White Falcon frets

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by Luthier47, Sep 18, 2021.

  1. Luthier47

    Luthier47 Electromatic

    Apr 22, 2021
    East coast USA
    Does someone recall the name that Gretsch used for the frets below the 12th that are angled slightly to improve intonation? My 1964 White Falcon has them but I cannot remember what they called them back then
  2. G5422T

    G5422T Country Gent

    May 24, 2012
    IIRC, "Tempered T" was the term.
    kenact, JC higgy and Archtops like this.
  3. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    That means the guitar is broken and no good so before you throw the guitar away , here's my address ...... :p Just kiddin' Luthier47 . A '64 White Falcon , beautiful guitar my friend :)
  4. Archtops

    Archtops Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2021
    Good I.D.
  5. JC higgy

    JC higgy Gretschified

    Jun 6, 2008
    Belfast Norn Iron
    Yes,Gretsch T Zone ,Tempered Treble.
    mrfixitmi and G5422T like this.
  6. afire

    afire Country Gent

    The logic behind it is that the Floating Sound Unit (aka tuning fork) bridge could not be angled to adjust for intonation, so Gretsch solved that problem by angling the frets instead. Pretty ingenious, IMO.
  7. kenact

    kenact Electromatic

    May 9, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    The same era Viking also has them.
  8. kenact

    kenact Electromatic

    May 9, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    I seem to recall the Gretsch write up on the Viking and Falcon. If I remember correctly, the tempered frets, which were only above the 12th fret, were to compensate for concert pitch. The floating sound unit could be angled, just as all the other straight bridges, such as the bridge on my Nashville. As with any straight bridge, you can never achieve perfect intonation, but you can get close.
  9. afire

    afire Country Gent

    I can't agree with that. I'm not sure how the FSU could be angled without the strings pulling it straight. Never seen a picture of one angled, and Gretsch never illustrated one angled. And Gretsch certainly didn't intended it to be angled. They placed little brads on either side of the hole as a guide for positioning the FSU, and they're also perpendicular to the neck, not angled.

    And it's not a coincidence that the angled frets were always used on models with the FSU and never on models without it (always and never are strong words with Gretsch, but I'll use them here). It was because you had to angle the frets to compensate for the FSU being perpendicular to the neck, or intonation would get pretty sour above the 12th fret.
  10. Is that 100% documented as the reason for the T-zone frets?

    Reason I ask is that I own a 1963 Falcon that was originally (and still is) a Cadillac-tailpiece equipped guitar without a tuning fork, and it has the T-Zone frets. I don't think the gadgets like that were introduced until '64 or so?
  11. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
  12. Philtertronic

    Philtertronic Gretschie

    Feb 26, 2014
    3462715004_44baf7c2b8_o.jpg I first saw this in Warwick basses in the '90s. True temperament frets.
  13. afire

    afire Country Gent

    That would be the only Gretsch I've ever encountered with T-Zone frets that didn't have an FSU, but Falcons tend to be outliers for the reasons stated below. I don't know that it's specifically documented that the T-Zone frets are associated with the FSU, but I don't think it's a coincidence that the only models that got the T-Zone fret were also models that got the FSU, including Falcons, of course.

    But from the late '50s to the mid '60s, Falcons are nearly impossible to accurately date and features can be unpredictable. It appears that Gretsch would block off a series of serial numbers and likely built a batch of bodies, but only completed them as needed. Whenever there was a transitional year, you see Falcons with unexpected combinations of features. So, you might have a body built and numbered in 1963, but maybe completed in 1964 or 1965 (I'm betting yours has elephant ear buttons, not the stairsteps still standard in 1963, maybe even black mute felts?). When particular steps, such as fretting, took place is anybody's guess. If I had to guess, the fretboard was installed on your guitar after the FSU was introduced, but somebody requested a Falcon without the FSU. Which is fine, since the the angled frets should work well with any straight, non-compensated bridge, like the standard Space-Control bridge. You just don't have to angle it as much, if at all.
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