The craftsmen in the Gretsch Custom Shop have taken yet another step towards making the most historically accurate Gretsch guitars they can.
After almost a year of research, development and production, new White Penguin and White Falcon guitars coming out of the Custom Shop will feature redesigned vintage correct Cadillac G tailpieces.
Gretsch Master Builder Stephen Stern and his team searched far and wide for an original tailpiece that could serve as a template for the new models.
“I’ve been changing some of our parts to be more vintage correct to elevate our guitars to a higher level,” Stern said. “I’ve been wanting to work on the tailpiece for a long time. The hardest part was finding an original; that took a lot of time.”
Stern thought he had someone willing to let him borrow an original tailpiece in early 2014, but that fell through once the Gretsch enthusiast got nervous about lending the rare part out.
Luckily, Stern heard from Naoaki Toyofuku of Thrill on the String, a dealer in Japan with an incredible collection of vintage Gretsch guitars.
“He was kind enough to send me a couple tailpieces almost a year ago,” Stern explained. “I had to get them drawn up by our research and development department, and then we got a 3D print of the parts. Then, it was off to the manufacturer.”
What came out of the process is a non-symmetrical long and short version of the tailpiece that will go on the White Falcons and White Penguins, in addition to a symmetrical long and short version for Falcons and Penguins that are in custom colors. All are vintage correct.
“But if a customer wants to order a White Penguin with a symmetrical tailpiece, for example, we can do it,” Stern was quick to add.
Last year, Stern finished work on new vintage-correct knobs for White Falcons and Penguins, and the prodigious luthier said he is not yet finished in his quest for authenticity.
“The knobs were a pretty big project, and I have something that I’m working on for next year, but we’ll keep that under wraps for the time being,” he said. “We’ve gotta save some surprises!”