My First Gretsch/What's up with these FILTER'TRONs?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by Sam D, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. Sam D

    Sam D Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2017
    Washington DC
    So I just got a steal on this beauty but after getting her home and plugging it in for the first time, I love pretty much everything about this guitar but I gotta say, I'm not super psyched on these FILTER'TRONs. They sound a little too transparent or hollow for my liking.

    I can probably live with the bridge pickup, but I can't seem to eek a nice clean tone that I like from the neck. I've always been more of a single coil kind of guy but thought I'd give this guitar a go as I've read these humbuckers don't sound like usual humbuckers (which is true, but...).

    Do people often replace these pickups? Would I be crazy to tinker with such a beaut? Any recommendations for a single coil that's a little more rounded out and jangley?

    Oh yeah there are regular nickel would stings (10s I'm guessing) and I'm playing through a Fender Blues Deluxe which I generally enjoy.

    Thanks for any tips/advice!

    Zeek, JC higgy, Ylikessu and 5 others like this.
  2. dazzajl

    dazzajl Country Gent

    Apr 18, 2010
    That does kinda sound like the Filtertron thing. They are incredibly sensitive to height adjustments though, so while the basic flavour might stay the same, the strength and spices will change quite a bit
    Sid Nitzerglobin and Sam D like this.
  3. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Country Gent

    Jul 5, 2014
    SE QLD
    That's a PRETTY axe! Not sure what you mean by transparent or hollow....?
    Waxhead likes this.
  4. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Congrats on a beauty!
    Yeah, these would seem to be good things for a clean tone from a hollowbody guitar.
    Rob Williams likes this.
  5. MRey

    MRey Electromatic

    Feb 7, 2011
    As a self-diagnosed single coil addict, I can tell you all of my amps require a few adjustments when plugging my Duo Jet in. The Duo Jet would initially sound muddy to my ear and I’m sure no one here would ever call a Filtertron equipped Duo Jet muddy.
    I guess my point is play with the amp a little before deciding to change anything, they really are sensitive to adjustments.
  6. MRey

    MRey Electromatic

    Feb 7, 2011
    If you do decide to go the replacement route, I’ve heard good things about the magnatron in the neck, not personally though.
    Sam D likes this.
  7. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    Use a boost pedal with tone controls, and dial down the low end before the signal hits the amp. You'll never get the same clarity and bite as a single coil; that's what Dynasonic are for.
    Mudshark and Sam D like this.
  8. Sam D

    Sam D Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2017
    Washington DC
    I'm also going to swap in some half round strings to see how I like that combo. I think that might help some.

    Thanks for the advice everyone!
  9. Sam D

    Sam D Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2017
    Washington DC
    Haha yeah you would. It's hard to describe but the sound it reminds me the most of is just a regular acoustic guitar with the built in piezo pickup. I mean it's not exactly like that but more so than I'm accustomed to I suppose.
    Henry likes this.
  10. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    @Sam - what sound are you wanting to get? There are a lot of ways to get "more" from filtertrons. But we would need to know what you're trying to achieve before giving advice. Rest assured, filtertrons are capable of sparkling and mesmerizing clean tones with the right amount of thickness as well as raging overdrive and everything in between. Upgrading is something that a lot of people do, but I recommend doing it only after you've optimized your pickups to get the best out of them. If you then still feel like something is missing, that's the clue for potential upgrade.
  11. Sam D

    Sam D Electromatic

    Oct 31, 2017
    Washington DC
    Picked this up for playing some Chet Atkins type stuff. Hybrid picking country twang to maybe some jazzier stuff. I rarely play with much gain.

  12. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    Filter will do it. I think your first move is to experiment with pickup height. They are very sensitive to this.
    Sid Nitzerglobin, audept and Sam D like this.
  13. audept

    audept Senior Gretsch-Talker

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Great advice. Here's some recommendations from TV Jones:

    TV Jones recommended pickup heights:


    From TV Jones, polepiece adjustments for Classic Filtertrons:
    • Neck Pickup: first all screws all the way down
    • Low E, all the way down.
    • A up, half a turn
    • D: up about a full turn
    • G: a little less than half a turn
    • B: all the way down
    • High E: Up half a turn
    • Bridge pickup.
    • All screws down for start.
    • E: down
    • A: up 3/4 turn
    • D: up a little more than one turn
    • G: up less than half a turn
    • B: down all the way
    • E: down all the way
  14. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    As has been stated, adjustment is pretty crucial on just about any Filtetron style pickup I've had. I'll usually start w/ the TV Jones diagrams and tweak to taste/balance from there on a few different amps.

    It's usually well worth spending some time w/ them IMO and if they still aren't what you want, Dynas/T-Armonds/TV-HTs/Magnatrons/Supertrons will give you differing flavors and amounts of a more single coil sound.

    I'm not usually big on flame tops or gold hardware but that is a beautiful guitar! Congrats!
    Sam D likes this.
  15. workknot

    workknot Country Gent

    Feb 15, 2009
    Brainerd, Minnesota
    The neck pickup looks not like a true Filtertron?
  16. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Friend of Fred

    Jan 19, 2012
    Maldon UK
    Nickel plated rather than pure nickel sounds crisper, but they don't last as long.
  17. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Sam - I suggest you sell this beauty asap and give it someone who appreciates filtertrons.

    Yes people often do replace the pups - they often pull out single coil pups and stick in the Filtertrons like what you've got now :)

    Go ahead and tinker with it if you wanna reduce resale value and lose $$ but better imo if you just sell it and go back to your Fenders.

    Gretsch & filtertrons are not for everyone and I'm very glad many people don't like them.
    If they did I wouldn't have a unique sound of my own and I'd be just another boring Fender single coil player :)

    I'm not being harsh in saying this cos ......1st time I heard filtertrons my reaction was the opposite of yours.
    I thought - WOW x10 better than thin weak single coils and x10 better than PAF type humbuckers too cos they have the clarity, depth and twang humbuckers lack.
    Your comments indicate to me you're not a filtertrons or gretsch type guy :)
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
    BorderRadio likes this.
  18. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    Nice blonde Country Gent. :) For me, Filtertrons are the perfect pickup for this guitar.


    See me signature block
    v v v v v v v
  19. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Let me tell you a story:

    When I got my Red Falcon I was shocked how bright and thin it sounded. The reason is simple ... wrong combination of bridge and pickups. Mine came with TV Jones Classics and an aluminium True Arc. But the solution was simple ... Gibson Vintage Reissue strings ... less harsh treble, more punch in the bass departement, still good overdrive bite, because these pure nickel strings have a hex core.

    Sooo ... which bridge do you have? Is that a Rocking Bar or a True-Arc? And which strings do you use, still the stock D'Addarrio?

    PS: I love Filtertrons ... on my Penguin with a brass RBB I use Gibson Brite Wires ... sounds perfect.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
    mike G likes this.
  20. Johnno

    Johnno Gretschie

    Nov 27, 2016
    That is the best guitar I've seen today and it's not like I don't look either.
    Waxhead, kt66 and Sam D like this.
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