Modern Gretsch Guitars

Has anyone ever added a Gibbie Varitone?

1

I am only referring towards my lowly 5420. A mod like that in place of the master volume would add many tone variations.

I have a Gibson BluesHawk, (Strange guitar, but keeper) I think it could turn a Gretsch into a real screamer.

The varitone has 6 tone positions. One being "idle." 6 tones X 3-position pickup switch = 18 tones. My little black BluesHawk has a glitch on the pickup switch, and has a 4th position in between, giving me 24.

2

A bit off topic but I found a good bit of varitone geekery you might be interested in. Some guy has identified that the circuit changed after 61 and that the 59-61 sounded better. He put both circuits '59 and '65 in a pedal and did a test.

These are actual cicuits taken straight from vintage 345s! Thats a pretty valuable pedal right there. Position 1 on a Varitone is meant to be bypass...and in the '59 circuit it does sound that way but not in the later circuit. It's kind of nice to know there are people out there doing stuff like this.

4

Snarling Dogs did a pedal called "Very Tone" that was pretty much the circuit in a box. I'm quite sure it's available used for a very reasonable price.

5

I love that kind of geekery. But if the Varitone was a passive thing...what is the 9v battery about? Actually off topic was that mid 60s Gretsch treble boost 9v thing that was in the Rally and maybe very late era Jet Firebirds the first 9v circuit in an electric guitar?

6

I love that kind of geekery. But if the Varitone was a passive thing...what is the 9v battery about? Actually off topic was that mid 60s Gretsch treble boost 9v thing that was in the Rally and maybe very late era Jet Firebirds the first 9v circuit in an electric guitar?

– DCBirdMan

I believe the battery in the pedal is simply to power the LEDs.

7

THD made a pedal version as well.

I was tempted at point to put a varitone in a guitar but I decided it wouldn't give me any sound I didn't already have or one I would realistically use.

8

The Varitone is essentially a notch filter. I have one on my Epiphone B.B. King Lucille; these are the specs for the cut on the 6 positions:

Position 1 bypass
Position 2 5db at 1950 Hz
Position 3 12db at 1100 Hz
Position 4 15db at 620 Hz
Position 5 18.5db at 360 Hz
Position 6 21db at 120 Hz

B.B. King is said to have favored position 2. I personally feel its usefulness is primarily for live settings where you want to change the tone significantly without changing guitars. Positions 5 and 6 approach (but don't quite replicate) single coil tonalities, and also decrease the output level significantly.

9

Parabar has the specs right. A Varitone is the ultimate mud switch. 21dB@120Hz is an awful lot of high cut. Just use the tone knob.

10

I just find it very interesting on the ‘59 and ‘65 Varitone circuit demo how much the ‘65 is taking away from the original guitar sound even when in position 1 which is meant to be bypass.

11

Parabar has the specs right. A Varitone is the ultimate mud switch. 21dB@120Hz is an awful lot of high cut. Just use the tone knob.

– wabash slim

A Varitone is nothing like a mud switch. A mud switch only rolls off highs. A Varitone is a variable LC notch filter.

15

Thanks, Doc!

I also make one in pedal form with an integrated boost to make up for the inherent loss in the circuit. It includes both the '59 and '96 (single coil/blueshawk) circuits, a depth control, high impedance input and low impedance output. It was developed for a guy that plays with some Robert Plant fella

16

Thanks, Doc!

I also make one in pedal form with an integrated boost to make up for the inherent loss in the circuit. It includes both the '59 and '96 (single coil/blueshawk) circuits, a depth control, high impedance input and low impedance output. It was developed for a guy that plays with some Robert Plant fella

– mugsy

Jer - just dropped the guitar off to get the Pentatone swapped in for the tone switch. I was wondering if there could be a boost circuit put in like the pedal has to make up in the loss. (I think coil splitters should have one too. )

17

Jer - just dropped the guitar off to get the Pentatone swapped in for the tone switch. I was wondering if there could be a boost circuit put in like the pedal has to make up in the loss. (I think coil splitters should have one too. )

– drmilktruck

Cool! I don't make anything that fits in a guitar. There's a couple pot mounted preamps/boosts out there. EMG makes one. I seem to remember another that was shrink-wrapped, but I don't recall who that was. Alternatively, a boost pedal would accomplish the same thing albeit a little more cumbersome.

18

Cool stuff. What makes the Varitone impractical is the fact that the volume varies so much between the six positions.

12b

19

@mugsy Here's the DeLisle Pentatone installed:

I put it in as I wanted more options for tones from the single bridge pickup. I like positions 2 & 3 as they give a neck pickup like sound. The other positions sound especially good with a little dirt. Fun to play around with.


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