The Workbench

Mods to Electromatic 5622T


These aren't new mods; they've been in place for several years. But I don't think I've brought them to Show and Tell before. Since the 5622 has come up in several recent threads, I was reminded to drag it out and bring it to school.

The guitar is from the first generation of Electromatic centerblock guitars, circa 2013. As the 16" double-cutaway 5622 was configured at that time, it came with three SuperHiLoTron kinda-mini-humbuckers and distinctive retro-memorial catseye soundholes. In addition to the traditional master volume in the lower cutaway, it also has four pots on the lower bout (3 individual volumes and a master tone) and a second switch in the upper cutaway that looks familiar because it's right where a tone/mud switch would be. (That's not what it is, though.)

I didn't notice when it happened, but at some point over the last few years, new 5622s lost their middle pickup, traded in the catseyes for conventional f-holes, and lost one of the lower bout knobs and the not-a-tone-switch. This new version - currently available - has also done away with the vertical block-letter "Electromatic" on the headstock under the Gretsch logo - presumably so you can let your audience think it's a pro-line Gretsch. (Instead, "Electromatic" is inscribed in tiny block letters under the logo on the pickguard.)

I reckon Gretsch had reasons for doing away with the triple-pup version - it simply must not have sold well - but I'm glad to have this one. I really haven't done much to it, but the few changes are profound in both appearance and performance.

First, I had my guitar guy in Bloomington change the wiring slightly. In the original configuration, the not-a-mud-switch was a simple 2-way off-on for the middle pickup. Up, the pickup was off; down, it was on - in conjunction with whatever was selected via the usual 3-way pup selector next to it. I'll save you running the combinations in your head: with the two switches, you could get neck, neck-bridge, bridge, neck-middle, bridge-middle, or all three. So, six combinations.

That's double the usual double-pupper, but double isn't enough trouble. Mine has a three-way switch for the middle pickup: up is off, middle is on (along with whatever else), and bottom is on BY ITSELF. Nother words, in the down position it somehow shorts out the other two pickups, thus giving me the middle pickup on its own.

So, seven combinations altogether. One better.

Seemingly a small difference - but Strat guys know that middle position is often the tone for particular rhythm parts, and especially for leads. In some ways it's the most distinctive position on this guitar. The neck and bridge pups behave as you'd expect on a Gretsch, with a recognizable Gretsch tone. The 1-2 and 2-3 settings, like 2 & 4 on a Strat 5-way, have the unmistakable Strat-quack character - but they're just enough fatter-sounding to be rounder and not quite as crisp as on a Strat. Usable, but not quite in the same way you'd deploy them on a Strat. (Turns out the solidbodiness and scale length of the Strat have a lot to do with how those positions sound.)

The middle pickup here, on the other hand, is rarely too thin or too fat - and often just right, especially for driven singing lead. It just seems to me if you're going to go to the trouble, expense, and visual weight of having three pickups, you ought to be able to hear that third one on its own.

So to me it was well worth having done. Alas, I don't think I have a diagram. (It's probably the same as my 3-pup Tenny, which the same guy wired for me.)


Next, quel suprise, there's a Tru-Arc™ bridge. At the moment a SerpenTune in stainless, but it's been a test-bed for several materials and designs. For tone, I think I liked brass best - which is shown in this pic (pre-pickup ring mod). It's also had frosted green glass, but I sold that bridge.


Nice mods! FWIW, when I've done circuits for three pickup guitars with dual three way switches, I wire one to control the neck and middle, and the other to control the bridge pickup and whatever is selected on the first switch. To me (anyway) it's a bit more logical.


And I blacked out - or greened out - the pickup rings. I just thought three pickups with three silver bezels took up too much visual space on the guitar, made it look busier than necessary. I like the look of pickups set directly in the top of a guitar, without rings - but who's going to fill the wood on this guitar, find a way to mount the pickups, and refinish it?

Next best was to make the rings disappear, at least from a distance. Clear doesn't work: you see too much of the unpresentable raw innards of the guitar around the sides of the pickups.

So I took the guitar to a paint shop with a scanner and had them determine what color it is. Turns out Georgia Green is actually Hyundai's Jungle Green (if I remember aright). Guy mixed me up some and fixed me up with a glass spray bottle and PreVar nozzle/air-can.

I wet sanded the backs of the silver rings with 400-grit till they were clear, then used progressively finer grit up to about 1200 to smooth them, finally polished them till nearly as transparent as clear rings. Then I squirted their backs with the paint...with the illustrated result. Works for me. Lets the pickups stand out, reduces visual clutter, and I retain the art-deco stripey elegance of Gretsch's pickup rings.

I removed the pickguard for the same reason - less visual clutter, show both catseyes, sleek up the guitar.

I mean, ya gotta admit!


FWIW, when I've done circuits for three pickup guitars with dual three way switches, I wire one to control the neck and middle, and the other to control the bridge pickup and whatever is selected on the first switch. To me (anyway) it's a bit more logical.

Well yeah...but can you get the bridge pickup by itself?


Oh - plus a Reverend soft spring.


Master job with the pickup rings! That looks really classy. I wanted that very guitar when they came out, but never got around to snagging one. Eventually, Amy got the re-modeled 5622 at the last Nashville Roundup, and even though it's been stripped down a bit compared to the original series, it's a really great playing guitar.

Your modified pickup selection is identical to the stock triple P90 configuration on my Yamaha SA503TVL. One switch works the traditional bridge-both-neck selection, and the second switch works the middle P90 as off-on-middle only. I find it quite usable. And same knob configuration, 3 vols & master tone... just no Gretsch master volume!

Of course though, the Yamaha's J-holes aren't nearly as sexy as the cats eyes-- and even though it's more 335-ish than 5622-ish, the centerblock is solid mahogany, and not some cheesy Gibson-ish chromyte balsa wood. Sorry, not trying to take away from discussing your mods-- just making some comparisions.


Very nice job with the rings!


That is spectacular. I almost bought one of these and then piked at the last minute because of the pickguard and pickup rings just tipping the scales. Now that I have seen this I admit I never even gave the thought of removing the pickguard at all, or even changing the surrounds (too hard basket?) I'm going to have to revisit this now...


I've never regretted picking up a three-pickup version -- I got a black one, rather smart I thought, if a little sinister. It's a bit on the heavy side, but during a gig I'll swap around with something lighter every now and then. I've made no changes to the wiring -- I like the way I can click in the middle pickup to give almost a fattish Strat sort of sound. I might see how it looks minus the pickguard and I reckon I'd quite like a Tru-Arc on it sometime.


Tim, did you tape up the surrounds before spraying?


Tim, did you tape up the surrounds before spraying?

I did. Blue masking tape over the entire top surfaces. Don't use brown tape.


Tim-I will be contacting you about a serpentune for my 3 pickup Rosa Red 5622 soon.


My 5622 is also the Georgia green, and I have to say that I like the gentle contrast to the brass bridge as you have pictured. That could be in my near future. Do all of the Tru-Arcs have the compensation formed into the top like that?.

I might also note that last night I did a search for the history of the 6522. That led to a discussion on this forum back in 2017, which I wish I could have taken part in now that I'm getting familiar with the model. Generally, the thought was that many players were not happy with the 2017 conversion. But, I did learn much about the thinking at that time.

Last, I want to mention that while Proteus's switch mod sound quite usefull, I find that by putting both switches in the "up" position, and then turning the volume of the neck pickup down to around 6, I'm getting only the middle pickup sound. And, for the time being, that works for me. But, now that I have that thought in mind, I may eventually have my Luthier about it. Thanks for the ideas guys.


Do all of the Tru-Arcs have the compensation formed into the top like that?

That's the salient characteristic of the SerpenTune series (as in "serpentine ridge providing in-tune intonation"). The Standard series comprises straight-line round bar bridges with no compensation.


Love the mods you did - looks great. Once again Proteus has illuminated the hole in the Gretsch line-up that offers too few 3 pickup arrangements in the Professional Series. We currently have the Vintage Select series for historically accurate models. And the Players Editions of the same models that take liberty with various updates. I have several PEs and they are great guitars. I just wish Gretsch would take a few more liberties and give us a few 3 pickup options. How about a 16" lower bout, double cut, 1.75" - 2.00" thick body, with and w/o center block, 25.5" scale, 3 pickups and 7 pickup options. Oh, and it has to have a Bigsby. Right now I am looking at a PRS semi-hollow with 3 pickups that gets close to those specs but would rather have a Gretsch.

Register Sign in to join the conversation