Modern Gretsch Guitars

For those who mostly play clean

1

For you guys and gals who mostly play clean what are your favorite pickups and why?

And I play mostly clean, I sparingly use an over-dive pedal more for signal boost that distortion.

2

I like the DeArmond 2000s in my 3140. Thru an AC15 they give me the sound that I hear in my head. I'm just a single coil kind of guy.

3

Medium output P90s (in a hollow/ semi-hollow body). Warm but transparent, articulated, snappy, honest.

A Fender neck single-coil ain't sounding too bad either.

4

I've done shows where I've played my Epiphone Casino with Gibson P90s with the volumes on 4 instead of an acoustic guitar. 4 just happened to be the sweet spot for both pickups. It really sounds great and cleans up very nicely, like a responsible mechanic going on his first date with the love of his life.

I played my Duo Jet with Dynasonics clean with some delay at a Christmas church service playing the Christmas version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and it sounded exactly as I heard it in my head. Dynasonics are similar in construction to Fender single coils with their alnico pole slugs for magnets. I've also heard amazing clean, bell like sounds from Strats.

I bet the best Gretsch pickup for clean would be HiloTrons in a hollow body though. I have them in a Corvette and while they sound great in there, especially with some overdrive, for clean the tone is missing the 3 dimensional airy-ness of a hollow body guitar. In a hollow body HiloTrons basically amplify the guitar's natural tone without adding too much of the pickup's signature sound like other pickups do. My friend has a 1960's Anniversary with HiloTrons and it has a great clean sound.

5

I almost always play clean and like a nice full clear sound. I want a clean bottom line and if I want to use distortions I use pedals. I tend to put Hilotrons in all my guitars (Gretschs). As mentioned aboce they are an excellent clean pickup. Dynasonics seem nice too.

6

I'd have to go with a set of under wound P-90s or a vintage wound standard Telecaster set. T-Armondsare very nice as well. They sound a lot like Telecaster pickups with a bit more presence.

7

This is good information, thanks everyone. The HiloTrons, are those the ones that people often say are difficult to dial in? Or maybe I'm thinking of the TV HTs?

Seems like one of the single coil pickups gets some heat about being fussy, at least until you get them dialed in?

Or am I mistaken?

And how to the Gretsch HiloTrons compare to the TV HTs? I love the sound bites on the TVJ website.

8

With the Gretsch HiloTrons in my Corvette I had to raise the pole pieces as high as I could so they are almost touching the strings. I also got the pickups as high as I could too. If the poles aren't almost touching they don't clear up as nice as they can. I don't have any experience with TV Jones' HiloTrons.

9

What Sascha said -- to which I'd add Super Hilotrons.

10

DeArmond/Dynasonics or P90's. For Strats I use Dimarzio Red Velvets.

11

Lollar vintage T and CC for my tele, P90, P13, or Franz in my archtops.

12

This is good information, thanks everyone. The HiloTrons, are those the ones that people often say are difficult to dial in? Or maybe I'm thinking of the TV HTs?

Seems like one of the single coil pickups gets some heat about being fussy, at least until you get them dialed in?

Or am I mistaken?

And how to the Gretsch HiloTrons compare to the TV HTs? I love the sound bites on the TVJ website.

– Mr_Christopher

I've never quite understood the problems people have with these pickups. I'm not saying their experiences aren't valid. It just hasn't been my experience.

I mostly have vintage ones but I had a guitar with modern ones Generally on my older guitars I go with the factory height of the covers and adjust my pole pieces to balance the string volumes.

If you're going for clean having a low output pickup is , if anything, a plus, as they are often clearer and less muddy. Turn up your amp if you need more volume.

Many swear by this but I've never had to adjust the pole pieces to almost touch the strings. This is however my experience and opinion. I tend to use heavy 12-52 strings and I preamp through a space echo. These factors might work in my favour.

Super hilotrons are essentlialy filtertrons with only one set of pole pieces. Having removed one set of pole pieces from various filtertrons old and new to experiment I would say that this will get you relatively close to a hilotron sound. The real thing is a little better in my opinion but both are good.

13

I had stock HiLo's in my old G6119T-1962HT Tenny and I currently play a VS 62 Tenny with TV HiLo's. I loved the stock ones and didn't find them finicky at all. Yes, they were a little lower output but that didn't bother me. The TV HiLos sound about the same to me but with more oomph (more output and more spank-n-twang). They sound great clean . . . and they take dirt like a champ.

14

for clean? I love the MFD Z-Coils on my Comanche. Stratty yet p-90 ish. Amazing pups

15

In both my 5120 and my 6120LTV the TV Jones Classics are exactly what I want for clean sounds. Chimey and a bit snarly with a Fulltone Fat Boost. A Carbon Copy gives me a tiny bit of slapback through a Deluxe Reverb with the reverb set between 1 and 2. For a little extra sauce, a Timmy pedal goes great with the TV Classics.

16

I like dynasonics and P90S. Might be my choice o amp but I find dynas to have more clang (which I love) but they are also less forgiving of my mistakes

17

While I love the cleans from TVJ Classics & Magna'Trons, I can get better than acceptable cleans from vintage wound humbuckers by dialing the volume to 7 or 8. Anyone else with cleans from PAF humbuckers?

18

Dynasonics (T'Armond are my favorite) and early style P90s like a Lollar 50's wind.

Lots of great Tele pickups out there too. I've got a stock 52AV and Rutters with Voodoo 60's bridge and his tall stratty one in the neck. All good spanky clean and w/ a little dirt!

19

I play mostly clean. The choices listed already are great. But, here's a change of pace pickup that might surprise you: a Seth Lover humbucker by Duncan. It has very high fidelity and isn't mushy in the midrange. It's also pretty well-balanced tonally.

20

While I love the cleans from TVJ Classics & Magna'Trons, I can get better than acceptable cleans from vintage wound humbuckers by dialing the volume to 7 or 8. Anyone else with cleans from PAF humbuckers?

– atomicwash

Lollar Imperials low-wind in my Collings i35 Deluxe give me incredible note separation and clarity with zero extraneous noise whatsoever. I have never bettered this in any of my other guitars.

22

I've found I like most single coil pickups from before the mid- to late 60's.

23

I have T-Armonds, which I love. Though recently I am beginning to understand why some people think them just a bit hi-fi. I also have a rewound vintage rhythm chief that sounds great clean. And my soon to arrive tele has a 15% underwound Fralin soapbar in the neck. These are all great options for clean. I also have two cc-style pickups from Pete Biltoft at vintagevibe and they have gorgeous clean tones. Huge and round and full and just beautiful. Reports on the Setzer sigs suggest they are a great option for clean tones. And I happen to love the Guild HB-1 humbuckers, both reissues and originals. Though they are renowned for their snarliness as well, they are really chimey in a delicious way. And, of course, Rickenbacker toasters are phenomenal sounding clean pickups.

But...the thing is, that they are all different. So to give you any more specific advice, I think we need to know what kind of 'clean' you are looking for. Tone of course doesn't just break down to clean vs. dirty. The fact is that all of the pickups I listed above also sound great dirty.

24

when i play clean i prefer my Strat, which has the Fender '54 CS pickups they were selling a few years ago. i've never heard Strat PUs i like as much anywhere else.

25

For neck pickups, T-Armonds, Lollar CC's, Jazzmasters, or P-90s. I hate almost all bridge pickups except Broadcaster-style PUs (Duncan, Don Mare or OC Duff) and maybe an underwound P-90. Maybe mini-hums in a Firebird or a particularly throaty JM.


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