What is it that makes DeArmonds / Dynasonics so peculiar when you u…


Through the years and my ongoing fascination for Gretsch I played whatever I could and got some little insight. Still it so often happens that I notice things that make those guitars special. Sometimes in a great way, some other stuff just drives me crazy. This time:

I've got a Gretsch hollow body at home that has original 50s DeArmonds in it. When I plugged it into my amp there - a Fender CS '57 Deluxe - I was blown away by the great sound. I gave it some hours and the magic is still there. Last night I took it to the rehearsal studio as a friend was interested in hearing and trying it. My main amp there is a SF Deluxe Reverb that sounds great with every guitar I own. But for some reason the DeArmonds didn't. The highs are rather harsh and glassy, the lows not as warm and fat as through the Tweed. I ask myself why. Is it that the scooped Dyna doesn't go well with a scooped amp? I started with a clean sound and then added some drive. Both the same. I notice the same when said friend plays his Duo Jet through either his Princeton or Twin Reverb but blamed it on the amps.Filtertrons don't do this that much.

Have others experienced that, too? Is there a reason why it is so? Or should I simply swap the DeArmonds for P90s and get me some good money out of the sale? What do you think?


I’m no expert, but how about keeping a versatile overdrive pedal on hand? Something with bass, mid, and treble adjustments could let you leave the guitar stock, and dial in the sound you’re after.


I might catch some abuse for this, but I really like the Joyo AC Tone pedal - super versatile, sounds great, $40! You could at least try it. That being said, underwound P90s are my favorite pickups of all time.


Thanks, hellbilly. I've got a pretty fine pedal board in front of my amp but nothing touched the sonic character. And I use a good clean sound as my basic platform, so that is a must.

My P90 equipped guitars sound lovely in that setup, btw.


I run into that with certain guitars. I have a Fulltone Fat Boost that I can crank the bass and pull down the treble and sounds great, seems to just effect the problem frequencies, and doesn't overdrive the clean signal at all. I haven't the luxury of of a Nocturne pedal, but it seems this is kind of what the "Brain" pedal does too....does it, guys?


I have the exact same thing with DeArmonds Sascha, they sound glorious through my tweed amps, and pretty damn awful through my Super Reverb, harsh and overly trebly. They're an early 50's design, and most amps then were not nearly as bright as sixties amps like blackface Fenders.


I don't get it. My Electro II can sound great with any decent amp. I've gigged it with tweeds and a SFDR. I did find that the pickups didn't drive the DR as hard as, say, a P90 and I had to turn it up more than I expected, but I thought it sounded fine. If your SFDR has scooped mids, it may have been blackfaced or otherwise modded. Tweak the tone with your ears, not your eyes. Try settings you wouldn't expect. When I bought my SFDR, it had a very nice, but unfamiliar, tone. The owner was a Jazzbo and had both tone controls off. Plug into the other input, turn the bass off and treble on 10, turn them both all the way up....you never know. IMO, a SFDR is a downright magical machine; we didn't know how good we had it when we could wander into the music store and just get one. If the guitar and amp are working right, there are great tones to be found.


I have the same experience though Charlie, I have one DeArmond equipped-guitar (a '61 Guild Starfire) and out of al my guitars, it's the only one that doesn't work at all with certain amps.


I can see where an amp would make a difference, Luckily, everything I own sound great through my HotRodDeville 2x12. The amp doesn't get a lot of love but it handles everything I own/have nicely. In saying that, I will admit I don't have any Dyna equipped guitars and I do have a Dyno brain on the front end of my board. It could do you well to contact Tavo @ Nocturne. He's great at determining the right mix of brain to work with Gretsch guitars. Mine is the Dyno Brain but I believe the Dyno is specifically for HB pickups and he offers several options.


Thanks so far, everyone. Good to see I'm not the only one noticing this, so it doesn't seem too uncommon. I just don't have that much experience with old DeArmonds so far. Interestingly the treble doesn't lose its harshness in character when dialed back on the amp. I tried the guitar through a '90s Laney VC30 with full eq controls through several cabs and it was a little better but still not what it sounds like through my Tweed Deluxe. Totally different beast for sure, though.

Great that it works for you, Charlie. And very interesting what you say about the Electro driving your Deluxe Reverb. Because my DeArmonds drive the amp more than my P90 guitars although they have less mid-range. One Dyna has 11kOhms, the other around 10k, btw.

Dave, thanks for the recommendation. And while I see where a Brain makes sense I think of it more as an "always on" pedal and as I do quite a lot of switching it doesn't work in my current setup. I tried.


Hey Sascha, I use it as an "always on" pedal myself. Not necessarily a bad thing. Best of luck in your quest.


One thing I noticed about Dynasonics is there is not much if any natural compression on the attack like other pickups. They are pretty much in your face from the outset. I believe this is because of the thick alnico slug magnets. Fender style pickups also use slug magnets but they are much smaller so while their attack is similar to Dynasonics it is a little less pronounced.


I'm with supra!


How is adding extra junk between guitar and amp going to change the basic response of a pickup or an amp?

Seems like "buy a Dynobrain" or "stick a Tru-Arc on it" have become the solution to just about anything on this forum. (no offense to Tavo or Tim intended, not my point).


It's difficult to explain, Walter, but at least for me the Nocturne makes a difference. It does change the basic response, at least at the amp end. JMO. I'm talking humbuckers of course.


Hmmm--i've been playing low-volume lately at church. I figured: what's the point of the brain at low-volume and switched it off. I played with the amp and my silverjet sounded quite good. Then I clicked the brain back on just to see...

Ah... magic.

So I'm back to playing with it always on after that 15-minutes of dyno-infidelity.

What can I say--i learned my lesson once again.



I concur with Sascha and WB. My wonderful 65' Blackface Deluxe is just not suited for my 6120DS with T-Armonds at gig -levels with a band. Sounds good at bedroom levels but not with the band--suprisingly trebly and thin.The amp is fabulous with a Rickenbacker,or a Telecaster but for some reason just cant handle the T-Armonds. Plug the 6120DS w/T-Armonds into my 5E3 and its awesome. Plug a 6120 w/filtertrons into the 5E3 and its un-awesome. I figured a simple EQ adjustment ,especially in the mids would take care of things,but not so much it seems. Playing around with all these different combinations is all good fun,for sure---but I suspect that if I could melt down everything into just one guitar,it would take form as a Telecaster. Seems I never have to do much messing around with the Telecaster beyond simply plugging it into an amp.


..... but alas,I am a Gretsch-o-holic like the rest of us.......


Doc...it hurts when I do THIS. Then don't do it! If your guitar doesn't sound good in the SFDR, use the tweed. I still think, though, maybe something is up with that amp. Maybe biased too cold. Has it been blackfaced? The original SF circuit should not be lacking in mids. And...some guitar/amp pairings are magic...some ain't.


I think everything sounds good through a Vox, dynas sing through my ac15 twin. However, they sounded pretty harsh through my tweed blues jr 3, a compressor helped but wasn't perfect. My 68 Princeton sounds great with them as well, but that vox sound is something else

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