Modern Gretsch Guitars

Rancher Black Falcon

1

I’ve been attracted to this guitar for quite some time now. I kinda wanna buy it. My only acoustic is my Fender DG-9 dreadnought “campfire” guitar. I know it’s not gonna be a high end acoustic like a MARTIN or Taylor, but I’m not really able to buy a high end acoustic. Anybody own or play the rancher falcon model that could give me a decent review?

2

I have the 12-string version (in white) of this guitar.

Whether this guitar would be satisfactory to you may well depend upon whether you are running it through an amplifier or sound board where you are using the built-in pickup and pre-amp system. If so, I think that it can be quite serviceable. Not a Martin or Taylor, but still serviceable nonetheless.

If you are using it acoustically, it may not be adequate for your needs unless you will confine its use to a campfire setting. Acoustically, the guitar is a little thin sounding to my ear. It would definitely not be something that you would use in a recording environment and probably not even in a serious performance environment either. That being said, a friend of mine who plays with a couple of very high profile members of the rock music world and he uses his White Penguin parlor acoustic on stage and seems to do fine with it.

Of course, these guitars are stunning to look at, so there's that.

YMMV.

3

When I saw this at last year's NAMM (or was it the year before? I don't remember), I quickly concluded I had to have one. TrueTone got me one right away and it was everything I'd hoped for, a flashy, big stage-friendly acoustic that amplified well and was easy to play. I took it to the repair guys in the back to see if it needed any adjustment or setup, and they looked it over carefully and said, "Nope, it doesn't need anything." I used it in a number of country gigs and general performances, and its looks got the attention I intended it to get, and all was good. I traded it to LA_Manny for another Gretsch he had and he has taken to it, too, from what I can see. But like Ric12 says, unplugged, it's not a cannon like you'd expect a guitar that size to be.

4

I have enjoyed mine; bought it almost 2 years ago. It is a jumbo, so try one out to see if you like the size. I have played it live, but acoustically and not plugged in.

5

I’ve had one for a couple years. I call it my “drag queen cowboy box”. (If Liberace played guitar, I guarantee he’d have one.)

I’d only ever played it acoustically, either just in the room or mic’ed for recording and it’s sound is serviceable under those circumstances. My only complaint is the presence of some dead-ish or “thuddy” notes here and there.

But as R-12 said, amplified is a different story. I recently played it amplified in a 5000 seat hall and not only did it sound magnificent, but the FOH guy said he ran it flat because it lacked nothing.

AND...she’s a big ‘un.

6

Brother Steve won one of these in white at the Hoosier Daddy Roundup. It had been love at first sight, fated to be: he says as soon as he saw it he knew he would win it.

It's his first guitar, really, and the rather-too-low action suited his fingers during the learning process (a ütube-mediated rational and methodical approach to the 60s hits and classic rock he wants to play) and a bit of buzz here and there didn't bother him. To be everything I thought it could be, I thought it needed more setup than I could provide, so for Christmas '07 I gave him a gift cert to one J Thomas Davis, a high-end luthier in Columbus (who is officially retired but still taking some work by appointment).

I just heard today that he finally got the guitar back (so...just over a year, huh?) - and it's magnificent. He's in love with it all over again. Says it sounds bigger and fuller, and no buzzes, and still easy to play. I haven't heard it, so don't know if it acoustically lives up to the majesty its appearance suggests.

The things that would make the guitar the jumbo cannon expected as a pure acoustic instrument would work against its ideal behavior as an electric-acoustic - ie, a more pliant top and lighter bracing. So its nature is probably baked-in by design. (And shouldn't such a dressy and visually impressive guitar be optimized for amplified gigging?)

BUT. I'd experiment with putting bigger (but perhaps lower-tension) strings on it. Maybe even 13s. See if that gets yon top moving. And it might be a candidate for "breaking in" via long intensive exposure to something that acoustically flexes the top.

7

I own a white one. Big guitar, shiny and all blinged out, but that’s kinda what I want a guitar to be. You don’t see me with a black Strat (not that there’s anything wrong with it, LOL), y’know…

I’ve been doing acoustic duo gigs with an old friend on and off for a few years. While I worked in a music store, I tried to order a Gretsch barstool, but FMIC weren’t able to deliver it before we closed business back in 2013. Fast forward to 2017, I ordered one from Thomann (apparently no stores in Norway had/could get one…), and in the side bar, under «other customers also bought this», there was a Rancher Black Falcon. Up until then, I’d brought a Fishman equipped Morgan (Norwegian brand) to our acoustic gigs (I also have a Martin D42LE, but she only leaves the house for studio work), but I just knew I needed a Rancher Falcon. Thomann couldn’t ship the guitar to Norway (because of CITES?), and with virtually no music stores around I forgot about it. Then by accident I spied a white one in a music store while on a «road trip» with the Mrs during our ’17 summer vacation. Tried it, liked it. Long story short (yeah, right!), I bought it.

I didn't buy it right away, but after thinking about it for a week (my cousin was getting married later that summer, she wanted me to play at the service, and is there really any better excuse to buy a white guitar with gold bling?) I called the store. Yup, it was still there; nope, it didn't cost as little as I remembered. "OK, let me think about it." Half an hour later, the store called me back and offered it to me for the price that gear4music advertised. So I hopped in the car and picked it up.

As far as acoustic sound goes, it’s nowhere near the Martin. I’ve used it on a few recordings (both mic’d and plugged), and while the onboard Fishman sounds better than most other preamps I’ve tried, I prefer the sound of an «outboard» mic for recording. And again, it’s no Martin. But plugged into a PA, it’s pretty good. Unlike most of my other guitars, it reacts significantly to the seasons; I’ve had to adjust the truss rod during the two winters I’ve owned it, and then back when spring - and humidity - has come back. Never happened with the Martin.

But all in all, a great looking, good sounding guitar. If the size doesn't bother you, just get one.

Anders

8

Got a white one from Joel at Shanghai Guitars last year. Great price, great service, and ... a great guitar. Bought it as a backup for my 45 year old Guild G-37, but ... its really sweet. BIG guitar, almost an electric feel to the neck, tone is a little thin unplugged but fat and full thru the Fishman Pre-amp. For the buck, you get plenty of bang.

9

Thanks all, this will most likely be my next guitar purchase. I appreciate all your informative reviews. And of course it wouldn’t be proper if I wasn’t already contemplating a mod to a guitar I don’t even own yet. Has anybody added another pickguard to this guitar? Sort of like the Everly Brothers Gibsons? Curious how that would look on this. I think if I did it I’d probably do away with the original pickguard and just get two plain gold ones without the falcon rendering.


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