Black Top Filtertrons


Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
Monkey Island
I thought so too.
I had my tech take apart the Black tops to see if he could put alnico magnets in them.
When he got them a part he told me that there was already alnico magnets in them.
He showed me different magnet types that he had on hand since he repairs pickups.
He showed me ceramic vs alnico and I could see that the black top magnets were alnico.
It's been nearly 4 years since then so I forget all the details.
But I was going to get him to replace the magnets if they were ceramic - but he didn't have to.

Fascinating stuff. Now I HAVE to know!

Anyone selling a set of new Blacktops I can crack open?


May 7, 2016
they have AlNiCo's
i believe Alnico 5
after 2003 Fender had those equipped with AlNiCo's so if you have a Blacktop made after 2003 it has them in


May 7, 2016
All sources are saying these are ceramics. To my ears they sound even ceramic.
I seem to have misunderstood an article i read But it seems like they are indeed ceramics.
I dont have a reference point to hear the difference í have never played any other filtertron and i feel the sound is pretty smooth. I do not get any harshness


May 7, 2016
You won't find a shortage of love for blacktops around here.
that's good, then i am not an odd ball for liking them :D
i don't like strat pickups nor do i like regular humbuckers with ceramics but somehow this design can handle those magnets and still sound sweet in the top end. and the neck pup has tons of warmth and sparkle


Friend of Fred
Feb 13, 2012
Wow You're a lefty too?
There must be a few of us here.
That Hagstrom looks great by the way!

Thanks ! We are probably less than 10 LH on the forum... We should do a census also :D ! The Hagstrom Viking is a lightweight, comfortable and good sounding instrument : I recommend it - particularly if you decide to change for BT FT PUs...

Maybe the sole difference between the HS FT and the BT FT would be the cover ? Since they have the same DC resistance and sensivity... But It would be surprising. Again, I never opened any Gretsch PU to see.


The Marlin

Friend of Fred
Feb 2, 2011
^Your answer came nearly 6 years too late :rolleyes:. But back to topic, the new BTs are ceramic pick ups like the old ones. One reason why their tone is more nasty and harsh vs. the usual Filtertrons.

You think Blacktops sound nasty and harsh? Really? Have you set them up properly? I don't have a bad word to say about Blacktops. They're cracking pickups.....particularly with a bit of dirt...


Country Gent
Jan 20, 2016
They are good pups anyway if you like that kind of tone. I've played them for a while, but I didn't love them. And yes, I've tried different settings. To me they sound more modern compared to usual (alnico) FTs and, yes, more harsh and frigid compared to TV classics. But thats just me.


Friend of Fred
Oct 5, 2009
Ceramic is punchier.... Alnico is smoother. POWER is another thing. That depends on how much material is used and if they're gaused as much as possible or at a diminished level for whatever reason (Seymour uses degaussed magnets to get 'vintage' tones) but thats simply because we didn't rate magnets the same way we do now, or they're stronger. It's impossible to prove.

Ceramic will pull FASTER.

Ceramic also retains brightness/highs. and in some cases are considered a bit more middy... I agree with this, but they bloat out the bottom end too. In hot hot humbuckers with a high DC resistance (which decreases highs) builders like ceramic magnets, and on top of that typically these pickups are agressive and that ceramic EDGE as I call it is a nice touch with reatining the brightness.

What it also comes down to is the coil itself. Precision wound coils Vs. Scattter wound. A scatter wound coil will breakup more, have less note separation. Precision wound coils are just that... high-fi...

Compare a P90 coil, its so flat and wide that at some point they have to scatter a little, no matter how careful and precise you are. A strat coil is tall, thin, easy to keep the coils clean and precice. Nature of design in those two. You can still scatter wind a strat pup if you desire.

Some humbuckers have a precision wound coil with a ratty coil, or sometimes the first half of the coil is precise and the second half begins to scatter. It's all a matter of taste of the builder, and from then the market dictates popularity.

Ceramic was origionally used because it's CHEAP. But it's been used in modern pickups to get vintage tone with hum canceling options. Leo made the MFD pups for G&L as well as the Z-coils.

These two pickups used ceramic magnets and ferrous iron pole pieces to get a rod-magnet feel (similar to the old WRHB) but without using CuNiFe. Cost effective, humbucking vintage tone. Not 100% accurate though of course. They just sounded sooo good though.

Above Dimension

Jun 8, 2015
Now that's an answer.Shure the Blacktops are great pickups very close to the HS Filtertrons.Love that sound.
My guitar tech took the black top pickups apart that came in my 2011 5420 & my 2012 Pro Jet and the magnets are 100% alnico - not ceramic. He rewinds & repairs pickups so I know he's not mistaken.[/QUO

Country Member

Aug 20, 2014
The new Blacktops are great in my 5420- very clunky, clear and woody. Get the pole pieces up as close to the strings as possible. I actually prefer them for clean authentic old 50s sounds over he TVJ Classics in Setzer, though they sound great for more modern versions of rockabilly if you get my drift.