What’s the deal with the zero fret found on some Gretsch guitars? What is it, why is it there and what does it do? A “zero fret” is an extra fret located directly in front of the nut. You don’t often see them these days, although they were once fairly commonplace. Regarded today
One of the things that makes Gretsch guitars stand out from the rest of the pack is the unique tailpiece options the company has utilized over the years. Of course, not all guitars boast one of these metallic accoutrements, but the ones that do seem to suggest a souped-up elegance. Both utilitarian and aesthetically-pleasing, here is a look at the main tailpieces you’ll find on a Gretsch guitar. Bigsby Vibrato Tailpieces Developed by Paul A. Bigsby, these vibratos allow the player to bend the pitch of notes or chords with their pick hand with the help of a spring-loaded arm called a whammy bar or tremolo. Available on Gretsch guitars since the 1950s, the device also makes sure the instrument stays in tune while adding those bending effects. Bend the arm down toward the guitar and the strings will loosen, lowering their pitch. Release the arm, and it’s back to normal. You can see Bigsby Vibrato Tailpieces on the 1958 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, the G6118T-LTV 130th Anniversary Jr., the 1959 Chet Atkins Solid Body and the Duane Eddy Signature Hollowbody, among several others.
In the latest edition of GretschTech, we take a look at some of the pickups that were found on the Gretsch guitars of years past.
One of the most distinctively stylish features of Gretsch guitars past and present is the “G arrow” control knob. If you already own a Gretsch, you know what we’re referring to—the volume and tone knobs on your instrument, which are in most cases adorned with an engraved later “G” pierced by an arrow. This was an early but not original development. Gretsch’s earliest electric guitars of the late 1940s and early 1950s—mostly Hawaiian lap steel and arch-top Electromatic models—had plain control knobs. When the original golden age of Gretsch electric guitars began in earnest in 1954, a much more distinctive control knob style was adopted, quite unlike that of contemporaries such as Fender and Gibson. 1954 saw the introduction of gold- and chrome-plated brass knobs with plain unadorned tops and a crosshatched pattern around the circumference.
How does the switching work on Gretsch guitars? Of the approximately 100 Gretsch electric guitar and bass guitar models available today, about half of them have a single switch on the upper bout. The other half have two switches on the upper bout. A dozen or so models even have a switch on the lower