Modern Gretsch Guitars

Hey Tone Experts: Are My Ears Deceiving Me?


I recently became the proud owner of an '04 6120 Jr2. My first Junior! Love it. As I like to do, I took a pair of headphones, plugged into a clean pedal, and compared the Jr's sound with other guitars I own. The Filter'Trons on the Jr are smoother than I expected, as I used to own a 6122 from the same era that had a bit of "ice picky" treble that caused me to replace its pickups with TV Classics. Not this Jr guitar.

Now, each tonal comparison between guitars I own made sense to me until I put the Jr up next to my Power Jet. I reasonably expected the PJ with it's PowerTrons to sound darker with less treble than the 6120. I also expected the PJ to display a distinct midrange bump by comparison.

Nope. While the Jr. had a stronger high Midrange/lower Treble, let's say peaking somewhere around 5-6kHz, the PJ actually had a slightly brighter high end at around 6k+. I didn't hear a noticeable midrange bump in the PJ like I expected either. Furthermore, in many other respects, the Jr's and PJ's pickups sounded similar.

Now, this was just how both guitars sounded to ME, no measurements involved. And I was also trying to ignore the more solid PJ body sound vs. the hollow and airy Jr. Still, it made me wonder, because I was expecting a pretty distinct difference between the two pickup sets, and I wasn't hearing it.

It made me wonder whether the differences in the bodies were influencing the tonal responses more than I expected, ie: would the Jr. sound way darker if it had PowerTrons in it? Would the PJ brighten up noticeably with the Filter'Trons?

I went online and tried to find more info about those '04 Filter'Trons, but couldn't come up with anything useful. I REMEMBER my 6122' FTs from that era, they were quite bright, almost too much so.

Well, I was just surprised, and I thought maybe one of you experts could explain what might have been going on, if only to suggest that my aging ears are not quite as accurate as they used to be.

What do you think?


I'm no expert, but how similar is the distance between pickups and strings? That could account for some of this, as could type of string.


I'm DEFINITEly no expert, but my '04 6119SP with stock HS Filtertrons is surprisingly warm sounding. I've taken it to several Roundups and other people (including Proteus -a certified smart guy) commented on the surprising darkness of the guitar. This is only compared to other Filtertron guitars mind you; it's still bright compared to other humbucker equipped guitars.

I don't know if it's that year's pups, or maybe the wiring/pots/etc. I've just always thought it was just an idiosyncrasy of this guitar, having never compared it to another 6119SP (I've actually never run across another 6119SP...).


It could be due to ear fatigue. Headphones will exacerbate that, and earbuds are even worse.



I wonder if you are on to something. My 6122 was from 05, a year later. Might Gretsch have changed the FT recipe in a year to make them brighter?

Whatever the case, the Jr sounds GREAT. The exercise for me is more about how and where it fits into my tonal palette.


What's the input impedance of your pedal?


The manual says input is 2.2 M ohms, output is 2k. That doesn’t make sense to me...


What is the height of the pole screw relative to the pickup body in the Jr.? If the screws are sunk way down, and the pickup itself is up close to the strings, that could darken them somewhat...


rhcole - I know exactly the tone of the Filters in your Jr. that your are talking about and for me, really provides a balance that I like a lot. I'm growing a bit tired of the "darkness" of the pickups in my Tokai Les Paul copy (Love Rock) and want something with balance.

Anyway, I think I might give it a try.


I agree, I like the Jr’s pickups very much. They have a smoothness I’m not used to in FTs and yet they are much brighter and chimey than Gibbey PAFs.

Seriously, I just wondered how come they might have sounded more like PowerTrons than I expected, or vice-versa.

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