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In 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic, Ford produced their fifteen millionth Model T, the first "talking" motion picture was released, and the Fred Gretsch Manufacturing Company introduced the historic GRETSCH-AMERICAN drum series. Now, 75 years later, The Gretsch Drum Company introduced a new GRETSCH-AMERICAN drum series with three special red, white, and blue patriotic finishes at the Winter 2002 NAMM Show.
The three unique designs were developed by the Gretsch Drum Factory team of Gene Haugh, Paul Cooper, Lena Thomas, and Fred Gretsch, President of The Gretsch Company. Two Gretsch drum endorsers, Harvey Mason and Vinnie Colaiuta, who will have limited-edition snare drum models, also submitted their input as well as encouragement to the re-release of the GRETSCH-AMERICAN drum series. For each Harvey Mason and Vinnie Colaiuta model sold, Gretsch will make a donation to the New York City relief fund for the victims and families of the September 11, 2001 tragedy.
The Harvey Mason Broadkaster Grand Old Flag model features a unique quilt-like patchwork of patriotic symbols contrasted with handsome blue metal hardware. No two drums will be exactly alike since the one-of-a-kind, non-repeating pattern will be applied differently to each drum. This technique is similar to the collage pattern of travel graphics used on the top of Gretsch Traveling Wilburys guitars produced in the late 1980's. The Vinnie Colaiuta Custom God Bless America model features the words "God Bless America" across the center of each drum shell and colorful graphics including exploding fireworks and a flag montage. Both models are limited-edition drums that will only be manufactured in 2002. They will also have a special 75th anniversary label badge affixed inside each drum. The third drum in the series, the Custom Stars and Stripes model, features a bold and colorful U. S. flag pattern.
The Gretsch Drum Company is one of the oldest music companies in America and has been manufacturing high-quality drums by hand with the best materials available since 1883. Drum innovations and product development "firsts" are also a rich part of Gretsch's long musical history.
In the early 1920's, under the visionary leadership of Fred Gretsch, Sr., the son of founder Friedrich Gretsch, the Brooklyn-based Gretsch Company developed and perfected the multi ply drum lamination process. This revolutionary new construction method had tremendous advantages over the then-current method of steam bending wood. Drum shells and hoops were not only lighter, but were more perfectly round and stronger. In fact, Gretsch was the first drum company to guarantee their hoops and shells to hold their perfect round and not warp.
In the late 1930's, the Gretsch-Gladstone drums incorporated the patented 3-way tension device for tuning both drum heads, plus the perfected snare control and fingertip tone regulator devices. In the late 1940's, Gretsch constructed the first double bass kit drum set for the legendary Louie Bellson and the first small (20") bass drum for Davey Tough. Other Gretsch firsts include the "all-height" shell-mounted cymbal holder, disappearing bass drum spurs, a three-position bass drum tone control, and the first drum factory to convert to chrome plating exclusively for metal parts.
"I'm delighted to release this 75th Anniversary line of GRETSCH-AMERICAN drums." said Fred Gretsch, President of The Gretsch Company. "This is not only a fitting tribute to my grandfather, Fred Gretsch, Sr., and the drum innovation legacy he left behind, but it's also a tribute to the American worker and the patriotic spirit and renewed pride in our nation we seem to have rediscovered."
Although Brooklyn, N.Y is where the Gretsch Company was founded and manufactured drums, guitars, and other instruments for over eighty years, today's Gretsch drums are hand crafted at their Ridgeland, South Carolina production facility. Gretsch still uses the same tooling procedures, molds, processes, and quality materials used during Gretsch's golden years of drum manufacturing in the 1930's -1950's.