Modern Gretsch Guitars

Whattabout the new White Penguin Parlor WPE guitar?


Unfortunately nobody helped with a video from NAMM 2017, where one could hear the sound of the new Gretsch parlor models. The White Penguin parlor guitar is very attractive to me. I had actually planned to get a guitar like this being built by the Gretsch Custom Shop. And now they did it, even without my request - I find this extremely cool! But after I had the White Falcon Rancher, which was nice to play, but disappointing with it's weak sound, I wonder if the penguin will be another dull sounding, thick polyurethane painted offspring? I hope not, because I could not resist to order one today! So let's hope for the best . . .


Man, I was very let down by the sound of the White Falcon Rancher! Perhaps it sounds fine enough, but the sound didn't match how good it looked.


Although I liked the White Falcon Rancher a lot for using it at home, I had to give up trying to use it on stage. It sounded so thin and dull, regardless what tricks I tried on effects and amp settings. My Terada built Ranchers from the late 90ies outperformed the WFR as if they would have been from another planet! Luckily I could sell it for the same money like when I purchased it. One thing helped to improve the Falcon's acoustic performance - I put thin washers underneath each scratchplate screw, so that the scratchplate had no contact with the spruce top any more - amazing how that adjustment made the guitar sound less muffled!


Harry, the White Penguin Parlor guitar is very similar in nature to the White Falcon Rancher. When played acoustically, neither are going to be guitars that you want to perform professionally with. That being said, they do sound much better when amplified even if you have to do a bit of tweaking to try to add a little bottom end to them.

Look, these WF acoustic instruments are a clear step up from the Jim Dandy and Way Out West guitars of some years back. Better tone, better playability, and undoubtedly better built. But, you are never going to confuse these guitars with a more expensive guitar made by one of the time-honored manufacturers whose names we all know by heart. These guitars look good and play nicely and create a usable sound when amplified. But, if you want to have a performance-worthy Gretsch acoustic, these are probably not what you are looking for. If you want it to be a guitar that you can display in your den or living room and have on a stand ready to grab and play when the spirit hits you, they would be great additions for that purpose.

If you want a better made acoustic Gretsch guitar to use when performing, then you really need to be looking at the new series of small-bodied acoustics finished in Appalachia Cloudburst. Those guitars were designed by Donnie Wade and built specifically to be played acoustically and so they are much better performing guitars. Having been designed from scratch, they are a distinct step up from the WF series of acoustics which tend to sound acoustically like they have a heavy top and thin dynamic response. But, the new acoustics, while not being on a par with Martin or Santa Cruz, for example (which they were not intended to be), they offer you much livelier and even response across the frequency spectrum. And they have a fantastic price point of $300-$400 street price.


So, I go away for a minute to pay my cable bill and lo and behold...there's your answer!

But, here's what I wrote thirty minutes ago..

I can tell you that I heard the parlor guitar, as a matter of fact, all three of the new acoustics, at the NAMM show last week. Beautiful finishes and gorgeous sound. Full bodied and ringing. I know that our member Ric12 can give you a more detailed review, actually I believe he has already posted about them in his wonderfully detailed reporting from NAMM.


Thanks Deed and Ric12! I already guessed that the 3 appalachian parlor guitars will be good sounding, as they were introduced with a lot of pride by the product manager. So I am looking forward to hearing them. As to the White Penguin parlor, I suppose that there was some bodies of the, probably hard selling, Folk Rancher guitars left over that needed to be used up in some way. Anyway - I'll see how I like my Penguin Rancher. If it don't like the sound I still can send it back. I just liked the concept of a small bodied, glamourous looking guitar. But maybe the parlor model 1 will be the better choice for me.

It is interesting that Joe Carducci calls the Jim Dandy a "fun" guitar. To me (and many of my guitar crazy friends) it is a great sounding and very well recording, serious instrument. I own two JD's and even had equipped one with a piezo system, which had the double price of the guitar. But to me it was worth it! I think there should be a competition, where all Jim Dandy owners put a video on YouTube, to show off what this amazing instrument can do. It reminds me to this craze about "Lomo" a few years ago, where people got creative with these low-fi cameras, only to prove that the camera was actually not as low-fi as it was communicated . . . maybe I'll start a Jim Dandy craze (if it hasn't started already!)


I love my Jim Dandy. It landed in my lap at the end of last years Gold Rush Roundup and I couldn't be more tickled. Absolutely fun to play. It's my "front porch" guitar. I ain't got no parlor.

Thanks again Joe!


chanda filmed me playing it there, let me go see if this is even worth posting...


piqued my curiosity ., so I did some looking on the new "Roots" collection

here's one of the new ones on ebay, wonder how it sounds? I like small body acoustics for around the house, I have a 50's LG1 floating around here somewhere, if this Guitar is as well made as it purports, then it'd be an heirloom eventually.



That WF Parlor is super sweet! It'd be fun, for sure. I'll be tickled with my Jim Dandy in the near term.

Those new Roots acoustics look top notch! I need to get my hands on one to try in a store. They are gorgeous!


It has arrived! My White Penguin parlor guitar got delivered this afternoon. No more guessing - facts instead. So how does it sound like? Hard to tell. I compared it with my 1996 Rancher 6022 and my Jim Dandy parlors. And my Kay "Note" parlor from the 60ies. It does have a similarity with the tone my 5022 White Falcon Rancher produced. I would describe it as "a bit sterile". There is not so much of the expected "parlor" tone, despite it's size it sounds more like a dreadnought. Especially when fingerpicked, it is slow in tone development. The Jim Dandy has much more of response in comparison. The White Penguin parlor is definitely no Blues guitar. Otherwise it sounds much bigger than it is, when getting strummed. I imagine singer/songwriters will be very satisfied with it's performance. It plays so easily, has an unbelievable low string setup for an acoustic guitar and the slim body feels snug and comfortable, compared with the giant White Falcon Rancher. Is it neck heavy? Not really, it stays in horizontal position when you leave it hanging on the strap. The Fishman pickup works fine, every string projects balanced. And the overall quality of craftmanship is amazing. My resume: it is more a singer/songwriter guitar for strumming and less the bluesy, fingerpicking buddy like it's colleague, the famous Jim Dandy. I don't regret that I've bought it, I think we will have a great relationship . . . PS: if you buy one, please take the scratchplate off and put thin washers between spruce top and scratchplate. The Penguin will reward you with a much livelier tone. No wonder, the 3mm thick scratchplate muffles nearly a quarter of the resonating surface!


Resurrecting an old thread because I found harrydavidson's note there to be super helpful.

So... I have a somewhat odd question: For those who have one of these parlors, particularly the WF, how do you think it would take to nylon strings?

Would it buzz due to the low action? Would it have no output at all? Or might it be a pretty nice little setup for someone like the Lovely Missus Gretschpages, who is interested in learning guitar, but wants something smaller than my big old dreadnaught, and greatly prefers nylon strings (she thinks she's not ready for metal strings yet).

The price is right, and it's got the glam she likes. But would it be any good for her purposes -- which are largely "Just learnin' the dang thing"



My hands are way more sensitive to string guage and scale length than I'd like; so the usual 11 - 12 acoustic strings just don't work for me as they feel like playing a cheese slicer. I've also given up on anything longer than a 24.75 scale and even then I prefer Gretsch's 24.6. My first guitars were Yamahas and while excellent Martin copies, I dumped them quickly when I realized how much easier my old 6120 was to learn and play. I've been very impressed with the Martin Dreadnaught Jr. and am looking forward to trying the new Gretsch Roots series. Just my $0.02.


Nylon strings hurt my fingers more than steel.


I could try once more to convince her she's wrong, but that's not going to go well for me, so I'm probably just better off finding her what she wants. Hopefully, when she's ready for "real" strings, it will work well with them, too.


I don't know, Bax. What keeps reverberating around in my head is that the guitar does not have a great resonant acoustic sound of its own. It is somewhat stiff -- harrydavidson used the word "sterile". That has somewhat bad connotations in my mind, but it is pretty accurate. If you put nylon strings on a guitar that is not inherently resonant, me thinks that you don't get much of anything. And I am dubious that the piezo pickup would do much for the nylon strings although they respond to vibrations, so who knows?

I am in a little over my head with this question because it screams out technical issues of guitar building to me that I don't have answers for, but my very strong gut reaction is that it would not be a winning combination for her. On the other hand, you could put .08s on it and, while perhaps a bit sloppy for your playing or mine, it might be suitable for her somehow.


Has anyone put one of those string vibration thingies on the Gretsch acoustics? Maybe leave it on for a month?


Bax, use "Silk and Steel" strings. They aren't much on ringing tone, but are great student strings. Easy on the fingers, they are better than trying nylons on a steel string guitar.


Bax, use "Silk and Steel" strings. They aren't much on ringing tone, but are great student strings. Easy on the fingers, they are better than trying nylons on a steel string guitar.

– duojet55

This is true.


Because She believes the nylons are easier on her.

Bob, my gut agrees: it's a recipe for one dull quiet instrument


I understand these Martin strings are an excellent choice for beginners (as well as Tommy Emmanuel). However, the lightest gauge available is .011.


I would you attach them?

– Jonathan A. Sipes......maker of aluminum dust.


Go in the body with a finger plane and make the braces smaller. The wood's still wet and it will smell like Christmas. Then stick a Tone Rite on it for a week, it'll sound good.

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