Hilotrons! the queen of the cleans


Hilotrons are very natural sounding pickups. There is no frequency that they embellish or lack. They are a pickup that acts more like a microphone than any other pickup I have tried. My favorite setting is the middle position for Hilotrons with both bridge and neck pickups on. They pick up the whole spectrum of the guitar with that setting.


I concur completely about the HIlotron sound, very transparent. One of my singers(an acoustic musician) used to tell me my guitar sounded like an acoustic instrument. That made me happy. I use the middle setting 90% of the time with the neck pickup for extra jazzy sounds, or solos when I want a bigger sound and then use the bridge for Johnny cash-esque country or when I want to sound more edgy and sinister. I was under the impression that George Harrison was a big Chet Atkins fan, you can hear it in some of his playing. The all my loving solo for one. It seemed like that might've informed his choice of instruments. Also they're more beautiful than Strats or Les Pauls. I think at that time the amps were rarely powerful enough for the large venues and thus sounded it, not enough bottom. Though I thought his sound for the live solo of till there was you was pretty even if it wasn't hilotrons.


I use the middle position more often than not on the pick ups as well and rarely move the tone switch from the middle.


I used my 'tone switch' once. About 20 years ago on a recording, for one solo on a smoky ballad


I had a 2010 6119 HT and whe I liked the HiLotrons they were a bit thin sounding with a bit less presence than I expected. The tone is ok but after adjustments I just couldn't get what I was after. I think it's because the pickups are wound for less output. I am happy with the TV jones / HS Filter combo in my 6122-62 and love the TV Classics in my sslvo model .. More presence and great sparkly cleans with good bass response.. Nice grit as well as dimensional. I sold the Tenny but it had the greatest neck out of all of them.. It is a great guitar and I'm sure people can get some great sounds.


My favorite Hilotrons seem to be the vintage ones. I think it's probably because they weren't wax potted back in the day.


Are the new ones wax potted? I had one and I don't remember it being wax potted but I could be wrong Most of my experience has been with the old ones but the two I had to rewind sound like old ones too. i find the hilotrons can accomplish most any sound I'm looking for, output isn't a consideration for me but then I'm rarely trying to push my amp into distortion.


A HiLo'Tron was on my first Gretsch guitar (Anniversary) and I've loved them ever since. I've owned two Tennesseans and have always been crazy about the sound I've gotten out of them. I love Filter'Trons, Dynasonics and ESPECIALLY Super'Trons, but each pickup has it's job and for me, the HiLo'Trons do what they're supposed to do. George Harrison got a wonderful sound out of his. I like to think that George is standing there right over my shoulder every time I play mine, smiling!


Nice Tennesean! Looks familiar! When I bought mine 28 years ago I wanted a Gretsch, I had a girfriend who would lend me the $$ (whew!) and I phoned a guitar store just north of Seattle and they had some Gretsch's! I drove down there and the one I could afford was a Tennesean they brought out of the back with 5 strings on it. It had also been routed for a humbucker n the bridge position (ick!!) but had the original hilotrons. It was lovely, curvaceous and brown! I played a few strums on it plugged in with it's ancient 5 strings and promptly bought it for $700 and then rushed back to Vancouver (BC) and then paid $175 for a refret and fretboard planing! Still have it, it's seen probably 1500 plus shows,tons of rehearsals, many albums and a zillion miles on the road, has had it's headstock broken off 10 times!! (I'm sadly NOT exaggerating) and a speaker cab fall on it in Regina (denting the top right on one of the fake F-holes . It still sounds beautiful, stays in tune perfectly and It's still my favourite guitar. Here it is hanging out with all it's other friends...aside from the old Yamahas you'll notice a lot of Hilotrons. The Black Anniversary of the same year (1964) I believe was refinished prior to my owning it.


Big fan of hilos. Very sweet. Very pretty. Very Gretsch...


Wow Toxophilite, you should name your Tennessean "Timex" because "it takes a licking and keeps on ticking"! Truly must be your "pry from my cold dead hands" guitar. Congrats


More close ups of the Tenny please; I love the "well loved" (some call 'em beaters or players) Gretsches. Those are the real deal for me. The black Annie is a beauty; f-hole binding too!


Here's what I had available, You can see the slight munch on the bass side F-hole. I pulled it out but couldn't get it perfect. Also note the headstock is askew and you can see the half moon shaped maple inserts on either side. What you can't see id the iron wood insert with the 4 steel pins on the back!!!! It feels smooth and is shaped right, just looks scary. Very strong though. One day I'll put a new ebony half face plate on and get it resprayed.(I did that all for the first break.)I blame the rockabilly band I use to be in for the damage. Too much stage gymnastics and some mid air collisions. I bound the F-holes on the Black Anniversary as unbound F-holes in a black archtop just disappear. They both have custom bridges. I put the Imperials on the Tennesean and it never had a pickguard. I bought one once but I wasn't used to it so never installed it.


I think I've maybe realized why people, at least for a while. largely disliked hilotrons. besides the mania for high output pickups that prevailed for many years. I think that when you use light strings like 8s, 9s or 10s on a guitar with hilotrons it will sound thin (or thinner). Humbucker type pickups, even low output ones like filtertrons will do a lot to fatten up this sound.= as they naturally have less top end and a thicker sound. If you use heavier strings, (say 12's or maybe even 11s) with hilotrons you get a bigger more robust sound. Almost acoustic like sometimes. Big bottom with a crisp top end. On the neck pickup quite fat sounding. That's my new theory and I'm sticking to it I never did understand the dislike of hilotrons I kept encountering thoughout the years , but maybe that's why.

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