Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Super’Tron Discussion

1

Has anyone ever noticed the number of blades differ on the Super'Tron I pickup? My 6123 Monkees has five blades per coil on the neck position pickup but six per on the bridge pickup. If you have an Astro-Jet, Monkees, Viking or other Super'Tron I-equipped Gretsch, check yours out and let me know. I'm curious to see if Gretsch added extra blades for more response in the lead position.

2

I'll look at mine and let you know, I have ones out of a streamliner, Monkess and Viking

3

Some were solid blade and some laminated blade... correct? Wasn't the Supertron II the later laminated one?

4

The Super'Tron I was the multi-blade and the Super'Tron II was the solid blade. Super'tron II pickups are usually found on the Long and Short Scale Bass and as fingerboard pickups on the Viking and certain year model Country Gents.

5

My Viking had a solid blades in the neck position and multiple blades in the bridge position. I don't remember the number of blades. The multiple blades weren't stuck together in anyway, if you took them out they were just a bunch of loose plates.

6

Since the Super'Tron II was used as a bass pickup, it would make sense to use it in the fingerboard position on a 6-string to give it a meatier tone. The more brilliant Super'Tron I would increase it's treble response in the bridge position.

7

I don't know anything about these but what I've seen: '64 Gent with solid blades and '64 AstroJet with laminated. Do they sound different? Note the black plastic badge on this AstroJet: it reads "Super Filtertron". Not the usual metal badge that just says AstroJet. (Another Astro badge has the serial# on it; Ed has his hands full doing a comprehensive Gretsch Guitars '60's book.) I've never seen one before in a HiLo casing, until DuoJet55's.

8

LX, that Astro-Jet nameplate looks like a plastic laminated army nametag with the edges rounded off. It could be original, but all of the Astro-Jets I've seen had metal tags. The serial numbered plate is before Gretsch started printing the serial numbers on the back of the headstock, circa 1966.

The Super'Tron I pictured at the top is a 1970s Booneville version.

9

I think there was a Supertron III also? I am sure I have seen that somewhere

10

I haven't heard of the III. I just checked the twin Super'Trons on my 6075 12 String. Both have 6 blades per coil.

11

Lx, I just consulted the 1965 Gretsch catalog and they did indeed refer to these as Super Filter'Trons. That's funny, since the same catalog refers to Super'Trons on the Viking blurb. I'm looking at a friend's Astro-Jet as I type and his logo plate is mounted with brads instead of being screwed on like the Reverb photo. It is the standard metal plate engraved "GRETSCH" and "ASTRO-JET". The serial number is on the back of the headstock, rather than engraved on the plate. This plastic one may be an original, but the catalog shows a metal plate.

12

Both pickups have 6 blades on my Monkees.

13

Same thing on my friend's Astro-Jet. Six per coil.

14

The Supertron III was the bass version.

Way differently wound than the Supertron I and Supertron II which were for guitar.

I think if you read them on a meter they read something like 100 ohms instead of the usual

readings in kilo-ohms.

15

Lx, I just consulted the 1965 Gretsch catalog and they did indeed refer to these as Super Filter'Trons. That's funny, since the same catalog refers to Super'Trons on the Viking blurb. I'm looking at a friend's Astro-Jet as I type and his logo plate is mounted with brads instead of being screwed on like the Reverb photo. It is the standard metal plate engraved "GRETSCH" and "ASTRO-JET". The serial number is on the back of the headstock, rather than engraved on the plate. This plastic one may be an original, but the catalog shows a metal plate.

– duojet55

Not to derail... but the body located "plaques" on the AstroJets where chrome with the serial number included in the late sequential serial # system, and also in the transition serial # period (I have documented examples with 4 digit numbers as well as from the missing '57 label range). However, I do have one example that matches this black plastic plaque with "Super-Filtertron" notation. Perhaps it's the same one that Lx is referencing(?) This one was for sale at Warp Drive on Ebay. The serial number offered is 8947, making it a very late transition period number (still mid-1966). There is no indication of the number on the plaque or on the back of the headstock, so I don't recall where I got the number... maybe in the ebay ad. The earliest date-coded Astro jets had the chrome plaque without the serial number, which was then (starting in June '66) applied to the reverse of the headstock. So... I'm open-minded to this black plastic plaque being original equipment, but only in a precious few examples made as the transition serial numbers were giving way to the date-coded system. "If" the example that Lx shared is not the same as this one I'm referencing, then it's almost a certainty. One's an anomaly... two is corroboration.

EDIT: I just compared the photos of the Astro Jet in the link Lx provided and the photos from the Ward Drive Ebay auction... and it is the same guitar. So... that makes this black plastic plaque inconclusive until we find another (IMHO).

16

Ed, you never derail a thread...your info and observations are always a welcome addition. I never say never and always keep an open mind as far as Gretsch is concerned. The factory must have had a pantograph engraver to do the logos on the older plastic laminate headstock veneers, so it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that they couldn't have made plastic Astro-Jet plates as well.

17

Both pickups have 6 blades on my Monkees.

– Baba Joe

Ditto the 1967 Monkees I had.

18

Ed, you never derail a thread...your info and observations are always a welcome addition. I never say never and always keep an open mind as far as Gretsch is concerned. The factory must have had a pantograph engraver to do the logos on the older plastic laminate headstock veneers, so it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that they couldn't have made plastic Astro-Jet plates as well.

If the Super'Trons made their debut in '64, maybe the black label Astro was a NAMM show piece; it would serve to explain what the new pickup was. The white-on-black certainly pops out more than the standard chrome. I don't think Gretsch wanted to stick a similar plaque on a Country Gent. A big yes to everything in DuoJet55's quote: Gretsch kinda made their rep with lots of fancy binding work (just look at our standard truss rod cover) and Ed never derails a thread.

19

You never know if a weird feature on a Gretsch guitar is a Gretsch anomaly or an owner customization. My first Gretsch bass, a 6071, had this plate mounted on the back.

20

My first Gretsch bass, a 6071, had this plate mounted on the back.

Oooh. That's weird & interesting. What year 6071 and did it differ from the standard 6071?

21

I bought it in April of '79 and by July, I traded it for a Fender Jazzmaster. Unfortunately, I never wrote the serial number down. It had chrome hardware and chromed plated brass G-arrow knobs, so it might have been a 1967 or so model.

22

A '68 Viking came to me the same way. However, it appears the bridge was a replacement because the wiring was messed up. The wire connections were reversed, and causing issues with volume adjustments. Lil Demon guitar shop in Toronto corrected it, and he called the multi-blade pickup a Supertron II.

23

A '68 Viking came to me the same way. However, it appears the bridge was a replacement because the wiring was messed up. The wire connections were reversed, and causing issues with volume adjustments. Lil Demon guitar shop in Toronto corrected it, and he called the multi-blade pickup a Supertron II.

– Daddy Dog

Daddy Dog, the Super'Tron I is the multi-bladed version, the Super'Tron II is the solid blade. Read the Viking's description from the Gretsch 1965 catalog. This clears up the confusion.

24

It's at the end of the catalog. There are two listings for the Astro but the Viking description sums it up: Supertron I at the bridge and Supertron II at the neck like the CG for "jazz".

25

Here's something interesting Paul Yandell wrote about the Super'Tron: “On the ’59 Gretsch single cutaway Country Gentleman Chet favored for years the fingerboard pickup is a two bladed affair instead of the 12 pole Filter Tron standard. Ray Butts told me he made that one for Chet. He said it was part of his original design; it's on his patent. He made that one for Chet and he liked it. Chet said you got a fatter note with the pickup like that. This pickup, in production, became the “Super Tron”.


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