Gretsch musical instrument production began in 1883 when Friedrich Gretsch, a German immigrant, set up a shop in Brooklyn for the manufacture of banjos, tambourines and drums. The company was immediately prosperous, but in 1895 Friedrich Gretsch died at 39 and his 15-year-old son, Fred, took over. By 1916 Fred Gretsch had moved the company into a 10-story building at 60 Broadway in Brooklyn and become one of America's leading importers and manufacturers of musical instruments. At this time, Gretsch still produced very few guitars, because there was little market for guitars. The banjo reigned supreme until well into the big-band era, when the archtop guitar came to the fore. Gretsch responded with the Synchromatic line. When Fred Gretsch retired in 1942 his son William took over until Fred Gretsch, Jr. took the helm in 1948. Fred Jr. went on to lead the company through its guitar heyday. The golden years... Gretsch had dabbled in electric guitars prior to 1955, producing a limited number of Hawaiian lap steels and the Electromatic arch-tops, among other models, but around 1954 the Golden Age of Gretsch guitars began. In quick succession the Electromatic evolved into the Country Club, the Jet solidbodies were introduced and two of Gretsch's best-loved models, the 6120 Chet Atkins model and the White Falcon hit the market. Retailing for $385 new, the 6120 featured twin DeArmond pickups, a Bigsby vibrato, and a big G brand on the top. Although the 6120 was originally directed at the country market, it has been favored by rock and rollers from Eddie Cochran to Pete Townshend to Brian Setzer. The 6121 Chet Atkins model, released at the same time, followed the Jet model: it looked like a solid body, but underneath the cap, the mahogany body was extensively routed. []