Blasphemy? Can't tell much difference between BTBTs, and Strat

Sanchito

Electromatic
May 11, 2022
14
Washington, DC
Here's the story. On a whim, bought a Squier Strat Pack ($200 with the amp), fell in love, played non-stop for six months. Loved everything about the strat ... except the sound. It felt a little too ice-picky, not Big enough, not smooth enough. I go looking for an improvement.

I really like the 5220 when I play it at GC, actually order 3 (!) of them in the colors I'm considering, preparing to return two. But then when I get it home, to really compare with the Strat ...

The sounds seem *so* similar (comparing all three of them to the strat, so it's not just one weird 5220), that I'm both having trouble justifying the purchase and, more disturbingly, am just kind of baffled. I imagine a few things could be going on:

1. My ears have just gone. (I don't *think* this is the case. I'm 36. I can tell *some* difference. The 5220 is definitely full-ER, smooth-ER ... but it's just not night and day, like I was expecting.
2. Something about my bargain-basement ceramic strat pups actually cause them to be sort of fuzzy and booming and humbucker-y, making *them* the anomaly. and if I got "real" strat pickups, then they'd sound like the ringing crystal goblets everybody talks about. (I did compare the 5220 to a player strat at GC and I thought they sounded quite different then, but maybe that was a bad stand-in for my own, cheaper model?)
3. All the difference is being flattened by my tiny crappy amp -- which honestly I really like and plan on keeping. But it could be the culprit.
4. Actually they are in fact pretty similar! But my mind was so unprepared for this phenomenon that I have to seek the wisdom of the Elders to confirm.
5. I'm missing something?
 
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sgarnett

Synchromatic
Apr 14, 2020
919
Kentucky
In broad generalities, Streamliner Broad’trons sound kind of PAFish with a bit more clarity. Electromatic Blacktop Broad’trons sound somewhere between Broad’trons and Filter’trons to me. Filter’trons are bright, but not Strat bright.
 

Highroller

Country Gent
Jun 11, 2015
1,912
Portland, OR
Hard to really say, could be a combination of any or all of the above factors. That said however, I doubt your amp is helping much. Nothing wrong with having an inexpensive little amp around for practice, but I wouldn't rely on it as a source for audiophile level sound comparisons.

I'm assuming your Strat Pack came with something like a Frontman 10G. Amps like that have a tendency to reduce everything to the one tone they're capable of producing. And there's only so much you're gonna get out of that 6" speaker.

Have you tried the comparison using headphones? Might be a better way to do it. I'd imagine you'll be able to hear more of the difference that way.

btw, Welcome to the forum!
 
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GlenP

Country Gent
Jul 23, 2019
2,264
WA
There's an old adage that trying to describe sound with words is like trying to dance to architecture.... but I like this visual that the TV Jones site offers...

View attachment 180690
That is a nice visual. I wish Gretsch would have something similar, they have lots of different variations over the years which can be a little confusing. Gretsch classifies their families of pickups in Power and Definition, their chart only orders them in Power sequence left to right, they could have positioned them vertically in order of Definition.

I wonder about more detailed comparisons within the families, like Blacktop Filtertrons compared to High-Sensitive Filtertrons.
Screen Shot 2022-05-12 at 9.44.15 AM.png

This kind of arrangement makes a little more sense, maybe:
Screen Shot 2022-05-12 at 10.01.01 AM.png
 
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Pine Apple Slim

Country Gent
Dec 14, 2011
1,872
North Alabama
This:
"3. All the difference is being flattened by my tiny shitty amp -- which honestly I really like and plan on keeping. But it could be the culprit."

If you like the little amp, fine, but it is what it is. A little 6"-8" practice amp speaker from an entry level combo pack is never gonna sound full and rich no matter what you plug into it... unless maybe you put mic on it and record it or run it thru a PA, but thats a diff thing than just plugging in and playing. It just doesn't move enough air so its always gonna sound thin. Not saying its impossible, but it costs money for a good sounding tiny practice amp like a Yamaha THR10.
Do yourself a favor and get yourself an inexpensive decent amp, Katana 50, Orange Cr35rt, one of the many little mini heads out there and a 1-12" cab, or even an old Peavey of some kind.
 
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Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,465
Monkey Island
I agree with everyone... You put stuff through a grinder and anything turns into a patty.
Using an (external) bigger speaker cab will probably be a vast upgrade and add a bit of depth to your sound.
 

GlenP

Country Gent
Jul 23, 2019
2,264
WA
@GlenP I love the additional dimension! Dare I flatter myself to think you produced it for this thread?
Yeah, it was just a quick copy paste thing to better illustrate that tangential discussion on different pickups. Hard to find more detailed info on the Filtertron family variations and how far the different apples fall from their tree, though probably not that far.

Now, if you run those through a TSAmp(TM) then you create a singularity at the origin and all the tone gets sucked down to zero-zero on both axes.
:)
 

gretschiam

Gretschie
Jun 6, 2008
147
Chicago
Here's the story. On a whim, bought a Squier Strat Pack ($200 with the amp), fell in love, played non-stop for six months. Loved everything about the strat ... except the sound. It felt a little too ice-picky, not Big enough, not smooth enough. I go looking for an improvement.

I really like the 5220 when I play it at GC, actually order 3 (!) of them in the colors I'm considering, preparing to return two. But then when I get it home, to really compare with the Strat ...

The sounds seem *so* similar (comparing all three of them to the strat, so it's not just one weird 5220), that I'm both having trouble justifying the purchase and, more disturbingly, am just kind of baffled. I imagine a few things could be going on:

1. My ears have just gone. (I don't *think* this is the case. I'm 36. I can tell *some* difference. The 5220 is definitely full-ER, smooth-ER ... but it's just not night and day, like I was expecting.
2. Something about my bargain-basement ceramic strat pups actually cause them to be sort of fuzzy and booming and humbucker-y, making *them* the anomaly. and if I got "real" strat pickups, then they'd sound like the ringing crystal goblets everybody talks about. (I did compare the 5220 to a player strat at GC and I thought they sounded quite different then, but maybe that was a bad stand-in for my own, cheaper model?)
3. All the difference is being flattened by my tiny crappy amp -- which honestly I really like and plan on keeping. But it could be the culprit.
4. Actually they are in fact pretty similar! But my mind was so unprepared for this phenomenon that I have to seek the wisdom of the Elders to confirm.
5. I'm missing something?
All the possibilities you list are in play, and there’s nothing wrong with a $200 Strat. But if you want to hear a difference try out a 6220. You don’t have to buy it, but try it side-by-side with a 5220.
 

Guipucci

Electromatic
Jan 11, 2022
10
basque country
I swapped the speaker of my Crate Gx15 room amp for a celestion 8 /15 and its a nice upgrade... This amp costed me less than 50 euros. I prefer transistor amp than valves because of the clean tones, so it just amps my pealdboard.

You can find ridiculously cheap stuff second hand built in the USA or UK.
 

Desirsar

Gretschie
Jun 9, 2021
224
Lincoln, NE
Oh no, more science...

Amp maybe. Speaker definitely.





Record dry, send it back out using a reamp box or whatever you have to some different speakers or even headphones. If you run into something that isn't shaping the sound too much, you'll spot a difference. If they sound the same on absolutely everything... well, they sound the same. I'm predicting that the speaker on that amp is cheap and you'll get a similar sound with anything plugged into it.
 

Bradford

Electromatic
Jan 21, 2016
16
Metro Detroit
The differences between a solidbody Strat with a singlecoil and a hollowbody Gretsch with a humbucker should be very, very obvious.
Even with a very, very cheap amp.
What did you expect to hear?
True, but he was testing a 5220. The 5220 will be chambered but isn't a hollowbody. The 5220 will also have the Blacktop Broad'Tron pups, and those are a smoother and more mellow version of the Blacktop Filter'Tron pups. Admittedly, even the 5220 can get a little twangier that say a 5655tg with tht same Broad'Tron pups but (semi)hollow bodies tend to be a little warmer anyways. When we get to that strat we are going to see ceramic magnet pups and those tend to be warmer too. Whether good or bad that's subjective. In this particular issue we are seeing a solid body vs a solid body. We have a solid body Gretsch with tht warmer of the styled pups and we have a solid body Strat with the warmer pups too. I don't find it all that surprising they sound similar-ish. Especially since it's going through a very small and very cheap amp. (not digging on the amp at all)
 

Desirsar

Gretschie
Jun 9, 2021
224
Lincoln, NE
Admittedly, even the 5220 can get a little twangier that say a 5655tg with tht same Broad'Tron pups but (semi)hollow bodies tend to be a little warmer anyways.

Hey now, the guitar in my profile picture is quite twangy! It just plays nicer with ridiculous distortion and fuzz...
 


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