There's a rich world of lawless music out there, and numerous icons have long put Gretsch guitars to use in territory far beyond the Stray Cat Strut
Ahead are a few of our favourites from the worlds of rock, punk and grunge…
1. Tim Armstrong
The Californian punk was honoured with his own G5191BK signature hollowbody model in 2010 but it’s a battered 1971 Country Club that it was based on; a right-handed model flipped for southpaw Tim.
“To me, it sounds like a piano,” Tim told Gretsch. “Like, it’s full-bodied and thick. I hear the chords as if I’m playing a piano. That’s just a simple way for me to explain it.”
Hear: Life Won't Wait (1998)
2. George Harrison
The Beatle dubbed his 1957 Duo Jet G6128 his ‘first real decent guitar’ and it was indeed a massive step up from his Futurama when he saw a newspaper advert for what was an extremely rare find in 1961 Liverpool.
He eventually paid £70 (with an extra £20 on IOU) and the Duo Jet served him through the band’s hard-working Cavern Club and Hamburg days, and made a Gretsch fan for life out of George. A limited edition Tribute model was released in 2011.
Hear: Please Please Me (1963)
3. Patrick Stump
The Fall Out Boy frontman’s signature is packing three Mega’Tron humbuckers to power the band’s pop-rock, but throws in a couple of curveballs, too - its TV Jones-designed circuitry allows a two-position rotary switch for different combinations of the three pickups, and a two-position killswitch.
“When I’m playing live, I want to get as many tones as I can out of one instrument,” Stump told Gretsch. “This is the most versatile guitar I own and it’s everything I need in a guitar.”
Hear: Soul Punk (2011)
4. Billy Duffy
Duffy’s mid-70s single-cut mono Falcon became a huge part of the seminal early Cult era, and has popped up frequently since.
It’s the Falcon we hear spreading its wings on She Sells Sanctuary’s expansive delayed riffs, and is the guitar his recent signature is based on, but with his preferred Bigsby tailpiece installed.
Hear: Love (1985)
5. Malcolm Young
The rhythm king rarely deviated from his 1963 double-cut Jet Firebird, even when his G6131MY model took flight in 1987.
The guitar was originally red when it was given to him by the band’s early producer, Harry Vanda, but stripped to the maple top around the ’77 Let There Be Rock tour.
The neck and middle pickups were also deemed surplus to requirements, and Malcolm stuck a sock into their cavities to reduce feedback.
Hear: If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (1978)
6. Chris Cornell
Cornell has proved the Duo Jet’s hard-rocking credentials with his 1989 reissue.
“I’ve been using it ever since Gary Lee Conner from the Screaming Trees gave it to me,” he told us in 2012. “That’s a guitar I used a lot for a specific texture I always like.”
As well as being put back into service for Soundgarden’s King Animal comeback album, its wholesome tones were employed for Superunknown’s classic Fell On Black Days.
Hear: King Animal (2012)
7. Neil Young
He’s best known for his 1953 ‘Old Black’ Les Paul, but Young has actually played plenty of Gretsches, indeed he traded a 6120 from his Buffalo Springfield days for that legendary Gibson.
Still, Gretsch remained ever-present in his career; Neil even introduced his old Springfield compadre Stephen Stills to White Falcons in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young helping establish Gretsch with a new generation. Young’s long-owned rare 1961 White Falcon is still part of his rig to this day.
Hear: Déjà Vu (1970)
8. Richard Hawley
Hawley was gifted his first Gretsch (a Country Gent) by his dad, “The cadillac of guitars,” as Richard remembers fondly.
Today, there are a few Gretschs he treasures; several vintage 6120s and a 2003 Country Club he’s fond of due to the DynaSonic pickups – the sound of which, so says Richard, has “colossal testicles”…
Hear: Hollow Meadows (2015)
9. Jack White
White used a 1957 White Penguin at the end of The White Stripes, and loves the bass response of a Rancher Falcon acoustic.
But his most-used Gretsch is his White Penguin Billy-Bo model that he plays with the Dead Weather, and also featured in the video for Jack’s Bond theme, Another Way To Die.