The Current's Guitar Collection: G. Love, Gretsch Rancher Falcon acoustic guitars

G Love plays his Gretsch Rancher Falcon acoustic guitar
G. Love plays his Gretsch Rancher Falcon acoustic guitar in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
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Guitar Collection: G. Love on Gretsch guitars and more
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When G. Love visited The Current studio for a solo session hosted by Mac Wilson, we were struck by his Gretsch guitars, finished in shimmering white. With a little bit of time before going in the air, we got a chance to talk to him about those guitars and more.

Listen to the conversation above, and read a transcript and watch performance videos below.

Today we're really struck by these Gretsch guitars that you've got, a six- and a twelve-string. When did you get these and when did you start playing Gretsch guitars?

I had a signature series on Gretsch; it was kind of the reissue of the '69 Corvette; that was an electric guitar. And so I was working with them for about five years, and during that time — I mean, they're a great company — and they sent a lot, not a lot of guitars, but a bunch of guitars my way to try out. The white Falcon electric is one of their real signature series, the white Falcon Gretsch, and they had made the white Falcon acoustic, which is this one I have right here. Of course, I've graffitied all over it, but it's a pretty striking guitar because it's white with gold inlay. It sounds really good; it's got a great pickup system in it, and it's kind of great out of the box.

So anyway, I saw they had the 12 string, so I asked them could they send me the 12 string? And so…

[strum]

That's the 12 string in open C. But yeah, it's the white Falcon acoustic 12 string. Again, it's a white guitar with gold inlay, so it's a pretty beautiful, striking guitar. The Gretsch acoustics really sound great.

That's cool. Had you had a chance to try these out first, or did they just send them to you thinking, "Hey man, you might like these"?

I thought the white one could be cool because I like to change up the look of some of the acoustics that I use, and so I just wanted to try it, so they sent it and I was pleased with it.

It's got a different thing than like, say, this Martin over here, which is the studio guitar here at The Current, because it's painted with a heavier paint, so it's a different type of thing. And I actually don't know if that changes the sound at all, but to me, it feels different than having a regular wood guitar that's just stained.

It does seem like when there's a heavier finish on the guitar, there is sort of a dampening effect.

Right, yeah. So anyways, yeah, I like them. To tell you the truth, the six-string is really like my bus guitar — it's the guitar we'll have on the tour bus to jam with after the show. And just to tell you the truth, my older son was packing up our gig in Hawaii — and I didn't have my regular crew, I had my family crew — and he put my Gretsch 12 string in my Martin Jumbo case and the Jumbo in the 12-string case, so I showed up for tour with the right case and the wrong guitar!

And so I didn't have my regular six-string, so I've been using the White Falcon for press. And like I said, it's a good workhorse and it sounds great. [plays a run]

You mention it's a good workhorse guitar; have you been writing a lot of the new songs on this instrument?

Man, I don't want to ruin the story, but no! (laughs) The other acoustics that I generally use for my touring, I have four guitars that I do my full-on acoustic show with, and one of them is this white Falcon 12-string, the Gretsch, and then I use a D-35 Martin, the Johnny Cash model, which is a one of a kind because I had them put the white pick guard on it, and the Johnny Cash model has the black pick guard on a black guitar. It's pretty slick looking. And then a Martin called "The Martin," which is like a Jumbo. And then I use a National tri-cone resonator as well. So those are my four main, if you're going to come see a G Love solo acoustic show, you might see me play those four guitars.

If I'm going into the studio — for instance on the new record, The Juice — I did a lot of the writing on those two Martins. And I also do a lot of writing on my 1939 Dobro. But I have a lot of other guitars, too.

I don't really collect guitars, except for old parlor guitars that you can find in the back alleys, deserted in music stores, and then you say, "How much is this?" and they say, "That's 200 bucks, man," and I say, "I'll take it." Or they could say, "Oh, that's a thousand bucks" and I'll say, "Oh, man, this must be Nashville!" (laughs)

But yeah, I like those old parlor guitars, the kind of little ones, like the Stellas and the Kays and the Silvertones. So I have a lot of those around the house. There's literally guitars in every corner, so when I'm going to jam, I always pick up a different one.

But then, like, for the road guitars when I'm performing, I'm using more of a professional guitar, something like one of these Martins or a Gretsch. Those companies, and Gibson as well, have been very, very supportive of me throughout the years, so I'm lucky enough to say all my most expensive guitars I get for free, and the cheap ones I buy! (laughs) And they all get played, they're not meant to sit on the wall.

So the four different guitars that you bring to your shows, they give you different things tonally, but are you also using alternate tunings?

I do, yeah. I tend to keep my 12 string in open C, which is a tuning that Leadbelly used a lot on a lot of his recordings. And it's a very cool tuning because it's so low, that low C. [strums]

Then I use a tuning that Keb' Mo' showed me. [strums] This is a really cool tuning, it's drop D, but then you capo up to the second fret and you leave the E string un-capo'ed, so your'e playing in the position of D, but it's really E. So it's a — [plays] — very cool tuning. And I use that for a song from my new record called "SoulBQue."

And then I use standard tuning. And then I use open D tuning, so this song I'll play today in open D, actually I have this Martin here which is the studio guitar which is just a nice little basic Martin dreadnought but sounds great. Anyway, I play this in open D, but I'll play it — I don't really know what this is called — I won't capo it but I'll just play it so I'm playing it the key of G. [plays a blues riff]

And then I can use that high D, which is the 5, you know what I mean? And then I use open G sometimes.

And yeah — that's about it! (laughs)

External Links

Gretsch Rancher Falcon (six string) official site

G. Love - official site

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3 Photos

  • G. Love performs in The Current studio
    G. Love likes to decorate his six-string Gretsch Rancher Falcon with graffiti. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • G. Love performs in The Current studio
    G. Love playing the 12-string Gretsch Rancher Falcon guitar. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
  • G. Love performs in The Current studio
    G. Love performs in The Current studio on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (Mary Mathis | MPR)