The Model 6136, or The White Falcon, would be Gretsch’s most visually impressive and expensive guitar produced in the 1950s. Built on the outline of a 17-inch archtop, it was a 2 ¾-inch deep single cutaway electric with a spruce top and maple back and sides. With a snow white finish, 24 carat gold plating on the hardware and gold sparkle binding (sourced from Gretsch’s drum division), the guitar was designed for the professional player who wanted visual impact when on stage. The guitar retailed for $600 in 1955, and it is believed that fewer than 300 of these instruments were produced between 1955 and 1959. The Gretsch White Falcon would become iconic when adopted by Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield, helping to give their performances and recordings a unique timbre on Stills’ solos.
David Gilmour purchased this guitar from Guitar Trader in Red Bank, New Jersey, on 24th November 1980 and kept it for studio use. The accompanying photograph from February 2008 shows Gilmour playing the guitar at his Astoria houseboat studio for a television pilot arranged by Pink Floyd bassist Guy Pratt.
Gilmour told us: In the early 60s in London, on Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road, there were various guitar shops. I think the one called Sound City on Shaftesbury Avenue had a Gretsch White Falcon in the window for years and years, and guitar players would walk past that window and look at that guitar. I think it was over £600 in the early 60s, when a brand new Stratocaster was about £170 - this really was three to four times as expensive as the other most desired guitar that you could buy, and because of that cost it just seemed to sit there for years in the window, and I always loved that White Falcon.