White Falcons, Black Falcons

If ever a guitar typified the glorious excesses of the 1950s, the White Falcon would be that guitar. To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, the Falcon was a “Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” Or, according to the Gretsch literature of the day, it was simply “the most beautiful guitar in the world.”

Of course, superlatives are costly, and so was the Falcon. To this day, Falcons are highly prized — and pricey.

But for all the things the 6136 White Falcon was, it was not necessarily intended to be a production model at all. It was originally a trade show guitar, a “dream machine” Gretsch put together to show off a little. As the orders came rushing in after its introduction at the 1954 music trade shows, the Falcon was rushed into production.

None After the war, Webster was at the Gretsch factory, wandering the floor and looking for ideas. The Falcon’s outrageous blend of looks and features came from all across the factory and were blended together with Webster’s own penchant for extras and extravagance.

From the drum side, Webster picked up gold sparkle drum material. From the banjo side, he saw the rhinestones and ornamentation that bejeweled the high-end banjos. He put it all together with that long-remembered glossy white finish and name and came up with the White Falcon.

None All the Falcon’s hardware was top-shelf, right down to the Grover Imperial tuners. It was also the only spruce-topped Gretsch — except for the occasional Country Club — and a big bird, coming in at 17 inches wide and almost three inches deep.

In the 60s, the White Falcon switched to a twin-cutaway body, and continuously had more gadgets thrown at it. By the late ‘60s there were so many knobs and switches stuck on the White Falcon it took an electrical engineer rather than a guitar player to actually use one.

Much like the Cadillacs they took styling cues from and that other icon of the ‘50s, Elvis, the Falcons entered the ‘70s as a bloated parody of the cool they had once embodied.

During the ‘70s, Baldwin began taking some of the sillier “features” off Falcons. Whether this was a good idea that actually came from the Baldwin offices or just another example of cost-cutting is open to debate, but Falcon’s became increasingly stripped down and uncluttered. A single cutaway Falcon even returned beginning in 1974, but with a different model number. The classic 6136 White Falcon had came to an end, at least until the modern era.

During the modern era, the Falcon was revived both in classic single and double cutaway configurations, and some new, non-white, Falcons joined the family, too.

If ever a guitar typified the glorious excesses of the 1950s, the White Falcon would be that guitar. To paraphrase Tom Wolfe, the Falcon was a “Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” Or, according to the Gretsch literature of the day, it was simply “the most beautiful guitar in the world.”

Of course, superlatives are costly, and so was the Falcon. To this day, Falcons are highly prized — and pricey.

But for all the things the 6136 White Falcon was, it was not necessarily intended to be a production model at all. It was originally a trade show guitar, a “dream machine” Gretsch put together to show off a little. As the orders came rushing in after its introduction at the 1954 music trade shows, the Falcon was rushed into production.

None After the war, Webster was at the Gretsch factory, wandering the floor and looking for ideas. The Falcon’s outrageous blend of looks and features came from all across the factory and were blended together with Webster’s own penchant for extras and extravagance.

From the drum side, Webster picked up gold sparkle drum material. From the banjo side, he saw the rhinestones and ornamentation that bejeweled the high-end banjos. He put it all together with that long-remembered glossy white finish and name and came up with the White Falcon.

None All the Falcon’s hardware was top-shelf, right down to the Grover Imperial tuners. It was also the only spruce-topped Gretsch — except for the occasional Country Club — and a big bird, coming in at 17 inches wide and almost three inches deep.

In the 60s, the White Falcon switched to a twin-cutaway body, and continuously had more gadgets thrown at it. By the late ‘60s there were so many knobs and switches stuck on the White Falcon it took an electrical engineer rather than a guitar player to actually use one.

Much like the Cadillacs they took styling cues from and that other icon of the ‘50s, Elvis, the Falcons entered the ‘70s as a bloated parody of the cool they had once embodied.

During the ‘70s, Baldwin began taking some of the sillier “features” off Falcons. Whether this was a good idea that actually came from the Baldwin offices or just another example of cost-cutting is open to debate, but Falcon’s became increasingly stripped down and uncluttered. A single cutaway Falcon even returned beginning in 1974, but with a different model number. The classic 6136 White Falcon had came to an end, at least until the modern era.

During the modern era, the Falcon was revived both in classic single and double cutaway configurations, and some new, non-white, Falcons joined the family, too.

The Gretsch-GEAR database includes 31 different models and 172 examples in the White Falcons, Black Falcons family, including Black Falcon, Black Falcon I, Black Falcon II, Bono Irish Falcon, Chris Cheney signature, David Lee Falcon, Falcon, Red Falcon, Silver Falcon, Stephen Stills Falcon, White Falcon and White Falcon Junior models.

Guitar models in the White Falcons, Black Falcons group

6126-TCC Chris Cheney signature
Documented years: 2008 to 2009

Living End guitarist Chris Cheney's signature model is sort of a Falconized 6120. Or, depending on how you look at it, the only 16" Falcon. Features include a lacquer finish, trestle bracing, TV Jones pickups, a pinned adjustomatic bridge, Sperzel locking tuners and silver sparkle trim.

6136 White Falcon
Documented years: 1957 to 2013

One of Gretsch's most recognizable models, the 6136 White Falcon was designed to wow, and that's exactly what it's done for more than 50 years.

6136-1958 Stephen Stills Falcon
Documented years: 2000 to 2006

From Buffalo Springfield through Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and a stellar solo career, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Stephen Stills played his classic White Falcon for more than 30 years. HIs signature model was based on his 1958 Falcon. It was one of the earliest Gretsches other ...

6136-BK Black Falcon
Documented years: 2004

The standard Black Falcon, with Cadillac-G tailpiece.

6136-CST White Falcon
Documented years: 2011 to 2013

In 2004 the 6136-CST Custom Shop White Falcon was listed right there in the catalog along with all the other models. It was, pretty much, what you'd expect: a reissue '50s Falcon made to the very highest standard by the Gretsch Custom Shop. Over the years, the Custom Shop has ...

6136-DC White Falcon
Documented years: 1961 to 2014

An FMIC-era take on the 60s double-cut White Falcon.

6136-DL David Lee Falcon
Documented years: 2008

David Lee of the Legendary Shack Shakers definitely shook some things up for his signature Falcon. The DL featured multi-layered black binding and accents, an aged white lacquer finish, all combined with twin TV Jones PowerTrons. It was a very limited release, with only about 30 made in 2008.

6136-DS White Falcon
Documented years: 2005 to 2011

With Dynasonics

6136-DSBK Black Falcon
Documented years: 2005 to 2011

With Dynasonics

6136-I Bono Irish Falcon
Documented years: 2005

The Bono signature Falcon was controversial, to say the least, but if you want a Cadillac Green Falcon, the Irish Falcon is the way to go. Just be sure you can live with a pickguard reading "The Goal is Soul"

6136-LDS White Falcon
Documented years: 2006 to 2012

Lacquer-finished with Dynasonics

6136-LTV White Falcon
Documented years: 2012

Lacquer-finished, with Bigsby and TV Jones pickups.

6136-SL Silver Falcon
Documented years: 2002

Just like the 6136-TSL Silver Falcon, only with a Cadillac G tailpiece instead of a Bigsbly.

6136-SLCST Silver Falcon
Documented years: 2003

A custom-shop Silver Falcon circa 2003 that featured a lacquer finish (of course) and tremolo.

6136-T White Falcon
Documented years: 2004 to 2013

With Bigsby.

6136-T-LDS White Falcon
Documented years: 2007 to 2013

Lacquer-finished with Dynasonics and Bigsby tremolo.

6136-T-LH White Falcon
Documented years: None

The Bigsby-equipped modern-era 6136 T White Falcon, in left-handed form

6136-T-LTV White Falcon
Documented years: 2006 to 2012

Identical to the LTV -- lacquer-finished, with Bigsby and TV Jones pickups -- plus the addition of a Bigsby tremolo.

6136-TBK Black Falcon
Documented years: 2010 to 2011

With Bigsby

6136-TSL Silver Falcon
Documented years: 2004 to 2012

The 6136 TSL revamped the classic Falcon iconography in gloss black, silver and chrome. It was like a photo negative of a White Falcon. Only cooler. Features were standard Falcon fare: twin HS Filtertrons, ebony fingerboard, Grover Imperial tuners, and so on, however, the TSL came with a lacquer finish, ...

6136-TVTAFR Red Falcon
Documented years: 2012

Limited run of Red Falcons produced in 2012-2013.

6137-Stereo White Falcon
Documented years: 1960 to 1971

None

6139-CB Falcon
Documented years: 2013 to 2013

Representing a new take on the venerable Falcon formula, the 6139CB married a thin, 16" x 1 3/4" body with a heavily chambered spruce center block. While the CB was built for high-gain, the high-end Falcon appointments remained, right down to the jewelled knobs.

6139-CBDC Falcon
Documented years: 2012 to 2013

Representing a new take on the venerable Falcon formula, the 6139CBDC married a thin, 16" x 1 3/4" body with a heavily chambered spruce center block. It was functionally the same as the 6139CB introduced at the same time, only with a double-cutaway body. While the CBDC was built for ...

7593 White Falcon
Documented years: 1991 to 2013

In the 70s, Gretsch offered the Falcon in both 7593 single-cutaway and 7594 double-cutaway form. In the modern era, these model designations were revived for 70s-style Falcons.

7593-BK Black Falcon I
Documented years: 2006

This modern take on the Falcon takes the 7593 (70s reissue) single-cutaway body, and covers it in Jet Black. Of course the Baldwin-era small f-holes and pickguard are present and accounted for, just as with all 7593s.

7594 White Falcon
Documented years: 1974 to 2004

Double Cutaway

7594-B Black Falcon II
Documented years: 1992 to 1992

It is believed that only 100 of these black double cutaway Falcon IIs were made in Feburary 1992.

7594-JR White Falcon Junior
Documented years: 1998 to 2003

The Gretsch White Falcon Jr. was an attempt to marry the top-of-the-line look of the Gretsch's big bird with a smaller, sleeker body style. Being a Falcon, of course it had all the trimmings, but instead of a 17" body, it was shrunk down to about 14"

7594-SL Silver Falcon
Documented years: 1994

Looking for a double-cutaway Silver Falcon? The 7594SL has you covered. If you can find one -- they were only made from roughly 1994 to 1998, and not too many made it out the door.

7595-Stereo White Falcon
Documented years: 1979 to 1980

The '70s-era Stereo Falcon.