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Grado Labs

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A Storied Sound

Through a well-heard history and deep roots in Brooklyn, the Grado family has been hand building headphones and cartridges here since 1953. For three generations, tradition and heritage have been carried down with the philosophy that sound comes first.

See the timelineRead our story

1950

THE
BEGINNING

1950

Joseph Grado, a watchmaker at Tiffany, begins making phono cartridges by hand at home in Brooklyn.

1953

After Joseph Grado's hand-built cartridge production exceeds the limits of his kitchen table, he closes Grado Fruit around the corner from him and Grado Laboratories is founded.

Joseph Grado;1942

Joseph Grado, 1942

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Old New York

1955

Joseph Grado sells the first Grado cartridge to Leonard Radio

 

 

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Grado Phono Cartridge

1959

Joseph Grado is awarded patents for the first Stereo Moving Coil Cartridge

1960

GROWTH
BEGINS

1961

A decade of growth begins, fueled by the unexpected popularity of Grado phono cartridges New products including the Dustat Record Cleaner, the Lab Series of phono cartridges, speakers, tonearm, and turntables

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Dustat Record Cleaner

1964

With word-of-mouth stronger than expected, Grado decides to forgo paid advertising and put more focus on their end product. Grado has still not paid for advertisements or endorsements to this day. Grado starts to exclusively build phono cartridges.

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Grado Labs Tonearm

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Grado Labs Built Turntable

1965

John Grado's first day at Grado at the age of 12 sweeping the floors. Joseph takes his nephew John under his wing to teach him about everything from sound to electrical engineering.

Grado Labs Phono Cartridge Stlus Cantilever Patent

1970

SUSTAINED
GROWTH

1974

The cartridge is still king as Grado Labs rides the heyday of vinyl records. The Grado Signature Series is created to discover what is possible with working with metal.

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Early Grado Labs Phono Cartridge

1975

John Grado graduates and joins Grado full time.

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John Grado, 1976

Grado Labs Speakers

1977

John starts running day-to-day operations. The phono cartridge business continues to grow.

1980

CARTRIDGES
& TURNTABLES

1984

Cartridge production hits its highest peak with each being hand-built in Brooklyn.

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Early Grado Labs Phono Cartridge

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First Wooden Cartridges are Built

 

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First Wooden Cartridges are Built

 

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Born in New York, Joseph Grado left vocational high school at age 16, where he had been studying watch-making and had been at the top of his class. He went to work for Tiffany & Company and also taught the craft of watch-making in the evenings. When he discovered hi-fi sound in the early fifties, he visited Saul Marantz to get help in improving the sound of his audio system. Impressed by Joseph's gifted ear, Marantz sent him over to Sherman Fairchild's floundering hi-fi division. With Saul Marantz making the introductions, Joseph promptly landed a top position in the company. As soon as he came up with a design for a viable product, he went out on his own. Scraping together $2,000, Joseph began to produce phono cartridges. In 1953 he started production of his cartridges on the kitchen table, Grado Labs’ first home. In 1955 Joseph opened a factory in Brooklyn on the site of his Sicilian born father's grocery business which, to this day, has been the home of Grado Laboratories.

In the early years Grado also produced speakers, turntables and the highly acclaimed wooden tone-arm, which came in several models. In 1963 all of Grado's resources were dedicated to creating the world's finest phono cartridges. Grado Labs ceased production of all other products and, for the next 21 years, focused only on cartridges. In 1976 phono cartridge design was taken to the next level and the first true high-end cartridges were created under the tutelage of Joseph Grado Signature Products. These new cartridges were very highly regarded and were the first to reach a price tag of $1,000. In 1984 Grado introduced the Joseph Grado Signature Tone-arm that was so well received that, even now, years after the last one was shipped, calls are still received inquiring whether any are available for sale.

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John Lived With His Family On The Top Floor Of The Factory. His Wife, Loretta, And He Would Build The Headphone Orders Themselves On A Small Worker’s Bench Everyday

 

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I Grew Up On The Top Floor Of Grado Labs," says Jonathan, "So Now I’m Working With People Who Have Known Me All My Life

 

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4614 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11220 USA

Handbuilt in Brooklyn since 1953.

Grado is a registered trademark of Grado Labs, Inc.

©2020 Grado Labs. All Rights Reserved.

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