How does the Players Edition upgrade stack up on the brand’s sleek 6-string “Cadillac”?
Bridge pickup, then middle position, then neck.
All guitar controls at max. Recorded through the boost side of a SoundBrut DrVa MkII, a Ground Control Tsukuyomi mid boost, a SolidGoldFx Electroman MkII, and an Anasounds Element into a Goodsell Valpreaux 21 miked with a Royer R-121 going into an Audient iD44 then into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Matchless style and mojo. Plays, feels, and sounds great.
Expensive. Pickups can feel limited compared to Full’Trons. Some may prefer a tone knob for each pickup.
Gretsch G6636TSL Players Edition Silver Falcon
When you think of iconic electric guitars, three biggies pop to mind—the Strat, the Tele, and the Les Paul. But for many, a hollow or semi-hollow Gretsch isn’t far behind. From Bo Diddley to Gene Vincent, Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, George Harrison, Neil Young, Brian Setzer, and more, countless legends have donned these inimitable outlines to create some of the coolest music in our lexicon. And within Gretsch’s own hallowed halls, the Silver and White Falcon are perhaps the most elegantly head-turning—with their sparkle binding and victory-winged headstock rendering them the 6-string equivalent of a sleek ’50s Cadillac. The new G6636TSL Silver Falcon gets all this, plus the modernized Players Edition treatment.
Vintage Minus the Hassle
For a brand whose products are so influential and distinctive, guitar building must often feel like a catch-22—how do you honor a legacy while also appealing to players whose needs and reference points aren’t tied to vintage specs and appointments? Gretsch’s Players Edition aims to bridge that gap with features like Bigsby vibratos modded to facilitate no-fuss stringing, Gotoh locking tuners, Grover strap locks, and treble-bleed master volumes. Appointments particular to this model include a 1 3/4"-deep, semi-hollow maple-laminate body with a slightly smaller-than-vintage 16" width at the lower bout. Unlike 25 1/2"-scale vintage-spec Falcons, the G6636TSL mates Gretsch’s shorter 24.6" scale to a 12"-radius ebony fretboard with thumbnail markers and 22 medium-jumbo frets. To offer a measure of feedback control at high volumes, there’s also a chambered-spruce center block.
In terms of our review model’s craftsmanship and setup, I found little to knock: The action is nice and low, the fretwork is very good, though not completely free of roughness at the edges, internal woodwork is neat and clean, and all aesthetic touches are executed with aplomb.
The Edition/Addition Dilemma
Three years ago, I reviewed the G6609TFM Players Edition Broadkaster—a less-flashy instrument with the same scale, body style, woods, and controls as this Silver Falcon. To help me compare the Broadkaster’s then-new Full’Tron pickups to the High Sensitive Filter’Trons that are synonymous with the classic Gretsch sound, the company also sent an otherwise identically equipped G6636T Players Edition Falcon. The more I compared the two, the more surprised I was that I gravitated toward the Broadkaster. Low-output, vintage-spec pickups are the foundational sounds my ears tend to prefer. Yet, time and again, I found myself favoring the Full’Trons’ more powerful and mid-enhanced tones over the traditional Filter’Trons.
The Silver Falcon reviewed here is stocked with the vintage-style “High Sensitive” Filter’Tron pickups rather than the Full’Trons. Then, as now, I enjoy their gritty, mid-scooped tones. But I found myself wishing Gretsch had outfitted this guitar with the Full’Trons, which, to me, are more fitting for the Professional Series/Players Edition appellation.
It’s not so much that it’s a “vintage vs. modern” thing. Gretsch describes Filter’Tron pickups as being a 7 (on a 10-point scale) for “power and sonic size,” and 9 out of 10 for “articulation, clarity, and dynamic range.” Full’Trons, meanwhile, are rated 8 in both categories. Obviously words and numbers are just that, but what I noticed as I tested the Silver Falcon through various amps—from silver-panel Vibrolux Reverb and Vibro Champ combos to a Goodsell Valpreaux 21 and a Jaguar HC50—was that the High Sensitive Filter’Trons are much more, well, sensitive—but in a different way from what one might expect. They are perfectly capable of prototypical Gretsch sounds—tough bridge-pickup bite and snarl, chimey two-pickup jangle, and warm jazz are all there for the taking. But in addition to their slightly nasal sound, are also apt to yield somewhat brittle highs and high mids, particularly under heavy attack. (And this is coming from a guy who loves buzzing-bee fuzz pedals and jagged vintage Fender Jaguar sounds.) Full’Trons, meanwhile, are capable of traditional Filter’Tron tones plus many others that modern players might find more malleable and versatile.
I’ve lusted after a great Gretsch semi-hollow for a long time—in fact, I’m still kicking myself for not buying that Broadkaster (though I have a hunch Santa might right that wrong for me in the next couple weeks). Ever since reviewing it, I’ve been mystified by the lack of public accolades for its stellar Full’Tron pickups, and the fact that they’re not currently available on any other Gretsch models. The Gretsch G6636TSL Silver Falcon could be all the wonderful things it is and more with the added clarity, airiness, and flexibility of those Full’Trons. To be sure, though, it still plays, looks, and sounds damn good.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
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Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA
MLA Pedals AC/OD - Music & Demo by A. Barrero
Energy is in everything. Something came over me while playing historical instruments in the Martin Guitar Museum.
When I’m filming gear demo videos, I rarely know what I’m going to play. I just pick up whatever instrument I’m handed and try to feel where it wants to go. Sometimes I get no direction, but sometimes, gear is truly inspiring—like music or emotion falls right out. I find this true particularly with old guitars. You might feel some vibe attached to the instrument that affects what and how you play. I realize this sounds like a hippie/pseudo-spiritual platitude, but we’re living in amazing times. The Nobel Prize was just awarded to a trio of quantum physicists for their experiments with quantum entanglement, what Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Mainstream science now sounds like magic, so let’s suspend our disbelief for a minute and consider that there’s more to our world than what’s on the surface.
I recently spent a day filming a factory tour of Martin Guitars in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After we wrapped, we discovered that Martin has this amazing museum that showcases more than 170 historic instruments. We decided to meet at the museum at 7:45 a.m. the next morning to film a few choice pieces before catching our flight in not-too-near Newark, New Jersey, that afternoon.
These were not ideal conditions for a performance. Neither my brain nor my fingers work well before 10 a.m., plus I hadn’t slept well the night before. Even so, we loaded into the museum, met the curators, set up the shoot, and began rolling by 8 a.m.
The first guitar was an 1834 gut string, perhaps the oldest Martin in existence. It was beautiful but had some tuning issues and did not project very well, so playing it felt more like work than music.
Next was a prewar D-45 worth over $500k. The strings were ancient with that rusty feel, like you’ll need a tetanus shot after playing it. I’m sure it sounded great, but I was tired and thinking more about making our flight than playing guitar. Wonderful instrument but uninspired performance on my end.
Then, I played a 1953 D-18 coined “Grandpa” by Kurt Cobain. I picked up the deeply sacred D-18, and my hands went to an A minor. This sounds like hype, but honestly, I closed my eyes and connected with a deep, beautiful sadness. The feeling was palpable as soon as you picked it up. This guitar pretty much played itself, leading me to a sad version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I don’t know if it was any good, but I know I felt something deeply. That’s why I started playing guitar in the first place. I don’t have to play well to feel moved.
I later talked to the museum director, who told me the D-18 was given to Cobain by his 1991 girlfriend Mary Lou Lord. Cobain played it on tour before and after Nirvana’s Nevermind. It was returned to her after Cobain married. Shortly after that, Mary Lou loaned the guitar to Elliott Smith, who played it until his death.
When I’m sad, I make myself play guitar to feel better, because it usually works. This 70-year-old guitar spent a lot of time literally pressed up against the hearts and chests of two artists who were so tormented by their emotions that they ended their lives. That’s heavy. You can’t explain those feelings that make the hair stand up on your arm, or when you feel like crying for no reason … but hitting that A minor made me feel it.
We had to split for the airport, so Chris Kies and Perry Bean started packing up. As they did, I saw this cute little 1880 Martin 000 that belonged to Joan Baez. In the photo next to it, Joan looks like my mom in the ’60s. I asked the curator if I could play it, and Chris grabbed his phone to do a quick Insta video. I swear there was a happy vibe coming off this tiny guitar. It felt like watching my mom dance—like a warm hug I needed after Cobain’s D-18.
In Chinese culture, there is a superstition that antiques may hold evil spirits, and chi (energy) transfer can bring this negativity into your home. Feng shui is all about objects carrying good or bad chi. Here’s how I see it: All matter is made of atoms. Atoms contain energy. Ergo, everything contains energy, or, more aptly, everything is energy. Ever walk into a room and feel powerful emotion: joy, sadness, fear, tranquility? That’s energy. We all have felt energy coming from people, places, and things. But that’s what I love about old guitars: Their atoms spent the first few hundred years as a tree in the forest connected to nature. Then, they’re turned into an instrument that makes people happy or consoles them when they are sad. That’s the kind of chi I want around me.