Modern Gretsch Guitars

What is a Falcon?

26

I agree Baxter. In my mind, a white Falcon is a big, 17" white guitar with lots of gold trim. You don't mess with the top of the line guitars. Martin didn't call any other guitar than a D45 a D45, a Super 400 is still the fanciest production Gibson archtop you can get and it's still a solid spruce topped 18" behemoth, there's no "junior" "mini" "import" or whatever else Super 400. And it's still crazy expensive, not a lot of people have them as a consequence, and to me, and in my mind it still retains more of its mystical status than a "Falcon" in whatever color does now.

Or are we really saying that the Falcon name doesn't seem special anymore, because too many people have them and the exclusivity has been diluted?

There's that too. I'd never seen a White Falcon until Gretsch started making them again in the late 80's, and all of a sudden I had friends who had them. I still don't have any friends who own a Super 400. It's probably a sound business decision on Gretsch and FMIC's part - you probably end up with a bigger profit if you sell a thousand $3000 Falcons than if you price them at $20000 and sell maybe a hundred. And that probably more than compensates for a guitar losing some of its mythical/mystical Rolls Royce status.

But honestly, those Korean or Chinese built cutway Falcon acoustics? That's really a bridge too far for me. They're cheap-ish throwaway production acoustics that don't sound particularly good or special in any kind of way. That really is diluting the image of your top of the line, to me.

27

Both Cadillac and Lincoln produced a significant number of chassis through the 30s to be bodied by the custom-builders, and those were always the cream of the crop.

Well, to be fair, some of the best custom coach work on Lincoln chassis was done in the late 1970s.

28

Well, to be fair, some of the best custom coach work on Lincoln chassis was done in the late 1970s.

You got me there!

29

White Falcons have just never appealed to me. Country Clubs, for sure---I like green. Falcons are just too blingy for me. As to the car analogy, all Caddys are to heavily chrome laden, if I wanted a Ford with the look of a '50s Lincoln, I'd opt for a '55 T-Bird instead. To be honest, I'd rather have a Studebaker. Chrome (or sparkles) don't bring you home.

YMMV. Variety is the spice of life. There are enough Gretsch models to suit anyone---tho there could be more solid bodies.

30

Slim- I've had two Lincolns over the years...

1967 Lincoln Connie coupe. (Not this one, even though I had it for a year and half, I somehow never took a picture of it worth posting)

31

2- 1960 Lincoln Premiere...

All decked out for a friend's wedding in 1973. The back seat was big enough that I moved my grandparents console TV/stereo simply by removing the rear seat cushion!!

But...

32

I started out in a Studebaker!!!

a '53 6cyl "Champion" (Starliner in the US, I think) with a leaking head gasket that my dad tried to fix with something he called "liquid weld" (It didn't work).

Curiously, Stude came with a device called a "Hill Holder". Had not seen another one until we picked up our 2016 Mazda!

A car ahead of it's time??

33

Oh- here's a White Falcon. Nice, warm, creamy white paint, glittering gold bling. Lots of headroom. It's even a '67 vintage!

34

things went downhill when they stopped putting vertical logos on them. for the life of me, i will never understand that.

and now they are all skinny, too!

personally, i think the single cut cb ones are pretty cool. and i wouldn't mind a falcon or two myself. they pretty custom shop colors don't bother me for the most part, but the misguided use of gold binding and hardware one custom colors just to make it a falcon when it just doesn't work does. i don't mind white or silver binding and chrome when it is called for. but the black binding doesn't really work for me, and i'm not sure about the tortoise- maybe in person, but it doesn't read that way in photos. also quite fond of the off white models, but not the 70s aesthetic with the squared pickguard and such.

but yeah, it's just a fancy country club. the way the 6120 is just an orange annie. and i couldn't love my 6118 more. and the grey/purple club is the best guitar ever. so i don't know.

35

I agree Baxter. In my mind, a white Falcon is a big, 17" white guitar with lots of gold trim. You don't mess with the top of the line guitars. Martin didn't call any other guitar than a D45 a D45, a Super 400 is still the fanciest production Gibson archtop you can get and it's still a solid spruce topped 18" behemoth, there's no "junior" "mini" "import" or whatever else Super 400. And it's still crazy expensive, not a lot of people have them as a consequence, and to me, and in my mind it still retains more of its mystical status than a "Falcon" in whatever color does now.

Or are we really saying that the Falcon name doesn't seem special anymore, because too many people have them and the exclusivity has been diluted?

There's that too. I'd never seen a White Falcon until Gretsch started making them again in the late 80's, and all of a sudden I had friends who had them. I still don't have any friends who own a Super 400. It's probably a sound business decision on Gretsch and FMIC's part - you probably end up with a bigger profit if you sell a thousand $3000 Falcons than if you price them at $20000 and sell maybe a hundred. And that probably more than compensates for a guitar losing some of its mythical/mystical Rolls Royce status.

But honestly, those Korean or Chinese built cutway Falcon acoustics? That's really a bridge too far for me. They're cheap-ish throwaway production acoustics that don't sound particularly good or special in any kind of way. That really is diluting the image of your top of the line, to me.

– WB

YES!!! I agree 100%!

Walter, you hit the nail on the head!

36

There are many personalities on these here pages. Some like new, some like vintage and a couple like both. I understand the business of it but I think the White Falcon sold out. Do I care? Not really but it's unfortunately something that can't be taken back, EVER.

37

A Falcon is a fancy Country Club

– JazzBoxJunky

"A Falcon is a fancy & expensive Country Club."

38

I believe I recall Joe C describing the Falcon as the best-selling pro-line Gretsch.

39

To me a White Falcon is a lovely creamy shade with bling bling bling and tone tone tone. And, I like them that way, best.

40

I love my White Falcon and wanted a White Falcon when I bought it. Now I would consider a different color if I bought another Falcon, but the first (and probably only) one had to be white.

I also like my Country Club a lot. It is not a conservative version of the Falcon imo. Besides the obvious difference of Classics in the Falcon and TArmonds in the Club, there are basic differences at least between my two guitars. Smaller frets and a floating neck in the Falcon are the first things that come to mind. I am assuming that these are standard differences between the two models. Other differences ( trestle bracing in the Falcon and no sound post in the Club) are optional.

But back to the main point, yes, there are too many Falcon models and my daughter’s acoustic White Falcon is okay but not in the same league with acoustics as the original electric White Falcon is with electrics.

I think there is still some wow factor to the Falcon.

41

i think White Falcons are still handsome guitars but to me it was the exclusivity. The gleaming white unobtainability. Now, like many Gretsch's they seem almost commonplace. I even turned down buying a newer model for $2200 early last year, because in person, it didn't turn my crank. I have to ask Baba Joe; What is a floating neck? Was that a typo??

42

i think White Falcons are still handsome guitars but to me it was the exclusivity. The gleaming white unobtainability. Now, like many Gretsch's they seem almost commonplace. I even turned down buying a newer model for $2200 early last year, because in person, it didn't turn my crank. I have to ask Baba Joe; What is a floating neck? Was that a typo??

– Toxophilite

Sorry if that is not the proper name; I wasn’t sure how else to describe it. The neck on the Falcon doesn’t touch the body after the 16th fret. The neck doesn’t touch the body on my Club after the 19th or 20th fret.

43

There are certainly aspects of some of the "Falcon variants" that don't appeal to me (a double cutaway CB for example) but that can be filed under personal preference as long as we're only talking about design. I don't mind the color variations too much, and have a particular fondness for the Black Falcon, but I agree with Baxter, the Falcon design has been spread out to the point where some kind of dilution of the original intent has occurred. It was after all, Jimmy Webster's intention to design the Falcon as a "dream guitar," a showpiece......something that represented the best of what Gretsch had to offer.

Initial intention aside, an argument could be made for the Falcon as a work in progress due to the fact that the variations started very early in production with the change from block fingerboard inlays to half moon in 1957 and from Dearmond pickups to Filter'trons in 1958, a scant three and four years after the initial design of 1954. Subsequently there were thinner bodies, double cutaways, changes in bracing....and on it goes.

What I find reassuring though, is that whenever Gretsch issues a reissue Falcon, it is based on one of the earlier Falcon designs with the 17" body. This suggests that they have not entirely forgotten what the guitar represents. Those of us who respect the original intent of the Falcon might have to dig our heels in, and at the risk of snobbery, hold the line.

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is the sound; to my ears the classic Falcon has a sound that is, although Gretsch, somewhat distinct compared to other models, even the other 17" one, the Country Club. This is a concern of a more objective nature. Indeed, at what point is a Falcon no longer a Falcon?


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