Pickups

The latest HS Filtertrons Are Great!

1

I just got mine in the mail and they sound great. I like them better than the TV Jones Classics that they replaced.

Gretsch appears to be using a different magnet than previously; it looks like a shiny 1/4" alnico V(5) magnet. When I first got my then new 2005 G6122-1962, I opened up Filtertrons and noticed that the magnets were significantly darker and a different consistency, although reportedly started using alnico again when Fender took over in 2003. The pickups sounded harsher and brittle (going from my memory).

Overall, they sound like the vintage Filtertrons I had on my old 1962 G6120 Nashville. I undid the wax potting with a hair dryer. With both pickups on, it sounds clearer and thicker and bridge pickup sounds thicker. I think the regular pole spacing and the lower ohms are the reason. The neck pickup sounds the same as the TV Jones Classic.

2

I've always said that HS Filtertrons were highly underrated. People seemed to eager to swap them out fot TV Jones pickups without giving them a chance. Mainly because of the reputation that the pre-Fender ceramic Filtertron had gotten.

While there are a lot of different TV Jones Filtertron models now, the goal seems to generally be that greasy twangy rock-a-billy sound which is quite specialized and specific.

HS Filtertrons are more versatile for jazz, pop, and classic rock sounds in my opinion. Just a bit less twangy and splashy and with a more rounder, complete, full sound.

I do like the idea of removing wax potting from a Filtertron. Whenever I do order from TV Jones I have them hold the wax. I believe the source of a LOT of the appeal of vintage Filters is the lack of wax potting the originals had. Whenever I have a pickup re-wound I have them hold the wax as well. I never tried the hair dryer technique.

Wax potting dulls the sound. I know it increases the possibillity of feedback....but I compare it to a very high quality microphone. Better sound but more likely to feed back.

3

We all have different ears, which is good.

4

Gretsch makes good pickups. I think you just don't hear people talking about them as much here because there is no reason to post that you did not swap out your pickups or did not mod your guitar.

5

Thanks all for your comments.

By the way, the Hilotrons on my old 2010 G6119-1962 sounded like vintage Hilotrons.

6

Gretsch makes good pickups. I think you just don't hear people talking about them as much here because there is no reason to post that you did not swap out your pickups or did not mod your guitar.

– BuddyHollywood

Good point. I have not swapped pickups on any of my pro-line models... I just don't see the need, probably because I have three different flavors of stock pickups (HS Filtertron, Gretsch Dynasonic, and TVJ Powertron), so each guitar has its own distinct voice. Besides, I'm usually of the opinion of "if it ain't broke, don't "fix" it", plus the fact that unlike many folks, I'm not chasing anybody's "signature tone", so it's not really important for me to mimic someone's rig.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

7

Good point. I have not swapped pickups on any of my pro-line models... I just don't see the need, probably because I have three different flavors of stock pickups (HS Filtertron, Gretsch Dynasonic, and TVJ Powertron), so each guitar has its own distinct voice. Besides, I'm usually of the opinion of "if it ain't broke, don't "fix" it", plus the fact that unlike many folks, I'm not chasing anybody's "signature tone", so it's not really important for me to mimic someone's rig.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

– Tartan Phantom

When I first tried a Dyna Jet in a music store the stock Gretsch Dynasonic tone is what I was sold on. I would love to try T'Armonds in my guitar but I love the great tones I'm getting so it's hard to justify spending money when "it ain't broke".

8

If it ain't broke...

I agree.

As far as I know, George Harrison's bridge Filtertron (on his 2 Country Gents) had regular pole spacing, lower 4.2K ohms/output and NO wax potting. All of these things combined make a difference. I believe the same is true of Brian Setzer's original '59 G6120.

9

I'm a fan of the ceramic filtertrons and the alnico filtertrons. TV makes great stuff, but I feel like his classics are made for people who've lost all the upper register of their hearing. Way too harsh and brittle. I'm keen to try some powertrons though.

10

In my experience a pickup swap makes much more sense on a Dyna equipped guitar. The T-Armond is much better than the stock Dynasonic in relation to the TV Classic -> HS Filtertron.

P.S. I never noticed the TV Classics as being brittle or harsh in the guitars I own and played. They are quite polite; sometimes a little too sophisticated. Perfect for that Chet stuff but that's not what I'm after.

13

I'm a fan of the ceramic filtertrons and the alnico filtertrons. TV makes great stuff, but I feel like his classics are made for people who've lost all the upper register of their hearing. Way too harsh and brittle. I'm keen to try some powertrons though.

– Bonedaddy

The TV Classic neck pickup sounds practically the same as the HS Filtertron. But I agree on the bridge pickup: it is brighter than the HS Filtertron which has a significant impact on the combined pickup (neck & bridge) sound, and of course, the bridge tone/sound.

14

Another thumbs up here for the HS FilterTrons. I think the HS FIlterTrons in my Country Club are very versatile. They sound just as good for the jazz I occasionally dabble in, as they do for the higher gain rock tones I love so much. I have no intention to replace them.

And yes, I do agree with previous comments - the bridge HS FilterTrons do sound a bit darker than the TV Jones version does. I used to have a 'Setzer Hot Rod, and it always seemed a bit on the bright side sound-wise to me (even with bass cranked on my amps).

15

I miss my HS Filtertrons.

And yes, what Jay says, the (alnico) HS bridge pup was a little less bright and a little growlier.

16

You don't have to miss them, redrocker. They are only run $140 for a chrome set, and $160 for a gold set. Whereas the TV Jones are $250 and $260.

17

No matter what I did, I couldn't get the clarity I was looking for on the bass strings with HS Filters. But when I a/b/c's them with Classics and T-Armonds, the T-Armonds won hands down for what I was seeking. So the differences between the Filters and Classics weren't that crucial to me.

Very interested in the unbalanced winding on the new Setzer sigs. But I think if I were going to buy another set of boutique pickups in the near future, I'm most intrigued with Curtis Novak's repro Dearmond foil pups...or Lollar broilers.

18

I'm not chasing the tone of anyone - except me! I have a sound that I have been chasing that I hear in my head, and this has been going on for the last, oh, 30 years...

Just recently I have gotten closer than ever, to the point where I think I can say that I have it. TV Classics are part of that recipe - I love 'em. If they were not available i am sure I could do something with the HS Filter'trons. The differences are there between the various types of Filter'tron pickups, but they are nowhere near as obvious as the differences between speakers, amps, etc. For me getting the sound just right has involved building amps, helping design overdrive pedals, trying a gazillion different delay pedals, and serious tweakage of pickups!

Some players might be surprised at what can be achieved with some judicious adjustments on their pickups. Raising the entire pickup adds body to the sound, lowering it a little and raising the pole pieces can add clarity. So I usually raise the treble side as high as I can while the pole pieces are screwed right down, but lower the bass side a little from fully raised , but raise the bass string poles a little. I get fat trebles and twangy bass.

This works on TV Jones and HS Filter'trons.

Bottom line is that we are so lucky to have all of these options. What a great time to be a Gretsch player.

19

I agree with Jimmy: pickup and pole adjustments can have a significant impact.

20

Those adjustments, and I went through several rounds and was playing through a great amp, just never got me where I wanted to go. T-Armonds did. So I became a fairly committed single coil guy. But there are still some aspects of the FIlters I would like to have. Something bristly and shimmery and biting but with a smoothness. Maybe the unbalanced winds of the Setzer sigs would be the answer there.

I don't doubt that others get great sounds out of their Filters. I've heard it. SOme folks around here. And even among my favorite pro pickers. For instance, Matthew Ashman's ceramic filtered Baldwin falcon through a Roland Jazz Chorus sounds magical and juicy, a perfect mix of snarl and sweet. But everyone needs to find the right recipe for their own hands and ears. I don't doubt that if I played through Ashman's Bow Wow Wow rig it would sound VERY different. (As a side note, Ashman played Les Pauls with his next band, Chiefs of Relief, one with P90s and one with PAFs).

21

I'm not chasing the tone of anyone - except me! I have a sound that I have been chasing that I hear in my head, and this has been going on for the last, oh, 30 years...

Just recently I have gotten closer than ever, to the point where I think I can say that I have it. TV Classics are part of that recipe - I love 'em. If they were not available i am sure I could do something with the HS Filter'trons. The differences are there between the various types of Filter'tron pickups, but they are nowhere near as obvious as the differences between speakers, amps, etc. For me getting the sound just right has involved building amps, helping design overdrive pedals, trying a gazillion different delay pedals, and serious tweakage of pickups!

Some players might be surprised at what can be achieved with some judicious adjustments on their pickups. Raising the entire pickup adds body to the sound, lowering it a little and raising the pole pieces can add clarity. So I usually raise the treble side as high as I can while the pole pieces are screwed right down, but lower the bass side a little from fully raised , but raise the bass string poles a little. I get fat trebles and twangy bass.

This works on TV Jones and HS Filter'trons.

Bottom line is that we are so lucky to have all of these options. What a great time to be a Gretsch player.

– JimmyR

I have my Duo Jet's Dynasonics set up just as you describe. I bought some foam risers from TV Jones to raise the bridge pickup and adjusted the poles slightly for string balance but for the neck pickup I left it low and raised the poles for clarity. This seems to better balance out the tone difference between the bridge and neck Gretsch Dynasonics.

22

This "unpotting" concept intrigues me. Should I blowdry the wax out of my Classic Plus bridge pickup?

23

You can hear the difference between a potted and a non-wax potted pickup just by tapping on it with an amp plugged in. The non wax potted pickups make a brighter sound...while the wax potted ones make a "thud" more. Now take into account the fact that the pickups are bolted directly to the vibrating guitar and you can see how wax potting or not effects the final sound.

It's not rocket science. The coil wires are just more free to move slightly within the magnetic field of the pickup so they are more sensitive in picking up any vibrations....including the amp's...which makes for more feedback. But like I said before....a more sensitive microphone will also feed back more, Does that mean it isn't worth thousands of dollars?

Unless you are in high gain situations where feedback is a problem, avoiding wax potted pickups will allow more of your guitar's sound to get to the amp.

24

My own amateur theory: unpotted is good but I always put some cushion (i.e. mouse pad) between the pickup and bare wood. I think one of my Filtertrons blew because it was mounted directly on bare wood (too much coil vibration?)

25

My first Gretsch is a gold top G5448T double cut Electromatic with BlackTop FT's and I absolutely love them through my Marshall amps.

My second Gretsch arrived yesterday. A magnificent 6128T-1962 Duo Jet which has HS FT's and after many hours playing I love them at least as much or more that BlackTops.

I won't be spending any money on other pickups ever :)


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