Hats off to Gretsch (and parent company FMIC) for reissuing not one, but two historically important versions of it’s top-of-the-line White Falcon. In 1954, Gretsch called this instrument “the most beautiful guitar in the world.” They might have been right, but as we’ve learned over the subsequent decades, beauty is most often in the eye of the beholder. But then again, who could ignore the White Falcon’s $600 list price? Or its gleaming white lacquer finish, accented by gold sparkle binding, 24-karat gold-plated hardware, or the iridescent, engraved mother-of-pearl inlays? The first reissue is a near spot-on reproduction of the 1955 White Falcon — we say “near” only because Gretsch wisely upgraded this version with a gold-plated Bigsby vibrato tailpiece (which was optional on the ’55 White Falcon) rather than the less functional “G Cadillac” tailpiece. Other than that, everything else is original, from the dual Dynasonic single coil pickups (manufactured in the 1950s by DeArmand) to the Synchro-Sonic bridge to that flamboyant “V” headstock with the vertical Gretsch logo (in gold sparkle with wings surrounding the “G” in Gretsch. Then there are those pearl humped-block fingerboard inlays with their Western-influenced feather engravings. Like the original, this is a huge guitar for an electric: 17 inches wide and 2.75 inches deep!
The second White Falcon Reissue is based on the 1958 model, which was upgraded to include a pair of Gretsch Filter’Tron humbucking pickups. This recreation substitutes a pair of TV Jones Classic pickups, which have a slightly hotter, more modern sound. Gone are the engraved pearl fingerboard inlays, replaced with the neo-classical “thumbnail” inlays set into an ebony fingerboard — these were the “signature” inlays that Gretsch used on all its upscale instruments well into the 1960s. The “V” headstock remains, but this time the gold-sparkle Gretsch logo is smaller and horizontal (and without the gold-sparkle wings). The Synchro-Sonic bridge is replaced with the new Adjust-O-Matic bridge and instead of a real tone control, this Falcon got the new Gretsch three-position master tone switch, which passes the signal through when in the middle position, and offers up darker tones in the other two positions with a slight bass boost and some midrange emphasis. Like the 1955 version, the ’58 is just as large, dwarfing today’s slimmer solidbodies. Obviously neither of these instruments are right for the average guitar player. They are recreated here for those players who were around when these were the most expensive instruments being built by any of the major manufacturers in the 1950s, and are now finally in a position to afford them. They’d also be a great choice for younger players who saw these guitars in the hands of their favorite players in the 1960s and always wished they could own one. Both are true masterpieces which prove Gretsch is building its best guitars right now!