clas­sic Gear

Guitarist - - Contents -

Most gui­tar builders have their pièce de ré­sis­tance – a flag­ship model that rep­re­sents the pin­na­cle of their crafts­man­ship; Gib­son took Lloyd Loar’s ground-break­ing L-5 to the ul­ti­mate level with the Su­per 400 (orig­i­nally la­belled the L-5 Su­per), whilst Paul Reed Smith lit­er­ally made his dreams be­come re­al­ity with the fan­tas­ti­cally or­nate Dragon gui­tars.

The jewel in Gretsch’s crown came in the form of a gui­tar called the White Fal­con. Orig­i­nally in­tended as a one-off dis­play cen­tre­piece for the 1954 NAMM trade show, it ended up turn­ing so many heads that by the fol­low­ing year Gretsch had put it into reg­u­lar pro­duc­tion, des­ig­nated as the model 6136.

It was ap­pear­ance as much as any­thing that made the White Fal­con stand out from the crowd. Al­though the Gretsch com­pany had set up shop in Brook­lyn, New York in 1883, it cer­tainly wasn’t stuck in the Vic­to­rian era and was a no­tably for­ward­think­ing firm with re­gards to aes­thet­ics. In a sim­i­lar vein to Fender and Gib­son’s in­fat­u­a­tion with the 1950s mo­tor craze, the an­gu­lar ge­om­e­try of dream cars was strongly re­flected in the White Fal­con’s de­sign. Stairstep tuners, a V-con­toured head­stock and a ‘G’ mono­gram tail­piece adorned with a V-shape rem­i­nis­cent of car bon­net or­na­ments were all set off against a cus­tom colour-style white fin­ish (with more than a sprin­kling of gold through­out for that au­re­ate touch of class).

With a 25½-inch (648mm) scale length, the White Fal­con mea­sures 17-inches (432mm) across and is es­sen­tially a large, fully hol­low, thin­line electric arch­top gui­tar with f-holes. It fea­tures a pressed maple top, lam­i­nated maple back and sides, a glued-in maple neck and an ebony fin­ger­board. These com­par­a­tively harder tonewoods lend a bright acous­tic res­o­nance to the White Fal­con’s nat­u­ral sound and when cou­pled with a pair of sin­gle coil, high out­put DeAr­mond Dy­naSonic pick­ups it makes for a full, clear tone that cuts through with plenty of twang.

In 1958, a pair of noise-can­celling du­al­coil Fil­ter’Tron pick­ups were added, pro­vid­ing a lit­tle more in the way of sparkle and crunch to the over­all tone. In the same

In­tended as a one­off, it turned so many heads that Gretsch put it into reg­u­lar pro­duc­tion

year, a stereo ver­sion of the White Fal­con ar­rived with a patented sys­tem called Project–O–Sonic, des­ig­nated as model num­ber 6137. The Project-O-Sonic de­sign was a bold leap into the new-fan­gled world of stereo and al­though stereo gui­tars never re­ally caught on, it was a sure sign of Gretsch’s con­tin­ued ethos of pro­gres­sion.

By 1962 White Fal­cons were be­ing shipped with a dou­ble-cut­away as stan­dard and it wasn’t un­til the early 70s that Gretsch be­gan to rein­tro­duce the orig­i­nal sin­gle­cut­away ver­sion as model num­ber 7593. In 1971, the com­pany renum­bered the non­stereo/mono and stereo dou­ble-cut­away ver­sions to 7594 and 7595 re­spec­tively, how­ever, in 1980 both the 7593 and 7594 mod­els were dis­con­tin­ued with the 7595 be­ing avail­able only on spe­cial or­der. By 1981 Gretsch had dis­con­tin­ued them all.

The Gretsch White Fal­con has picked up its fair share of ad­mir­ers over the years (al­beit most from a dis­tance!) and is fa­mously as­so­ci­ated with sev­eral name gui­tarists in­clud­ing Neil Young, John Fr­us­ciante, Brian Set­zer and Billy Duffy. [RB]

Sound­ing fab­u­lous and look­ing even bet­ter, the Fal­con is one glo­ri­ous bird

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