Modern Gretsch Guitars

Newb advice needed: Setzer Nashville vs. Player or S Stills Falcon

1

I understand the Falcons are more money due to the bling, but if I were choosing between a new Setzer Nashville and a used Falcon, is the Falcon a better guitar and, if so, how? A seller who ended his sale basically talked down to me because I don't know the differences and didn't understand that the Stills Falcon is the best Gretsch I can get short of a custom shop. I tried to find out more about the Stills here, but really didn't find anything. So please, educate me!

Thanks

2

Any seller who talks down to you should keep his guitar. The Stills is a cool guitar but to say it's the best short of CS is what everyone says about their Gretsch!

I'm biased but I vote for Setzer.

3

Any seller who talks down to you should keep his guitar. The Stills is a cool guitar but to say it's the best short of CS is what everyone says about their Gretsch!

I'm biased but I vote for Setzer.

– JimmyR

But why chose the Setzer over the Stills? I'm trying to understand the differences. I now know that the Setzer isn't as deep as the 2.75" Stills. Stills has the ebony board which I do like. Setzer has 16" vs. 17" body. Both have laminated maple bodies. Locking tuners on the Setzer v. Imperials on the Stills. Guess I forgot to look at the scale length.

But for you, why the Setzer?

4

Play them both and buy the one you like. I would think it would come down to scale length and style. Many can’t pull off a White Falcon on stage. It takes a certain amount of confidence to wrastle a big ol’ fancy guitar live. The same could be said for the Setzer model. My latest guitar is a White Penguin. I contemplated a Duo Jet, it’s basically the same guitar, but I decide I was ready for the Penguin. It’s all about making choices. What are you ready for?

5

The notion that a Falcon is the "best" Gretsch, or that a Stills is the "best" Falcon, is either pure sales puffery or a raging personal bias.

Any of the pro-lines are similar in quality of workmanship, materials, and hardware complements; any might be the best guitar for your purposes. And the difference between new and used, in and of itself, is irrelevant. A well-kept used Gretsch is the functional equivalent of a new one. (A trashed used Gretsch is obviously a different proposition.)

So it comes down to your deciding exactly what combination of construction and features you want. And you probably won't be able to come to a confident conclusion without playing the candidates, just on the basis of what we tell you on the internet.


But to help clarify the significant differences between two laminated maple electric archtops made by the same company...

... there's really a lot of differences between a Setzer and a Stills Falcon - they're almost as different as two hollowbody Gretschs with FilterTrons could get.

The Falcon has a 17" x 2.75" deep body at a 25.5" scale length with a 12" fingerboard radius - making it a big luxury cruiser by comparison to the Hot Rod's 16" x 2.5" (see note below) body at 24.6" scale length and 9.5" radius - making it the hot rod the name claims. Scale length affects both tone and feel; radius affects feel and playing comfort.

Both have ebony fingerboards and Adjstamatic bridges, so that's a wash. But the Stills has High Sensitive FilterTrons (and if it was "the best Falcon," you might expect it to have some variety of TV Jones), while the Hot Rod has the new TVJ Setzer Sigs. Those are different-sounding pickups - and the same pickups would respond differently in the different bodies.

The Gretsch site's spec section is notoriously (though not always) unreliable for specs, and doesn't provide exactly the same kind of information for every guitar. One bit of information it fails to provide for the new Hot Rod is body depth: I thought I'd read somewhere they've been slimmed down by .25" inch - making them .25" slimmer than I listed above. That will make a difference.

Also, if the site is to be believed, the Stills has trestle bracing (though I'd like someone to independently confirm that) - while the Setzer has "1959 trestle bracing." Someone else will have to clarify what that means - but in general the Hot Rod should sound a bit brighter and "harder," with less low end and more sustain, than the Falcon.

Again - the Falcon is a luxury cruiser; call it a Cadillac (if it was the 50s or 60s). The Hot Rod is a hot rod. It wants to rock; the Falcon just will rock if you ask it to. (I'm exaggerating.)

Follows through to the wiring: Falcon has the whole classic 50s/60s Gretsch shebang: multiple volume controls, 3-way pickup selector, and 3-way tone switch. That Cadillac has knobs and levers all over the dash. The Hot Rod has the 3-way and a volume knob: a gearshift and an accelerator.

NONE of the specs I've mentioned so far (other than the pickups and bridges) are easily changed after the fact. Without insanely major surgery, you CAN'T change body size/depth, scale length, fingerboard radius, or internal bracing. I suppose you could add knobs to the Setzer (but if you wanted more, you'd buy a different model) or change the wiring in the Falcon. But it would be a project.

By comparison, the tuners aren't an item I would consider make-or-break in choosing a spec. They're easily changed - and even Gretsch's worst tuners (if they have any, and I haven't run across them if so) will hold the guitar reliably in tune.


All the above before we even get to appearance and cosmetics - and there you just have to go with what you like.

Like the man said, play both models and see what you like. I bet one will strike you immediately as the first one to buy.

6

The notion that a Falcon is the "best" Gretsch, or that a Stills is the "best" Falcon, is either pure sales puffery or a raging personal bias.

Any of the pro-lines are similar in quality of workmanship, materials, and hardware complements; any might be the best guitar for your purposes. And the difference between new and used, in and of itself, is irrelevant. A well-kept used Gretsch is the functional equivalent of a new one. (A trashed used Gretsch is obviously a different proposition.)

So it comes down to your deciding exactly what combination of construction and features you want. And you probably won't be able to come to a confident conclusion without playing the candidates, just on the basis of what we tell you on the internet.


But to help clarify the significant differences between two laminated maple electric archtops made by the same company...

... there's really a lot of differences between a Setzer and a Stills Falcon - they're almost as different as two hollowbody Gretschs with FilterTrons could get.

The Falcon has a 17" x 2.75" deep body at a 25.5" scale length with a 12" fingerboard radius - making it a big luxury cruiser by comparison to the Hot Rod's 16" x 2.5" (see note below) body at 24.6" scale length and 9.5" radius - making it the hot rod the name claims. Scale length affects both tone and feel; radius affects feel and playing comfort.

Both have ebony fingerboards and Adjstamatic bridges, so that's a wash. But the Stills has High Sensitive FilterTrons (and if it was "the best Falcon," you might expect it to have some variety of TV Jones), while the Hot Rod has the new TVJ Setzer Sigs. Those are different-sounding pickups - and the same pickups would respond differently in the different bodies.

The Gretsch site's spec section is notoriously (though not always) unreliable for specs, and doesn't provide exactly the same kind of information for every guitar. One bit of information it fails to provide for the new Hot Rod is body depth: I thought I'd read somewhere they've been slimmed down by .25" inch - making them .25" slimmer than I listed above. That will make a difference.

Also, if the site is to be believed, the Stills has trestle bracing (though I'd like someone to independently confirm that) - while the Setzer has "1959 trestle bracing." Someone else will have to clarify what that means - but in general the Hot Rod should sound a bit brighter and "harder," with less low end and more sustain, than the Falcon.

Again - the Falcon is a luxury cruiser; call it a Cadillac (if it was the 50s or 60s). The Hot Rod is a hot rod. It wants to rock; the Falcon just will rock if you ask it to. (I'm exaggerating.)

Follows through to the wiring: Falcon has the whole classic 50s/60s Gretsch shebang: multiple volume controls, 3-way pickup selector, and 3-way tone switch. That Cadillac has knobs and levers all over the dash. The Hot Rod has the 3-way and a volume knob: a gearshift and an accelerator.

NONE of the specs I've mentioned so far (other than the pickups and bridges) are easily changed after the fact. Without insanely major surgery, you CAN'T change body size/depth, scale length, fingerboard radius, or internal bracing. I suppose you could add knobs to the Setzer (but if you wanted more, you'd buy a different model) or change the wiring in the Falcon. But it would be a project.

By comparison, the tuners aren't an item I would consider make-or-break in choosing a spec. They're easily changed - and even Gretsch's worst tuners (if they have any, and I haven't run across them if so) will hold the guitar reliably in tune.


All the above before we even get to appearance and cosmetics - and there you just have to go with what you like.

Like the man said, play both models and see what you like. I bet one will strike you immediately as the first one to buy.

– Proteus

I'm not considering the Hot Rod Setzer, only the Nashville in either Poly or Lacquer.

7

Unfortunately, not easy to put my hands on a full size Falcon. A friend has a Setzer Nashville I need to put my hands on....

8

Poly or lacquer make no functional difference to me. I like the smell of lacquer, but I'd never choose one guitar over another because of it.

If not hot rodding, then slightly less difference between the two platforms. Most (all?) non-Setzer Nashvilles have 12" radius necks. Only some have trestle bracing. Switching configurations differ slightly among various Nashvilles, but are all more similar (and some identical) to the Falcon than the stripped-down Hot Rod. Wiring then wouldn't be a major consideration for me.

There's really no way to explain the difference in feel and response between a 16" and 17" hollowbody. It's real, and it's more than that inch would suggest. When I was shopping Gretschs to see what suited me best (or suited me first - because there are few Gretsch configs I don't like), I'd seek out Gretsch dealers wherever I was traveling. Before spending that money, I'd think it worth a several-hour drive to try a 17"-er.

Although you could order both new from a dealer with easy return policy, try them at home, and return the less belovéd candidate for a refund.

But we can't advise you through that decision.

9

The more I think about it, the more I think a 17" guitar with a 2.75" depth will feel too big to me as an electric. I'm even preferring small body acoustics to my dreads these days.

10

FWIW the Setzer Sigs are 2.75 deep. The new Hotrods are the same depth, so actually deeper than the original Hotrods, not shallower!

I have owned a couple of the bigger Gretsches - a spruce top Country Club and a maple top Country Club. The maple top version is much like a Falcon. My own experience - which is of course different from everyone else's - is that while the guitars felt comfortable to me I didn't like the feel of the necks or the sound as much as a Setzer. It wasn't the radius of the fingerboards I didn't like. I don't really notice the difference between 9.5 or 12" radii. In theory I prefer 12" but in practise I love the Setzer, so it doesn't matter! The shape of the necks on the Falcons and Clubs is a bit, well, clubbier! As in quite U shaped, unlike the lovely soft-V of the Setzers.

Tone is incredibly subjective, and while a Falcon will sound a little bit like a 6120 there are some pretty significant differences. To my ears the longer scale Falcons and Clubs sound way more "polite" They shimmer and twang like a Gretsch should but they never get as snotty and raucous as the shorter scale 6120. For me the 6120 gets as shimmery and beautiful as I could ever want but can also rock with the best of them. It as more "chunk". A 6120 is an extraordinarily versatile guitar - remember Pete Townshend played a 6120 on Who's Next and it sure rocked.

I have used my SSLVO Setzer for rock, rock'n'roll, rockabilly, jump-blues, swampy grungey psychobilly, Britpop..... Of course you could do all of this with a White Falcon too, but for me the 6120 is way more fun. And it has never felt too big. I am only 6' tall and the 6120 feels great.

As far as finish goes I don't think it really matters. The poly finishes are harder wearing and Gretsch do a great job of them. The lacquer seems harder wearing than normal too. Just buy the one that looks and plays and sounds best to you.

11

Thanks for the depth clarification.

I see original post did ask about a Setzer sig, not Hot Rod. I don’t know why I fixated on the HR in my response. Would have been quicker to make the comparison with the SS instead. Sorry for wasting pixels!

I KNEW the HR had undergone a depth change; I had in mind they’d gotten thinner, but couldn’t verify that easily. (That info is glaringly missing from the “Body” section of the specs on the product page, where it’s listed for other models.) That they’re deeper does explain why some reviewers mention they sound airier and more resonant now.

Agreed on your analysis of the tonal/feel diffs, though “polite” for the 17s may not be the perfect word. Implies they’re shy and retiring, deferential and well-mannered, and I don’t think that’s really the case. They’re necessarily a bit girthier in all ways, and definitely have that fat rich warm thang in’em. But they can also throw their weight around with agility - like a big man in a fight (or proving he can dance) - and they roar when provoked.

6120 is definitely physically more tractable for most of us modest-sized fellers (though shortstuff Malcolm seems to have got around his comically large Falcon OK), and it’s easier to manhandle. And without the extra low-end bloom of the 17s, it lays more naturally in the punch range for most purposes. It rarely muds up. A 17 does have to be handled and eq’d differently to hit that spot.

And yeah, I’ve always been delighted that Who’s Next is a 6120. What a perfect guitar sound that is: bite, body, balance, and balls!

12

If you prefer smaller guitars lately do yourself a favor and try out a Duo Jet. They are heavily chambered so you still retain the hollow quality in the sound.

13

I guess I should say more that I don't get on with the bigger Gretsches - but a lot of folks do! I just watched some ACDC tonight - Back In Black - where Malcolm was playing the White Falcon. Always makes me chuckle. He made it work, and work brilliantly. And I also saw a clip of early ACDC where Angus played a 335 too.

14

Thanks for all the assistance! I played around a bit on my import G5120 and I like the combination of the 16" x 2.75" body. But my 62 Pro feels a little big at 17", but the thinner body helps in that regard. For the brief period I had a double cut Falcon in my hands (it was way too heavy for me), I noticed that I had a hard time seeing the side dots on the gold sparkle binding.

The seller relisted his Stills Falcon at a higher price than he offered to me. He actually made the offer and seemed pissed that I didn't jump on it (I was still trying to research the model) and ended his listing on Reverb saying he was going to wait until after the new year when people had money before selling. He relisted it last night at a higher price. I don't know that I want to do business with him anyway when he acts like that.

One serious (semi) question, why don't all the White Falcons have the vertical logo??? To me that's the ultimate look! LOL

15

if you like the “vertical” logo you might consider a White Penguin. I have a Jag Tan Annie and a Penguin. The Anne is my main guitar but the Penguin has its own unique character that shines through.

17

and just like the Falcon the fret position side markers are a bitch to see. So I modified mine with the same red jewels found on the knobs.

18

If you're interested in a thinner Falcon, the Double cut with the center block, is a thin line guitar like the Casinos.

19

If you're interested in a thinner Falcon, the Double cut with the center block, is a thin line guitar like the Casinos.

– Suprdave

The problem with all the double cut thinline centerblock models is that every one I've looked at has been too heavy. I have degenerative disc disease in my neck and lower back. The more under 8 lbs the better for me.

Sorry for all the stupid questions, but I just want to confirm the body width and depth on this model Setzer Nashville since Gretsch doesn't list it on their website: http://www.gretschguitars.c...

20

Brian's '59 is 2.75" body by 16" (actually 15.5") and that's what this one should be. The Hot Rods were 2.5" and recently went up 2.75". I was going to suggest replacing the knobs to reduce weight. I play a Dynasonic hollowbody and four of those Gretsch knobs are quite heavy, but the Setzer has the dice knobs and should thus be lighter.

21

Brian's '59 is 2.75" body by 16" (actually 15.5") and that's what this one should be. The Hot Rods were 2.5" and recently went up 2.75". I was going to suggest replacing the knobs to reduce weight. I play a Dynasonic hollowbody and four of those Gretsch knobs are quite heavy, but the Setzer has the dice knobs and should thus be lighter.

– lx

Thanks. I finally found a source that said it has a 16" by 2.75" body. Shorter scale. Getting my hands on a friend's tomorrow, but someone took the Setzer pickups out of his before he got it.

22

I borrowed a friend's Setzer SSL. It's an older one so it has Sperzels and TV Jones, but not Setzer pickups. He's contemplating selling it but his price is only $225 less than I could get one of the new models for. Anything special about these older Setzers I should know about?

23

Older BS models have a soft V neck which I like. Newer ones don’t have it.

24

Scale length is what keeps me from wanting a Falcon. The 25.5" is too long for me...except on a Tele for some strange reason. I would choose the 6120 for that reason.

25

and just like the Falcon the fret position side markers are a bitch to see. So I modified mine with the same red jewels found on the knobs.

– Hipbone

They look great! Had same problem with my Falcon. No probs at home or studio. Get it under stage lights & you can’t see the neck dots at all! Got these stickers for mine off eBay but what you’ve done looks fantastic.


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