Pickups

Hilotrons! the queen of the cleans

1

Well , this might not be too popular but I'm pretty convinced (through long years of experience) that Hilotrons are one of the prettiest Gretsch pickups for clean sounds, and they sound great distorted through pedals too. Nice big bass and the prettiest top end I've heard of any pickup. Most of my experience is with the old ones but I did have to rewind a couple of defunct old ones and they sound great too. I've tried, Dearmonds (vintage dynas, new dynasonics , mustache gold tops) filtertrons (And I wound my own using a kit and the proper gauge wire, sounded like a filtertron and really nice but still not as pretty.) Standard humbuckers which I'm usually not too keen on but other people do nice things with them. Teles and strats usually sound beautiful but I can't get used to solid body guitars. I play professionally part time these days, mostly my own stuff and find a good clean sound is a good platform for a variety of styles. Interestingly I remember when I acquired my first Gretsch 25 years ago now, hilotrons were scorned. I never understood because I thought they sounded lovely and people told me all the time how nice my guitar sounded (Tennessean) Any other fans out there?

2

I'd like to know more! Any links to sound samples or videos? I've always been in teh Filtertron...or Dynasonics camp more recently and need educatin'

3

I love the HTs in my 6118 and agree totally that Hilo'trons have a very natural, pretty top end and work great with pedals. With the right overdrive pedal or cranked amp they have the most wonderful compression. The HTs are slightly fatter than the stock Hilo'trons.

Now that I have Gretches with Filter'trons, T-Armonds and HTs, I don't think of one as being better than the other, just different.

6119 with HTs: http://jacobscattle.com/mus...

4

Thanks Journeyman, your family make a fine sound together! I just checked out the TV Jones page for Hilotrons and like what I hear there. Not sur eif anyone else has the same tinkering around problem as me...I get the bottom end nice and twangy and then the highs get a little shrill for solos...if I dial the tone in for sweet solo highs, I lose the twang on the lower strings.

It's not a big deal, just something I ponder around with on Filters and Dynas. SO, maybe I should give Hilotrons a whirl hey? http://tvjones.com/pickups-...

5

Thanks Journeyman, your family make a fine sound together! I just checked out the TV Jones page for Hilotrons and like what I hear there. Not sur eif anyone else has the same tinkering around problem as me...I get the bottom end nice and twangy and then the highs get a little shrill for solos...if I dial the tone in for sweet solo highs, I lose the twang on the lower strings.

It's not a big deal, just something I ponder around with on Filters and Dynas. SO, maybe I should give Hilotrons a whirl hey? http://tvjones.com/pickups-...

– Vince_Ray

Not sure if this would help but I really like the combo of a Dynasonic in the neck and a Filter in the bridge. I have a T'Armond in the neck of my 6120RHH and a Setzer Classic in the bridge. Paul Pigat uses a dyna/filter combo in the synchro club that he and Stephen Stern designed.

I find that I get all the low end thumpin twang I want from the neck pickup but the filter has the nice compressed sparkle I also love for leads.

6

You're right Mac, I did try that and it worked well on my Silverjet when I fell out with the stock Dyna in the bridge. Kinda wish I'd tried flipping them so the slugs wouldn't have been so close to the bridge...never liked that.

Did you get to try any Supro amps?

7

I bought my Tenny in 1967 as a George thing and liked it but didn't love it mainly because I had lacked the patience to wait for my dream Country Gent. That desire for the Gent influenced my opinion of the Tennessean. Now being older and wiser, I'm still more of a Filters fan but appreciate the HiLos more than ever.

Fwiw - A few years ago we A/B'd my '65 Tenny against an '05 model in a music store. Nothing scientific about the comparison other than the same amp and can't even say if the strings were the same, but the consensus was that mine sounded better.

8

You're right Mac, I did try that and it worked well on my Silverjet when I fell out with the stock Dyna in the bridge. Kinda wish I'd tried flipping them so the slugs wouldn't have been so close to the bridge...never liked that.

Did you get to try any Supro amps?

– Vince_Ray

I haven't tried any Supros yet. Hoping to make it down to the music store that stocks them Saturday morning or sometime next week. I'll def report back my findings! I hope the Rhythm Master sounds as good as it looks. 15" speaker and the option of swtiching between 35 watts Class A and 45 or 60 watts Class AB seems like it would be a gigging/recording guitarists best friend. I also want to check out the Royal Reverb which seems to be the same amp but with two 10" speakers instead of the single 15".

9

I brought home a 1964 Corvette with a single Hilotron, from the Great White North Roundup. I'm with you on loving the tone! I'm amazed at how crystal clear it is. Yesterday I was working home alone, and I had it cranked up a bit through a Clark Beaufort (tweed deluxe). Yowza it was sweet. What a simple, great guitar.

10

I have a 64 tennesean and a 64 double anniversary both with original hilotrons. They both sound great with a full dynamic range though the Tennesean has the edge in overall quality. I find other pickups usually sound like they're a lot more mid focused in comparison. I know a lot of people like that particularly for distorted sounds.The two hilotrons I've rewound (to about 4k) sound good, pretty well indistinguishable. I've tried one of the new ones and it sounded good as well, maybe a bit more raw or edgy but sometimes that's subjective.. I like the hifi quality to the sound of hilotrons in general as well they have a funky imperfect quality which is usually what makes all older gear interesting and character laden. i usually play pretty clean and in my opinion a straightforward clean sound really shows the characteristics of a pickup Here's an example of my standard sound on the Tennesean. This is through a roland Re-150 tape echo running stereo mostly into a super reverb and deluxe type amp I built

https://thecolorifics.bandc...

more cleans https://thecolorifics.bandc...

the anniversary miked acoustically and through an amp(intro)mixed together it sounds like an acoustic! (solid one piece ebony bridge with bone saddle helps alot!) I think it's the Tennesean in the rest of the song, Alot of real leslie used and panned hard right and left, kind of vertigo creating in headphones). classic slap back Tennesean sound on solo https://thecolorifics.bandc...

Some hellbound train sounds https://thecolorifics.bandc...

Jazzy pop- All tennessean, super reverb space echo https://thecolorifics.bandc...

Al the tracks on the three albums on bandcamp are recorded mostly with the 64 Tennesean and some with the Anniversary. There is, of course, a lot of acoustic guitars too.

Sorry no bluesy rock. I like it, but I figure that's pretty well covered out there by other folks and not what I generally gravitate to in my writing.

11

Very nice clean tone you have going there! Love the way your group swings!

12

Thanks! I have used both guitars for heavy rock stuff too but mostly with pedals.

13

Well , this might not be too popular but I'm pretty convinced (through long years of experience) that Hilotrons are one of the prettiest Gretsch pickups for clean sounds, and they sound great distorted through pedals too. Nice big bass and the prettiest top end I've heard of any pickup. Most of my experience is with the old ones but I did have to rewind a couple of defunct old ones and they sound great too. I've tried, Dearmonds (vintage dynas, new dynasonics , mustache gold tops) filtertrons (And I wound my own using a kit and the proper gauge wire, sounded like a filtertron and really nice but still not as pretty.) Standard humbuckers which I'm usually not too keen on but other people do nice things with them. Teles and strats usually sound beautiful but I can't get used to solid body guitars. I play professionally part time these days, mostly my own stuff and find a good clean sound is a good platform for a variety of styles. Interestingly I remember when I acquired my first Gretsch 25 years ago now, hilotrons were scorned. I never understood because I thought they sounded lovely and people told me all the time how nice my guitar sounded (Tennessean) Any other fans out there?

– Toxophilite

I am a huge holo fan...sparkle, woody tone...super,clean...loves,my ts9

14

Toxophilite' recordings should convince people that HiLos should not be easily dismissed. Like.

15

I am a big fan, as is well known, even went as far as to make a 3 Hi Lo Gretsch. They are still scorned by Strat snobs.. when a Strat pickup is about the same thing a a Duo Sonic/Mustang pickup.... anyway I am thinking of converting the famous sparkle Annie over to Hi Los from the Supertrons -- I have long inquired if any one A/Bd original vs. TVJ Hi Los -- there didn't seem to be a consensus.

I still say the most badass HiLo sound... well you know where this is going..

16

I brought home a 1964 Corvette with a single Hilotron, from the Great White North Roundup. I'm with you on loving the tone! I'm amazed at how crystal clear it is. Yesterday I was working home alone, and I had it cranked up a bit through a Clark Beaufort (tweed deluxe). Yowza it was sweet. What a simple, great guitar.

– Daddy Dog

Simple great amp too.

17

A question I always had was why did George Harrison go from a Gent to a Tenny? It seems to be reverse logic in that the Gent was the upgraded model. Since he could have any guitar he wanted, my assumption is that he was onto something; perhaps just a preference for single coils since he also went back to his Jet, but I'm guessing that he heard something in the HiLo. Like I said earlier, I'm still in the Filters camp but do like the HiLos now more than ever.

18

A question I always had was why did George Harrison go from a Gent to a Tenny? It seems to be reverse logic in that the Gent was the upgraded model. Since he could have any guitar he wanted, my assumption is that he was onto something; perhaps just a preference for single coils since he also went back to his Jet, but I'm guessing that he heard something in the HiLo. Like I said earlier, I'm still in the Filters camp but do like the HiLos now more than ever.

– Baba Joe

George was a guitar junkie. Seems like he was always trying something new.

19

Hilotrons really shine at the neck position in a hollow body guitar. It's a low output single coil. It's no surprise that they were designed similar to those floating, pick guard mounted jazz guitar pickups of the late 40's and 50's. After all Gretsch was fitting them in a lot of hollow body guitars.

You don't need a lot of output at the neck position (neck pickups usually are lower output in a set) because the string arc is wider. You also get more bass response at the neck, so a single coil shines there because it's brighter than a humbucker.

The problem lies in the fact that Hilotrons started showing up in places they weren't designed...namely in solid body guitars and at the bridge. Gretsch saw that Gibson was making budget guitars like the LP Junior with a single coil P90 pickup at the bridge and wanted to copy that. SO they took THEIR single coil and dropped it into a solid body and the Corvette was born. But a low output single coil at the bridge sounds a bit tinny and weak. You really want a humbucker there. Gibson was getting away with it with a P-90...but that's a bigger, higher output single coil.

I love Hilos at the neck personally. Even in a solid body guitar. But at the bridge in a solid body they only work for me if they are overwound. They really shine in solid body guitars, though. Great blooming jazz sound without the mud.

20

Personally, I've only had them in hollow body guitars so I can't comment on `solidbody instruments, but I think they sound really good in both positions and the middle(which I use the most). They sound great in the bridge position for a variety of things, Country springs to mind and any time you want to sound evil. I tried a filtertron in the bridge position of a non gretsch hollowbody I have which normally has two hilotrons in it and the pretty, extended ,near acoustic top that one gets disappeared so I swapped the hilotron back in.

I don't what George Harrison was thinking but maybe he just liked the single cut body better than the double cut? Aesthetics are a big part of the appeal of an instrument. This is some of the nicest playing I've heard George do (very Chet / Les Paul) and it's on the country gent. He gets a really nice sound during the solo when he turns up his master volume. and Paul certainly has the best Vulcan haircut

21

It wasn't until the Beatles came to America that they were exposed to a lot of quality gear. George once told a story of a single Fender Strat arriving at a London guitar store and him missing it by getting to the store a few minutes after it opened. A guy from the Shadows had already snapped it up. It could well be that Gibson and Fender electrics were in too short supply and too expensive with import duties for English musicians to get...so George played a Gretsch because it was what was available and what he got used to.

I do know later in his tenure with the Beatles he described his Gretsch/Vox combo as a "thin" sound" that didn't measure up to other guitarists in England with their Les Pauls, Strats and Marshall stacks. Personally I love the sound and I associate it with the term "vintage guitar"

22

I know that I was pleasantly surprised when I plugged my Little Clipper into my Hot Rod one day. Absolutely stunned at the sound!

23

Several years back I had a 6120 with a Dyna in the bridge position, and a TV HiLo in the neck position.

It was sweet, and a great combination. To my ears, the HiLo is a perfect neck pup. A very "crisp" sound, that's so hard to get out of any other pup in that position.

My next venture may be putting a HiLo in the neck of my -58 Gent, along with a Classic Plus in the bridge.

I'm betting that the results would be very nice with that "Electrotone" body!

24

Dynasonics are king of the clean (and of the twang)

25

i'm not impressed by the live sound of George Harrison on his gretsch guitars. The combinaison vox gretsch is not the best


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