Gretsch Collaboration with Guns N’ Roses’ Richard Fortus Lifts Off with New Semi-Hollowbody Falcon Signature Models

Richard Fortus
(Image credit: Gretsch)

Happy birthday to Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus!

A member of the hard rock titans for the best part of two decades Fortus’s long and varied career has seen him perform with a diverse range of artists including Thin Lizzy, Psychedelic Furs, and The Dead Daisies.

As one of the industry’s most prolific session guitarists Fortus has lent his superlative talents to countless projects over the years. From some of the world’s biggest names in music such as Enrique Iglesias and Rihanna to film scores, commercials and video games – he’s done it all!

While being immersed in such a broad variety of gigs over the years, Fortus has constantly strived to refine his electric guitar tone, and his new Gretsch signature Falcons – the white, Bigsby-equipped G6636T-RF and black, V-stoptail G6636-RF – are the culmination of a lifetime's experience in music.

These Falcons are not just any Gretsch semi-hollowbody electric.

“Gretsch is, in many ways, the tone of rock ‘n’ roll for me,” says Fortus. “From classic Duane Eddy [and] Cliff Gallup to Malcolm Young – it really encapsulates rock ‘n’ roll.”

With a solid bottom end and sparkling, chime-y top end Fortus’s classic Gretsch Filter’Tron sound sits around Slash’s more midrange-prominent vocal guitar tone, allowing each to occupying their own space within Guns N’ Roses’ unique sonic picture.

Far from being off-the-shelf parts the pickups in the new Gretsch Richard Fortus Signature Falcons are the result of painstaking experimentation.

“Gretsch were in rehearsals with us, and they were winding pickups on the spot while I’m trying them out,” Fortus told Guitarist magazine. “We had a cycle of four different guitars, as well as my normal live guitars to compare them to. Plus, when you’re on in-ears, you’re listening under a microscope. You can hear every detail.

Richard Fortus performing with Gun N' Roses

A Gretsch player for many years, Richard Fortus has long been using Falcons to perform with Gun N' Roses. (Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)

“Our front-of-house engineer was in the other room in a control room environment, so he was listening too and giving us feedback. We’d go back and forth zeroing in on the perfect tone. Gretsch were amazing. They were as tenacious as I was in trying to find the perfect blend.”

The team eventually settled on a unique design incorporating elements of vintage-style PAF and Filter’Tron pickups. Consequently, this versatile humbucker is able to produce both iconic tones. 

“When you roll the volume down to around seven, you’re very much in classic Filter’Tron territory," says Fortus. "And as you bring the volume up you get more of that round PAF thing.”

Here’s a quick rundown of specs for each of the two models…

G6636T-RF Richard Fortus Signature Falcon

BODY

  • Arched laminated maple top and back
  • 1.75" (44.45 mm) depth
  • Center block construction
  • Vintage White gloss finish

NECK

  • Maple set-neck construction with U-profile
  • 25.5" (648 mm) scale length
  • 22-fret ebony fingerboard with 12" (305 mm) radius
  • Pearloid Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays

ELECTRONICS

  • Dual custom wound Filter'Tron pickups with nickel covers
  • Master volume with treble bleed
  • Master tone with no-load pot

HARDWARE

  • Bigsby B6CP
  • TonePros TP6R bridge with roller saddles
  • Grover Rotomatic die-cast tuners
  • Nickel finish

G6636-RF Richard Fortus Signature Falcon

BODY

  • Arched laminated maple top and back
  • 1.75" (44.45 mm) depth
  • Center block construction
  • Black gloss finish

NECK

  • Maple set-neck construction with U-profile
  • 24.6" (625 mm) scale length
  • 22-fret ebony fingerboard with 12" (305 mm) radius
  • Pearloid Neo-Classic Thumbnail inlays

ELECTRONICS

  • Dual custom wound Filter'Tron pickups with nickel covers
  • Master volume with treble bleed
  • Master tone with no-load pot

HARDWARE

  • V-stoptail
  • TonePros TP6R Tune-O-Matic bridge
  • Grover Rotomatic die-cast tuners
  • Nickel finish

Visit the Gretsch website (opens in new tab) for more information.