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TV Classic vs. Setzer Signature Question

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by YourBlueRoom, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. YourBlueRoom

    YourBlueRoom Electromatic

    Jan 25, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    Unhappy with the Classic bridge in my SSLVO I put the Classic neck in the bridge position and really like it. So now I'm getting ready to order another neck pickup and can't decide between the Classic and SS.

    I've scoured every thread and post on this long discussed topic but nobody has ever commented on the natural compression inherent in the sound and feel of a filtertron. The Classic neck has it in spades. Can anyone comment on whether the SS neck has more, less or how it differs in feel compared to the Classic? Has anyone tried a SS neck in the bridge position?
    MKunie likes this.
  2. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Both are nice, the Setzer Sig got the same jazzy note but more transparency. It's such a wonderful vintage tone pkup.
    Flynnski likes this.
  3. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I've had both.

    The Setzer's were like TV Classics on steroids to me. I don't care for TV Jones bridge pickups, because they are hotter than a vintage Filtertron (especially the Setzer) and wider pole spacing. They have lots of high-end frequencies and apparently some people like that.

    If you want a classic/50s/60s/original Filtertron sound, I would put another TV Classic Neck in the neck position/cavity. In the old days, they used the same, low ohm Filtertron (~4k ohms), for the neck and bridge. Good move putting the TV Classic neck pickup in the bridge position.

    I use two neck HS Gretsch Filtertrons (see my signature block).
    MKunie, j.s.c and loudnlousy like this.
  4. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Sorry Zacky,
    but I must disagree:rolleyes:
    The Setzers are known as the closest pkups to vintage Filtertrons- until the Ray Butts reached the stage, but they're a different story.
    I've also owned both, still got the Setzers in my Hot Rod and love 'em a lot!
    The Setzers got more twang, transparency and vintage woodiness compared to the classics but lack the harsh heights especially the bridge classic is known for. They're made very different and they're nailing Brians tone, but maybe they work that well in combination with the thin top of a Hot Rod and 59 trestle bracing. Simply the best Filtertrons I know, nevertheless I really dig your idea of the neck/neck combination.
  5. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    The Setzers are known as the closest pkups to vintage Filtertrons? Was some kind of survey done? Where did you read that? Take it from me, they are a couple of steps away from vintage Filtertrons. They are modern-type Filtertrons. TV Jones has stated that in one of his latest videos.

    I used to have an original 1962 G6120 with a double cutaway. I know the original Filtertron sound very well. I have also played other Gretsch Filtertron-equipped guitars around that vintage.

    The only pickup that sounded like the pickups on that guitar were the TV Classic and HS Gretsch Filtertron neck pickups. Again, the TV Classic and TV Setzer Signature bridge pickups are overwound pickups (4.8k and 6.3k ohms, respectively) with wider pole spacing. A vintage Filtertron has standard pole spacing and is wound at about 4k ohms. Not only are the specs different, it sounds different. They have hardly any classic, mid-range frequencies, and have more high-end frequencies. The TV Setzer Signature neck is also overwound (4.5k ohms) and uses a different metal for the pole pieces.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
    MikeSchindler and j.s.c like this.
  6. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013
    Sometimes I wonder how truly different we all hear.

    I tried Setzers a coupla times in a few guitars and just couldn't get into em. I felt that they were a little DARKER and rounder, certainly NOT as what I'd call "transparent" as Classics. Not as sparkly and chimey. I'd take Classics over Setzers every day of the week.
    MikeSchindler and ZackyDog like this.
  7. ruger9

    ruger9 Country Gent

    Nov 1, 2008
    From Brian Setzer. That's his opinion anyway, and "take it from me"- I think he knows vintage Filtertrons at least a little bit better than you do :p

    But seriously folks, every single review I've read of the Setzers- except for Zacky's- has reported the Setzers have slightly rounder highs, slightly more body, and slightly tighter lows, than the Classics. And my experiences (in 2 different guitars) match that opinion.

    And BTW Zacky- it's cool you think you've got it "wired" with 2 neck pups in your 6120. We should all do what we dig. You dig that- that's awesome. But selling it as some kind of absolute truth is pretty silly when this whole discussion hinges on personal preference, human hearing, and opinion.

    To the OP: if you have a Classic neck in your bridge position, I do concur that pretty much the only way to go, and be able to balance the 2 pickups, is with another Classic neck.
    Henry and Stefan like this.
  8. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    I have Setzer classics in my 6119 and they're quite articulate and bright. Whatever treble setting I've had on my amp, it's been turned down some. Not that it's a bad thing - they are really great pickups. I'm speaking for both pickups, neck and bridge. I can't compare to classics. I had original AlNiCo Filtertrons and they were fine. I just wanted more punch and a bit more growl. I got that plus more treble than I expected.

    Compression - I'm not 100% sure what that is in a pickup, but I think these don't compress as much as the OEM pickups did.
  9. Stefan

    Stefan Country Gent

    Jan 20, 2016
    Brian himself and, if I remember right a guy called TV the wired turtle ;)
    Here's a review from

    "Long recognized as the leading maker of contemporary Gretsch-style replacement pickups, TV Jones has added a new flavor of vintage Filter’Tron to his lineup: the Brian Setzer Signature Set. A variation on the popular Classic model, the Setzer uses a custom design Tom Jones concocted to give the rockabilly star’s newer 6120s the same thick, meaty, yet twangy tone as his legendary original ’59 Chet Atkins Hollowbody. Long story short, Setzer loved ’em, and a Signature set was born.
    They still follow the general Filter’Tron formula, but the Setzers, unlike the Classics, have mismatched windings in each of their two coils for a little more bite and clarity (much as does a vintage Gibson PAF humbucker), plus slightly more powerful coils, and a custom pole alloy for a bolder attack. Tested in a semi-hollow Thorn Artisan Limited (a rather Duo Jet-like guitar) through a custom JTM45-style amp, I found the Setzers provided an extremely appealing rendition of that clear yet growling and slightly compressed tone that makes a good Filter’Tron such fun to play. In the neck position the Setzer offered more midrange muscle than the Classic that was original to the guitar (something you might not want if you’re chasing optimum clear and clean from that position), with a lusciously thick tone, while the bridge had more meat and edge, and, to my ears, a more vintage-leaning character than a Classic, though not as much midrange thump as a Classic Plus. All in all, they’re a great sounding set for the edgier, snarlier side of rockabilly, yet superbly versatile too. —Dave Hunter "

    Everyone's got a different hearing like Tony says, that's true. As said above, a thin topped, trestle braced Gretsch also sounds different than others with this Pkups-check this:

  10. YourBlueRoom

    YourBlueRoom Electromatic

    Jan 25, 2017
    Nashville, TN
    Thank you all very much for the input... My ears definitely hear the same harsh high end and diminished sparkle in the bridge pickup that ZackyDog describes. I considered the Setzer neck (for my bridge position) because like others have mentioned there are some well respected tone hounds on both Gretsch forums who have described an unpotted Setzer neck as closer to an original filtertron than the classic. Between that,the tighter low end and the slightly higher output (4.2 vs classic 4.0) I thought it might be a better 'neck' pickup choice for the bridge. As stupid as this is the biggest hang up for me with the Setzer is the dorky signature cover (my opinion). TV cannot and will not sell them with any other cover (contract with Brian) so I'd I have to swap the cover myself. I like working on my guitars, modding and changing stuff but I'm just not in the mood this time around to buy a new set of pickups and then have to cut them all up. I guess I'm going with two Classic necks.
    ZackyDog likes this.
  11. slimwilson

    slimwilson Synchromatic

    Dec 22, 2015
    Arlington, Tx
    Everybody knows that the truest vintage sounding Filtertrons are the ones in my 2004 G6120. There, debate settled.
  12. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    Vintage Filtertrons were not wax potted. I removed most of the wax potting (with a hair dryer) from my Gretsch HS Filtertrons. If you want to be very thorough, you can immerse the pickup in Naphtha for a few hours; it won't hurt the pickup.
  13. j.s.c

    j.s.c Country Gent

    Aug 19, 2008
    Less wax less ohms (4,5 is enough) that's what u need
  14. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    Does removing the wax make the pickup more susceptible to feedback, or more likely to be microphonic, or something?

    Clearly, I don't know enough about it to even be able to frame the question intelligently...
  15. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    It does make it more prone to feedback and microphonic (mainly at high volume). But it also gives the pickup a three dimensional quality. Gibson PAF humbuckers were not wax potted, and that is/was a part of their unique sound.
    MTurner likes this.
  16. audept

    audept I Bleed Orange

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    All these threads ever prove is that everybody hears differently and likes or dislikes are idiosyncratic to the individual. I try to solve this problem by having at least one of everything and change my choice as I see fit.
  17. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013

    Which, by the way is the best strategy!
    audept likes this.
  18. nickurso

    nickurso Friend of Fred

    Dec 24, 2012
    New Orleans la.
    Absolutely and also a lot depends on what you hear in your head as the perfect sound based on what you like to listen too. Also the sum total of your entire rig. For me the setzers are perfect. I also play blues on a gretsch so I'm definitely not following the masses on that one.
    RocknRollShakeUp, ruger9 and audept like this.
  19. MikeSchindler

    MikeSchindler Synchromatic

    Feb 3, 2014
    I like my TV Classic in the neck and HS in the bridge for now but I'd like to try the TV neck in the bridge . I see where Zacky is going with this. Just tried the Setzer's finally...they sound cool but I think I'd personally stay with my Classics...setzee can say what he wants but you have to remember ...he has an opinion like everyone else and it's his pickup tech....he also has a different application with these now...time passes , people develop different tastes and I say whatever you like go with it.
    ZackyDog likes this.
  20. dilver

    dilver Country Gent

    Feb 16, 2009
    When the Setzer Signatures first came out, there was all this excitement and some hype. But after the smoke cleared I think there were a number of us that really loved the SS neck pickup, but felt the bridge pickup had weird mids to it. Sounded cool when both pickups were on, but alone the SS bridge pickup didn't do it for me. But I tried that SS bridge pickup in my Black Phoenix and really liked it. Probably has something to do with the longer scale and bigger body, but it works in that guitar. But in my two other Gretsch (SSLVO and Hot Rod), I definitely prefer the Classic Plus in the bridge position. Granted, I'm more of a rock/blues guy vs. Chet/rockabilly guy.
    ruger9 likes this.