5120 pickup opinions wanted.

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by Daryl Licht, May 24, 2012.

  1. The Marlin

    The Marlin Friend of Fred

    Feb 2, 2011
    I've not heard good things about the Retrotrons. I'd go Surf 90's.

    I put Tog P90's on my 5120, and they sound great. Really cheap too. For twang, pop some hilotrons in there. I've only recently experimented with hilo's, I adore them!!

    I have them in a Corvette, and they seriously kick ass! And, they were cheap too, I bought them used, but minty for £40/$60. I might buy another set, get them mucked about with by Bareknuckle again (wound hotter, to match TV classic output), and pop them in my Jag Tan Annie, just to see how they sound in a hollow body.

    I'm loving them more than T-Armonds!!!

  2. johnnyguitar

    johnnyguitar Country Gent

    Jul 10, 2009
    The Hi Lo's I have not had a chance to try, I would like to see what they have to offer sometime :)
  3. The Marlin

    The Marlin Friend of Fred

    Feb 2, 2011
    They are hugely articulate, and very twangy. They make my Corvette sound like a Gretsch telecaster. It covers that middle ground between the two guitars. But, the pickups also like a bit of dirt. They sound fab and twangy through my Fender amp, but they fatten nicely through my Marshall with a treble boost. Depending on the amp I put it through, and the OD pedal I use, I can just about get any tone I want out of them. Sleepwalk (solo, live, version) sounds superb!
    My poor old G Love Corvete is getting dusty.....
  4. Daryl Licht

    Daryl Licht Electromatic

    Jun 11, 2011
    Lots of great advice here. If I do change the pickups, cheap is not necessary, I just don't want to mount the TV Classics. The real live Filtertrons may be the best option short of buying a 6120. A proline Gretsch isn't out of the question, but it's hard for me to justify, even in my own warped mind, since my Les Pauls get played far and away more than anything else I have.
  5. Lizardkinged

    Lizardkinged Friend of Fred

    Oct 5, 2009
    The filters are going to be more difficult than say the TV-jones w/ an EM2 mount. (ears to mount to a HB ring) There are converter rings and certain EM2 mounting kits a guy named Ripley sells on here that the HS filters will work on your 5120, but TVs will be easier to install. Some of the GHS stuff is alright, cant say it sounds THE BEST, but it sounds good.
  6. polishbroadcast

    polishbroadcast Synchromatic

    Jun 23, 2010
    My experience echoes sentiments that have already been expressed... so apologies to above posters, i am just reinforcing your points.

    1. The easiest no-drill install of a Filtertron is going to be TV Jones w/ English Mount humbucker ring. You can get HS Filtertrons and install them with the English mount humbucker ring but you also need to buy or make an adapter since the HS Filtertron doesn't have the height adjusting ears on the side.

    2. HS Filtertrons are more harmonically rich and a little darker than TV Jones; all things i prefer.

    3. GFS Surf 90's are fantastic sounding pickups. They capture the sound and textures of early DeArmonds and sound fantastic on a Gretsch. I have a pair on a 5122. I had T-Armonds in the same guitar and much preferred the Surf 90s. Try to ignore the "for the price" comments. They are good pickups, period. If you like DeArmond pickups, these are the closest modern ones i have found.

    4. Surf 90 build quality is top notch. I can't comment on any other GFS stuff but the Surf 90's are as nice as any pickup i have ever owned.

    5. I have a HS Filtertron and Surf 90 guitar and regularly do mini-comparisons all the time. There is a very similar sound but i love them both. The Filters probably have a little more sparkle and compression and the Surf 90's sound woodier and more open.

    I have a 6118 (HS Filtertrons) and 5122 (Surf 90's) and they both get played equal amounts. The quality of both is very very high. The hardest part for you will be deciding which pickup sound you like more.
  7. GreatGretsch

    GreatGretsch Country Gent

    Jun 25, 2008
    Pittsburgh suburbs
    In my 5120, I have the GFS Nashville's. The coil taps sound great, and will give you the twang and brightness you are looking for. These are one of the few coil tap pickups that sound good. I didn't intend on using them in the tap mode, but I do much of the time. Although, I would get push/pull pots from a different source. The ones I ordered with the pickups vibrate\rattle.
  8. Daryl Licht

    Daryl Licht Electromatic

    Jun 11, 2011
    Still debating the pickup change. There are so many good suggestions here. I'm starting to think it might be wise to wait and see what replaces the 5120 and decide after that. Going with a 6120 and leaving the 5120 as is still isn't out of the question.

    I'm finding that amp choice makes a ton of difference, but doesn't always make sense to me. I have a Fender Blues Deville 410, would have thought it to be the ideal choice for this guitar. The Pro Jet sounds heavenly thru it, but the 5120 just disappoints. Oddly enough, an old Peavey Special 130 with the mids and bass dialed back, the treble high, and the reverb cranked up gives me nearly what I'm looking for. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it is what it is.
  9. amx05462

    amx05462 Gretschie

    Apr 24, 2011
    rhode island
    got an old set of filtertrons off ebay.. they sound fantastic.. also added a tone switch. with 005 and 010 caps for subtle tone changes
  10. Rockabillybob

    Rockabillybob Country Gent

    Brightness and twang? Surf 90's. I have them in three different 5120's, with different bridges for variety in tone. What replaces the 5120? The G5420T, with Blacktop Filtertron pickups. Haven't heard them in a hollowbody yet. The jury is still out for me. (Till next week, anyway.)
  11. Bostonjohn

    Bostonjohn Newbie

    May 31, 2012
    Same issue here Daryl. I just read to much about changing the pickups and it got me confused. I'm going for the TV Jones Classic Pickup setup for my 5120.

    I'll leave a comment ASAP on the outcome


    AMP: Fender Hotrod Deville
  12. spaenje

    spaenje Electromatic

    Dec 29, 2011
    changed my pups for taylor hd humbuckers with splitable coils & they sound great as well, did anybody try some strat pups??????
  13. DRS13

    DRS13 Electromatic

    Jan 20, 2012
    I put Gretsch HS Filtertrons in my G5120 and love them. It sounds like the Gretsch sounds in my head. However, one guy who posted previously said they fit in the Gretschbucker rings - they don't. They're about 1/16" too wide. But the stock 6120 rings are only about $3.00 each so it's a no brainer as they look better than those dull black rings. I opted to glue wood in and mount them direct with screws and no rubber tubing. A very lively sound.
  14. polishbroadcast

    polishbroadcast Synchromatic

    Jun 23, 2010
    Right. I created this scale drawing to show pickup and bezel comparisons:


    Filtertron bezels will easily cover the old humbucker mounting holes. I've had the reverse issue: Filtertron bezel w/ humbucker-sized pickup. I had Paul Setzer make me those rings and they turned out pretty great. The Filtertron rings look nicer / more balanced than the standard PAF rings anyhow.
  15. Neoj4zz

    Neoj4zz Gretschie

    Sep 30, 2011
    Chicago Burbs
    + 1 My experiences with GFS are 50/50. I never liked the ceramics, but some of the alnicos are pretty nice for the money.
    If you wanna go cheap, and don't want to do the mods, buy the HS Filtertrons, buy a mount kit from Ripley, and buy the TV jones black humbucker ring mounts for classics. It may not look as nice, but you can easily revert it back, and you will get nice tone. I have a set of new black TV/ rings I'd be willing to sell if interested.
  16. sligo ray

    sligo ray Synchromatic

    Jun 17, 2011
    New Zealand

    Attached Files:

  17. damacleod

    damacleod Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2012
    Wirral, UK
    +1 for The Creamery. I've got his pickups in a couple of my Teles. Great guy to deal with, top quality product and very reasonable prices.
  18. TeeDub

    TeeDub Synchromatic

    Jun 21, 2011
    Amazing similarity to GFS Retrotrons.

  19. earoach

    earoach Synchromatic

    May 3, 2010
    west of the city
    Nah, keep it stock. There will be a good market for this rig soon enough...
  20. kennium

    kennium Electromatic

    May 7, 2012
    Stoneham, Ma
    I was all set to buy new pickups for my 5120. I just wasn't happy with the output of them. I read all the stuff everyone had posted, and I tried many pole- piece configurations. I raised and lowered them in every way imaginable.
    Then one day it hit me. I used to LOVE the sound of the Gretsch I owned when I was 16. In those days I knew nothing about guitars or pickups. I just brought the pole pieces up as close to the strings as possible. So, just for the hell of it I raised every single pole screw up as close as I dared to. (all of them) I plugged it in, and it blew my mind! I had that great sound I used to get W A Y back in the day. I will keep the Gretschbuckers.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
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