Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Please school me on “treble boost”

52

The screw is the only thing holding it on.

53

Mixed bag of tuners

56

Wow Paul, that's a survivor!

58

Whatya gonna do with that, Paul?

59

I just put an OC44 rangemaster treble boost circuit into one of my Zemaitis guitars, and it's a ball flipping that switch on for some serious balls!!!

60

Thank lx... I've documented examples of Rally, Corvette and Jet with either a dedicated cavity on the back or a modified one to accommodate the 9v battery. The Astro Jets from '67 have the additional knob and are easy to spot, but lack any "new" compartment, so I guess you had to get under the main pickguard to get at it? Likewise I can't find a 6117 Cat's Eye with anything on the back... but you say you've seen one? I'm on the quest!

It is interesting to me that this was applied to both Hilo'Trons and Super'Trons.

– kc_eddie_b

There was a separate screwed down access plate on the front of the Astrojet to deal with the 9 volt

61

If I recall correctly back in 1968 I was told by my favorite Gretsch dealer (who presumably heard it from Gretsch directly) that the whole purpose of the treble boost was to make Gretsch guitars LOUDER so as to be able to compete with the output power of Gibson humbuckers.

62

That last sounds plausible.

Though it sure is hard to imagine treble-boosting HiloTrons. I think there was a 10-year period or so - early 60s to early 70s, anyway - when the tonal tastes of guitar players were changing faster and more inexplicably than guitar makers could keep up with.

You can't blame the builders for floating some ideas that seem ridiculous on the face of it from our perspective now. But at the time...

I think it's at least defensible that pretty much anyone with an ear for the sounds that came out of electric guitars - which we might hope, but can't be sure included the people who made them - would have found early guitar effects at least musically comprehensible. Vibrato, tremolo, tape delay (in the forms all those effects took early on), and reverberation might not have been to any particular individual's taste, but they were at least effects which enhanced, without totally obliterating, the sound of an electric guitar.

Also, since the rise of players like Dick Dale and Duane Eddy, manufacturers had been building amps with ever more power and speaker area - specifically to reduce the distortion which had long been inherent in loud electric guitars. Audio in general had been getting ever higher in fidelity, particularly from the late 50s through 1962-63.

But fuzz threw all of that into the proverbial cocked hat. No matter who you were - like it or loathe it - you recognized that fuzz turned the guitar into something else entirely. Then came all the variations of fuzz, each (to those baffled ears who didn't understand or approve of the transformation) worse than the last. And by the late-mid 60s, ever-louder bands had managed to push the big-watt high-headroom hi-fidelity amps past the rails and into a primal rage.

Guitar manufacturers - almost always (just plain always always?) of an older generation than the young players and listeners who were receptive to The New Noise - can be forgiven for throwing up their hands and introducing anything they'd come up with to destroy the sound of the guitar.

A kind of standard for judging the new noises would eventually develop (and be subsequently destroyed by succeeding generations), and people with ears attuned to the new would eventually have more input to the design and marketing process - but at the time Gretsch's treble-booster came out, no one could judge what the market might like. It was all a brave new world, the old standards of fullness and fidelity were moot, and anything might work.

"Yeah, we think it sounds terrible - but maybe the kids will like it."

63

That last sounds plausible.

Though it sure is hard to imagine treble-boosting HiloTrons. I think there was a 10-year period or so - early 60s to early 70s, anyway - when the tonal tastes of guitar players were changing faster and more inexplicably than guitar makers could keep up with.

You can't blame the builders for floating some ideas that seem ridiculous on the face of it from our perspective now. But at the time...

I think it's at least defensible that pretty much anyone with an ear for the sounds that came out of electric guitars - which we might hope, but can't be sure included the people who made them - would have found early guitar effects at least musically comprehensible. Vibrato, tremolo, tape delay (in the forms all those effects took early on), and reverberation might not have been to any particular individual's taste, but they were at least effects which enhanced, without totally obliterating, the sound of an electric guitar.

Also, since the rise of players like Dick Dale and Duane Eddy, manufacturers had been building amps with ever more power and speaker area - specifically to reduce the distortion which had long been inherent in loud electric guitars. Audio in general had been getting ever higher in fidelity, particularly from the late 50s through 1962-63.

But fuzz threw all of that into the proverbial cocked hat. No matter who you were - like it or loathe it - you recognized that fuzz turned the guitar into something else entirely. Then came all the variations of fuzz, each (to those baffled ears who didn't understand or approve of the transformation) worse than the last. And by the late-mid 60s, ever-louder bands had managed to push the big-watt high-headroom hi-fidelity amps past the rails and into a primal rage.

Guitar manufacturers - almost always (just plain always always?) of an older generation than the young players and listeners who were receptive to The New Noise - can be forgiven for throwing up their hands and introducing anything they'd come up with to destroy the sound of the guitar.

A kind of standard for judging the new noises would eventually develop (and be subsequently destroyed by succeeding generations), and people with ears attuned to the new would eventually have more input to the design and marketing process - but at the time Gretsch's treble-booster came out, no one could judge what the market might like. It was all a brave new world, the old standards of fullness and fidelity were moot, and anything might work.

"Yeah, we think it sounds terrible - but maybe the kids will like it."

– Proteus

I don't think it was a crazy idea, when I think of treble boosters, I think of guys like Rory Gallagher using them with strat bridge pickups which as you know are about as bright of a pickup as can be. And both Beck and Page used them with Telecasters. The thing with Treble Boosters is the amp you're using them with. They don't really work well with bright amps, but stick them in front of a dark amp, that's where the magic happens. And Vox amps, which seem to go hand and hand wth Gretsch guitars are notoriously dark. I put the Rangemaster in my guitar because I use it a lot with a Tweed Deluxe variant (CLARK Beaufort). I think I could get a long fine with Hilotrons and a Rangemaster (treble boost) :)

64

Rory -> Strat -> Rangemaster -> AC30 -> Magic

65

Oh, I agree. The classic treble booster was more about upper midrange push than treble per se, and was more of an overdrive than a clean boost. And as you say, it's all about context and application.

Still...even early Beck and Page weren't making noises understood by the people who made their guitars and amps.

66

Oh, I agree. The classic treble booster was more about upper midrange push than treble per se, and was more of an overdrive than a clean boost. And as you say, it's all about context and application.

Still...even early Beck and Page weren't making noises understood by the people who made their guitars and amps.

– Proteus

I think there's a certain tone those germanium transistors bring to the table that is just harmonically rich, that's why I did it to my guitar. When it works, it works! The downside is, sometimes they just get noisy (they are very temperamental and don't deal with high temps well). Sometimes the circuit is noisy for no apparent reason, other times it's quiet as a church mouse. Anybody with a germanium fuzz box knows what I'm talking about.

67

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

I’d like to hear the booster while using the mud switch settings.

68

I’d like to hear the booster while using the mud switch settings.

Now THAT's funny right'ere I'on't care who y'are.

69

I know that was mostly in jest, but this is one of the things I like most about the mud switch (and treble boosters, incidentally). It cuts a lot of the complex harmonics out of the guitar signal, allowing whatever comes next--whether an amp, or, indeed, a treble booster--to generate the harmonics on its own, without clashing with those from the guitar. I understand you could do the same with a tone pot, but the switch seems to me to always be in the sweet spot.

71

Looks like I’ve got everything I need to work with. I’ll just need to figure out the wiring. Although the booster switch is busted to a degree and won’t toggle and stay.

72

Looks like the slim green finish just blew off

73

Some parts added, missing tuners, bridge and handle. As a test with a popsicle stick shoved into the neck joint side it tunes up and plays. Probably been a long time since it’s made a sound.

75

Removed the tape residue that held the V cut. Wiped it down with rubbing alcohol, then furniture polish just for the heck of it. Fretboard is super dry.

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