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White Falcon, ’58

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White, Serial # 26356.

The exciting changes in the popular music of the 1950s also called for electrifying transformations in musical instruments.  The electric guitar was increasingly prominent, so the top guitar companies battled to come up with the most innovative and attractive designs. The Fred Gretsch Company led the way as far as bright colors and fancy appointments go. Gretsch achieved the pinnacle of luxury and style with its piece de resistance the White Falcon. The 1955 Gretsch catalog stated that “Cost was never considered in the planning of this guitar. We were building an instrument for the artist-player whose caliber justifies and demands the utmost in striking beauty, luxurious styling, and peak tonal performance and who is willing to pay the price.”

 

The White Falcon was designed by Gretsch special representative, guitar promoter and demonstrator Jimmie Webster.  Webster drew ideas from a variety of sources including the gaudy Bacon and Day banjos of the Jazz Age.  The 17” wide body was finished in luminous white with gold sparkle binding. The hardware was gold with fancy jeweled knobs, Grover Imperial tuners, and a striking new tailpiece utilizing a V shape similar to the one used in the ‘50s Cadillac logo.  The gold pickguard was engraved with a flying Falcon.

 

The 1958 White Falcon pictured this month has features typical to that year’s model including:  a gold sparkle horizontal headstock logo inlaid in the white Nitron plastic veneer (changed from the original vertical logo in’58), Neo Classic thumbprint fingerboard inlays in an ebony board (changed from the original feather engraved hump-block inlays in ‘58), Patent Applied For Filtertron humbucking pickups (replacing DeArmond single coils), and a gold Space Control bridge (replacing the original Melita).

 

A New White Falcon sold for $675 in 1958.

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