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Top 10 Guitars | Gretsch White Falcon & National Style O

Posted by Laura Bulbeck

This week we’re featuring two great guitars – both with distinctive styles: the flashy Gretsch White Falcon and the metallic National Style O.

guitar 2.pngGretsch White Falcon

Founded by Friedrich Gretsch in New York in 1883, Gretsch Guitars is best known for its instruments of the 1950s and 1960s. By far the flashiest was the White Falcon.

Showstopping Design

Originally a promotional item, the White Falcon was so spectacular that it was demanded as a production model. In 1955, the ultra- expensive ($600) White Falcon was commercially introduced; this mono guitar featured a hollow, single-cutaway 17-in (43-cm) wide body, twin DeArmond pickups, Cadillac-inspired tailpiece and
 a falcon-emblazoned pickguard. Lacquered in white and trimmed in gold, complemented by 24-K hardware, this was a showpiece.


While maintaining its opulent appearance, there were a number of variations: in 1959, a stereo version; the 1963 model was a double-cutaway; and in 1965, a number of knobs and switches were added, affording access to new tonal variations.

Guitar Spec

Pickups: Two

Controls: Three-way selector, volume for each pickup, master volume, master tone

Characteristics: Flashiness, classic Gretsch twang

Played by: Stephen Stills, John Frusciante, Neil Young

Image of Gretsch White Falcon courtesy gretschguitars.com


db0e5b_1b131105ca7344b2a05c5a59ec7a8568.jpgNational Style O

In the mid-1920s, the guitarist George Beauchamp had an idea for an ‘ampliphonic system’, which he took to John Dopyera and his brother Rudy, Czechoslovakian immigrants known for their sonic improvement of banjos. From this meeting came the National Triple Resonator – a guitar amplified by three metal cones and enhanced by a metal body – which debuted in 1927, followed several years later by a single-cone version, the Style O.

The Construction

On a tri-cone guitar, three thin, 6-in (15-cm) aluminium speaker cones are arranged in a triangle. A T-shaped bridge connects the centre of each cone. The strings’ vibrations excite the saddle
and the bridge and cones vibrate, creating
 a sweet, sustaining tone well suited to Hawaiian-style slide guitar.

Single-resonator models feature a 912-in (24-cm) cone topped with a maple
 ‘biscuit’; the strings pass over a wooden saddle attached to the biscuit. The 
design makes a single-resonator guitar a louder instrument than the tri-cone version.

Guitar Spec

Construction: Brass alloy body, mahogany neck, cone resonator

Characteristics: Loud, aggressive tone

Played by: Son House, Tampa Red, Bukka White

Image of Style O courtesy nationalguitars.com


If the White Gretsch Falcon is your favourite make, we have a fantastic foiled notebook featuring one on its cover, available in two different sizes: standard journal and pocket journal. If you love all things guitar, we also have a book called Rock Guitar Heroes – jam-packed with fascinating text and photos of guitar-playing legends – available here.


  • Visit the official Gretsch website here
  • Visit the official National Guitars website here
  • What does a Gretsch White Falcon sound like? See it being played on this YouTube video
  • Blues musicians like Son House love National Guitars – read all about it here

Topics: Flame Tree Music, Classic Guitars, Flame Tree Pro

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