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Old 06-16-2018, 11:04 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Default NGD - the Eagle (um, Falcon) has landed!

Quote:
"No guitar can match its eye-stopping white and gold beauty or its rainbow of tonal colors. It is the ultimate guitar. No expense has been spared to make it what it is. The guitarist who must have the best will have no other. There is no other."
- From the 1963 Gretsch catalog
They say everything comes to he who waits - and I've been waiting for a double-cut White Falcon ever since I fell in love with the inside back-cover photo as a kid; while the now-discontinued 6136DC isn't the genuine Brooklyn instrument I couldn't afford then (or now) it captures enough of the essential mojo to please this lifelong Gretsch aficionado...

Before I continue I'd like to give a shout-out to Cole Benson and the guys at Twin Town Music in Minneapolis, who set me up with this NOS beauty: first-rate customer service, ongoing follow-up from point of purchase to delivery, and the free leather luggage tag and pair of socks in the case (better for my waistline than Sweetwater's candy pack ) were a nice touch. This is small-operation service the way I remember back in the old days - I wouldn't hesitate to use them again for future purchases, and if you live in the area you might want to consider making them your friendly local guitar shop...

Since I'm not set up to post my own pics, here's a few sample shots of a custom-order version I pulled at random from the 'net for the obligatory photo gallery:







Overall impressions:
Now, as then, this one is the crown jewel of Gretsch's lineup and the former flagship of their Professional Series; while many hardcore fans may lament its Japanese origins, it's head-and-shoulders above a significant majority of the vintage pieces when they were new - and speaking as a Gretsch owner since 1964 who played them back in their heyday, I say this with neither hyperbole nor reservation. While it's obvious to the experienced eye that this guitar sports a poly finish (and as such will never develop that unmistakable "Brooklyn Gretsch" patina) it's not tacky and overdone, and the "whiter" overall shading as compared to a nitro-lacquer finish original only serves to sharpen the contrast with the black/white purfling and orange-gold binding, as well as the "Neo-Classic" thumbnail-inlaid ebony fingerboard - I've seen Louis Prima Jr.'s guitarist use one, and this combination really "pops" under stage lights. IMO Gretsch's early-60's design team scored a perfect "10" with the double-cut Falcon: the visual relationship between the components is just so "on," so "right," that until you actually handle one you don't realize that this is one BIG guitar - I'm 5'11" and been playing flattop jumbos and Advanced L-5/Epi Deluxe-size archtops most of my life, so the 17" body didn't come as too much of a surprise - but if you're just crossing over to electric from a 00/000/OM, or you're used to the compactness of a Strat/Tele/LP/SG, there's going to be a learning curve involved; good thing about the 6136DC is that it's exceptionally lightweight - in spite of the larger body it's a good couple pounds lighter than my 16" MIK E-matic 5622T-CB semi-hollow (I'll say somewhere in the mid-sevens - comparable to my much smaller Epi Ultra 339) - which not only takes a good deal of weight off my upper body for singing purposes (ever notice both John Lennon and Paul McCartney - the Beatles' main vocalists - played very lightweight instruments in live performance?) but allows me to use one of those cool vintage-style skinny straps without discomfort (found a matching white one at StreetSounds in Brooklyn - seems they're the only ones who stock them). Although it didn't come with the Brooklyn-style silver-grey case the factory HSC is well-made and well-fitted - albeit a little tighter in the headstock area than with the comparably-sized Country Gent (there's just about a pinky's worth of room at the top) - and I've got a line on a couple NOS reissue versions should I choose to go that route down the line...

Playing impressions:
In my NGD review of the 5622T from a couple years back I commented on how the current Korean E-matics feel uncannily like an old Gretsch in an A/B play test; whereas they take their structural cues from the iconic British Invasion-era models, the 6136DC's heart and soul are squarely rooted in the Duane Eddy/Eddie Cochran era: the 25-1/2" scale neck - a full inch longer than the 16" hollows/semis - has a definite late-50's feel (unquestionably Gretsch, but chunkier than later versions) and, combined with the '59-style trestle bracing (which TMK prevents installation of the double mufflers of the original) and Brooklyn-correct thin-plate construction provides an airy, resonant, harmonically-rich (for a laminated guitar) unplugged tone that hearkens back to my original '64 Double Annie. While the action with the factory 11-49 nickel-steel roundwounds was a match for my 5622T - the absolute lowest I've ever seen on any factory-new electric guitar, at any price, and a testament to the exceptional quality control of both the Japanese and Korean divisions - with a set of flatwound 11's I was able to drop it even lower. I might change this somewhere down the line; as sweet as it feels and plays (with a perfect neck set angle - something virtually unheard-of on the Brooklyn originals) there's a point where I feel a guitar is "running away" from me - in the long run I need a little resistance for both my right and left hands - but until then I'm pulling out all my hammer-on/roll-off/chicken-pickin' country licks and having the time of my life. They've also done some tweaking on the traditional Space Control bridge which, although allowing for smoother Bigsby operation (this was really the first commercial "roller bridge"), was notorious for its inability to intonate correctly; the new version uses staggered-size string wheels that allow for proper tuning within a given range of string gauges - a very minor movement gave me near-perfect intonation with my Snark, while not strobe-tuner accurate more than acceptable for an unmodified guitar of this type...

Electronics:
I've yet to meet an experienced electric player who's neutral about Gretsch pickups/electronics: you either love them or hate them, pure and simple, and I'm unequivocally in the former category. The early-60's style "High-Sensitive" Filter'trons are sparkly and crystalline without getting metallic and edgy, with a surprising amount of gain (there's a bit of TV Jones mojo going on here) - chimier than a P-90, but with less raw face-melting power (Gretsch pickups - in any incarnation - are all about tone rather than volume anyway) and an airy "bloom" to the notes (also attributable in part to the aforementioned lightweight body construction); even with the not-too-beloved "mud switch" kicked in it never gets woolly or indistinct, rather taking on a Guild-like character through my Fender Frontman 212R clean-tone test-mule amp - this one's a hollow-body for the Fender crowd. That said, this guitar is capable of a broad variety of tones associated with the Gretsch Filter'tron PU's - plug in a Vox AC30 or tweed Bassman and wail away till the Cavern closes and all the stray cats go home for the night, recapture the tones of the golden era of Top 40 AM radio through a blonde/blackface Fender or blue-check Ampeg, or get some smooth early-50's sweetness (or Neil Young crunch) through a darker-sounding amp (I'm taking it to my next band practice and running it through my Bugera V5). IMO the new-for-'62 standby switch is unnecessary with a master volume control but hey, isn't stuff like that what Gretsch was/is all about...?

Final thoughts:
They say that old dreams die hard, and you never get a second chance at your first love - the double-cut White Falcon has been a dream of mine for the last 55 years and, though discontinued in this form (there's a 16" Players' Edition double-cut semi that's not my cuppa tea - and my 5622T covers the same territory at one-fourth the price anyway), thanks to the crew at Twin Town I've gotten my second chance. While the hardcore Gretsch guys could nitpick details - neck/body junction (18th rather than 14th fret, no body "extension" to meet the neck heel or reinforcing dowel/screw), knob/jack placement, lack of mufflers, modified bracing, cosmetic/structural changes to the Space Control bridge, black side dots in the gold-sparkle fingerboard binding (um, ya blew this one, guys; the original red dots - or better still, white - would be easier to see), "long-stem" Grover Imperials (not under their control, but something I personally dislike nevertheless) - I see most of these changes as evolutionary, something that current honcho Fred Gretsch would most likely have done had the company remained in Brooklyn under family control and, taken as a whole, beneficial to the prospective player; in the grand scheme these are comparatively minor points that IME have little bearing on functionality or playability - overall I give it a 9.9/10...
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Last edited by Steve DeRosa; 07-30-2018 at 05:33 PM. Reason: typo
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  #2  
Old 06-17-2018, 04:39 AM
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Bob Womack Bob Womack is offline
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Congrats on a lovely looking guitar and the fulfillment of a dream!!!


Bob
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:10 AM
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Very cool, the only I see missing is a white Fedora to complete the look.. Congrats
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:23 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Very cool, the only thing I see missing is a white Fedora to complete the look...
Got no problem finding the white fedora, Kev - it's the gold-sparkle hatband that's giving me trouble...
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:44 AM
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Alternately you could try to find a leather hat band that matches the color of the edge trim ( I often double up as a music producer and fashion coordinator )
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:19 AM
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great looking guitar! bet it sounds good too.

i still don't own a gretsch as it is still too far down on the expense list. maybe someday.

out of curiosity, would you PM me the price you paid on this beautiful guitar?
thanks,

play music!
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Old 06-17-2018, 12:58 PM
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Congratulations on your beautiful new guitar day Steve!
I like the look of an armrest on electrics. I play kinda high on the chest ( sort of like this )
and the edges on some guitars is uncomfortable so I wear a padded elbow sleeve.

Way to go!
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Old 06-17-2018, 01:11 PM
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Hey All,

Congrats! Nice!

I too joined the Gretsch hollowbody club a couple weeks ago with this...



Black with gold hardware...

Sort of a little brother of yours...

-Ed-
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Old 06-17-2018, 03:32 PM
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That is friggin beautiful guitar. I love all things Gretsch. I have a set of Gretsch drums and a Gretsch bass. Only missing the guitar.

I wouldn't worry about the made in Japan laments. From what I've been reading they play as well or better than the vintage Brooklyn originals. Provided you can find one that is in good shape.

FWIW, I did find my dream Gretsch, a 6120DC Chet Atkins in Western Orange, about a month ago in a small shop in NYC. They were asking 3400 dollars for it. I had to leave the store immediately. I still like being married.

They had a Country Gentleman (The George Harrison guitar) of the same vintage hanging next to it. Didn't even want to know how much.

I hate being poor.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:12 PM
Steel and wood Steel and wood is offline
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Just a magnificent guitar.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:19 PM
Gmountain Gmountain is offline
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Congratulations, a beautiful guitar.

just got a Gretsch 5420 in Fairlane Blue. Great guitar, although it doesn't compare to yours.
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Old 06-17-2018, 06:22 PM
Steel and wood Steel and wood is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny K View Post
That is friggin beautiful guitar. I love all things Gretsch. I have a set of Gretsch drums and a Gretsch bass. Only missing the guitar.

I wouldn't worry about the made in Japan laments. From what I've been reading they play as well or better than the vintage Brooklyn originals. Provided you can find one that is in good shape.

FWIW, I did find my dream Gretsch, a 6120DC Chet Atkins in Western Orange, about a month ago in a small shop in NYC. They were asking 3400 dollars for it. I had to leave the store immediately. I still like being married.

They had a Country Gentleman (The George Harrison guitar) of the same vintage hanging next to it. Didn't even want to know how much.

I hate being poor.
Yep, pretty much my dream Gretsch also (6120DC Chet Atkins in Western Orange) but who doesn't love a White Falcon or a Country Gentleman?
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Old 06-17-2018, 07:54 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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In reply:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Song View Post
...I like the look of an armrest on electrics. I play kinda high on the chest sort of like this ) and the edges on some guitars are uncomfortable so I wear a padded elbow sleeve...
That's a custom-order in the pics - mine doesn't have the armrest - and I also prefer my guitars higher so I spent a couple hours yesterday modifying the matching skinny '60s-style strap to fit...

Quote:
Originally Posted by muscmp View Post
...I still don't own a Gretsch as it is still too far down on the expense list. Maybe someday.

Out of curiosity, would you PM me the price you paid on this beautiful guitar?
Check out the MIK Electromatic 5400/5600 Series hollows/semis (I also own one of the latter) - well under $1K, and if I wasn't able to find a 6136DC I was all set to buy a white one and "Falconize" it with aftermarket Gretsch parts...

Sent you a PM...

Quote:
Originally Posted by EasyEd View Post
I too joined the Gretsch hollowbody club a couple weeks ago with this...



Black with gold hardware...

Sort of a little brother of yours...
Nice - FYI Gretsch has also produced a MIJ Black Falcon model on an occasional basis, that was a near-double for yours...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny K View Post
....I wouldn't worry about the made in Japan laments. From what I've been reading they play as well or better than the vintage Brooklyn originals. Provided you can find one that is in good shape.

FWIW, I did find my dream Gretsch, a 6120DC Chet Atkins in Western Orange, about a month ago in a small shop in NYC. They were asking 3400 dollars for it. I had to leave the store immediately. I still like being married.

They had a Country Gentleman (the George Harrison guitar) of the same vintage hanging next to it. Didn't even want to know how much.

I hate being poor.
You probably read that in my earlier posts - I've been playing Gretsches for the last 55 years, and the current Japanese and Korean instruments rank among the finest ever to bear the name. That said, if you've got a jones for a '63 6120 but can't afford a vintage Brooklyn original (or even one of the circa-2010/2011 reissues at around $2K used), at under $900 street you might find this of interest:

https://www.gretschguitars.com/gear/...sby/2509300520

FYI the current "King George" '62 Gent reissue sells for around $3K street - I've seen player-grade '60s originals going for similar money, this one's built way better from the get-go, and you've got a warranty...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gmountain View Post
...Just got a Gretsch 5420 in Fairlane Blue. Great guitar, although it doesn't compare to yours.
See my comments above regarding the Korean E-matics vis-a-vis the Japanese Professional Series; I've said it before and I'll say it again: while the attention to historic detail may be better on the Pro models (the hardware is a little higher quality/more accurate in most cases, but see my original post), speaking as an owner the E-matics give up absolutely nothing in terms of QC, playability, construction, or tone (realizing, of course, that "That Great Gretsch Sound" in fact comes in a variety of flavors: Dynasonic, PAF/patent Filter'tron, Hi-Lo'tron, Super'tron, "blacktop" Filter'tron, etc. - which can be paired with a number of body types/sizes/bracing designs). Fred Gretsch played his hand well here - gigworthy instruments, at Working Joe/Jane prices, that capture the essential sonic and visual vibe of all the classic models of the '50s-60s; I use my own 5622T-CB 3-PU semi-hollow for gigs without feeling undergunned - and somehow I think Brian Setzer would approve wholeheartedly of that big Fairlane Blue hollowbody...
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Old 06-18-2018, 05:52 AM
Chickee Chickee is offline
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Wow. The more I look at the pictures of this guitar the more I appreciate what it is.
If there is a guitar hall of fame somewhere, this White Falcon would have to be it's centerpiece.
Really cool Steve.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:53 AM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chickee View Post
...If there is a guitar hall of fame somewhere, this White Falcon would have to be its centerpiece...
Jay Scott - author of the definitive work on Gretsch guitars/company history and former proprietor of Nutty Jazz Guitars - describes it as the "Faberge egg" of the guitar world, and I'd be inclined to agree when it comes to electrics: ornate and intricate, but in that classy way that only Gretsch has been able to pull off successfully; as the former owner of a Martin D-45 - and having played a number of original D'Angelico New Yorkers and a Stromberg Master 400 or three - I'd put it right up there as, to paraphrase Ibanez' terminology in a recent catalog, "guitar royalty"...
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