Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Replacing HiLoTrons

1

Is there another option for a top-mounted pickup in a HiLoTron equipped guitar without hacking it up? I want a humbucker but I'm finding out that option is a tall order. Thanks.

2

If you have a HiLoTron equipped guitar and do not like the sound, you have the wrong guitar.

3

A filter'tron is pretty much, if not exactly the same size as a Hilo'tron and should fit perfectly in the same spot. It's a pretty safe swap. If you don't like it as much as before, your old pickups can go right back in and you can easily sell the Filter'trons.

4

Oops! I take that back. Forgot that the poles hang lower on filter'trons! Oh well, Hilo'trons are cooler anyway! That said, if you are certain that you want humbuckers, go ahead and do it! Guitars are need to be played, so if this will give it more play-time, why not go for it?

5

If you have a HiLoTron equipped guitar and do not like the sound, you have the wrong guitar.

– guitarmike

I don't know. Curt turned this...

...into this...

...and he was pretty happy with the results.

6

Hilosean, with vintage, Hilos were surface mounted and Filters were set in routs, so they weren't interchangeable like they are today now that they all sit in routs. I'm kind of inclined to agree with guitarmike, but of course there are many reasons one might like/want a guitar but not the pickups. One option would be floating 'buckers made for archtops. They're thin and don't require routing. I'm sure with a little creativity, one could figure out a practical way to install a set.

7

I don't know. Curt turned this...

...into this...

...and he was pretty happy with the results.

– Bob Howard

The perfect example of what I tout regarding dark burst guitars.....they aren't interesting to look at at all. Your doing away with the dark and replacing with a lovely, classy color accented by the gold hardware simply gives life to a previously dull looking guitar. Congrats on the transformation. Do you call her "the Phoenix"?

8

The issue was always twofold - the protruding screws and extended baseplate ears of vintage style filtertrons.

Some of the Filtertron replacements now come with screws that are flush to the baseplate and no ears at all.

With the 16mm tall covers, you may - just - be able to mount them on the top of your guitar without routing, but much depends on the space available between the top of your guitar and the strings.

Since the Hilo and Filtertron covers are more or less the same, the fixing screws should line up and if you do end up with a slight gap between the baseplate and the top, the pickup ring may be sufficient to hide it.

9

The perfect example of what I tout regarding dark burst guitars.....they aren't interesting to look at at all. Your doing away with the dark and replacing with a lovely, classy color accented by the gold hardware simply gives life to a previously dull looking guitar. Congrats on the transformation. Do you call her "the Phoenix"?

– Windsordave

This isn't mine. Curt did this for someone else. I was merely pointing out the switch to Dynos from HiLos, pointing out to guitarmike that sometimes someone might want a Clipper with Dynosonics in answer to his remark "If you have a HiLoTron equipped guitar and do not like the sound, you have the wrong guitar."

My old Clipper is still the same beautiful dark burst! Very interesting to look at. You tout erroneously.

10

HELL of a nice job by Curt btw....amazing actually... my problem is that I like both the old bursts and solid colors....guess I'll have to have one of each then

11

Late last year I bought this Clipper from SuperDave. I'm replacing the HiLo with a T'Armond. This pic is from when I replaced the jack, wires and pots last week. I ordered the new pup from TV and Earl said that I should be able to mount the T'Armond without cutting a bigger hole.

Here's the HiLo guts.

12

Couldn't you just cut the pole screws from the bottom flush, once you've adjusted them on top? I wouldn't think that doing so would affect the tone at all..... although someone is always going to claim to hear a huge difference.

13

The whole body of a FilterTron is taller than a HiloTron even setting the pole screws aside. It's because the bobbins sit on top of the magnet on a FilterTron, while the magnet sits next to the bobbin on a HiloTron. As Shuggie says, just maybe you could flush mount a FilterTron depending on the specific geometry of a given guitar. I've never seen it done, but that doesn't mean it's not possible.

14

No mass made filtertron will work, they are to tall...even the shortest ones avail. Curtis Novak and I wanted to crack this problem. He may have come up with something by now? It's been awhile since I've been in touch with him. Anyway the hilotron route won't allow it.

Now on a dyna route I was able to sit one on top! But it was close. It was a 50's dyna clipper.

(Unable to link to photo)

16

From what a tech at TV Jones emailed to me, TV Jones does not make any other pickup that will work except the Hilotron they offer and it would need to be custom ordered for a top mount. TV Jones uses Filtertron plates for their HiLoTrons. Now, I may have found a better solution. The Supertrons have a flat plate with no screws protruding. With some compression rubber I think I can mount those without hacking up the guitar. Magnatrons may work but there are two screw heads that may get in the way.

I need to figure out the heights of these pickups in the neck and if it is okay to have a blade pickup a bit far away from the strings in the bridge. The 22nd fret to body measurement on this guitar is about .700". Fretboard to body is about .665".

I actually had the wild idea originally of having a humbucker in the bridge and Hilotron in the neck, but after considering phases of the pickups and trying uncharted territory, I may be wasting time and money.

17

This isn't mine. Curt did this for someone else. I was merely pointing out the switch to Dynos from HiLos, pointing out to guitarmike that sometimes someone might want a Clipper with Dynosonics in answer to his remark "If you have a HiLoTron equipped guitar and do not like the sound, you have the wrong guitar."

My old Clipper is still the same beautiful dark burst! Very interesting to look at. You tout erroneously.

– Bob Howard

It's what makes us all individuals, Bob..........different strokes for different folks!

I am staying true to my dislikes of tobacco and any dark sunbursts though.....my '55 Fleetwood restoration is doing away with the tobacco burst it came with and will emerge from Nicole's studio an aged honey amber blonde.

18

Yum. I loves me some honey amber blonde.

19

SuperTron won't fit at the neck either. Wood has to be cut for any tron type pickup(standard case, ear or no ears standard baseplate) to fit where a hilotron was ment to be.

20

Is the Supertron too tall? Is that why it wouldn't work?

21

Late last year I bought this Clipper from SuperDave. I'm replacing the HiLo with a T'Armond. This pic is from when I replaced the jack, wires and pots last week. I ordered the new pup from TV and Earl said that I should be able to mount the T'Armond without cutting a bigger hole.

Here's the HiLo guts.

– Bob Howard

This is strange, Earl told me it cannot be done. I don't doubt the knowledge of the techs there. Basically I would like more power in the bridge. However looking at the guts thanks to your photos, I wonder if I could sneak in a different single instead.

22

Well, I did it. The tech guy at TV Jones was almost right. He said the T'Armond would fit. It did but I needed to enlarge the hole just a bit with a file. It figures. The pup holes in these guitars were rather haphazardly cut by eye. Doesn't come close to covering the marks made by 55 years of bigger surrounds. I know it's kinda beat up, but it's rather hansom with it's new pickup, don'tcha think?

23

Nice job, Bob!

24

Thanks Tom. I have some cleaning up to do. I'd call it a serviceable job. If I wanted a good job I'd send it to Curt. It sounds great, by the way. Kinda bad-ass.

25

IIRC Paul Setzer makes an adapter/spacer that would cover those holes.


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