Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Restored ‘59 Falcon

1

See it here: https://reverb.com/p/gretsc...

The thing about it that caught my eye is the binding. The luthier who did this job really got the depth of the gold layer, which you don't see on modern Falcons.

2

Classic beauty for sure... but the gold hardware is too “bright and gold”. Obviously that’s what it looked like 1959, but my aesthetic sensibility has been forged by drooling over vintage era Falcons, and for that reason I really prefer the muted and pale gold a Filtertron shows after 60 years of seasoning.

3

Gorgeous!

Ok,so who has it in their cart? It's not me btw

4

Oh, I agree. If that guitar fell in my lap, the first thing I'd do is google "how to relic gold hardware." It was the binding that impressed me more than anything (although everything looks pretty well done). Maybe Gretsch should consult with this Ken McKay on how to get the correct depth to the gold sparkle layer.

5

I've never been a fan of white guitars, and don't have a keen eye for some of the details on this, but I'm curious. What do you guys think of the re-fin on this? In some of the photos, the color appears slightly "creamy" (aged), and in others more white. But I think that's mostly just the photo variances tricking the eye. I suspect it's uniformly somewhat cream-colored. My question is, were these originally a bit creamy when new, or more white? I'm wondering whether the restorer was aiming for a slightly aged look with regard to the finish, as opposed to the gleaming new look of the re-plated gold; or whether you think the re-fin is true to what the original color would have looked like.

6

Classic beauty for sure... but the gold hardware is too “bright and gold”. Obviously that’s what it looked like 1959, but my aesthetic sensibility has been forged by drooling over vintage era Falcons, and for that reason I really prefer the muted and pale gold a Filtertron shows after 60 years of seasoning.

– kc_eddie_b

I'm confused, a brand new guitar is worth more if it's relic'd ? And a guitar, same one, is supposed to have natural wear, but one that has 50 years of honest wear is worth less than a new one made to look like the old one? I have to relate to my Grand Daughter who pays a LOT for jeans with holes, but refuses to buy old ones with better holes? Sets this old head spinning!

7

It’s that awful gold that visually makes it a new guitar in my eye.

I guess it identifies as vintage 59.

9

I've never been a fan of white guitars, and don't have a keen eye for some of the details on this, but I'm curious. What do you guys think of the re-fin on this? In some of the photos, the color appears slightly "creamy" (aged), and in others more white. But I think that's mostly just the photo variances tricking the eye. I suspect it's uniformly somewhat cream-colored. My question is, were these originally a bit creamy when new, or more white? I'm wondering whether the restorer was aiming for a slightly aged look with regard to the finish, as opposed to the gleaming new look of the re-plated gold; or whether you think the re-fin is true to what the original color would have looked like.

– JimR56

The Falcons (and Penguins) were white, unless a custom color was specified; IIRC Dan Duffy mentioned some in his book. Gretsch did have Lotus Ivory which turned up in 1956 (maybe earlier?) on some 6199s instead of the usually seen Bamboo Yellow, and on the 6187 Clippers and Ramblers.

10

Ken McKay posted quite a few pics and little clips of that restoration on his instagram page.

11

The binding looks great and presumably eliminates a major concern. The seller defines the guitar as a player that could be worth $10,000 more. If I had $15,000 to play with I would consider it after having a more knowledgeable person examine it. As is, I think the fear of dinging a pristine guitar (as has been recently discussed in another thread) is eliminated here.

12

The Falcons (and Penguins) were white, unless a custom color was specified; IIRC Dan Duffy mentioned some in his book. Gretsch did have Lotus Ivory which turned up in 1956 (maybe earlier?) on some 6199s instead of the usually seen Bamboo Yellow, and on the 6187 Clippers and Ramblers.

– lx

Thanks lx. I guess most of the Falcons I've seen since I got interested in vintage guitars back in the early 80's were already aging to a slightly creamy or yellowed color, as opposed to what I would think of as a more pure white. So I was never sure whether these guitars were ever as white as a new one would appear today, or whether the "white" was always a bit creamy (for lack of a better term). I have of course seen pure white examples, but most of those were either from the 70's or newer, or quite recent issues.

13

Thanks lx. I guess most of the Falcons I've seen since I got interested in vintage guitars back in the early 80's were already aging to a slightly creamy or yellowed color, as opposed to what I would think of as a more pure white. So I was never sure whether these guitars were ever as white as a new one would appear today, or whether the "white" was always a bit creamy (for lack of a better term). I have of course seen pure white examples, but most of those were either from the 70's or newer, or quite recent issues.

– JimR56

The Chris Hillman guitar in the (widely circulated here) Manassas video versus the comparatively pristine "white" Falcon Stills is playing perfectly illustrates the point.

14

The Chris Hillman guitar in the (widely circulated here) Manassas video versus the comparatively pristine "white" Falcon Stills is playing perfectly illustrates the point.

– vibrotwang

Sorry, I'm not following you here. I've seen the video, and I see the very clear difference between those two Falcons' finishes, but I don't know any of the details on those two guitars. What "point" is being illustrated?

I'm still curious about this subject, and since nobody answered my question above, I'd like to ask again... what does everyone think about the color of the refin of the Falcon in the OP? Does it look like a Falcon would have looked in 1959, or did they go for a color that an original Falcon would have aged (yellowed) to in 2020? Or is there even much difference between the two?

Although lx stated above that Falcons were "white" unless custom ordered in another color, that doesn't explain exactly what "white" looked like back in the day, and whether there were any variances in the shades of white paint that were used originally, whether they had begun to use a brighter white by the Baldwin years, etc. I mean, when you go to a paint store and shop for "white" paint for your living room, there are dozens of whites to choose from. "White" is a slightly vague term, even without considering the effects of time and aging on paint colors. I've seen newer Falcons that look very bright white, and obviously vintage Falcons look creamier in color. Vintage "white" guitars (whether Falcons or Strats or whatever) turn creamier as they age, but I'm doubting that Gretsch was ever using as bright a white color in the 50's as they have used for new guitars in more recent years. And thus I'm curious about the choices a refinisher is faced with in terms of whether to make a guitar look aged vs how it would have looked originally. Confusing, I know. Thanks for any thoughts on this.

15

I think it's safe to say that White Falcon's coming off the line in the 50s were "whiter" than they are 60 years later. No idea what shade of white was original, and nobody else will either (we miss Dan Duffy in times like these!). Likewise... the cream-color these guitars evolve into will differ from guitar to guitar based on the instruments exposure to light (and sweat, beer, and nicotine) over the decades. So who's to say which exact hue of cream-color is correct for guitar being refinished today? I would suggest that is up to the owners taste. Do they want to emulate a closet-queen, with just touches of discoloration, or do they covet a well-played and worn warrior that's seen it all, and shows a heavily yellowed complexion as one might expect? Personally, if I were refinishing my '59 Falcon (which I would never do) I would key the tone/color of the finish to the hardware. If the hardware is pristine, then make the Falcon whiter... but if it's mellowed and worn to that cool dull champagne-nickel hue, then a comfy cream colored finish would seem appropriate. To each his own.

16

Well stated, Ed. I agree with everything you said.

17

The point I was thinking of was that guitars age differently depending on their life's experience. There could have up to nearly 20 years age difference between the Manassas Falcons. It is true we'll never know if they both started life in the same shade of White but it seems likely that Hillman's had more stories to tell. I'm agnostic to relicing (and reverse relicing?) but my ordinary 1960s and 1970s "vintage" guitars are plenty well colored by their years and I wouldn't want to restore them aesthetically to their prime unless it was necessary to fix something that affected their playability or structural integrity. Also agree completely with Ed's comments.

18

Thinking back to my youth in the late 60's, the very few Falcons I saw up close, to my recollection, were pretty much white - although I wouldn't say stark white - and not a shade of cream or ivory. Might have been the lighting in the shop or the gym where a band would be playing but that's what I remember.

19

Thanks Dave. The first white guitar that I remember crossing my radar in the 60's was an SG Les Paul Custom that one of my older brothers seemed to be attracted to. It was in a local music store where he was taking guitar lessons. I don't remember it being stark white either. I suspect it was close in color to some of the white cars that my dad had in my youth (a 50's Pontiac, a '62 VW Bug, a '62 Rambler, and a Volvo wagon). I think he must have liked white vehicles.

20

I think it's safe to say that White Falcon's coming off the line in the 50s were "whiter" than they are 60 years later. No idea what shade of white was original, and nobody else will either (we miss Dan Duffy in times like these!). Likewise... the cream-color these guitars evolve into will differ from guitar to guitar based on the instruments exposure to light (and sweat, beer, and nicotine) over the decades. So who's to say which exact hue of cream-color is correct for guitar being refinished today? I would suggest that is up to the owners taste. Do they want to emulate a closet-queen, with just touches of discoloration, or do they covet a well-played and worn warrior that's seen it all, and shows a heavily yellowed complexion as one might expect? Personally, if I were refinishing my '59 Falcon (which I would never do) I would key the tone/color of the finish to the hardware. If the hardware is pristine, then make the Falcon whiter... but if it's mellowed and worn to that cool dull champagne-nickel hue, then a comfy cream colored finish would seem appropriate. To each his own.

– kc_eddie_b

Nitro goes yellow, unexposed areas look like GM code 11 white.

it’s pretty easy to age a new unit the only issue is how are they going to look in 40 years of real aging.

21

Hear’s an example of refinished and aging. This is a 2005 White Falcon which Curt owned, stripped and refinned in maybe 2012(?) to look like a 1959 model. The headstock was purposely left untouched because the celluloid on the vintage headstock did not yellow like the body. If incorrect, Curt can correct me. I bought the guitar in 2013 and will show how it looked then in a following post as I can only post one picture at a time. This photo was taken today.

24

So, there is no telling what condition this guitar was in when it was stripped down to restore. So restoring it to it's original glory is wrong? We gripe about relics around here all of the time. I would say to do it right bringing her back to her original glory would be the right thing to do, right? If it gets played it'll gain it's own respective scars and yellowing again. Lovely restore, IMO.

Edit: Either way is fine.To each his own. Curt did a great job on yours, Joe.

25

So, there is no telling what condition this guitar was in when it was stripped down to restore. So restoring it to it's original glory is wrong? - Suprdave

Actually...

It came to me stripped with no bindings left on the body. - Seller

So, yeah, definitely a good candidate for restoration, not desecration.


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