

G

c

C -

Root Pos it i on C on 6th st ri ng

l st I nversion root b3 on 6th string Eb

2nd I nversion root on 5th. G on 6th string

minor to aug(+) Root on C of 6th stri ng

root b3 on 6th string Eb 2nd I nversion root on 5th. G on 6th string

86

Dan Duffy

Minor chords - Root on 6th string - 1 in bass

M i nor chord s - Rai se the 5th a hal f tone or one fret to change the name of the chord

Root

A

5th

fret

l--f-+-1--1--1 -
l--f-+-1--1--1
-

-Am

1-+--t--+---+--t - Am+

Am6

Am 7

F i nge ri ng fo r the chord s

Am

Am+

Am 7

Am6

II II II (1 I) �·) u "' /
II
II
II (1 I)
�·)
u
"'
/

PLAY IN ALL KEYS

!Am

IAm+

1Am6

1Am7

1Am7

1Am6

!Am+

IAm

l l :Am7

1Am6 (09)

:II

when played out

of progress i on

can ad d these notes

you

87

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957-1970

Minor - root on 6th string - Remember - 1 -b3-5 of scale = minor

- root on 6th string - Remember - 1 -b3-5 of scale = minor chord Cm6

chord

Cm6 Cm 7 Cm M 7 -=--+--1--1---l---l Cm / ���
Cm6
Cm
7
Cm
M 7
-=--+--1--1---l---l
Cm / ���

Root

Cm Cm M7

Cm 7

Cm6

II II () •• -------- � I
II
II
()
••
-------- �
I

Root

These chord s have played outs ide the

you must v i sual i ze the root.

no root.When progress i on

PLAY IN ALL KEYS

ICm

ICmM7

1Cm7

1Cm6

IArn

IAmM7

1Am7

1Am6

i ze the root. no root.When progress i on PLAY IN ALL KEYS ICm ICmM7 1Cm7
i ze the root. no root.When progress i on PLAY IN ALL KEYS ICm ICmM7 1Cm7

88

88 Dan Duffy M i nor continued l st i nversion - Cm - Root on

Dan Duffy

M i nor continued

l st

i nversion - Cm -

Root on Eb

b3

in bass on 6th string

Cm6 Cm 7 Cm M7 Cm Cm M7 Cm ? Cm6 II II II If
Cm6
Cm
7
Cm
M7
Cm
Cm M7
Cm ?
Cm6
II
II
II
If
II)
n u
u

Pl ay

in al l keys

! Cm

I Cm M 7

1 Cm 7

1 Cm6

Th is

is seen a l ot

Frn6

m6 (al so cal led)

Dm 7b5

Cl

m 7 b5

Pl ay

or hal f d i m ·�

� ••• 1 1 II I I
� •••
1 1
II
I I

in al I keys

Inside the Gretsch Guitar Factory 1957�1970

89

 

Mi nor cont i nued - R.oot 5

of seal e -

G

-

on

6th stt"ing

Opt Root

on 5th

stri ng-C-

 

G

Crn6 Crn 7 Crn M7

Crn6

Crn 7

Crn M7

 

c

Cm

()T1 M 7

Crn7

Crn6

� :J t ; � ( · - · b li -- - /
:J t
;
(
·
-
·
b
li
--
-
/

opt / / root

C

PLAY IN A L L K EY'S - You heard th is progress i on a l ot -

A L L K EY'S - You heard th is progress i on a l ot

I Crn

! CrnM 7

1 Crn7

1 Crn6

Cm ?

F7

You see th is a rn7 to 7th H '11' � a Opt i root
You
see th is a
rn7 to 7th
H
'11' �
a
Opt
i
root
I
i
/
I
C- on
/
Root
5th

strin';J

l ot

PLAY I f\J ALL K EYS

90

Dan Duffy

G

tv1

i n or7th

al l

to

Dom i nant

7t h

- you see

know

at

t h is

the t i me. Yo u

shou ld

l east TH R EE ways to

play

th is

popu l ar

chord

of a

of a

d om. 7th

seq uence. Th is is

The

2 nd

cal l ed a

scal e

is

2-5

g i ven key.

key is

a

chord

the

m i nor and

the 5th

Be l o w

seq u e nce. PLAY

M emori ze. G m7

is the

fi ngeri ng fo r three 2-5

IN ALL

K EYS -A N D d own.

Cl

Write them

u ii Ii Iu 0 lfl. •• l
u
ii
Ii Iu
0
lfl.
••
l

-{1