Pickups

Dark sounding vintage Filtertrons

1

Hi there,

I used to have a 1969 Nashville 14 years ago, my dream Gretsch. Had it all of 6 months then an emergency hit, and I was forced to sell. I'd finally owned the sound I loved.

Fast forward to this past Xmas, and I finally located a cosmetically 8 out of 10 same year/model. Someone along the line had replaced parts, and the seller never (seemed) to notice after owning it for 30 years, and playing it for only 10.

Anywho, I let it acclimate, plugged it in, and FLOP! Not the sound I had before, or any clean recording in the middle or neck. The neck is very lifeless, dull & dark. The bridge bright and thin.

Someone recommended rewinding, I phoned TVJ and spoke with him he said he'd have to actually hear it. Medical issues kicked in again, so haven't recorded anything yet. But when I told him the HiLoTrons on my 1967 6117 blows the Filtertrons out of the water, I could hear the surprise in his voice

Those things sound ten feet tall and full low bass. I tend to play on neck pickup only or with a dash of bridge dialed in.

I'm not technical so taking things apart, getting readings, no can do. But took to the 1 store in town, and they thought everything sounded fine. Ugh, nope.

What can I do with these? I've got a set of 1965 gold (with the green rust) Supertrons in layaway and will be paid off in about 3 months (disabled with medical bills, and only disability income) to replace these with.

Any/all help appreciated.

2

One pickup incorrectly bright and thin, the other incorrectly dark and fat...something doesn't compute. I suspect profound (but possibly not complicated) wiring or component faults.

Guy who knows what he's doing with old Gretschs could figure it out in half an hour, might be able to repair it in not much longer. But if he determines the pickups themselves are OK - that it's just wiring/switches - he could replace the wiring harness for much less than you must be paying for the SuperTrons.

(And when you get them, you're going to need a Gretsch-savvy tech anyway. Doesn't sound like that's your local guys.)

Wild thought: have you squirted contact cleaner into the pickup and tone switches and exercised them thoroughly? Oxidation can do nutty things.

Where are you located? We might be able to help you find a tech in your area who could sort you out or reliably tell you what's wrong. If there are none in the area, you could ship the guitar to a known-good guy

3

Do you have a multimeter? It’s likely you have a bad ground.

4

what Curt said, you can also test them by unplugging them (as they should have little plugs) and wire them straight to a patch cable and see if that helps, If your controls are wired goofy it can change things a lot.

Also I've had mud switches get gummed up and lose the normal middle position. Sometimes moving the switch between it's positions a lot helps. Sometimes you need electronics cleaner. My father always says check the easy stuff, so check everything around the pickups before you start assuming it's the pickups.

5

what Curt said, you can also test them by unplugging them (as they should have little plugs) and wire them straight to a patch cable and see if that helps, If your controls are wired goofy it can change things a lot.

Also I've had mud switches get gummed up and lose the normal middle position. Sometimes moving the switch between it's positions a lot helps. Sometimes you need electronics cleaner. My father always says check the easy stuff, so check everything around the pickups before you start assuming it's the pickups.

– Toxophilite

I think this is what Toxo is saying how to measure output. I do this and you don’t need to take the pickups out.

6

One pickup incorrectly bright and thin, the other incorrectly dark and fat...something doesn't compute. I suspect profound (but possibly not complicated) wiring or component faults.

Guy who knows what he's doing with old Gretschs could figure it out in half an hour, might be able to repair it in not much longer. But if he determines the pickups themselves are OK - that it's just wiring/switches - he could replace the wiring harness for much less than you must be paying for the SuperTrons.

(And when you get them, you're going to need a Gretsch-savvy tech anyway. Doesn't sound like that's your local guys.)

Wild thought: have you squirted contact cleaner into the pickup and tone switches and exercised them thoroughly? Oxidation can do nutty things.

Where are you located? We might be able to help you find a tech in your area who could sort you out or reliably tell you what's wrong. If there are none in the area, you could ship the guitar to a known-good guy

– Proteus

The squirt procedure has been performed, but no discernible change. In fact even just replacing the tip covers made everything go dead! I'm in Beaumont between Houston and Lk Charles.

One possibility is that I do have a matching TVJ harness from a project guitar years ago. Would it be theoretical to have it yanked from the (now donor) and used to replace the possibly messed up original?

Could that possibly solve the problem? I approached the 1 shop in town, and they weren't interested in attempting it.

Thanks

7

I think this is what Toxo is saying how to measure output. I do this and you don’t need to take the pickups out.

– ThePolecats

I don't have a meter, will have to see if I can borrow one.

Thanks

8

One possibility is that I do have a matching TVJ harness from a project guitar years ago. Would it be theoretical to have it yanked from the (now donor) and used to replace the possibly messed up original?

Well, assuming the donor harness's wires, switches, and pots are perfectly compatible with the recipient guitar - but it seems like a good bit of work and a long way around.

If it was mine, and I had exhausted my own diagnostic repertoire and/or ventured into hypotheticals I didn't know enough about, I'd have no qualms about shipping the guitar to a Gretschpert shop. Joe Glaser and certainly others in Nashville, Fullers in Texas - or somewhere in Austin - or our own Curt Wilson at Old School (see sponsor sidebar), though he may be too busy to get to it quickly.

Following on Curt's suggestion that it could be the ground, and noting greenish corrosion/oxidation on other parts, you might remove the Bigsby (remove strings, 3 screws in the butt bracket) and see if the end of the ground wire - which I think on your guitar should be squashed between the bracket and the body there - is grody-corrodey or otherwise not making good contact with the bracket. You want shiny wire mashed intimately against shiny metal on the back of the bracket. (Wouldn't hurt to sand/scrape the contact point a little.)

If it is the ground, there is of course no assurance that the problem is at that connection, but I've seen badly oxidized ground contacts on guitars younger than yours, which don't show other signs of oxidation. And it's a relatively easy thing to do. (Take care that the ground wire doesn't escape into the inside of the guitar, or you'll be aggravated.)

9

One possibility is that I do have a matching TVJ harness from a project guitar years ago. Would it be theoretical to have it yanked from the (now donor) and used to replace the possibly messed up original?

Well, assuming the donor harness's wires, switches, and pots are perfectly compatible with the recipient guitar - but it seems like a good bit of work and a long way around.

If it was mine, and I had exhausted my own diagnostic repertoire and/or ventured into hypotheticals I didn't know enough about, I'd have no qualms about shipping the guitar to a Gretschpert shop. Joe Glaser and certainly others in Nashville, Fullers in Texas - or somewhere in Austin - or our own Curt Wilson at Old School (see sponsor sidebar), though he may be too busy to get to it quickly.

Following on Curt's suggestion that it could be the ground, and noting greenish corrosion/oxidation on other parts, you might remove the Bigsby (remove strings, 3 screws in the butt bracket) and see if the end of the ground wire - which I think on your guitar should be squashed between the bracket and the body there - is grody-corrodey or otherwise not making good contact with the bracket. You want shiny wire mashed intimately against shiny metal on the back of the bracket. (Wouldn't hurt to sand/scrape the contact point a little.)

If it is the ground, there is of course no assurance that the problem is at that connection, but I've seen badly oxidized ground contacts on guitars younger than yours, which don't show other signs of oxidation. And it's a relatively easy thing to do. (Take care that the ground wire doesn't escape into the inside of the guitar, or you'll be aggravated.)

– Proteus

Ah yes, I've been to Fuller's 25+ years ago, forgot all about them! They sound like the easiest to reach Gretschpert (and closest). Thanks very much.

Will report back once it's done!

10

Filter’Trons are super-sensitive to height adjustment. Could be they’re just not set right.

11

Filter’Trons are super-sensitive to height adjustment. Could be they’re just not set right.

– Deke Martin

I second this.

12

Going to Houston at the end of the week, will stop by Fuller's, see what they say.

13

I approached the 1 shop in town, and they weren't interested in attempting it. - Joesasser

What, you're money's not good enough for them? Maybe they don't realize that there's a gigantic hole under the backpad. These are about the easiest hollowbodies there are to work on.

14

Went to Fuller's last week, in Houston. There were 3 people there. A young guy who didn't believe my Chet was a 69, some guy who disappeared after ordering me to wash my hands, and an older guy hanging strings on a parlor sized Gibson acoustic.

He said it sounded fine, older pickups "sound that way". When I mentioned my older Double Annie sounds 10' tall and huge, he exclaimed "yes that's how that sounds". he just seemed to doubt what I was saying/hearing. I showed him the text from their repair guy saying to bring it in, but the guy changing strings told the younger guy not to.

So my day was wasted, 200 miles for nothing, and the lost of any future patronage.

Today ordered a set of vintage Supertrons. Will have time in July after upcoming medical procedures and recuperation, to get them swapped out. The original Filtertrons will be for sale around then.

Thanks to everyone for their help.

15

Wow. I guess nobody needs business.

16

This is crazy!

"Someone along the line had replaced parts, and the seller never (seemed) to notice after owning it for 30 years, and playing it for only 10."

I'm betting someone wired it funky. It sounds like something may be out of phase. I don't really know but I'm betting because both meet at the master volume that the issue may be there. It's just a semi-educated guess though.

17

It's too bad that Houston is three hours away from you (it's actually three hours away from me now too - I'm in DFW). My old guitar tech, who is AWESOME, is in Houston, I think the repair techs over at Rockin' Robin are great too.

Toneshop guitars has a great repair team up here in Dallas, and there's a luthier or two around that I know up here.

Houston: Neil Sargent

Houston: Rockin' Robin

18

Wow. I guess nobody needs business.

– Afire

That's the feeling I got, too.

19

It's too bad that Houston is three hours away from you (it's actually three hours away from me now too - I'm in DFW). My old guitar tech, who is AWESOME, is in Houston, I think the repair techs over at Rockin' Robin are great too.

Toneshop guitars has a great repair team up here in Dallas, and there's a luthier or two around that I know up here.

Houston: Neil Sargent

Houston: Rockin' Robin

– Devil's Tool

I remember around 92 Neil did some work on my 67 Double Anniversary, did a great job. I asked him about this Chet, and he said it sounded like too much electrical work, and he doubted he'd be able to get to it.

IS THIS THING CURSED???

In 1990 Marty Bell refinished a Strat for me, while he was working at RR. Once the Supertrons come in, I'll definitely call first, and see if they can handle the job.

Thanks!

20

I'm guessing it's not the pickups though so installing Supertrons may not make much of a difference.

21

I remember around 92 Neil did some work on my 67 Double Anniversary, did a great job. I asked him about this Chet, and he said it sounded like too much electrical work, and he doubted he'd be able to get to it.

IS THIS THING CURSED???

In 1990 Marty Bell refinished a Strat for me, while he was working at RR. Once the Supertrons come in, I'll definitely call first, and see if they can handle the job.

Thanks!

– Joesasser

Neil's so great, haven't seen him in years. Did a great job on my first Gretsch in '97 and my orange Duane Eddy 6120 in 99 or so.

I didn't know Marty Bell worked at Rockin' Robin! I started taking guitar lessons at RR in 88 or 89 (or I should say resumed lessons, my first teacher was an accordion player in New Zealand). Small world!

22

Can't wait to hear (eventually) what the answer is!

23

Certainly hope you get the old gal back to tone. Fingers crossed fer ya.

24

Certainly hope you get the old gal back to tone. Fingers crossed fer ya.

– Suprdave

Thanks very much, me too, I sure appreciate it.

25

Neil's so great, haven't seen him in years. Did a great job on my first Gretsch in '97 and my orange Duane Eddy 6120 in 99 or so.

I didn't know Marty Bell worked at Rockin' Robin! I started taking guitar lessons at RR in 88 or 89 (or I should say resumed lessons, my first teacher was an accordion player in New Zealand). Small world!

– Devil's Tool

Marty used to live in Baytown, and I was chief engineer at a studio there. He came in and helped me record a couple of tracks, I played drums for him and engineered his stuff for him.

I think my Strat was one of the first guitars he "professionally" resprayed. He's out in Cali for 30+ years, and could even be retired from refinishing guitars & drums by now. He was doing custom finishes for RR drummers for decades.

Yep it is indeed a small world.


Register Sign in to join the conversation