Pickups

Newb question on 5420T pickup height

1

I just got my first Gretsch after too many years wanting one. I bought a 2017 5420TG in candy apple red. I love the look and feel of the instrument, but output signal seems pretty weak. With the Yamaha THR10C practice amp I have, I have to basically crank gain and volume hard to get even moderate output.

I'm wondering about the pickup height. Both pickup bodies are a full 1/4" below the strings, with the poles almost all completely backed off as delivered . Seems awfully low.

Opinions?

Also if raising the pickups is recommended, what's the process with this model? (Its the mounting with two screws on the bass side)

2

change the pickups for TV Jones

3

change the pickups for TV Jones

– DIDIER D

Oh, believe me, I have just that in mind (along with an aftermarket bridge), but not in the budget until after the holiday season at least.

Meantime, getting more output from the stock PU's would be a good thing.

4

Torch - lovely guitar. You’ll enjoy it. Many love the blacktop Filtertrons on their own merits.

Most Gretsch pickups are inherently lower output than you may be used to. That translates to brighter tone with more detail and texture - part of the charm of a Gretsch to begin with. (The company is offering some hotter pickups to attract more players, so far without seriously compromising the distinctive tone that attracted most of us in the first place - but we sometimes fear they’ll go too far.)

Blacktops are among those experiments. So - first advice - see if you can’t embrace them for what they are, work with the tone, see where it leads you. A bit cleaner and brighter than you may be used to.

That said, of course you still want the guitar to be satisfying and responsive to the way you play. So. What gauge strings? Please, nothing lighter than 10s - and try 11s if you can stand it. They get the top moving better, and give the pickups more to work with. Fuller sound.

Adjustment. I think 3/16” is more in line for Filtertrons. But this is a matter for personal taste. Get a small Phillips screwdriver and start experimenting. Take off the pickguard to get to the treble-side adjuster. Use the screw in the middle of the treble side of the pickup ring to raise that side, and the two smaller screws in the middle of the bass side. (You get two so you can adjust the tilt if you want.)

You can also adjust the pole pieces under the strings. General rule of thumb: raising the body of the pickup adds more body to the tone; raising the polepieces gives you more brightness.

Have fun.

5

Low output means you can crank your amp more, and that's always a good thing!

6

Thanks guys. I'll play around a bit. Down the road I'm thinking TV Classics, but I'll try bringing the blacktops up a bit for now.

I don't think it's solely my inexperience with these pickups at play here (though I'm sure that factors in). I'm having to max out the volume controls on the guitar, as well as nearly maxing the volume and gain on the amp to get volume only a small amount above the acoustic sound from the guitar. That seems off to me.

7

Well yeah, that's WAY off. There's something wrong. I'd suspect a wiring short somewhere.

Or - a dead pickup. It would still affect the other pickup with both selected. I assume you've switched from one to the other, though, to check on that...

8

That's correct. I've toggled through both pickups individually, as well as center position. Results are more or less the same whatever is selected.

10

Get that guitar to a good tech asap and have it checked out as it's seriously messed up!

In asking for advice on pup setup, you didn't mention what type of music or style you play....that would help.

11

Get that guitar to a good tech asap and have it checked out as it's seriously messed up!

In asking for advice on pup setup, you didn't mention what type of music or style you play....that would help.

– Windsordave

Mostly Rockabilly, some 60's stuff, and of course whatever else catches my interest ;)

12

Where did you get it?

– Proteus

Sweetwater.

13

Call Sweetwater and talk to whoever is in charge of final guitar checkup/setup before being shipped/given to the customer. Describe the low output issue and ask how a guitar with this obviously seriously problem got sent to you. Aside from the inconvenience of returning it under warranty, the question for me is how did this get past both Gretsch's & Sweetwater's QC? I can't believe pup height is the culprit for such severe poor output.

Have you taken this guitar to a local music store and played it through a Deluxe or Twin to see how the output is? I'd do that first.

14

Call Sweetwater and talk to whoever is in charge of final guitar checkup/setup before being shipped/given to the customer. Describe the low output issue and ask how a guitar with this obviously seriously problem got sent to you. Aside from the inconvenience of returning it under warranty, the question for me is how did this get past both Gretsch's & Sweetwater's QC? I can't believe pup height is the culprit for such severe poor output.

Have you taken this guitar to a local music store and played it through a Deluxe or Twin to see how the output is? I'd do that first.

– Windsordave

No, haven't taken it to a store to try that, but it sounds like an excellent suggestion

15

Sweetwater is famed for stellar customer service. Unless it's the only CAR 5420 they have, I don't think you need to hold anyone's feets to the fires.

Just call your sales rep and describe the problem. My guess is they'll send you a new guitar, properly checked out, and send a UPS or FedEx pickup (you know, the transport kind, not an electromagnet) for the bad one.

(This assumes other guitars work normally through your amp...ie, that the problem isn't your amp. Or the cable. Reckon you'd have eliminated those possibilities.)

16

Tried different cables (3) so not that.

The Yamaha is the only amp I have at home presently. I think a trip to a store to plug into a different amp makes sense.

17

It does. But do other guitars work ok through the amp?

18

It does. But do other guitars work ok through the amp?

– Proteus

No others on hand at present unfortunately. Picking up guitar again after a long time away.

19

Ah. I'm betting on amp issues. I've heard of a dead pickup on a new Gretsch exactly once in 10 years.

20

Ah. I'm betting on amp issues. I've heard of a dead pickup on a new Gretsch exactly once in 10 years.

– Proteus

And you'd win that bet Proteus...

I dug through the amp manual, and found a procedure to reset it. Did that, and things seem better (can't really crank it, because it's nearly 1:00am here and folks are sleeping) but definitely louder.

Glad it doesn't appear to be the Electromatic, I'm really happy with the feel and finish on this one, wouldn't be thrilled to exchange it.

My thanks to all who offered advice and assistance

21

Glad to hear it was the amp and not the guitar and of course congrats and welcome back to guitar ownership. That being said, you still should adjust the pu heights for optimal performance....a 1/4" away from the strings is way off for any Filter type pu's. Filtertrons as mentioned previously, are generally low output by typical humbucker standards and generally sound best with the poles as close to the strings as possible. The good thing is, unlike other types of pu's (in particular Fender style single coils, etc) the pole pieces on Filters don't have very strong magnetic pull so you can get them nice and close to the strings without creating the problems that come with magnetic string pull.


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