Friedrich Gretsch was an immigrant from Mannheim, Germany who found work with Albert Houdlet & Son in New York (Brooklyn) who made drums and banjos. In 1870, when he was 27, he started his own firm on Middleton Street. Fred died in 1895 and the firm was then run by his son Fred who added Mandolins to the range of banjos, drums and tamourines and grew the business into a manufacturer and wholsaler, importing many instruments. They moved several times ending up on Broadway. The Gretsch company seems to havebeen formed in 1883 as it is celebrating its 125 anniversary this year (2008)
Gretsch brands include the Daynor (with a hole in the vellum), Rex, Gretsch, Clraphone, Orchestekka. They also 'made for the trade' for brands such as Wurlitzer and Bruno.
In 1940, Gretsch acquired Bacon and continued making Bacon and Day named banjos. In 1967 the company was sold to Baldwin but the Gretsch direction was lost. In 1985, Fred W Gretsch, the great grandson of Friedrich acquired the company to puyty it back in family hands. They moved the enterprise out to Savannah