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60-62 Gretsch Clipper pickup and bridge

Discussion in 'Vintage Gretsch Discussion' started by anorton, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Hi, everyone. I have a Clipper from somewhere between 1960 and 1962 that belonged to my mother. She let someone put in a pickup (looks like a Strat pickup) and "fix" the bridge in he early 1980s. I'd like to, as closely as possible, get it back to its original look and sound. Would someone recommend a pickup, a pickguard, and a bridge (model # or name), and perhaps a reasonable place from where to order these parts? Thanks, in advance, for your help.
     
  2. Jukebox

    Jukebox Gretschified

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    Welcome to the G-T, can you post pictures, and let us see what you need.
     
  3. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    anorton, for the pickup, you want an old HiLoTron. The new ones are too deep. The HiLoTron sits on the top of the guitar body, and there's just a little slot underneath for the pickup wire to go through. If you try to put a new one on, it'll sit too high. However, if the person who put the replacement pickup on routed out the top to accommodate it, you may have enough room for a new HiLo, or a TV Jones TV-HT.

    Blackrider has old HiLoTrons:

    http://home.insightbb.com/~blackriderguitars/

    http://www.tvjones.com/pickups/pickups.html

    The original HiLoTron on a clipper gives a nice, clean sound, but it doesn't give a lot of variety of sounds. No other guitar sounds like it. A new HiLo or a TV-HT will have more output.

    For a pickguard, get in touch with Paul Setzer, who is a member of this board. He made a new pickguard for my 59 Clipper (since sold), that was exactly like the old one (except not broken).

    The Clipper bridge is a generic archtop bridge. Blackrider should be able to help you with an original or you can get a better one from Stewart MacDonald:

    http://www.stewmac.com/

    Note: if you do get an original HiLoTron, remember they are very delicate. There is a single small-gauge wire soldered to the coil and grounded to the case. By this time, that solder joint is very fragile, and will break if you so much as look at it. These pickups appear to be held together by the magnet, so if you pick it up it will disintegrate in your hand. Just fit it back together and gently ease it into place and screw it into the top of the guitar. The screws hold all the pieces in position.

    If I had an old Clipper without a pickup, I'd put a P-90 on it rather than try to restore it to its original condition. Even a pristine example is probably not going to fetch more than $750.
     
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  5. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Here are three pictures of the guitar. It looks as if the person who put in the pickup put a piece of plastic over the body to house what looks like a Dimarzio or Seymour Duncan Fender type deal. Thanks for the quick replies.
     

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  6. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Just one more thing. I want to use this guitar for recording. I have a Telecaster and a Stratocaster and am looking for some variety in my electric sounds. The guitar also has a lot of sentimental value, so I'm not looking to sell it. It doesn't have to be vintage, but I'd like it to sound as close to vintage as possible. Thanks again!
     
  7. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    This is the one I used to own. I replaced the old, cracked pickguard with one made by Paul Setzer. Before I got it, a previous owner had replaced the pots.

    [​IMG]

    This is how it sounds.

    The bridge base and posts on yours look original, so all you need is the bridge itself. The original one is made of wood, but you could get a nice Compton bridge made by Pops, who is also a member here. It would give you more sustain than the wood one, and it would look good on the guitar.
     
  8. araT

    araT Gretschified

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    Welcome aboard anorton! gorgeous guitar you've got there :)

    +1 to what Giga has said, especially about the Compton, it will blow your mind like you never imagined a little chunk of metal could! :D
     
  9. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Wow, gigatron, that sounds beautiful! Absolutely gorgeous. Did you have a Hilo on her? Please forgive my lack of knowledge, but I've always been a plug in and play kind of guy and just starting to tinker with my guitars. You mentioned the P-90 earlier in the thread. Would you mind telling me why you would go with that pickup? Thanks for your time and expertise.
     
  10. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    Yes, that was the original 1959 HiLo. I plugged the guitar straight into a Boss BR600 digital recorder and recorded it with the Clean Tubes setting, which has a little bit of delay and reverb. Actually I was only mulling over the idea of putting a P90 on it because I just happen to have one sitting around. The HiLos were often recorded in early 60s pop songs; you can hear them on Beatles and Animals songs, clean and sometimes with a little dirt. If you can't find one, there would be some alternatives, but they would all involve cutting into the top; even a dogear P90. Have you taken that strat pickup off to see what's underneath?
     
  11. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Here are some pics of what was under the pickup. Looks pretty ugly to me. What do you think?
     

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  12. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    Yes, clearly someone routed out the top to fit that pickup in there. Still, a HiLotron would go in there and cover up that big hole, although the bottom tip of that V might peek out from under the plastic pickup surround, as you can see from the mark where the old pickup mount was. However, a little dab of wood filler in there and a touch up with some lacquer would hide it pretty well, if it did show.

    But since you've got that big hole there, you've got more options; a P90 or a Filtertron would fit in there now. You can get a new HS Filtertron for about $50 (a TV Jones Classic or TVTron will cost about $130) or see if you can get an old HiLo. They use the same mounting ring so they would be interchangeable. For a dogear P90, you'd have to drill another couple of holes that you'd have to fill in if you decided to change back later.

    (The two rows of pole screws on a Filtertron stick out of the bottom of the pickup a lot further than on the HiLo, so it won't mount flush to the top of the guitar).
     
  13. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Gigatron, thank you so much for all your help with this project. I'll post again after I've decided what I'm going to do and finished the work! Thanks again. I'm really glad I joined the forum and downloaded the iPhone app!
     
  14. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    You're welcome. Good luck with the project.
     
  15. Setzer

    Setzer Electromatic

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    You could still mount a vintage HiLoTron on top of that wicked route. Don't give up the ghost yet!
     
  16. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    Hello again. I decided to go with a Compton stainless steel bridge and a new Gretsch Hilotron.

    My new problem is that I'm not sure how to install the pickup. I'll have to do some additional routing, but I've got no place to screw in the pickup as the rout that's there exceeds the size of the Hilo screws. Additionally, I don't know what to use to stabilize the pickup once I've got a hole big enough to drop it down a bit.

    As you can see, I'm quite the novice.

    Thanks.
     
  17. araT

    araT Gretschified

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    I think if I were you I'd go about making a custom (wider/longer) pickup mount, both to help mount the pickup correctly & cover the butcher work underneath.. you could contact Paul Setzer & have him make you one!
     
  18. gigatron

    gigatron Country Gent

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    +1 on Paul. He does great work at very reasonable prices.
     
  19. Setzer

    Setzer Electromatic

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    Looks like you'll need to do an english mount. What type of HiLoTron did you end up buying?
     
  20. Setzer

    Setzer Electromatic

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    English mount setup from the Baldwin years. You'll need to open up the top hole to resemble a Humbucker route.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. anorton

    anorton Electromatic

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    OK, I think I might be able to put something like that together. Does anyone know where to find a large chrome pickup surround like the one in the picture?
     

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