The fourth Gretsch badge
In 1980, the fourth Gretsch badge was the premiere (albeit brief) of Square Badge #1. It features the "t-roof" logo with U.S.A. to the right of the vent hole. This is repeated upside-down on the lower-half of the badge as well. Baldwin's idea behind this symmetrical and rather generic-looking badge was to maintain the readability of the Gretsch name regardless of whether it was facing upright or not. Many of these early version square badges seem to lack the classy sepia-tone finish that most of the later ones exhibit so beautifully. Instead, this version possesses a rather muddylooking patina with an odd pink/copper hue to it. Perhaps that's why it was promptly dismissed! The trimmed internal label is unchanged, as is the green-inked model number.
The fifth Gretsch badge
By late-1980, the fifth Gretsch badge was unveiled: Stop-Sign Badge #3. It features the same slogan as SSB#2, but has what is commonly referred to as the "drop-G" logo. It could also be called the '80s Stop-Sign, as it's the only such-shaped Gretsch badge from the decade. Like the two previous stop-sign badges, it says U.S.A. to the right of the vent hole. This is the most commonly misdated badge in the Gretsch timeline; due to its '70sshape, many think of it as '70s-era. Closely following this badge change was the new internal label, which is grey/white. The label's left side has the famous Gretsch drum logo with slogan below. The right side features a model number handwritten in black felt-tip pen; below it, a serial number stamped in large characters.
There's an interesting foot note relative to SSB#3's short tenure. By 1977, Gretsch offered 6, 8 and 10-inch toms for the first time. These sizes were respectively outfitted with generic triple-flanged 6"/4-hole, 8"/4-hole and 10"/6- hole rims through 1980 and are commonly referred to as "pre-die-cast" drums. By '81, Baldwin had realized the obvious: the trend for multi-tom sets wasn't going away anytime soon and they had to bite the bullet. Expensive tooling was created to make the necessary die-cast rims needed for these small sizes, thereby making the overall appearance and function of Gretsch multitom sets more uniform. As die-cast 6"/4-hole, 8"/5-hole and 10"/5-hole rims became available; it suddenly becomes clear why either rim can be found on a "drop-G" badge drum. Unfortunately, Gretsch die-cast rims are not compatible with their older 8 and 10- inch toms, as they possess different lug configurations --d'oh!
The sixth Gretsch badge
With a factory move from Booneville to DeQueen Arkansas by late-'81, the sixth Gretsch badge was... back?! Square Badge #2. Aside from the round badge, this is the most common of all Gretsch badges. Unlike SQB#1, it features a rich, darker sepia-tone finish and remained in regular use until the late-'90s. (Another footnote: With four badge changes in only two years, it is not unusual to find different badges within the same early-'80s stock Gretsch set! Remember, these were the pre-"custom" days when Gretsch still built drums "for stock" rather than "for order." The 1980 catalog cover demonstrates Baldwin's "grab-bag" approach - three different Gretsch badges are illustrated!)
The seventh badge
The seventh badge came in 1983 and only adorned drums specifically made to celebrate Gretsch's 100th year. The "Centennial", or Square Badge #3, is the largest and most ornate Gretsch badge to date. It's roughly 2"x3"; a vertical, sepia-tone rectangular shape stating: THE CENTENNIAL 1883-1983 GRETSCH ("drop-G" logo) U.S.A. Each badge had spaces allocated for set number and signature and all 100 sets in the series were reportedly signed & numbered by then-Gretsch president Charlie Roy. The internal label is a silver facsimile of the Centennial badge with the corresponding set-piece number handwritten in heavy black ink. These Centennial designs are likely the rarest of all Gretsch badges & labels.
Fred Gretsch III purchased the company from Baldwin by 1985. With another factory move from DeQueen to Ridgeland South Carolina in 1986, Gretsch soon began an on-again/offagain trend in issuing dual-SQB#2 toms and snare drums while the internal sticker abandoned the sloppy large character serial number in favor of a neat-and-petite dot matrix.