Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Date this Falcon

1

I am trying to find out which guitar Roy Orbison may have used in his Sun recodings. He had a Les Paul around '54/'55 but also this White Falcon and the photo was taken in 1960 in Phoenix. Anyone know when this WF model came out?

Bob

2

Well for sure it's between late 57 and 60, if I had to guess, I'd say early 59

3

when Roy went to Sun Sam liked Roy's guitar playing a lot more than his voice ,, Roy was some picker !!

4

He had to be one heck of a player to impress his playing more than his voice. 8-o That man could sing.

5

JBJ's got it right, it would be interesting to know if it had heavy trestles or not.

6

Filtertrons and thin-ish body.. I'm going 59 or 60. Where's Ed?

7

Filtertrons and thin-ish body.. I'm going 59 or 60. Where's Ed?

– Baxter

Filtertrons and thin-ish body.. I'm going 59 or 60. Where's Ed?

– Baxter

That body doesn't look "thin-ish" to me ;-)

8

I'm going with '58. Hard to tell, but it doesn't look like there's a zero-fret, so pre-'59, and I think later than '57 because those early FilterTron Falcons still kept the humpblock inlays.

9

Yeah could well be 58, I'm not positive the zero fret thing applies to Falcons though? But a lot of the rules for Gretsch's get kinda sketchy on Falcons. The Gretsch logo on the pickguard got slanted in 59 proper, and this one is real level, so 58 or early 59 seems good.

10

Hello. for me it is 59 or 60.

11

If the info on Wiki is correct this model was produced '58-'62. Roy was under-rated as a guitarist as after Sun he focused more on his singing. Listen to his playing on his Sun stuff. Sam said he was the fastest guitar player he knew.

Bob

12

Looks like a 59 or 60 to me. I think most 58s had the block inlays. This has thumbnails + horizontal logo.

13

I am not sure but I believe that in 58 he had the mélita bridge And there is one space control. And as the photo and of 1960 it is thus 59 or 60.

14

If I am going to "Date a Falcon", I think I'd prefer dating this one, frankly. Then again, I'm a bit odd that way.

16

JazzBoxJunky said:

Yeah could well be 58, I'm not positive the zero fret thing applies to Falcons though? But a lot of the rules for Gretsch's get kinda sketchy on Falcons. The Gretsch logo on the pickguard got slanted in 59 proper, and this one is real level, so 58 or early 59 seems good.

All good points. From what I can tell, the appearance of the zero fret does seem to correspond at least roughly with '59, but you're absolutely right that Falcons are harder to date by feature than most models. Anyway, '58 or early '59 seems like a good time frame to me.

17

Nice which ever year it is. I wouldn't kick it outa my guitar collection, that's for sure. Any idea what ever became of this Orbison Falcon? Museum piece somewhere?

18

He knocked the neck off it as he didn't like it, then found it was not such an easy job to fix. So he took it to Gibson as he was in the area. They put a Super 400 neck on it, P90's and a few extra switches, then refinished it in black with white binding. Late '60's it was shipped to Japan to be copied and was never seen again. That is how the story goes.

This is how it looked after:

Bob

19

Sorry to be late to this party...

I have only documented one 100-unit group of Falcons for the 1958 model year (batch #263xx). I appears that about a third of the way into this group, the neoclassic markers, horizontal headstock logo, and space control bridge were introduced. I have yet to come across any from this batch with a zero fret, 2.25" deep body, or a headstock plaque (all features I would consider '59 model year landmarks for the Falcon).

The Falcon in the OP's photo has the neos, deeper body depth, and no zero fret... BUT also has acquired a headstock plaque, leading me to believe it's either a very late example from the '58 group (#263xx) or else a very early example from the #314xx group of '59 model year Falcons.

disclaimer: Falcons are tough, as even within batches they can seem to have mixed features. I assume that many were custom ordered and were bought "off-the-rack" to a lesser degree than other models.

20

I highly doubt that the modifications done to the black guitar were done by Gibson. I have never ever heard of them doing that sort of thing to something they didn't build, except to Epiphones, after they'd bought them out. Also those aren't P-90s. They're some kind of 8-pole steel guitar pickup, if I remember right. What a cool guitar.

21

If I am going to "Date a Falcon", I think I'd prefer dating this one, frankly. Then again, I'm a bit odd that way.

– Ric12string

If I am going to "Date a Falcon", I think I'd prefer dating this one, frankly. Then again, I'm a bit odd that way.

– Ric12string

:D

Here is another picture of Roy with a Falcon.

And a video: http://www.youtube.com/watc...

22

Sunshine's photo confirms the space control bridge. :)

23

I highly doubt that the modifications done to the black guitar were done by Gibson. I have never ever heard of them doing that sort of thing to something they didn't build, except to Epiphones, after they'd bought them out. Also those aren't P-90s. They're some kind of 8-pole steel guitar pickup, if I remember right. What a cool guitar.

– apossibleworld

Yes you are right, I remember now, they are Sho-bud steel guitar pickups.

Bob

24

Sunshine's photo confirms the space control bridge. :)

– kc_eddie_b

Sunshine's photo confirms the space control bridge. :)

– KCeddieB

Yes that limits the year of the guitar with the space control and the photo . ;-)


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