A stunning 1958 Gretsch 6136
White Falcon, serial #26356.
The exciting changes in the popular
music of the 1950s also called for
electrifying transformations in musical
instruments. As the electric guitar became
increasingly prominent, the top guitar companies
battled to come up with the most
innovative and attractive designs.
As far as bright colors and fancy appointments,
the Fred Gretsch Company led the
way. Gretsch achieved the pinnacle of luxury
and style with its pièce de résistance, the White
Falcon. The 1955 Gretsch catalog announced
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.”
Gretsch’s special representative—the
guitar promoter and demonstrator Jimmie
Webster—designed the White Falcon.
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 gold-plated hardware
included fancy jeweled knobs, Grover
Imperial tuners, and a striking new tailpiece
with a V-shape similar to the one used in
the ’50s Cadillac logo. The gold pickguard
was engraved with a flying Falcon.
LEFT: Designed by Jimmie Webster, the White
Falcon represented the apex of the Gretsch line.
With its six wheel saddles and threaded mounting
bar, Webster’s Space Control bridge allowed
a player to adjust string-to-string spacing to
accommodate fingerstyle or plectrum technique.
MIDDLE: The White Falcon’s tailpiece bore
more than a passing resemblance to a ’50s Cadillac
logo. RIGHT: In 1958, a horizontal Gretsch
logo replaced the original vertical one.
This 1958 White Falcon has features
typical of that year’s model—a gold sparkle
horizontal headstock logo inlaid in the white
Nitron plastic veneer (changed from the
original vertical logo in ’58), Neo Classic
thumbprint inlays in an ebony fretboard
(changed from the original feather engraved
hump-block inlays in ’58), Patent Applied For
Filter’Tron 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. This guitar’s current value is about
You’ll find lots of compelling photos and
lore in 50 Years of Gretsch Electrics: Half a
Century of White Falcons, Gents, Jets, and
Other Great Guitars by Tony Bacon, The Guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company
by Jay Scott, and The Gretsch Book—A
Complete History of Gretsch Electric Guitars
by Tony Bacon and Paul Day.
Original price: $675 in 1958
Current estimated market value: $20,000
Dave ’s Guitar Shop
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended
by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally
and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text