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Pat Smear's Gretsch White Falcon Dave Grohl plays in the Foo Fighters Monkey Wrench video is up for auction in the UK

Gretsch
(Image credit: Gardiner Houlgate Auctions )

Crimson Guitars' Ben Crowe got a look at the Gretsch White Falcon Pat Smear (and Dave Grohl) used in the Foo Fighters during the Colour And The Shape era. It's about to go up for auction at Gardiner Houlgate in the UK on 7 September and Foo Fighters fans may recognise it as the guitar Dave Grohl plays in the Monkey Wrench video from the band's second album. 

It was also used by its owner Smear on the Pat Smear on The Colour And The Shape album recordings and live on tour. 

Smear had the Bigsby removed for tuning stability reasons by Nirvana and early Foo Fighters guitar tech Earnie Bailey. He then fitted an original 1950s Gretsch Cadillac tailpiece (found by Pat in a junk shop).

 ’The Gretsch White Falcon was purchased used in 1996 by Pat somewhere in Los Angeles", Bailey told Gardiner Houlgate in a statement for the sale. "Soon after, I replaced the Bigsby tremolo system with a gold Gretsch Cadillac style tailpiece at Pat’s request as it provided better tuning stability. On tour, we stuffed the guitar with pillow material to keep it from feeding back onstage. From there I further modified the guitar by removing the switch on the instrument’s upper bout, which we may have at one time added a large red plastic jewel to plug the hole where the switch was previously. 

"From there my memory gets fuzzy on what other modifications were done," notes Bailey, who was Kurt Cobain's tech in Nirvana, "but we had fun working that one out and I remember he was very happy to walk out onstage with it.’ Earnie later states that it’s likely to have been a recent addition to his collection when used throughout the Foo Fighters show at the Concert Hall, Toronto, Canada on 3rd April 1996."

The 1990 Japanese model comes with its hard case its Foo's era, and also includes a statement of provenance from Smear.

'I had to have a White Falcon after seeing the great Matthew Ashman use one with Bow Wow Wow in 1981," says the Foo Fighters guitarist. "The guitar looked amazing but the early ones were super rare and expensive and the '70s models had all that extra crap like dampeners and stereo switches. When the '90s reissues came out I could finally get one without worrying about banging around some overpriced museum piece on the road... or so I thought. 

Gardiner Houlgate

(Image credit: Gardiner Houlgate )

"It instantly became one of my favourites," he adds, "getting special treatment (note the 'Stays on the bus' sticker on the case) and was usually the one to pull out to play in hotel rooms and show off to visiting friends. Earnie made modifications while on tour, eventually creating my ultimate Falcon (as seen in the Monkey Wrench video). I played this guitar on several Foo Fighters tours and on The Colour and The Shape album. It was also used by Harlow on their Harlow Land album."

Check out the listing at Gardiner Houlgate (opens in new tab)

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.