A semi-acoustic guitar or hollow-body electric is a type of electric guitar that originates from the 1930s. It has one or more electric pickups; this is not the same as an acoustic-electric guitar, an acoustic guitar with the addition of pickups or other means of amplification, added by either the manufacturer or the player. In the 1930s guitar players and manufacturers were attempting to increase the overall volume of the guitar, which had a hard time competing in loudness with other instruments—especially in large orchestras and jazz bands; this led makers to try a series of designs that focused on amplifying a guitar electrically through a loudspeaker. In 1936, Gibson made their first production run of electric guitars; these guitars, known as ES-150s were the first manufactured semi-acoustic guitars. Gibson based them on a standard production archtop, with f holes on the face of the guitar's soundbox; this model resembled traditional jazz guitars. The soundbox on the guitar let limited sound emit from the hollow body of the guitar.
These guitars, could be electrically amplified via a Charlie Christian pickup, a magnetic single-coil pickup that converted the energy of the vibrating strings into an electrical signal. The clear sound of the pickups made the ES series popular with jazz musicians; the first semi-acoustic guitars are thought of as an evolutionary step in the progression from acoustic guitars to full electric models. However, Gibson made the ES-150 several years after Rickenbacker made the first solid-body electric guitar; the ES series was an experiment the Gibson company used to test the potential success of electric guitars. The experiment was a successful financial venture, the ES series is referred to as the first successful electric guitar; the ES-150 was followed by the ES-250 a year in what became a long line of semi acoustics for the Gibson company. In 1949 Gibson released two new models: the ES-175 and ES-5; these guitars came standard with built-in electric pickups and are considered the first electric semi-acoustic guitars.
Prior models were not built with pickups. As the production and popularity of solid body electric guitars increased, there was still a market of guitar players who wanted to have the traditional look associated with the semi-acoustic guitars of the 1930s but wanted the versatility and comfort of new solid body guitars. Several models, including the ES-350T by Gibson, were made in the 1950s to accommodate this growing demand by including a more comfortable version of the archtop model. Gibson and other makers followed these variations with an new type of guitar that featured a block of solid wood between the front and back sections of the guitars cutaway; this guitar still functioned acoustically, but had a smaller resonant cavity inside, which makes less sound emit from the f holes. Gibson first manufactured this variant in 1958, it is referred to as a semi-hollow body guitar, because of the smaller, less open body. Rickenbacker began making semi-acoustic guitars in 1958; when the company changed ownership in 1954, they hired Roger Rossmiesl.
He developed the 300 series for Rickenbacker, a wide semi-acoustic that did not use a traditional f hole. Rather it used a sleeker dash hole on one side of the guitar, the other side had a large pickguard; this model boasted a modern design with a unique Fireglo finish. It became one of Rickenbacker's most popular series and became a strong competitor to Gibson's models. In addition to the main model variants of the guitar, Gibson made several small changes to the guitar, including a laminated top for the ES-175 model and mounted top pickups for general use on all their models, as opposed to Charlie Christian models from the 1930s. While Gibson provided many of the innovations in semi-acoustic guitars from the 1930s to the 1950s, there were various makes by other companies including a hollow archtop by Gretsch; the 6120 model by Gretsch became popular as a rockabilly model despite having no technical differences from Gibson models. Rickenbacker was a prominent maker of the semi-hollow body guitar.
Gibson, Gretsch and other companies still make semi-acoustic and semi-hollow body guitars, making slight variations on their yearly designs. The semi-acoustic and semi-hollow body guitars were praised for their clean and warm tones; this led to widespread use throughout the jazz communities in the 1930s. As new models came out with sleeker designs, the guitars began to make their way into popular circles; the guitar became used in pop and blues. The guitars sometimes produced feedback; this made the guitars unpopular for bands. As rock became more experimental in the late 60s and 70s, the guitar became more popular because players learned to use its feedback issues creatively. Semi-hollow guitars share some of the tonal characteristics of hollow guitars, such as their praised warmth and clean tone. However, the addition of the central block helps to manage feedback and allows the guitar to be played at higher gain and higher volume. Semi-hollow guitars with a central block are more durable than hollow guitars, whose sound is popular with jazz, blues and psychobilly guitarists.
Today, semi-acoustic and semi-hollow body guitars are still popular among many artists across various genres. Examples include Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, renowned jazz guitarist George Benson, John Scofield, pop rock guitartist Paul McCartney. Famous guitarists of the past who have us
Charles Henry Christian was an American swing and jazz guitarist. Christian was an important early performer on the electric guitar and a key figure in the development of bebop and cool jazz, he gained national exposure as a member of the Benny Goodman Sextet and Orchestra from August 1939 to June 1941. His single-string technique, combined with amplification, helped bring the guitar out of the rhythm section and into the forefront as a solo instrument. John Hammond and George T. Simon called Christian the best improvisational talent of the swing era. In the liner notes to the album Solo Flight: The Genius of Charlie Christian, Gene Lees wrote that "Many critics and musicians consider that Christian was one of the founding fathers of bebop, or if not that, at least a precursor to it."Christian's influence reached beyond jazz and swing. In 1990, he was inducted into the Roll Hall of Fame in the category Early Influence. In 2006 Oklahoma City renamed a street in its Bricktown entertainment district "Charlie Christian Avenue".
Christian was born in Texas. His family moved to Oklahoma City, when he was a small child, his parents were musicians. He had two brothers, born in 1906, Clarence, born in 1911. All three sons were taught music by Clarence Henry Christian. Clarence Henry was struck blind by fever, in order to support the family he and the boys worked as buskers, on what the Christians called "busts." He would have them lead him into the better neighborhoods, where they would perform for cash or goods. When Charles was old enough to go along, he first entertained by dancing, he learned to play the guitar, inheriting his father's instruments upon his death when Charles was 12. He attended Douglass School in Oklahoma City, where he was further encouraged in music by an instructor, Zelia N. Breaux. Charles wanted to play tenor saxophone in the school band; as he believed playing the trumpet would disfigure his lip, he quit to pursue his interest in baseball, at which he excelled. In a 1978 interview with Charlie Christian biographer Craig McKinney, Clarence Christian said that in the 1920s and'30s Edward Christian led a band in Oklahoma City as a pianist and had a shaky relationship with the trumpeter James Simpson.
Around 1931, he took the guitarist "Bigfoot" Ralph Hamilton and began secretly schooling the younger Charles in jazz. They taught him to solo on three songs, "Rose Room", "Tea for Two", "Sweet Georgia Brown"; when the time was right they took him out to one of the many after-hours jam sessions along "Deep Deuce", Northeast Second Street, in Oklahoma City."Let Charles play one," they told Edward. "Ah, nobody wants to hear them old blues," Edward replied. After some encouragement, he allowed Charles to play. "What do you want to play?" he asked. All three songs were big in the early 1930s, Edward was surprised that Charles knew them. After two encores, Charles had played all three, Deep Deuce was in an uproar, he coolly dismissed himself from the jam session, his mother had heard about it before he got home. Charles fathered Billie Jean Christian by Margretta Lorraine Downey of Oklahoma City. Charles soon was performing locally and on the road throughout the Midwest, as far away as North Dakota and Minnesota.
By 1936 he had become a regional attraction. He jammed with many of the big-name performers traveling through Oklahoma City, including Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum. Mary Lou Williams, the pianist for Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy, told the record producer John Hammond about Christian. In 1939, Christian auditioned for John Hammond. Goodman was the fourth white bandleader to feature black musicians in his live band: the first was Jimmy Durante, for whom the clarinetist Achille Baquet played and recorded in Durante's Original New Orleans Jazz Band. Goodman became the fourth by bringing in Teddy Wilson on piano in 1935 and Lionel Hampton on vibraphone in 1936. Goodman hired Christian to play with the newly formed Goodman Sextet in September 1939, it has been claimed that Goodman was uninterested in hiring Christian because the electric guitar was a new instrument. Goodman had been exposed to the instrument with Floyd Smith and Leonard Ware, among others, none of whom had the ability of Christian.
There is a report that Goodman unsuccessfully tried to buy out Floyd Smith's contract from Andy Kirk. However, Goodman was so impressed by Christian's playing. There are several versions of the first meeting of Christian and Goodman on August 16, 1939; the encounter that afternoon at the recording studio had not gone well. Christian recalled in a 1940 article in Metronome magazine, "I guess neither one of us liked what I played," but Hammond decided to try again—without consulting Goodman, he installed Christian on the bandstand for that night's set at the Victor Hugo restaurant in Los Angeles. Displeased at the surprise, Goodman called “Rose Room”, a tune he assumed Christian would be unfamiliar with. Unknown to Goodman, Christian had been reared on the tune, he came in with his first chorus of about twenty, all of them different, all unlike anything Goodman had heard before; that versi
The Gibson L-5 guitar was first produced in 1922 by the Gibson Guitar Corporation of Kalamazoo, under the direction of acoustical engineer and designer Lloyd Loar, has been in production since. It was considered the premier guitar of the company during the big band era, it was offered as an acoustic instrument, with electric models not made available until the 1940s. Worldwide, the L-5 was the first guitar to feature f-holes; as well as today, the construction of the L-5 is similar in construction, carving and tap-tuning, to building a cello. This guitar as well as the cello are designed in order to amplify and project the acoustic vibration of strings throughout carved and tuned woods, using f-holes as the projection points. From 1922 to 1934 the L-5 was produced with a 16" lower bout width. In 1934 the lower bout was increased to 17". Released in 1934 was the larger 18" archtop guitar named the "L5 Super", renamed the Gibson Super 400; these two ornate acoustic guitars are Gibson's top-of-the-line carved archtop instruments.
Since the 1930s there have been several other 17" archtops designed by Gibson, including variations introduced to be more affordable, less ornate models. Today the standard model of the L-5 is the L-5 CES, an electric version designed to minimize the feedback that well-carved archtops are prone to when amplified. CES stands for cutaway electric Spanish. Gibson periodically issues variations of the L-5 built in limited editions of varying size. One example is the thin-bodied "L-5 CT", which has the same overall specifications, with the exception of the body thickness; the CT model was first constructed for George Gobel. Another variation of the L-5 is the Wes Montgomery model, named for the popular 1950s and 1960s jazz guitarist; the Wes Montgomery model has a single "Classic 57" pickup in the neck position, an X-brace supporting the top, in the tradition of earlier braces used in the construction of the all-acoustic L-5s. The standard and more popular bracing is the brighter sounding "parallel bracing", considered to project the sound farther than an X-braced archtop.
The 1955 Gibson Byrdland model is yet another L-5 variation, designed by Billy Byrd and Hank Garland. The Byrdland guitar has a thin L-5-style body and came with a narrower neck that featured a short 23 1/2-inch scale length to aid in playing difficult chords. Several different L-5 hollow-body models have appeared over the years, including the L-5 Signature and the L-5 Studio; the ES-5 was the first three pickup factory. The ES-5 was inspired by the L-5, introduced in 1949 modified as the Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster. Unlike the L-5 which had a solid carved spruce top and solid maple sides and back, the ES-5 body was constructed of pressed laminated wood to prevent feedback, Gibson felt that the best tonewoods were not necessary in an electric model and pressed laminated wood would produce a more affordable to manufacture model and thus could land in much more players hands than the carved instruments; the L-5 CES was a direct electric version of the L-5, introduced in 1951. These used P-90 pickups, but used humbucker pickups from 1958 on.
From 1961 through 1969, most production L-5CES guitars featured a "florentine" cutaway, replacing the "venetian" cutaway design. The L-5 has for multiple generations been seen in the hands of many performers. Much of the RCA fifties recordings of Elvis Presley feature the sound of Scotty Moore's L-5. Nashville session guitarist Hank Garland, who recorded acclaimed jazz albums before his near-fatal automobile accident played an L-5. A little known fact - the L-5 is the guitar that Groucho Marx kept by his side throughout his private life. Though not known, Marx played the guitar well. Contemporary guitarists who play and have played an L-5 on notable recordings as well as live include Tuck Andress from Tuck and Patti, Melvin Sparks, Lee Ritenour, George Van Eps, Howard Roberts. John Mayer uses one on his 2008 live CD/DVD. Eric Clapton used an L-5 to record Reptile and used one on his 2002 live CD/DVD One More Car, One More Rider during the songs "Reptile", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Early players of the L-5 include Eddie Lang, Maybelle Carter from The Carter Family, who played her now-famous 1928 model for the majority of her career.
Maybelle Carter's L-5 is now kept in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Tennessee. Django Reinhardt played an L-5 fitted with a DeArmond pickup during his tour with Duke Ellington November 1946. Groucho Marx is seen playing his L-5 in the 1932 Marx Brothers film Horse Feathers. Clint Eastwood featured an L-5 in the 1982 movie Honkytonk Man; this had a cutaway, unlikely in a story set during the Great Depression. Comedian and singer George Gobel had a special version of the Gibson L-5 archtop guitar custom designed and gifted to him by his friend Milton Berle in 1958, the "L-5CT", featuring diminished dimensions of neck scale and body depth, befitting his own small stature, a cherry red finish. About 45 L-5CT's were produced from 1958 to 1963. Most of these were acoustic guitars; the rarest L5 model was a close relative of the L-5CT. It was called the "Crest"*, it was conceived by Gibson employee Andy Nelson in 1961. It featured the same thinline body of the L-5CT, but the new-for-1961 "florentine" cutaway shape, Super 400-style fretboard inlays, a unique knight/
A stoptail bridge used on a solid body electric guitar or archtop guitar is a specialized kind of fixed hard-tail bridge. Hard-tail bridged; the stoptail bridge consists of two parts: an adjustable fixed bridge piece, such as a Tune-o-matic and a separate stopbar tailpiece. A stopbar tailpiece is, as the name implies, a bar-shaped formed metal piece made of pot metal or zinc alloys although aluminum and brass may be used. Many manufacturers claim that the use of lightweight metals and alloys, such as aluminum, provide a greater transfer of the string's vibrational energy or "resonant quality" to the guitar body since there is less mass to excite. Aluminum was used in the early examples of stoptail bridges from the 1950s, so it carries the mantle of "vintage" vibe; the "stop" part comes from the fact that the string ends are held in place or they "stop" inside the bar. The bar is mounted on top of the guitar body by means of sturdy threaded metal studs screwed into threaded sleeves embedded into the body of the guitar.
The studs and stopbar are located behind the separate bridge piece. The stopbar can either slip onto notches on top of the studs, or be held in place using set screws. One danger to be aware of is that the stopbar can fall out of the notches when changing strings and put a ding in the guitar's finish; when it is held in place using the screws, it is sometimes referred to as a "locking stopbar". In these designs, the Tune-o-matic bridge section is usually fastened to its embedded studs by set screws; this fastening of the key components in a stoptail bridge system is claimed to impart more sustain and tone to the guitar's sound. The stopbar has holes drilled into it that allow the guitar strings to be threaded from the rear and out through the front; the string path goes over the bridge saddles and the string nut to the machine heads located on the headstock. The stopbar tailpiece is meant to be adjusted for string tension; the threaded posts can be raised to increase or relieve the string tension at pitch.
This is an important adjustment when changing the gauge of the string set on the guitar. There are practical limits to this technique: too high and you could bend the posts and the strings won't seat properly into the bridge saddles; some players prefer to tighten the stopbar all the way down in an attempt to increase sustain and tone. This requires a different stringing technique; some players, like Duane Allman, deviate from "top wrap" their strings. This is when the direction of the string path is reversed so that the strings are threaded through the leading edge of the stopbar come out the rear and wrapped over the top of the stop bar; the advantage is that strings are easier to bend because of the decreased string break angle. The "nonspeaking" string length is increased, which may have an effect on the strings' harmonic vibration; the increased tendency for the strings to produce natural harmonics may make techniques such as pinch harmonics easier to accomplish. This is the same way. Regardless of the technique used, the tension provided by tightening the strings to pitch is the only thing keeping the stopbar in place, unless it is a "locking" type.
The supposed advantages of using a stoptail bridge over a tremolo bridge are: greater ability to keep the strings in tune under the duress of hard note-bending. This is not a universally accepted opinion and guitarists will argue over the virtues of stoptail, hard-tail and tremolo bridges for as long as they all exist. Gibson Guitar Corporation guitars tend to be most associated with the stoptail bridge the iconic Gibson Les Paul model, whereas Fender Musical Instruments Corporation guitars are most thought of as vibrato bridges like the famous Stratocaster model. A variant of a stoptail bridge is the "wraparound." Wraparound style bridges are used on less costly models such as the Gibson Melody Maker and on expensive, high-end guitars like PRS Guitars. This style bridge combines the stopbar into one unit. There are a variety of wraparound bridge designs, they may have individual movable bridge saddles, a fixed compensated saddle similar to an acoustic guitar bridge, or a straight stopbar anchored in the bridge position
Barney Kessel was an American jazz guitarist born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Noted in particular for his knowledge of chords and inversions and chord-based melodies, he was a member of many prominent jazz groups as well as a "first call" guitarist for studio and television recording sessions. Kessel was a member of the group of session musicians informally known as the Wrecking Crew. Kessel began his career as a teenager touring with local dance bands; when he was 16, he started playing with the Oklahoma A & M band, "Hal Price & the Varsitonians". The band members lovingly nicknamed him "Fruitcake" because he used to practice up to 16 hours a day, he moved on to bands such as that led by Chico Marx. He established himself as a key post-Charlie Christian jazz guitarist. In 1944 he participated in the film Jammin' the Blues, which featured Lester Young, in 1947 he recorded with Charlie Parker's New Stars on the Relaxin' at Camarillo session for Dial Records, he was rated the No. 1 guitarist in Esquire, Down Beat, Playboy magazine polls between 1947 and 1960.
Kessel was known for his innovative work in the guitar trio setting. In the 1950s, he made a series of four albums called The Poll Winners with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums, he was the guitarist on the album Julie Is Her Name by Julie London, which includes the standard "Cry Me a River". Kessel did the same for Sarah Vaughan on her album Sarah + 2 recorded in 1962. Barney Kessel was the winner of the prestigious Down Beat magazine readers poll in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and played the Kay Jazz Special K8700 during that era. In 1960, Barney left. Kessel was a "first call" guitarist at Columbia Pictures during the 1960s, became one of the most in-demand session guitarists in America, is considered a key member of the group of first-call session musicians now known as The Wrecking Crew. At one point after a two and a half hour session to record a one-chord song, "The Beat Goes On", Kessel is reported to have stood up and proclaimed, "Never have so many played so little for so much." Kessel, in poor health after suffering a stroke in 1992, died of a brain tumor at his home in San Diego, California, on May 6, 2004, at the age of 80.
Kessel was married to B. J. Baker, they were divorced in 1980. Kessel's sons Dan and David became record producers and session musicians, working with Phil Spector, John Lennon and Leonard Cohen. Swing Guitars - split album shared with Oscar Moore and Tal Farlow, 4 tracks each. Barney Kessel Barney Kessel Volume 2 Barney Kessel Volume 1: Easy Like re-release of Barney Kessel with 4 tracks added on. Barney Kessel, Vol. 2: Kessel Plays Standards re-release of Barney Kessel Volume 2 with 4 tracks added on. Barney Kessel, Vol. 3: To Swing or Not to Swing Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By The Poll Winners - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Let's Cook! The Poll Winners Ride Again! - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Modern Jazz Performances from Bizet's Opera "Carmen" Modern Jazz Performances of Songs Featured in the Motion Picture "Some Like It Hot" Poll Winners Three! - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party At Contemporary The Poll Winners: Exploring the Scene! - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Workin' Out! with the Barney Kessel Quartet Barney Kessel & Harold Land: El Tigre - reissue of the 1958 Tampa album Let's Get Acquainted With Jazz...
For People Who Hate Jazz! Released under Jimmy Rowles' name. Barney Kessel & His Men: Music from Breakfast at Tiffany's Barney Kessel Plus Big Band: Bossa Nova Kessel/Jazz: Contemporary Latin Rhythms! The Fantastic Guitar of Barney Kessel: On Fire Guitar Workshop - live recording/various artists including Jim Hall, Buddy Guy, Elmer Snowden, Baden Powell Hair is Beautiful Swinging Easy! I Remember Django Limehouse Blues - with Stephane Grappelli Summertime In Montreux Blue Soul Feeling Free - with Bobby Hutcherson What's New... Barney Kessel? Reflections in Rome Kessel's Kit Guitarra: It's Modern It Swings It's Vibrant - reissue of Kessel's Kit Two Way Conversation - with Red Mitchell Just Friends The Poll Winners: Straight Ahead - with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Great Guitars - with Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis Barney Plays Kessel Great Guitars II - with Charlie Byrd and Herb Ellis By Myself Live at Sometime Soaring Poor Butterfly - with Herb Ellis Great Guitars: Straight Tracks (Concord Jazz, 1978
The Harmony Company was, in its heyday, the largest musical instrument manufacturer in the United States. They made many types of stringed instruments, including ukuleles and electric guitars, violins. Harmony was founded in 1892 by Wilhelm Schultz. In 1916, Roebuck and Co. purchased it, in part to corner the ukulele market. At the time Harmony was led by Joe Kraus, chairman until 1940. In 1928, Harmony introduced the first of many Roy Smeck models, went on to become the largest producer in the U. S, they sold 250,000 pieces in 1923 and 500,000 in 1930, including various models of guitars and mandolins. In the late 1930s, the firm began making violins again after a 19-year hiatus, they bought brand names from the bankrupt Oscar Schmidt Co.—La Scala and Sovereign. They sold not only Harmony products, but instruments under the Sears name, a variety of trade names—Vogue, Johnny Marvin, Monterey and others. In 1940, after Kraus had a conflict with management, he left, but bought enough stock to restart the company independently.
Between 1945 and 1975, the Chicago firm mass-produced about ten million guitars. The company reduced their output over the years focusing on student models sold through JCPenney; the Harmony brand peaked in 1964-1965, selling 350,000 instruments, but low-end foreign competition led to the company's demise 10 years later. The pickups on all electric guitars and basses that Harmony produced were manufactured by Rowe Industries Inc. of Toledo, Ohio. Many of the instrument amplifiers badged with the Harmony name were manufactured by Sound Projects Company of Cicero, Illinois; the Harmony Guitar Company ceased in 1975, sold the Harmony name. In the early 2000s, an unrelated company, the Westheimer Corp. based in Lake Barrington, Illinois imported "reissue" Harmony guitars. In 2018, BandLab Technologies claimed to be "relaunching" the Harmony brand with a new series of electric guitars and guitar amps. Harmony Company models Oscar Schmidt Inc. St. Louis MusicRelated brandsStella Silvertone Airline Acoustic Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia.
New York: Chartwell Books. 2011. ISBN 978-0-7858-3571-4. Harmony Westheimer Guitars Company Website Harmony at National Music Museum
Gretsch White Falcon
The Gretsch White Falcon is an electric hollow-body guitar introduced in 1954 by Gretsch. This guitar was created as a "showpiece" to exhibit the craft of Gretsch's luthiers and demonstration representative, Jimmie Webster, who created it for the 1954 NAMM Show; the guitar went on sale the following year. Since it has undergone various changes and is still being made today; as of 2013, Gretsch offers a number of guitars in its "Falcon" series, including a custom-built replica of the original, priced in the US at $12,000. The White Falcon's distinctive appearance is owed to its 17-inch size and its hardware -- Jimmie Webster's 1954 version had triple binding, gold-plated hardware, an ebony fretboard with mother-of-pearl inlays, an eye-catching "Cadillac G" tailpiece. In early 1954, Jimmie Webster sought to design a guitar to improve upon the Gibson Super 400, he wanted a "Dream Guitar," and gained his inspiration by walking through the Gretsch factory watching the construction of the many diverse musical instruments the company produced.
From the banjo production line, Webster recalled the engraved pearl inlays that adorned the fretboard and headstock. Many of Gretsch's drums were covered with thick sparkly gold plastic that could be used as binding on guitars; the White Falcon was unveiled at the NAMM show in July 1954. It was displayed as "the guitar of the future," but Gretsch had no plans to manufacture the model, it was supposed to be a showpiece, much like GM's Motorama "Dream Cars" of the day. The high interest from sales representatives led Gretsch to rush the guitar into production, the first White Falcons were sold in 1955, identified as the model 6136; as the company's new high-end guitar, Gretsch marketed it as "the finest guitar we know how to make – and what a beauty!" The White Falcon cost $600. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Gretsch tweaked the Falcon; the block inlays on the ebony fretboard were replaced with half-moon shaped inlays in 1957, the original single-coil DeArmond Dynasonic pickups were replaced with Filter'Tron humbuckers in 1958, that same year the Melita bridge was replaced with a Space Control bridge -- the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece was standard starting in 1962.
A stereo version became available as well. It switched to a twin-cutaway body beginning in 1962. Fred Gretsch, the company's owner at the time, retired in 1967 and sold his company to the Baldwin Piano Company. Baldwin would have trouble understanding guitars, which would cause the guitar to lose its popularity; this was not good for the company. The deteriorating Baldwin Manufacturing experienced two destructive fires at its new Arkansas plant in 1973. Gretsch limped through the 1970s and closed in the 1980s. In 1989 Fred Gretsch III began making guitars again; these instruments are based including the White Falcon. Models are now available commemorating every phase in the design of the White Falcon. Features are reproduced accordingly. Modern Falcons are available in black and silver, include a Stephen Stills signature model, as well as a green Bono Irish Falcon that incorporates the original vertical headstock logo and engraved block inlays with the post-1958 electronics configuration and features "The Goal Is Soul" silkscreened onto the pickguard.
Gretsch added a Brian Setzer Black Phoenix model to its lineup. Like Brian Setzer's signature Hot Rod 6120, the Black Phoenix features stripped-down electronics that consist of two pickups, a selector switch, a volume knob. In January 2013, Gretsch introduced the Billy Duffy signature model, replicating the Baldwin-era design with silver binding and chrome hardware. Bacon, Tony. Electric Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia. Thunder Bay. ISBN 978-1-57145-281-8; the Gretsch Pages: White Falcon models The Gretsch Pages: History6136 variantsBrian Setzer Black Falcon Bono Irish Falcon Silver Falcon Black Falcon with Bigsby