August 8, 2013
By Morgan Brunner
The coolest new guitars on the block are Gretsch’s new “center-block” models. Each distinctively designed instrument boasts “That Great Gretsch Sound” with a solid new sonic advantage in the form of a special spruce center-block design.
These new Gretsch guitars include the G6137TCB Panther Center-Block (pictured), and the G6139CB Falcon™ Center-Block Single-Cutaway and G6139T-CBDC Falcon Center-Block Double Cutaway models, with more to come. All are distinguished by classic pickups and special “thinline”-style bodies (1 ¾” deep, which is unusually thin for a Gretsch hollow-body guitar).
The most distinctive feature, however, is the interior solid spruce center block that runs the length of these thinner bodies. Its presence imparts a twofold sonic advantage.
First, the block’s mass and positioning inside the guitar makes the instrument especially “high-gain friendly.” In other words, whereas traditional Gretsch hollow-body guitar design never really lent itself to especially hot high-gain signals, the new center-block design does. The center block design delivers the best of both worlds, resulting in great Gretsch hollow-body character with joyously screaming high-gain pickup tone.
Second, the center block minimizes the “howl” common to hollow-body guitars and enables much greater control over the kind of feedback guitarists like to use from time to time. The important thing here is that we’re not talking about the kind of wildly uncontrollable feedback that players don’t want, but rather a design that allows control over the artistic use of feedback that players use as a desirable part of their sonic vocabulary. A solid center bock works wonders for that.
Why spruce? It’s simple—as a guitar wood, spruce imparts a lively tone, and it’s not at all heavy. In fact, the combination of the solid spruce center block and the thinline body style results in a Gretsch guitar light in weight and eminently comfortable to wield.