Modern Gretsch Guitars

Jet with Dynasonic type pickups, Players Edition or Vintage Select?

26

The DJet is definitely the place to start. But the Aristocrat is waaaay up there on my list of indispensables. It has a distinctly different voice from the Jet, woodier and more hollow, but completely charming.

Alas, the same thing goes for the Eastwood Airline Tuxedo, related in build and tone to the other two (in that they're small-bodied, single-coil guitars which look like solidbodies but aren't). It has a different voice than either of the others, but...well, again, utterly beguiling. (Though it didn't get there for me until I put a glass bridge on it.)

Anyway, those three are a trifecta of single-coil glory for me. But if they fly in a phalanx, the Jet is always out front.

– Proteus

Yeah, the Tuxedo has been on my short list also. The pickup covers look very similar to the Aristocrat but I doubt they're Franz style P90s. I don't know what Eastwood means by "high output P90s" but I don't usually get along with hot pickups, because they usually have a midrange hump that I dislike.

Wait a minute... A glass bridge? That made your Tuxedo do what you wanted? Fascinating.

28

As usual, Proteus has provided a great deal of definitive information that would render almost anything that I could say either redundant or superfluous.

I can only say this: the 53 has something very special going on because of its slightly thicker body. If you buy one, you won't ever look back. I can't recommend it enough.

29

Just for a laugh, I saw a pipple-faced kid on YouTube say "If you want to know what that great Gretsch sound is, think Malcolm Young of AC/DC." I was frowning at my screen saying "What??? No no! That's George Harrison and Duane Eddy!"

Just goes to show how versatile these guitars really are!

30

Just goes to show how versatile these guitars really are!

And those three just scratch the surface.


Wait a minute... A glass bridge? That made your Tuxedo do what you wanted? Fascinating.

To be clear, I didn't know what I wanted it to do. I knew I liked the basic character of the guitar, the woody hollow voice (especially with the neck pickup) which was/is unique at least in my experience, and among my guitars. I liked the pickups - which have none of the dark midrange wooliness I associate with hot P90s (if that's what Eastwood says, it's a bad description), thinking they contributed to the distinctive tone.

But the bridge pup seemed thin and wimpy, uninspiring.

So I just knew I wanted more, and I had to try something or send the guitar on its way. I know a glass bridge has a chunky fattening effect, and is more about string separation than sustain (thus appropriate for a guitar with the Tuxedo's character), so I popped'er on there. The difference was dramatic, and brought the guitar to more vibrant life than I'd expected.

It also looks good!

31

I took Tim’s advice on this one and did a glass TruArc on my Tux. The tone is so lovely that my brother borrowed it and won’t give it back.

32

I gotta say, both those Tuxedos look fantastic!

I've heard of steel versus aluminum bar bridges and how that affects the tone, but never glass (until now). Amazing!

33

Speaking of "string definition", I replaced the stock pickups in my Peerless Wizard (a 17" single cutaway hollow body, but very thin body) with pole magnet P-90s and it seemed to really help make notes more clear. With the all wood bridge and tailpiece, it was just too dark and vague. Now it has punch and clarity, and a huge range of tones. Still the farthest thing from my Fender Jaguar! LOL!

34

Hmm. I have a Newark St. Bluesbird (my son plays it, but I own it - it's officially mine), a Newark St. Aristocrat, and a '53 VS Duo Jet with titanium Tru Arc Serpentune bridge. I previously had a PE 6119, but swapped it with a local guy for a Gibson ES-339. What's my point? I vote for the '53 VS Duo Jet. Its pickups are stunning. Feel is no problem, after a minute or 2 of adjustment. The stock aluminum compensated bridge, though, is bewilderingly bad. They went too far with the vintageness on that, I think. But what do I know? I'm really a drummer.

35

Thanks for the feedback. We just have to be aware we're comparing $800-$1,000 Guild models with a $2,500 Gretsch model. I'd certainly hope the Gretsch is better! The Guild Bluesbird and Aristocrat are more comparable to Korean Electromatics.

But your comment about the pickups (TV Jones, T-Armond) brings up a question. What if you put those in an Aristocrat? As someone mentioned earlier, it has a floating wooden bridge base, so it might have a similar vibe? Just no Bibsby, and it's hard for me to imagine playing with Dynasonics/D'Armond pickups and no bigsby.

Also, the previous Newark Aristocrats were made in Korea, the new models with either 'buckers or P90s are made in China. The Korean model has no rear access for upgrading electronics. Since there are no f-holes, how in the world would you change pickups or pots? The Chinese made ones at least have rear opening control cavities. The guy who put the TV Jones Classics in my G5420t was using dentist tools and mirrors as it was!

36

Guild sells Guild-insignia Bigsbys (say it with me: Guildsbys) on their official site. i considered putting one on the Aristocrat, but as i said before i didn't want to do anything to alter its out-of-the-carton perfection.

Since there are no f-holes, how in the world would you change pickups or pots?

i figure that for pickups you unmount them, pull as much lead wire as possible out of the pickup rout, and solder the new leads to the end of the old ones. for pots, i just wouldn't mess with it, but then my only general use for guitar knobs is to turn off the volume when i set it down.

37

Ha ha! Yeah my G5420t obviously does NOT have a treble bleed circuit installed and turning any knobs back from 10 takes the life out of the tone. So I just leave all knobs dimed on that guitar. Other guitars, like my Am Pro Jaguar and Supro Hampton have very useful knobs with good ranges, so I use them.

I think for adding a Bigsby style vibrato to a guitar, personally I'd want one that hooks to the strap button and doesn't require drilling into the guitar top. I saw someone put a Deusenberg vibrato on a Jet, and it looked like it was built into a TOM style bridge. Not sure how well it worked but it was unique. I know nothing about it, just saw a photo and thought "now there's an idea".

38

i agree entirely. the only reason i plan to put a B7 on my ES-335 is that a B6 just didn't work unless the bridge saddle slots were filed 2 or 3 mm deep. in general, i don't ever like making new holes in guitars unless they're projects with no real meaning for anyone but me.

39

Found it. That Duesenberg vibrato is called the "Les Trem". Obviously made for Gibson style guitars, but it might be an alternative to put on a stop tail Jet, or any post bridge guitar you didn't want to drill holes in. Still won't sound like a Bigsby, I'm sure.

40

Göldo, the company which makes the Les Trem (and also owns Duesenberg) also offers several versions of a tremolo somewhat like the Les Trem including one with a full-length trapeze tailpiece-like mount, a "horseshoe-shaped" version that i guess would serve for Jazzmaster-style guitars, and a "shorty" version similar in mount and size to a "shorty" Maestro Vibrola. all feature a similar arm and spring arrangement to the stud-mounted Les Trem. they're a bit tricky to find since Göldo is a wholesaler rather than a retail outlet; i believe i've seen them on the Thomann site. all the non-stud-mounted models require a hole drilled/routed into the top of the body to accommodate the spring, similar to some 60s Japanese models.

41

Thanks for the feedback. We just have to be aware we're comparing $800-$1,000 Guild models with a $2,500 Gretsch model. I'd certainly hope the Gretsch is better! The Guild Bluesbird and Aristocrat are more comparable to Korean Electromatics.

I was in no way denigrating the Bluesbird - or any other Guild. They've always been great designs, and the Newark Street editions are awfully good renditions, much better than their money. I was only observing that they aren't Jets - and, in my view, shouldn't be subjected to attempts to make them so.

Acourse anyone's guitar is his bidnit, and I have no personal stake in what he does with it. I'm only saying I wouldn't try to Gretschify one of those guitars, as they are so distinctly and uniquely what they are.

But your comment about the pickups (TV Jones, T-Armond) brings up a question. What if you put those in an Aristocrat? As someone mentioned earlier, it has a floating wooden bridge base, so it might have a similar vibe? Just no Bibsby, and it's hard for me to imagine playing with Dynasonics/D'Armond pickups and no bigsby.

Well, here we go. I wouldn't replace the pickups in either the Aristocrat or the Tuxedo - and I wouldn't try to pick up a tuxedoed aristocrat, though I might make a pass at his date if he was boorish and paying little attention to her, and she was smart and funny. But only for conversation and companionship, you understand, because I'm old and tired.

Neither of those two guitars (I know you're only asking about the Aristo, but I lump them together as their builds are very similar) could ever be a Jet. They may have a similar overall size and appearance, in a general way, and single-coil pickups, and all three (I suppose) look ike solid-body guitars are aren't. But where those differ from the Jet is that they aren't (solid) in a much bigger way. They're essentially guitar-shaped air sculptures with a minimum of wood acting as a container to keep the air from getting away. I mean, they're hollow.

A Jet, by comparison, is a chunk of mahogany with a bunch of it chiseled out and a maple lid glued on.

Two different things - and the guitars sound it.

The Korean model has no rear access for upgrading electronics. Since there are no f-holes, how in the world would you change pickups or pots?

Well, there are tricks of the trade, most involving surgical tubing and sturdy thread, though some employing faeries, sprites, and pixies (before labor laws and general social attitudes changed to forbid it). It's done all the time (though only once by me). Hint: all the work is done through the pickup holes. Ships in bottles.

But should you ever find yourself in possession of a Korean Aristocrat (or a Tuxedo, or a Korean Aristocrat in a tuxedo - hey, who am I to judge?), and the lack of rear access prevents your changing out the pickups (for anything other than possibly better P90s), the limitation will have served its purpose.

But then the force of the genie has always derived from its confinement in the bottle.

42

I wouldn't try to pick up a tuxedoed aristocrat, though I might make a pass at his date if he was boorish and paying little attention to her, and she was smart and funny. But only for conversation and companionship, you understand, because I'm old and tired.

Now that's funny! You remind me of a very clever and witty literature professor I had in college.

I hear you, and point well made. I believe it. Having played a Korean Aristocrat (not a person, but a guitar), I know what you're saying about the mini hollowbody build, and how that contributes to the tone. I really liked it, but if I got every guitar I drooled over I'd need a large warehouse and a very fat bank account (which obviously wouldn't stay that way for long).

The newer Chinese-made Aristocrats do have chambered bodies, rather than bound back and sides like the previous Newark Aristocrat. So they'd have a little more in common with a Jet, but they have post mounted, TOM style bridges (instead of the floating wood base). If I like the '53 VS Jet that much more than Player Edition DS Jet models just from listening to compressed YouTube videos, then trying to slap Dynas on a Guild ain't gonna cut it.

So that leaves me still needing to just find the money for a '53 VS Jet. That's the sound and vibe I want the most, and there doesn't seem to be an affordable substitute. I'm very picky and not easily satisfied. Better to have one guitar that's spot on, than three that are somewhat close.

43

Just to stoke the embers of your fire for a '53 VS, I spent a half hour this morning running roughshod over rhythm changes with my '53 VS before work and it really is a fabulous guitar. Clear, open notes that just jump out of the guitar and hit you right between the eyes. I'm so impressed with how close it can get to an archtop type sound.

44

After that awesome detailed post by Proteus (the first one, LOL), I had wanted a VS Jet before... now I REALLY REALLY REALLY want one.... I don't want to "rock" with it, I want the old-school "thunk" the floating bridge provides (over the stud mounts), just like my 6120, but alot more comfortable.

But I want a red sparkle one, which means I'd have to find a used '90s model. Sigh.

45

I don't want to "rock" with it, I want the old-school "thunk" the floating bridge provides (over the stud mounts),

Yes, that's me. I have a Vox SSC-33 (with P-90s) and Supro Hampton (with gold foils) for rocking. I want that wood bridge base and Bigsby vibe with the Dynasonics. Since I play mostly clean or on the edge of breakup, that sound is one I'm missing from my other guitars and I'm really starting to love it.

Just to stoke the embers of your fire for a '53 VS, I spent a half hour this morning running roughshod over rhythm changes with my '53 VS before work and it really is a fabulous guitar. Clear, open notes that just jump out of the guitar and hit you right between the eyes. I'm so impressed with how close it can get to an archtop type sound.

Thanks for that! I've been down the "buy cheap and upgrade" road before and it usually ends with me losing money when I sell the result because I'm not satisfied.

I just recorded a version of "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" for a virtual Christmas program my church is doing. I used my PRS S2 Studio with "D-type" pickups for parts of it (Gretsch G5420t, Jaguar, Supro for the rest) and it just made me want a VS Jet even more. That sound would be perfect for something like that.

46

Proteus, thanks very much for a most informative post. I read (several times) with interest as I am about to change the PUPs on a 6131 PowerJet that I just recently acquired. I had previously convinced myself that I wanted a Dyna-equipped Jet but stumbled across the 6131 and was seduced by the ebony board, the Firebird red and to a lesser extent the locking tuners. I figured that the bridge and the PUPs could be changed easily and so this could be a good way to get my "perfect" Jet.
I have D'Armond 2000s in a 5124 (with compensated brass nut & RBB) and TVJ Classics in a 6120 RHH (with bone nut mod). The RHH has a raised, floating neck that I believe is responsible for the top "ringing" so much more than that of the 5124 (as well as the difference in top deck materials and bracing). I also believe that the bone nut makes a difference. The neck joint & board height on the 6131 is similar to that of the RHH and the board floats, but to a lesser degree. To play the Jet "feels" more like the RHH but this is perhaps more down to the quality of the fretwork and the Ebony, so what I was hoping for. The ABR bridge and "harp" length are also similar to that of the RHH.
Anyways, I have read that the Jet body may accentuate the treble tones from the pickups and was concerned that the Dynas would be more glassy than my D'Armond 2000s in the 5124. With this in mind I was thinking of going TVJ Classics at both Bridge & neck. If they sound a little more trebley in the Jet (than in the RHH) then they could be just what I am hoping for. I then started reading about how the (neck) Classic was a faithful reproduction of the FilterTron, and also that TVJ had helped design the modern HS FilterTron. Am I over-looking FilterTrons as a contender? They are, of course, half the price of TVJ Classics so have that in their favour. Can you please share your views on how you think the Dynas, FilterTrons & TVJ Classics will compare in the 6131 Jet body? Many thanks.

47

Ehh. Those people need better drug-testing. If the magnets do pull the strings enough to take them out of tune (and they certainly don't affect the fundamental or any higher overtones which establish pitch), it's in a way that contributes to the uniquely unique uniqueness of the Dyna Jet. All the details - body chambering, neck set, bridge configuration, Bigsby, and pickups - add up to a "synergy" (a word I've come to despise) more than the sum of their parts, and the sum of the parts is already pretty impressive. Whatever Dynasonics do to strings is what should be done, by gawd.

to be fair, i did find that magnet pull messed with my sustain, but only when i got those huge magnetized slugs less than 1.5 mm from the treble strings. the result was an unpleasantly thwangy (as different to "twangy") quality. but that's really too close anyway...you get to that point where the pickup gets overloaded by the string and the tone gets weird.

48

Durbanator, it's taken awhile to think through the options in your post.

As a background of my experience with directly related gear - to point out both the possible relevance and the limits of my observations - I have a 6120 with "regular" bracing and TV Classics, the 2008 Jaguar Tan Anniversary with ML (half-trestle) bracing and Power'Trons, two 6120s with Gretsch Dynasonics, a 6129 Silver Jet (2010 or so) with HS Filter'Trons, two 6128 Jets (one with Seymour Duncan Dynas, one with T-Armonds), and a Billy Bo with Power'Trons. I have two guitars with Classic Plus at the bridge (my choice, and I'm happy with it); one of those (a 17" Falcon/Club-like hollowbody) has a Classic at the neck; the other (an Anniversary Junior) has a Magna'Tron at the neck.

In addition, I had a pair of HS Filter'Trons in my 2008-ish 6122 before I swapped them out for TV's Stereo Filter'Trons, and the stock pickups in the 6122-1959 Gent (so, Super'Tron at the neck, Classic Plus in HiloTron drag at the bridge).

And, for several months probably 6 years ago, I had TV's test mule guitar at my house with slide-in examples of ALL of his pickups, to make demos of everything. (That project still wants editing, and it pre-dated both the Setzer Sigs - I have a pair, but haven't installed them in anything yet - and the Butts pickups, which I haven't heard in person).

None of this makes me any kind of expert on TV Jones or Gretsch pickups, because we all listen for what our ears like; have wildly different signal chains, amps, and gain structures; and play different music in different contexts. So all I know are the pickups I like in the guitars I have, for the way I play.

To be clear about that, I rarely push amps into overdrive with just the guitar and volume. The default clean tone I invariably dial in is pretty full-fidelity, with more low end than most, and pretty clean on top. Think a Deluxe Reverb at 3-4, with bass at 4-5 and treble at 5-6 (depending on speaker), or a Peavey Classic 30 with bass above half, treble about half, and mids a little below. Even when I played loud, in bar bands from pop to funk to rock to country, I'd generally keep mid-powered tube amps below breakup (which was plenty loud), and get drive with pedals.

And I'm a pedal junkie: my "foundation" board includes a compressor and the Nocturne Atomic Brain preamp (both of which are usually on), as well as several overdrives of various sorts which I mix and stack for the whole range of overdriven and dirty guitar tones. (Not to mention fuzzes.)

Over the past several years, most of my playing has been through modelers (Helix, Mooer GE300, Hotone Nano amps) or the Kemper Profiler. Even though all of those are packed to overflowing with every gradation of hairy to crunchy to juicy to saturated to amps on fire...I habitually dial in a clean amp model that sounds a lot like the real-world amps I like, and use pedals (real or virtual) anyway.

All of which is to say that if your use patterns are wildly different, my observations on your decision may be wildly off-target.


OK, so what to put in a PowerJet. I think the PowerJet, as such, has been out of the line for several years. In its heyday, it used the same basic Jet body and neck as other Jets; same material, same body construction, same neck set and floating bridge.

Jets have undergone a gradual hollow-ing out between, say, 2008 and the present. At least two limited-run Jets led the way in that process: the Billy Zoom signature Jet in 2008, then the George Harrison Jet, which I think was 2012 or '13.

Billy's was the real breakpoint: as Gretsch built him prototypes for his sig model, he staunchly insisted that they just weren't hollow enough - were too heavy, weren't as chambered as his 50s original. Ultimately (you may have seen the pics), his guitar was imaged in a medical facility to show the vintage chambering. And - no surprise to BZ - his 50s Jet was considerably more hollow than current Gretsch practice in the 2000.

After the introduction of the BZ, and then the GH, I suspect some degree of more extensive chambering gradually found its way into (or out of!) the pro-series Jet line. But, so far as I know, it's never been made explicitly clear just which models got how much chambering, and when. Does the whole Jet line today have as much chambering as the BZ and GH? I can't answer.

I'm making a point of how hollow a Jet might be, because it may bear on the tone and response of your guitar. The year of your Jet may play a role in your pickup choice: if it's pre-2008, we can be confident it has relatively less chambering, and behaves more like a solidbody (but not to the extent of a typical Les Paul, if there is such a thing). And the later the guitar was made...the more likely it's more hollow.

Optional Digression 1 into comparison of model-identical 2006 and 2019 Dyna Jets may be found at end of post.

ANYway, with all that background...why did you get seduced by a PowerJet when you were looking for a Dyna Jet? Target of opportunity, I get that - and I have a strong weakness for the right shade of red too - but TV Power'Trons and DynaSonics are almost as far apart as you can get in Gretsch PickupLand! (HiloTrons would be a further stretch.)

At the time the PowerJets were made, all Jets had the higher neck set and floating bases. (Now many Jets are the Players Edition variety with Les Paul-ish neck sets and stud-mounted bridges.) I mention this just to emphasize that you could still put T-Armonds (in Filter'Tron mount) in that guitar. Then the only mechanical difference between it and a Jet bought with DynaSonics would be your seductive ebony fingerboard instead of the rosewood Gretsch typically pairs with Dynas.

You fear Dynas in a Jet may be too "glassy" (not a term I generally associate with Dynas) - more than the 2000s in your 5124. I say emphatically not.

My first Gretsch was a 512x, the 27 I think (light blue) with the 2000s - and it was distinctive enough, and I liked it enough, to dig deeper. (My exact thought was if the entry level line is this good, how good is the expensive stuff?) Once I played a 6120 with Dynas, it was all over. Everything the 2000s had which I liked...the Dynas had more of. More bottom, more punch, more twang, more kerrangg, more character, and, yes plenty of highs. But not really more strident or ice-pickier highs. By comparison to the 2000s (to my ear), the Dyna was better balanced, with more of everything, whereas the 2000s - like HiLoTrons - sound, overall, brighter and thinner to me.

2000s in a hollowbody provide some hint to what Dynas in a Jet are like. But only a hint - and till you've been able to spend a period of time on your own with a Dyna Jet, there's really no way to know just what it's like, and how it would fit into your playing. It transcends everything I thought I knew about 13" thin-bodied guitars. It sounds huge, and resonant, and full, and there's very little DynaSonics can't do.

Nother words, I'm encouraging you to reconsider giving up on the Dyna Jet conversion. I wouldn't say the Jet body emphasizes the highs from Dynas. (The more solid a particular Jet body might be, the more that might apply...but it doesn't apply in my 2006 Jet body.) In any case, tone controls work really well with Dynasonics. And the "old" wiring, without the much-hyped "treble bleed" mod, lets the master volume provide some tone control as well. Just backing it down from 10 to 9-1/2 (or, you know, further if you like) also darkens the tone just slightly - often exactly as much as I find is needed if I think I'm getting too strident, or need to tuck under the surface of the mix a little.

It's possible that you turn out not to be a Dyna guy. (It happens even in the best families. I'm told.) So OK then, onward and outward. If you go T-Armonds (by far your easiest and best choice for easy swaps), you can always turn them and get another TV variant. I believe TV used to have a no-fault trial period so you could return pickups you're not bonding with to try another. I don't know if he still does. (I know I offer that for bridges.) It's never hard to sell TV Jones pickups.

As for Filter'Tron variants, I don't think any of them will sound essentially "treblier" in a Jet than in the RHH. No doubt the RHH puts more "air" and resonance around the notes, whereas the Jet is a bit more focused. But the Jet body produces a very full range of frequencies. One of the hallmarks of 16" Gretsch hollowbodies, especially with Filter'Trons, has always been their bright chimey character. If anything - to my ear - the Jet is more balanced through all registers.

I take it you've already decided to get rid of the Power'Trons, I'm guessing because they sound too middy and fat to you. And they're definitely chubbier than TV Classics. To get a sense of that difference, you could see Digression 2 below: Classics vs Power'Tron Play Test.

More of my Power'Tron experience: they came on my Billy Bo, and again, I thought they sounded tubby in the mids. Figured I'd replace them. But when I put an aluminum bridge on the guitar (I suppose you know Tru-Arc is my product), they got really sweet. It combed out some of the midrange honk that had bothered me, still kept the punch, and of course let the high end shine (but not pierce). The Power'Trons are staying in that guitar - though at the moment I have a glass bridge on it.

I don't have - and have never had - a Jet with TV Classics. Mine has the High Sensitive FilterTrons. I do have TV Jones' Spectrasonic with Classics - roughly similar to a Jet build in its chambering, but a bigger (not thicker) body. They are bright in the guitar. I wouldn't say too bright, but I do often dial the tone back a little to smooth them out. Generally when I spec Classics in a guitar, I put a Classic Plus at the bridge, for just a little extra warmth and push. I think a regular Classic can be a little lean in that position - at least given my signal chain. (Again, in a different setup, with gobs of preamp gain in a tube amp, you could have totally different response than I get.)

So the standard Gretsch High Sensitive Filter'Trons. How are they? They're good. My recollection (from a conversation with TV probably 12 years ago) is that they're slightly overwound Classics, built to his design - but in Japan, without his attention to materials and production oversight, and without some of the proprietary voodoo that goes in when he makes the pickups.

To me - by comparison to Classics - they sound slightly more ragged, a little hotter and fuller, less composed and refined. Both have the same general tonal character, but the High Sensitives like to rawk a little more - or it's easier to push them there. I've liked them well enough in my 2011 Sparkle Jet to leave them in. I considered going with a Classic/Classic Plus combo, but after I put a titanium bridge on the guitar...it brought enough refinement and composure to sweeten the guitar to where I wanted it. (At the moment I have aluminum on it, for circumstantial reasons that originally had nothing to do with tone, but it turns out I like what it does to the pickups as well, and feel no need to swap them out.)

(You'll note that I frequently use bridge material to fine-tune the tone and response of a guitar, which is easy enough for me because I always have bridges on hand. But it's effective, is generally both less expensive and easier than swapping pickups. Not trying to sell you, just saying.)

If I was in your shoes - knowing what I know about pickups and bridges - having gone shopping for a Dyna Jet and come home with a PowerJet, I'd want to give the pickups I bought with the guitar a fair chance.

If I didn't like them after adjusting amp and pedals, I'd try adjusting their heights and polepieces. In general, bringing the body closer to the strings increases fat, moving it further away reduces it - a property you could use to tweak the guitar. Raising polepieces increases clarity and output of the associated string. TV publishes his ideal spec for pickup height, and that's the place to start.

If I still didn't like them, I'd put an aluminum bridge on it. (It's cheaper than replacing pickups.) If that didn't work, send it back to try other metals - or get a refund. You'll just be out shipping costs.

If, at that point, I determined to try pickups...well, I'd try T-Armonds first. A Jet with any species of Filter'Tron is a special thing, but it lives along the same continuum with many other guitars of roughly similar build. A Jet with DynaSonics (NOT the factory Dynas, which are too weak for my taste, so T-Armonds) is a different species. There's just nothing else like it (which doesn't also have DynaSonics).

But if I was determined to go down the Filter'Tron route rather than Dynas - or if I tried Dynas and didn't like them - I guess I'd look for a set of used High Sensitives first. They're probably half the money of any TVJ option, and you might like them.

But at that point we part ways. You'd try TV Classics; I've done that, so I'd try Buttses or install the Setzer Sigs currently doing the backstroke in my pickup box. If I didn't like either of those better than I like Classics...I'd probably put in Super'Trons. They're just enough more than Classics, without going all the way to Power'Tron beef. But I may like a little more body in my tone than you do.


Other considerations, just to completely overload you: the Magna'Tron lives in its own unique tonal domain. It's about as close to a DynaSonic as a dual-coil pickup can get, is definitely bright and punchy, and is something you might consider. It's so bright and punchy I'd be afraid of it as a bridge pickup, but I really like it at the neck in my Anni Jr.

Aaaannddd for a complete change in direction, there are my buddy Mel Waldorf's (Alameda Guitars) Off-Kiltertron pickups. (https://alamedaguitars.com) These pickups very convincingly do what he says they does: six distinct tones from one pickup, selected with a rotary switch. I've played guitars with them installed, and there's just nothing else like them. They're definitely what to have if you can't decide what to have! I have a set, and just haven't decided which guitar to put them in yet.

Finally, in yet another direction... You're concerned about brightness and clarity. Don't know if you're aware of Tavo Vega's (Nocturne) Atomic Brain preamp (https://www.thenocturnebrai...), but it's all about brightness and clarity. Many many players just don't plug in and turn on if the Brain isn't in gear.

You ever see Playtex Cross-Your-Heart Bra commercials from the 60s? (Go ahead, youtube some up.) The Atomic Brain lifts and separates everything you play. It's hard to explain, but it's a real thing. Most guys turn it on and leave it on, then turn it off every once in awhile to hear the blanket wrap around their amp - just so they remember why they leave it turned on. Then they turn it back on.

I'm not saying you use it instead of getting different pickups (or other mods). I'm saying that however good you get your guitar sounding...it will sound better with some Brain.


And now I bet you're sorry you ever asked.



Digression 1: How different are 2006 vs 2019 Dynasonic Jets, *really?*

I really wanted to know if the additional Jet chambering over the last several years makes much of a difference in the tone and response of the guitars. My first Jet is a 2006 6128T in Cad green - just a bog-standard Jet off the line, nothing intentionally special, purchased in 2007. I put Seymour Duncan Dynasonics in it in 2008 and it became The Best Guitar In The World. In 51 years of playing, no other guitar has suited me so well and become so completely my voice. (Which doesn't mean I don't play and love other guitars.)

But when the Vintage Selects were introduced several years ago, with (as was advertised) more extensive chambering, and a 1/8" deeper body, and this feature and that feature, new and improved...I started to feel left out. Maybe it was better than the Best Guitar in the World. So I ordered one in 2019, intending to keep the best of the two.

As you may have guessed, I still have both. I can't decide. It's not decidedly better. In spite of the greater chambering, it actually weighs several ounces more than my old one (I suppose it's the slight additional body depth). The versions of Cad green are slightly different (and I like both of them best); the mahogany stain is different (ditto), and the new one has T-Armonds instead of the Seymour Dynas. Played back to back, I can hear a slight difference in tone between them - and I'd say that, as expected, the newer Vintage Select is slightly woodier, knockier, airier, though at the cost of a little punch and focus. However, in a combo or a mix - or not played, solo, back to back, through the same rig...I'd be hard pressed to tell the tonal difference.


Digression 2: TV Classics vs Power'Trons

These clips might be useful - playing my 6120GA (with Classics) against the 2008 Anniversary (with Power'Trons), on the same material, with as nearly as possible the same tones and effects.

As I played it live, I thought the Classics sounded better - more sparkle and clarity. I did not enjoy playing the Anniversary/Power'Trons as much; I thought it sounded tubby. But that's not what comes across (even to me) when listening to the recordings. (For which, do wear headphones!) I don't hear much difference between the guitars in the high end, but I think the 6120/Classics sound overall thinner - and not necessarily in a good way. And for whatever reason, the Anniversary version of the song has had far more views.

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Ugh. WAY too long post. I only did it for Durbanator's benefit, as he'd asked...but he's either not been back to see it, or didn't need all the TMI and backed away in fear of provoking more logorrheic blather.

I'm embarrassed, and have almost deleted it twice. But he did ask for specific advice, and I did kinda get there. Eventually. More or less.


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