Electromatics

New Guy - First Post, New to Here, New to Gretsch

1

Hey guys, I'm a long time guitar player with dozens of guitars of different brands, mostly Fender & Gibson, I have like 4 Tele's and 3 Strats, 3 Les Pauls, SG, ES135, SIlvertone/Harmony H64 hollowbody from late 50's/early 60's, DeArmond X155 hollowbody (just installed flat wounds on that), and a bunch of other stuff. My #1 has been a Tele since the late 70's, if I could only own 1 guitar it'd have to be a Tele, but thankfully I can own more than that. Never had a Grestch, but always thought they were cool. I've been wanting to expand my hollowbody collection for sometime now, and was thinking about getting one of the new Guild's, but I came across an ad on craigslist for a used Electromatic 5126, I made a low ball offer and the guy accepted it, so now I own a Gretsch, and I can say that already it's moved up to #2 spot and has been out on 3 gigs now since I bought it just before Christmas.

I am not a full time pro musician, I have a day job, but I am in a working band (blues), and a working duo act, so my guitars are not just a collection, they do get used professionally as well as for fun. All together I do about 9 - 12 gigs per month on average.

So I'm really digging this Gretsch, but I have some issues with it that maybe you guys can help me with. I'm really digging the tone, I love how versatile it is. Between the 3 pickup settings and working the Volume controls it covers a LOT of ground. One of the features that piqued my interest in this guitar was the DeArmond pickups, which I've learned from reading this site are not genuine Dynasonics, but some look alikes? Maybe someone can clarify that. Still, I'm digging them! Great clean tone, especially on the neck, very full & warm and with the volume backed off can sound very jazzy. But crank up the volume and dig in and whoa! This thing will bark! But not a lot of sustain. I think I can work with my compressor to compensate for that if need be, but not too much of a problem.

What I'm really struggling with is the contol layout, it's so foreign to me. Any advice on how to work with the controls for somebody who's not familiar with them? So far I've tried diming the individual Volume controls and just using the Master Vol to control volume, and I've tried the opposite, diming the Master and just working the individual Volume pots, but the Bigsby gets in the way of the neck pickup Volume control, and the bridge Volume control is waaaayyyyy down there, I struggle to find it in a hurry. The master being on the lower bout is hard to access too. What do you guys do?

The other thing is, this guitar came with a non-stock bridge installed, a roller bridge. The high E string keeps popping out of the roller! I don't know if it's just something with the way I'm picking (flat pick & finger style), or if its a common issue. As you can imagine, it's a pain in the ass to deal with this in the middle of a song. Any help or advice on that would be appreciated.

If I can deal with these 2 issues I think I can be fully converted to a Gretsch guy, it could possibly even displace my Tele, though I don't know about that!

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Here's a closer shot of the body, maybe you can make out the bridge here.

3

Looks like this one...

https://www.guitarfetish.co...

We'll get you fixed up...welcome!

Those are the pre-'58 controls...get used to using the Master Volume. I set the individual PickUp Volumes to match what I am playing then forget them. Then it's just the Tone Knob and the Master...and the Pup switch.

4

welcome to the GDP(Gretsch Discussion Pages).

as far as the bridge, I have the same one on my 1959 Annie. from time to time, my string "pops" out, also. a lot of the time it's due to my "aggressive" picking style. so, I "lighten" my touch a little. I played acoustic guitar for a long time which contributed to my aggressive picking style.

I see that you have a Bigsby on your guitar. you may want to try a TruArc bridge on your guitar. they work great with Bigsby equipped guitars.

again welcome to the GDP.

5

Those Dearmond pickups were designed by Fender and are very well thought out. Some will refer to them as 'Dyna Lite" but personally, I feel that they are better pickups than the Gretsch Dynasonics. The frequency response is more even from lows to highs, they are quieter, and they are not prone to microphonic feedback at high volumes. If you want more body out of the pickups, I'd suggest checking out the TV Jones T-Armonds. One thing I will say about the Gretsch Dynasonics, is that for whatever reason, they do sound magical in the low register, which I suspect is why Duane Eddy prefers them to other Dyna type pickups.

As for the bridge, a Tru-Arc Serpentune will set you right. Tim Harman (Proteus here on the GDP) makes them and they are great. Pick your poison: stainless steel, brass, aluminum, copper, or glass. Welcome to the wonderful world of Gretsch guitars. That tele is gettin' real nervous.

6

Welcome to all things Gretsch! Until you can get a serpentune it might be as simple as the slot not being deep enough. BTW, that bridge looks like an adjustomatic. A roller bridge is a different animal and a string can't escape it's roller.

I concur with twangmeister, set the individual volumes then leave them alone! Turn up the master volume, which is located in the optimal position IMO, and set your volume on your amp. I recommend the MV be set a bit shy of flat out so you have some control there. Balancing the volume levels of the pups is also a good tone control.

7

Welcome aboard, hasserl, I'm glad you found us! That sure is a nice guitar you have there. Being discontinued, finding one of these, in great condition, is getting harder to find. Yours looks to be in great shape, congratulations!

I also came from a Fender/Gibson background, and had a bit of difficulty adjusting to the Gretsch control layout. In a short time, it was my other guitars that felt odd.

The Gretsch wiring gives more accurate individual pickup volume control, in the 3 position switch's middle position, than the Gibson's. It's a true representation of each pickups volume, rather than the (what I now call) wonky way that Gibson does it.

As for the string popping out of the saddle, that looks like an Adjustomatic (TOM) bridge, so you can file the string slot a little bit deeper (in baby steps increments). A SerpenTune is a good idea for you to consider, as well, and will undoubtedly add more sustain.

If you are like me (and so many others), you will probably come to prefer "That Great Gretsch Sound", over any other guitar. They have a certain sparkle, or chime, that is unique to Gretsch. Please do us a favor, by adding your guitar to the database.

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Welcome aboard!

I'm a fan of the DeArmond 2000s myself. Try 'em thru an AC15 or an AC30! As others have said, a Tru-Arc will alleviate your bridge issues.

9

Thanks guys for the welcome, and the advice. OK, I have some things to look up now, and some direction to go with the controls, just gonna take a little time to get used to I guess; thank you.

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Greetings, and welcome to Gretsch! A word of caution: you won't be able to stop at just one! But then again, one can never have too many guitars, especially Gretsch guitars.

11

Welcome, hasserl!

To improve tuning stability, you may want to consider having the bridge base "pinned".

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There are a number of old posts explaining the difference between the DeArmond 2000 pickups that are in your guitars and the old DeArmond 2000/Dynasonic pickups that were in the vintage models and the current Gretsch Pro series guitars. (Not to mention the very different DeArmond 2K pickups that are built more like a P-90) The older ones have the raising and lowering springs extending below the pickup. The ones in your guitar were developed by Fender for Gretsch and were used in the Historic series and then the Electromatics. At the time, no one was making the old style 2000/Dynasonic except maybe Seymour Duncan's custom shop. They sounded very good with a crystalline high end but not the deep authoritative bass of the old ones. Gretsch later brought back the old style Dynasonic and T.V. Jones came out with the TArmonds.

Now things are going to be even more confusing as Guild now owns the DeArmond name and is bringing back what appears to be the new 2000 pickup but calling it a DynaSonic. Sheesh.

Congratulations on your guitar. It is a good one!

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Dear hasserl,

Welcome! You'll like it here. Not only is it a font of knowledge of all things GreTscH, it has really swell folks who take an interest in one another as well as the Guitars. As has been said, be sure to add your Great Gretsch Guitar to the database.

Glad you found us, Olivia Anne

14

Looks like this one...

https://www.guitarfetish.co...

We'll get you fixed up...welcome!

Those are the pre-'58 controls...get used to using the Master Volume. I set the individual PickUp Volumes to match what I am playing then forget them. Then it's just the Tone Knob and the Master...and the Pup switch.

– Twangmeisternyc

Yep, it looks like that's the one.

15

There are a number of old posts explaining the difference between the DeArmond 2000 pickups that are in your guitars and the old DeArmond 2000/Dynasonic pickups that were in the vintage models and the current Gretsch Pro series guitars. (Not to mention the very different DeArmond 2K pickups that are built more like a P-90) The older ones have the raising and lowering springs extending below the pickup. The ones in your guitar were developed by Fender for Gretsch and were used in the Historic series and then the Electromatics. At the time, no one was making the old style 2000/Dynasonic except maybe Seymour Duncan's custom shop. They sounded very good with a crystalline high end but not the deep authoritative bass of the old ones. Gretsch later brought back the old style Dynasonic and T.V. Jones came out with the TArmonds.

Now things are going to be even more confusing as Guild now owns the DeArmond name and is bringing back what appears to be the new 2000 pickup but calling it a DynaSonic. Sheesh.

Congratulations on your guitar. It is a good one!

– Don Birchett

Thanks Don for the info, it's clear as mud now!

So I'm familiar with DeArmond pickups from old DeArmond guitars and other old guitars that used DeArmond's, like Kay and Harmony and others. The original Dynasonics from the 60's are one of my favorites, great sounding pickups. I managed to find a fake set on eBay a number of years ago and installed them on an Airline H44 (copy of an old Harmony Stratotone), and they improved the sound of that guitar immeasurably. I was looking at old Guilds & DeArmond hollow body guitars when I found this Electromatic and decided to take a chance, not being familiar with Gretsch (and they're not exactly common in the blues guitar world). So I thought I was getting Dynasonics on this guitar, and found out later that they aren't the same. So now I'm learning about it, and your post is very helpful, thank you.

I'm still getting used to it, but I like what I'm hearing.

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Thanks Don for the info, it's clear as mud now!

So I'm familiar with DeArmond pickups from old DeArmond guitars and other old guitars that used DeArmond's, like Kay and Harmony and others. The original Dynasonics from the 60's are one of my favorites, great sounding pickups. I managed to find a fake set on eBay a number of years ago and installed them on an Airline H44 (copy of an old Harmony Stratotone), and they improved the sound of that guitar immeasurably. I was looking at old Guilds & DeArmond hollow body guitars when I found this Electromatic and decided to take a chance, not being familiar with Gretsch (and they're not exactly common in the blues guitar world). So I thought I was getting Dynasonics on this guitar, and found out later that they aren't the same. So now I'm learning about it, and your post is very helpful, thank you.

I'm still getting used to it, but I like what I'm hearing.

– hasserl

That is the important thing. If you like the sound, everything else is gravy!

You can read more about the Modern 2000 and 2K here. The first post contains a comment from Bill Turner, who designed both.

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Congrats on a great affordable Gretsch. Those are fine guitars.

I'm not as familiar with the Dyna's as a lot of folks here. All of my Gretsch' are Humbucking.

I know Gretsch isn't synonymous with the blues but you should check out Joe Robinson. He's changing the game.

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Welcome. Nice guitar. Although I am more of a filters fan, I have a 5125 and like it a lot. Get a Tru Arc (mine has a stainless one) and you will be a satisfied customer. Congrats

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Yep, it looks like that's the one.

– hasserl

This closeup shows it is a roller bridge. Very curious as to how the high string hops out of that groove.

20

Congrats on a great affordable Gretsch. Those are fine guitars.

I'm not as familiar with the Dyna's as a lot of folks here. All of my Gretsch' are Humbucking.

I know Gretsch isn't synonymous with the blues but you should check out Joe Robinson. He's changing the game.

– Suprdave

Thanks for that, I googled up Joe and checked him out. Very nice. I'm more old school though. IS there a way to link video's here? I have a very short clip from last week's gig (2nd time I took the 5126 out) that shows more of the style I'm using it for.

21

This closeup shows it is a roller bridge. Very curious as to how the high string hops out of that groove.

– Windsordave

Yeah, it is curious. I know that it's popped out when I've used hybrid picking, flat pick + fingers, I guess I pulled too hard with my fingers and lifted it up and out of the saddle? That's not been a problem before with other guitars, but I guess I can see how it happened. But I've also had it pop out when strumming fairly lightly too, on a very mellow ballad number where I use a light touch, and that's really got me scratching my head. Was not a good thing either, I had to stop strumming, reach down with both hands and lift the string back into position, while the song was going. Not the best way to impress an audience....

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That is the important thing. If you like the sound, everything else is gravy!

You can read more about the Modern 2000 and 2K here. The first post contains a comment from Bill Turner, who designed both.

– Don Birchett

Thanks for that link, that's great. That lead me down a rabbit hole searching the net for all I could find on the subject, wow, lot's out there, so now let me see if I have it straight:

The original DeArmond 2000 or "Dynasonic" was manufactured by the old Rowe - DeArmond company that made pickups for lot's of guitar companies back in the 40's - 60's. That company is no longer in existence. And Gretsch stopped using those pickups in 1958 I believe, and replaced them with the HiLo Tron pickup.

Later, in the late 90's, the DeArmond name was resurrected by Guild and used for lower priced instruments made in Korea (of which I have a DeArmond X155 with Gold Tone pickups, great guitar), and they sourced pickups made by Fender that look like the old 2000's, but they're actually made more like a P90, and sound similar to a P90, and those are called DeArmond 2k, and they were not used in any Gretsch guitar. So the 2K looks like a 2000 externally, but internally they are very different.

Soon after that Gretsch came to Fender seeking to purchase the 2k's for a new Historic line, and the 512X series of Electromatic's, but it was decided that the 2k would not be a great match for the Gretsch sound, so Fender built a new version of the 2000 that looks like a 2k, but internally it is like the original 2000 Dynasonic, and it sounds similar to the old 2000's, but apparently is a little lower output, not quite as beefy. That lasted for a number of years, but eventually those pickups went out of production.

Later again, 2000 something, Gretsch, now owned by Fender, decided to produce another historic line of guitars, and another new 2000 pickup was built for those guitars that is pretty faithful to the original 2000, and about the same time Seymore Duncan and TV Jones both produced their own versions of the old Dynasonic 2000 that are said to be faithful to the originals.

Is that accurate? Please, correct me if I got it wrong.

Anyway, anyone ever try adding some winds to the late 90's version like in my 5126, or rewinding them, to beef up the output to match the originals? Any pickup winders out there playing with these besides SD and TVJ?

23

You'll have to download your video to youtube and just paste the link in the comments field for video's to work.

Get a new bridge and quit worrying.

Fender doesn't really own Gretsch. Fred and Dinah do. Fender is the distribution and manufacturer for Gretsch.

24

You'll have to download your video to youtube and just paste the link in the comments field for video's to work.

Get a new bridge and quit worrying.

Fender doesn't really own Gretsch. Fred and Dinah do. Fender is the distribution and manufacturer for Gretsch.

– Suprdave

This is just a cel phone video, taken by the harp players wife, very short, but shows the old school style and how the Gretsch sounds. Link

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Niggling details.

The original name for the 2000 was "FideliTone"; I think that was Harry DeArmond's designation, and that Gretsch christened it "Dynasonic" so as to distinguish Gretsch from other builders who were using DeArmond pickups.

And Gretsch stopped using those pickups in 1958 I believe, and replaced them with the HiLo Tron pickup.

Not HiLoTron in 1958. FilterTron. The HiLo is something like half of a (dual-coil) FilterTron, in a FilterTron case (to save money). I think it came in 1962-3. It is its own very distinctive pleasure - and, in a way, more on a par in output (and even tone) with the modern not-Dyna 2000s under discussion.

internally it is like the original 2000 Dynasonic, and it sounds similar to the old 2000's, but apparently is a little lower output, not quite as beefy.

That's essentially fair. Calling the 90s-00s 2000s "Dyna Lite" sounds reductive, but captures something of the essence. Those 2000s are great pickups in their own right, and call up a slightly different response from the player than full-fat traditional Dynas. But they're definitely in the same sonic ballpark. In a way, the difference between them and full-fat Dynas is a situation where a difference in quantity at some point becomes a difference in quality.

Later again, 2000 something, Gretsch, now owned by Fender

A sore point. Fender does NOT own Gretsch; they have a periodically renewing development-manufacturing-distribution agreement with Fred Gretsch, who still owns the brand. This arrangement started in late 2002 and started to show fruit (in the improvement of Gretsch guitar specs) in early 2003. It appears the deal has been beneficial and satisfactory to all parties. (Especially Gretsch enthusiasts.)

decided to produce another historic line of guitars

Well, here the semantics play havoc with sense. The capital-H "Historic" series Fred Gretsch produced during the last few years of his sole stewardship of the brand were not, in any literal sense, historical. They weren't re-issues. They did make use of numerous features of previous Gretsch guitars, and recombine them in new ways. Calling them "Historic," from the current perspective, seems almost (but not quite) ironic. I mean, they're old enough now to be historic on their own. But not because they were true to prior Gretsch history.

And the "historic line of guitars" you refer to in the above phrase - ie, Gretsch made from 2003 to the present - weren't something Fender just decided to produce. They were simply the reissue models of old classic standby Gretsch models Fred had already been producing (aside from the Historic Series).

Fender's role (superintended by Mike Lewis) was to study many examples of golden-era (50s-60s) original Gretschs, then tweak the then-current models to bring them into much closer compliance with the features and construction details of the originals. Dimensions, body plies, internal construction, hardware, cosmetic treatments, finishes all went under the microscope. Gretsch enthusiasts, who were glad to have had the brand back under Fred's management (from 1989-2002) - but who had noticed and objected during those years to features and elements they thought were wrong, AND who had been skeptical at the outset about Fender's management - were by and large pleased with the evolution of the models. Many think FMIC's management - in conjunction with Japanese builder Terada's continued excellence - has ushered in a new golden era for the brand.

and another new 2000 pickup was built for those guitars that is pretty faithful to the original 2000

Yes. Re-spec'ing the Dynasonic was just one part of Fender's re-make of the classic Gretsch models. They're manufactured by Tokiwa, in Japan.

about the same time Seymour Duncan and TV Jones both produced their own versions of the old Dynasonic 2000 that are said to be faithful to the originals.

I don't know when Seymour's Dyna came out; might have been before or after the "new" FMIC-commissioned Tokiwas. (An email to SD would likely get that answer.) But the T-Armonds came later, around 2008. Both are faithful to the originals, in that they use similar or identical construction. Seymour's default to a hotter wind than Tokiwa's - and hotter than (many of) the originals (the originals were not universally consistent) - but can be ordered as cool or hot as the customer wants. I think T-Armonds default to a slightly cooler wind than Seymours, but not by much. And, again, TV will accommodate you with a custom wind if requested.

There are slight sonic differences between Seymours and T-Armonds, and certainly some difference in construction details. Scott Rust and I did a casual (but obsessive) 3-part shootout between the two, on identical Jets, in 2010 at a Gretsch event. If you want to obsess over the minutiae (and immerse yourself in some characteristic Dyna Jet tone, here you go:


In 2008, when I did my pickups swap, I posted a blind audio-only comparo of the Gretsch/Tokiwa Dynasonics with the Seymours I was putting in - so guys could determine blindfolded which they preferred. That thread got enormous response, and led to an adventure in research and speculation (during which I dug up all kinds of historical info on which I've now gone hazy, and interviewed Joe Carducci and TV Jones) - which then became an epic thread here, with dozens of members' responses, my responses to and collation of their responses, and some hypothetical reconstructions of what was then 10-year-old history (and is now 22).

That thread was lost in a GDP database meltdown in 2014 - but as I wrote most of it offline, I have it all - in chronological pieces. I sometimes think of re-posting it, but it would be tedious as hell because I'd have to relink all the audio, re-upload the pics, and reformat extensively (as it originally used HTML and I don't know if the current interface supports that, or I'd have to change every format code to Django).

I don't know if there's enough general interest in DynaSonic lore now to go that effort - and/or how much of my information from that time has been superseded by more accurate data. I don't want to be a source, however well intended, of internet disinformation.


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