Guitar Player: Vintage, Rare and Cool. This Gorgeous Cast of 1950s Gretsch White Falcons is a Collector’s Dream

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,217
Where the action is!
My white whale would be the one Frusciante has, with engraved hump inlays but also FilterTrons.

I love that he actually gigs it!

View attachment 195773
Is the serial number of that one known? I think it might provide some insight into just how slowly and piecemeal Falcons were produced in the '50s and early '60s. Compare it to the one Jimmie Webster was playing in that '57 NAMM video. That one had blank cover FilterTrons with smooth surrounds, a vertical logo, Melita bridge, switches parallel to the neck, and thumbnail inlays. This one has a mix of one even earlier feature (engraved humpblocks) and other later features (angles switches, sculpted surrounds and presumably PAF covers). It would seem to suggest that Gretsch must have been slowly assembling and finishing that first batch of FilterTron Falcons with mixed and fluid features for the better part of a year.

It just occurred to me that Dan Duffy's remark about how much production employees hated building Falcons may well have something to do with how they were produced. I think most people would agree that when you have a task that you hate doing, you only do it when you need to. So rather than building nightmare batches of Falcons, they simply set aside a range of serial numbers and only completed Falcons as orders came in.

Damn, November has been a good month for my habitual speculation. First I definitively solved the double label mystery, and now I have ascertained beyond a reasonable doubt why early Falcon production was so sporadic and full of mixed and lagging features inconsistent with the serial number ranges. Well, to my satisfaction, anyway. ;)
 

DasherF

Gretschie
Aug 28, 2020
276
25 miles SE of Rogers, Mn.
Greetings.


View attachment 195715

@Synchro @thunder58

I wish that I could edit out Guitar Player's profanity. :(
I didn't reaise GP had gone that route...sounds like RigTalk...just came over from there...ugh!
If ya' can't say it nice...don't...!
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,217
Where the action is!
Yes... this Falcon is apparently #26310.
Interesting. This really does support the notion that a White Falcon serial number absolutely does not tell you when the guitar was completed. The serial number would suggest mid 1957, predating even the first batch of Country Gents. Not only does this guitar clearly not predate the first batch of Gents, I would say that it must have been completed significantly later (and admittedly, this is assuming that the sculpted surrounds are original and the FilterTrons have PAF covers). Rather, it would appear that a batch of Falcons was started in mid-1957, and I would imagine that some of the guitars in that batch are straight-up '57 spec with Dynasonics, vertical logos and Melita bridges. Then they used up either the remaining humpblock boards, or perhaps completed bodies that already had humpblock boards installed, and during the course of a year or so introduced FilterTrons, space control bridges, PAF covers, thumbnail inlays, and maybe T-roof logos and plaques. From the Jimmie Webster Falcon, you might assume that the thumbnail inlays might have been among the first changes, but then you have a guitar like this that appears to have been completed maybe a year or more later with a humpblock board. My guess is that Jimmie wanted to make sure the Falcon he took to NAMM incorporated all the planned feature updates, but the factory would still continue to use up existing stock.

I know you've noted many times that feature changes sometimes went back and forth during a transitional batch. In the case of Falcons, I almost have to wonder if they were even assigning serial numbers sequentially vs. pulling them at random from a pile of labels. I don't know how many data points you have on the 263XX Falcon batch, but it would be interesting to see if you could either plot the introduction of features in a way that correlates with the sequence of serial numbers, or, in the alternative, plot the apparent order individual guitars were seemingly completed by their features and see if that correlates to any pattern of mini-batches or just shows a seemingly random assignment of serial numbers.
 

TV the Wired Turtle

Gretschified
Double Platinum Member
Jul 25, 2009
14,814
Sandy Eggo
me: I want a white gretsch for xmas

santa:

81F5CCV4ZfL.jpg
 

6187LX

Gretschie
Aug 11, 2022
308
Up Around the Bend
Regarding #26310 Falcon:
Totally agree with that assessment. That Falcon was making a transition. I ran across a strange early filtertron 6120 which I posted pics of on the GDP years ago: IIRC #26593 that had no heel dowel and no internal bracing. Instead , under the rounded parallel braces (typical Dyna design) were small blocks to support the Filtertrons that connected to the back. It sounded and played great.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,217
Where the action is!
I ran across a strange early filtertron 6120 which I posted pics of on the GDP years ago: IIRC #26593 that had no heel dowel and no internal bracing. Instead , under the rounded parallel braces (typical Dyna design) were small blocks to support the Filtertrons that connected to the back. It sounded and played great.
What's really odd about that is that the last of the Dynasonic 6120s, the ones with thumbnails, have trestle bracing, at least some of them. I don't have my 6120 book here at the office. Was the 265XX batch a mixed batch of Dynasonic and FilterTron 6120s?
 

6187LX

Gretschie
Aug 11, 2022
308
Up Around the Bend
Just checked my notes: #26502 also does not have a heel dowel; don't know about the bracing as this was from photographs. I did get to spend a bit of time with #26593 and was really enjoying how light and resonant it was. I also had my mechanics mirror and gooseneck LED flashlight. The seller was amused.

The 258xx batch is when things were in flux for the 6120, at least in the later parts of the batch. It's also where Duane Eddy's 6120 came from.
 
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afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,217
Where the action is!
The 258xx batch is when things were in flux for the 6120, at least in the later parts of the batch. It's also where Duane Eddy's 6120 came from.
That raises a question for me. If that's the batch that the thumbnail/Dynasonic 6120s with trestle bracing came from, is it possible that Duane's also has trestle bracing? I thought it was odd that his current signature 6120 has trestle bracing, but it would make a lot more sense if his original '57 has it too.
 

G5422T

Country Gent
May 24, 2012
4,267
usa
IIRC, Duane's current model has the trestle bracing only because he requested it for better feedback control.

His original did not have trestle bracing.
 

6187LX

Gretschie
Aug 11, 2022
308
Up Around the Bend
Duane was always bothered with feedback. He stuffed his 6120 with large (car washing) sponges and a bit of black paper so that it would look normal. Gretsch made a really cool animation for the new Duane model where it "flew" into the 6120 so you could see the "new" ML bracing which looked a lot like regular '59 trestle bracing. There must be some kind of difference to the regular bracing but I'm not sure what it is.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
6,217
Where the action is!
Duane was always bothered with feedback. He stuffed his 6120 with large (car washing) sponges and a bit of black paper so that it would look normal.
Duh, I knew that story. Should have known that it wasn't trestle braced and it also explains his choice to go with it in his signature model.
Gretsch made a really cool animation for the new Duane model where it "flew" into the 6120 so you could see the "new" ML bracing which looked a lot like regular '59 trestle bracing. There must be some kind of difference to the regular bracing but I'm not sure what it is.
Who knows what goes on with FMIC's marketing department's constant misidentifying of Gretsch specs, but the website now says trestle bracing, and if it looked like trestle bracing to you, then it probably is. The difference with ML bracing is that it only has feet under the bridge, not the other two by the neck block.
 

ZackyDog

Friend of Fred
Gold Supporting Member
Feb 6, 2015
7,755
In the USA
IIRC, Duane's current model has the trestle bracing only because he requested it for better feedback control.

His original did not have trestle bracing.
I recall that he wanted his signature model to have more depth too.
 

JC higgy

Gretschified
Jun 6, 2008
12,219
Belfast Norn Iron
6187LX said;"Gretsch made a really cool animation for the new Duane model where it "flew" into the 6120 so you could see the "new" ML bracing which looked a lot like regular '59 trestle bracing."

That animation of Duane was done by Greg Tiernan of Nitrogen Studios,class it was too.
 


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