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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

As Gretsch Guitars celebrates its 135th anniversary in style, Dave Hunter charts the history of one of the company’s most famous electric date-markers – the Anniversary model
Brian Jones was one of the most notable and photographed users of the Anniversary model in the 60s
© Getty Images

GRETSCH ANNIVERSARY

Many guitar companies now make anniversary models to celebrate milestones and special occasions, but most of these ‘celebration guitars’ are limited-run designs. The Gretsch Anniversary, however, quickly became a mainstay of the company’s line-up when it debuted in the late 50s. Yet arguably more significant than its popularity at the time of issue is the way the Anniversary has held on as an enduring route to vintage Gretsch goodness, providing a relatively easy means for enthusiasts of the 21st century to lay their hands on the ‘real thing’ without digging too deeply into their pockets.

Unlike your typical limited edition or special release, the Anniversary models – introduced in 1958 to celebrate Gretsch’s 75th anniversary – were priced at a level intended to bring as many customers as possible in on the celebration. Clearly the eff ort worked. Gretsch saw no reason to delete the model from the catalogue, and it evolved right alongside its siblings as this rather quirky company changed specs and components over the years, even as the brand’s 100th anniversary eventually faded in the rear-view mirror.

Upon their arrival in ’58, the Anniversary models were constructed the same as the cornerstone hollowbody models such as the 6120 Chet Atkins. Both had hollow bodies that were 16 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep, made from braced laminated maple, with dual f-holes and rounded cutaways. Likewise, their necks had ebony fingerboards, and they were made to the shorter traditional 24.5-inch Gretsch scale length. The Single Anniversary had one Filter’Tron humbucking pickup in the neck position, a tone switch, and a single volume control on the rounded body ‘horn’.

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About The Guitar Magazine

The June 2018 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale now! Inside we celebrate 135 years of Gretsch, check out a pair of the company’s sparkling new Anniversary models and trace the history of some of the most famous and affordable guitars ever to deliver ‘That Great Gretsch Tone’. We also find out how Jonathan Wilson became a go-to guitarist and producer for artists as diverse as Roger Waters and Father John Misty and get a close look at his killer live rig. Elsewhere, we get to grips with a breathtaking original Olympic White 1963 Stratocaster, rundown the world’s most popular fuzz pedals in our buyer’s guide and review a host of new gear from the likes of Universal Audio, Maybach, Eastman, Fender, Rift Amps, Way Huge and more. In this jam-packed special edition of the mag we also go behind the scenes with Crimson Guitars, interview the legendary Bill Wyman about the home-made bass that powered early Rolling Stones hits, give a mystery vintage Fender amp a makeover, go into the studio with up-and-coming UK roots duo Ida Mae, salute the genius of former Gibson president Ted McCarty… and give you the chance to win a road-ready Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV combo worth £849. Phew! Get your copy of the June 2018 issue of The Guitar Magazine now.
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