5420T - what's the word...

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by unknownfan, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. unknownfan

    unknownfan Electromatic

    Jul 25, 2010
    Hi again guys, I've not been on in quite a while as I had to sell the 6120SSU for medical expenses. Lately I've been thinking of getting another Gretsch although I can't swing another Setzer just yet. I did play a 5420T at a local music store recently and was pleasantly surprised at how the Electromatic line has been improved over the years since I purchased a 5122 years ago. If I'm able to swing a purchase for the 5420T, what upgrades are the "norm" these days and recommended by you fellows? I am open to suggestions and input. Thanks in advance
  2. Trash Kidd

    Trash Kidd Country Gent

    Dec 14, 2015
    London U.K.
    The 5420 is a fantastic guitar even left stock.
    Great to play, looks awesome & those Blacktop Filtertrons sound good.. very Gretsch sounding.
    The most common upgrades folk do are bridge & pick up changes.
    Some of the Electromatic bridges seem to rattle.
    I’ve been lucky i guess, I’ve had 3 & no rattles or problems at all.
    Pick ups are down to personal taste.
    The stock Blacktops are cool sounding but a lot of folk switch them for TV Jones pick ups.
    I’d say go for it... Great guitar..
  3. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    The G5420T is a fine guitar left stock. I'd get a ABM roller bridge and call it good.
  4. Joey L

    Joey L Synchromatic

    Jun 24, 2016
    White Plains, NY
    I went with TV Jones Classics and a quality Roller Bridge from All Parts. It’s now a keeper!

    Attached Files:

  5. Joey L

    Joey L Synchromatic

    Jun 24, 2016
    White Plains, NY
  6. johnny g

    johnny g Synchromatic

    Sep 2, 2017
    union, ms
    Play it a lot then you will know what to change. I have had my 5420t for about a year and have only changed the nut and added a jack plate. Oh and got a new case for it as it does not come with one. Some will say do this and that and other to it. If money is tight be careful of any high dollar changes. They may make it sound better but may not ad to the resale value.
    section2 and unknownfan like this.
  7. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    BigDaddyNC, dafreeze and T Bone like this.
  8. T Bone

    T Bone Country Gent

    Yeah, everybody's heard, about the bird. Yeah everone knows that the bird is the word. Sorry... :D

    5420 is very nice. I left mine stock. Still have it. It was my first Gretsch. I have 3 Pro Lines now too, and another Electromatic. While they aren't in the same class, the 5420 is a very nice guitar with a lot of bang for the buck.

    Other parts some replace are the pots, switch and wiring. But stock is really not bad. I'd suggest just buy it and enjoy it, make only mods you feel you need, then save for a Pro Line to supplement it.
    Above Dimension likes this.
  9. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    I have a 5420 and a 6119 Tennessee Rose, and I consider them both to be fine guitars. My 5420 is stock, and I have had no problems at all.
    Above Dimension and T Bone like this.
  10. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Good outa the box, great after some customizings:

    1. A bar bridge is a must;
    2. Same for unpinning the bridge base;
    3. Good F‘trons are changing the tone to TWANG, if that‘s what you want
    4. A US Bigsby isn‘t really necessary, but it works smoother and looks way cooler!
    Upgraded that way a 5420 plays in the 6120 league.
  11. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    1. Tru-Arc Bar bridge (non-rocking)
    2. Two neck HS Filtertrons (see my signature block for details)
    3. Unpinned bridge (I use cello rosin)
    4. Gretsch-by-Bigsby

    Outlaw, Trash Kidd and Stefan like this.
  12. kjmac

    kjmac Gretschie

    Mar 7, 2018
    Omaha, NE
    Mine is stock except for a roller bridge. It is by far the best sounding guitar I own. I good friend of mind is a very accomplished guitar player and he compared a G5422TG side by side with a G6122T Country Gentleman and he says the 6122 isn't worth the extra money. I would say a bridge replacement along with a setup by a top notch luthier would be the best thing you can do for the 5420.

    Gretsch Red Sparkle.jpg
    Trash Kidd likes this.
  13. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I've only heard the Blacktop Filtertrons through a Fender Excelsior amp at Guitar Center. It sounded good (especially the neck pickup), though it's not the same sound I would get through my AC4Hw1 (w/Celestion Blue).

    Like others have said, you may want to give the stock Blacktop Filtertrons a try before you retrofit a different pickup. ;) They may work well for you.

  14. section2

    section2 Synchromatic

    Dec 21, 2016
    The Blacktops are quite nice. Lots of people are very happy with them. They have great treble response and soubd especially good with a bit of dirt. No need to swap them out unless you try them for a while and find you don't like them.

    Some find the bridge Blacktop to be on the harsh side when compared to TV Classics or HS Filtertrons; others like the extra bite that it gives. Your best bet is to try the guitar stock and see how you feel.

    One forum member (I can't remember who) wanted a warmer sound from his Blacktops and got good results by adding an extra 1/8" alnico magnet to each pickup. You can also order vintage-spec 1/4" alnico Filtertron magnets from Philadelphia Luthier Supply to replace the 1/8" alnico magnets in the Blacktops if you want to try them out. They're about $5 each, so it's a low-cost mod that doesn't risk much (aside from your warranty if it's a new guitar).
  15. Joey L

    Joey L Synchromatic

    Jun 24, 2016
    White Plains, NY
    A Reverend Softspring really smooths any Bixby and gives any Bixby a great touch.
  16. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Yep, i just got into magnet swapping and it's totally easy and cheap. It changes your pickups, sometimes dramatically and is definitely something to try before shelling out big bux on new pickups.
  17. section2

    section2 Synchromatic

    Dec 21, 2016
    That's good to hear! Was it you who posted the thread about adding an extra 1/8" magnet to the Blacktops?

    I've just ordered a pair of 1/8" unoriented alnico 5 bar magnets from Philadelphia Luthier. I'm going to swap them both into my Blacktop bridge pickup to see how they sound. I'm told that the unoriented magnets tend to smooth out a bit of the high end. In case anyone is curious, I'll start a new thread and post some before-and-after recordings there when I get back from vacation in a couple of weeks.
    Outlaw likes this.
  18. section2

    section2 Synchromatic

    Dec 21, 2016
    +1 on the Reverend Softspring. I added one to my Bigsby and really like the feel.

    I should add that I agree with the other posters who've said that the new Electromatics are great guitars right out of the box. I haven't played a 5420, but my 2014 G5620T is an excellent instrument and didn't need much modding at all. I swapped out my tone pots because I wanted an audio taper rather than a linear taper, but that was the only real issue. Everything else is great.

    Of course, that isn't stopping me from modding anyway, but that's due more to my love of tinkering than to any deficits in the guitar. Here are the other mods that I've planned:
    • Add a treble bleed to the master volume (not necessary on a newer 5420: they've had stock treble bleeds since about 2016 or 2017)
    • Swap out the Bigsby B70 for a B6C (also not necessary on a 5420: I believe it comes with a B60, which is the licensed version of the B6)
    • Experiment with magnet swaps in the bridge Blacktop (I find the bridge pickup a bit ice-picky, but others love the extra bite)
    • Add a Reverend Softspring (not necessary, but a nice $10 mod)
    • Add a custom pickguard and truss rod cover (totally unnecessary, but fun)
    • Add a jack plate (this is probably the only absolutely necessary mod, and it costs $5 plus ten minutes of time)
    All told: you might love the stock 5420, but if you don't, most of the recommended mods are cheap and easy. The two bigger-ticket items that you might consider would be a Compton or Tru-Arc bridge (I haven't played one, but people rave about them) and a pickup swap (if you don't like the Blacktops and find that a magnet swap doesn't get you there).

  19. capnhiho

    capnhiho Gretschie

    Feb 16, 2013
    5420’s are awesome guitars right out of the box! As others have suggested, I would recommend doing some basic setup work (paying special attention to nut slots and pickup height) and playing it for a while, then modify as issues and personal needs/preferences arise.

    I’ve had mine for 4 or5 years. After noticing the usual Bigsby-indicated tuning instabilities, I cleaned up and reshaped the nut slots well enough that the bone nut I bought for it remains in my parts bin (so the stock nuts aren’t “that” bad). I got annoyed with the rattles in the cheap bridge so I installed a Compton. Pickup selector switch became wonky so I installed a TVJ harness with switch and pots. Eventually I read about the Reverend soft spring here and replaced my somewhat creaky Bigsby spring.

    None of these were major surgery or big $$ items, and they were spread over a period of time. None of them were done with any perceived improvement in the value of the guitar. But they have resulted in transforming a decent guitar into a real player!

    As always, YMMV
    section2 and Davos like this.
  20. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Wasn't me, i haven't messed with my Filtertrons but I've been doing Epiphone P90's and buckers. I have a '97 Samick made Junior thats a great guitar but the pickup never really did it for me, couple A3 mags in the p90 and its Leslie West city! I've also learned alot about pickup construction, i may try to build one.
    section2 likes this.
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