Bought Powertrons, Bridge pup is awful. Normal?

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by kbcarroll, Oct 14, 2021 at 10:49 AM.

  1. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I have an electromatic G5448G (the "surf" green one). I wanted to go for broke on the pickups and electronics and ordered a full blown matched kit from 920d custom: powertrons and a wiring harness + pots. Completely new electronics. I barely play the guitar but lately I've wanted to really get into it and gig with it but there are 2 issues that are absolutely killing me:

    1. I replaced the pots/harness because it felt like the stock pots were just on/off switches and there were no in-between. If I were in the middle position and barely rolled back the volume on either pickup, the other pickup would just completely take over. Even with the totally new harness/pots the problem is exactly the same! Is it just wired wrong? Is there some trick to the way these things are wired that creates this issue? Is there a fix?

    2. This one might be related or I might just be unlucky. The neck pickup sounds perfect. Bright, clear, round tone that I expect when TV Jones says "like a classic filtertron but bigger, louder, hotter" or whatever their marketing says. However, the bridge pickup is 100% all mids, no highs. It just doesn't sound right. Is this just normal for this pickup or did I get a bad one? Or is it related to a poorly designed wiring harness (like is there a tone cap missing from the circuit)? Or did I just buy the wrong pickups? The neck pickup is amazing, which makes me think that something is wrong.

    Also, as soon as I figure out these issues I'm going all in on tuners and a nut. I don't know if I'll bother with the bridge due to the neat looking stock setup that is probably really difficult to replace without getting really busy on mods.
     

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    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  2. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Wiring harness: specifically which brand and resistance pots and which caps did you use?

    Pickup sound: Experiment with pickup height, a few millimeters can make a huge difference. The bridge pickups will be more "honky" in my estimation, but not sure if that's exactly what you're describing. Your middle position switch should be no tone caps and therefore the tone cap doesn't matter there. That is your pure pickup sound.

    It could very well be that you don't like the sound of that pickup at it's best. I doubt the pickup is bad.
     
    Outlaw likes this.
  3. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    Adjustment of the pickup body & individual pole piece heights can make a huge difference w/ any filtertron style pickup.

    I usually start from here & tune to taste by ear:
    https://tvjones.com/adjustments-and-schematics

    That being said, the bridge Powertron/Powertron + I've tried have struck me as pretty thick, mid focused & PAF-y. They haven't really given me what I was looking for outside of on my Eman Vette so far even after a good bit of messing w/ the heights. Of course YMMV.
     
  4. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    125
    Oct 4, 2020
    Texas
    The gretsch harness often likes some specific mixed pot K values because of the dual volume, single tone, master volume knob setup. Make sure those are in line with what's expected. It's possible you have a 250k where you might need some 500k or something? I'm not an expert on that though.

    While I would expect the powertrons bridge to be kinda mid heavy, it shouldn't be overwhelming. If it's lacking personality, then something is probably not quite right. As @Sid Nitzerglobin pointed out, TV Jones has some specific guidelines for pickup height, so check those out (note: their heights are NOT when pressing at the last fret, which many other guides do expect you to do).
     
  5. capnhiho

    capnhiho Country Gent

    Feb 16, 2013
    California
    Could the bridge pickup be wired out of phase?
     
  6. xtcclassic

    xtcclassic Gretschie

    188
    Jan 9, 2019
    Missouri
    Something definitely seems amiss. Power’Trons definitely have a bit more mids but not overwhelmingly so and certainly not to the point that you lose a significant amount of highs. Something is wrong somewhere, either setup-wise or wiring-wise.

    I also have the same issue when using both pickups and rolling the volume down even just a tiny amount. It’s almost like flipping a switch. This is with all new guts as well. I think this is normal that someone with knowledge of how electronics/pickups work could explain. I am definitely not that someone, however. :D
     
  7. HypotenusLuvTriangle

    HypotenusLuvTriangle Country Gent

    Oct 27, 2010
    Whittier, Ca
    Another member, I can't remember who, is convinced that the Gretsch style wiring method affects the sound of the Powertrons. So they changed it to the Hot Rod wiring scheme. They said it was like night and day.
    I have a Powertron in my Penguin's bridge, but I wired it up with Hot Rod wiring when I installed it, so I wouldn't be able to confirm. But my Powertron sounds awesome. It is darker, more PAFy than a regular Filtertron/Classic.
     
  8. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    125
    Oct 4, 2020
    Texas
    I'm curious, if you roll the volume down a bit more, does it come back in? There are some frequencies that, when being blended that way, can interfere in certain range/amplitude circumstances, and navigating past that interference can bring it back.

    Chris Buck actually did a video about it (or at least talked about it in one of his videos), and demoed it.
     
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  9. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Wow, thanks for the fast and helpful responses so far! I'll try to itemize some responses in a single reply:

    1. Setup/height. I went through TVJones' recommended height first. The stock routing made the pickup super high and close to the strings. I ended up routing it out so that I can drop it down several MM and get it within spec (and lower, if needed). High, low, set to spec, nothing really helps except the pickup gets quieter if it's low, sustain gets shorter if it's high, typical height standards; except I just can't find any brightness.

    2. Pots: 920d uses custom ordered 500k CTS pots, all 4 are these pots.

    3. Pickup out of phase? Unsure, also not sure how this could affect its tone/output when only using this pickup.

    4. Others, also with entirely new top-notch wiring, seeing that the neck/bridge vol pots become on/off switches on middle pickup selector: it's comforting to know I'm not alone here, but if that's "just the way they work" then I wouldn't even bother installing them in the guitar when they literally only serve the purpose of what's already there: switch, master vol, master tone. I doubt Gretsch would spend the money on such a cheap guitar if the extra 2 pots served no added function. Then again, this is exactly how the stock pots behaved... so maybe you're right.

    5. Does signal from either pot come back when I roll the volume pot for it down further? No. 0-9 it's just "off" if I'm using both pickups.

    6. I might not like the pickup: part of me hopes this is the case. But the difference from neck to bridge is so huge I can't tell. I normally play strats/teles so I'm very familiar with treble. Before that leads you anywhere, I also have a Gibson Les Paul with burstbucker pros which I adore. Burstbuckers is one of their many attempts at a vintage PAF tone. I love them! I wanted my gretsch to be someone in between those and my fenders, but my bridge powertron is nothing like either one: it sounds like a cheap ceramic gibson pickup from the 90s with all shrill and no clarity. But my neck powertron sounds exactly like its in between my gibson and fender neck pickups. The problem just becomes much more obvious if I apply any dirt at all.
     
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  10. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Interesting. The only guitar I ever had Powertrons on had the Hot Rod circuit, and they sounded great. Personally, I never use the individual pickup volumes, so I prefer the simplified control set.
     
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  11. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tucson
    Admin Post
    Powertrons pretty much fit what you describe, at least IMO. It’s not impossible that there could be a problem with that pickup, but I’d be surprised. TV & Co. tend to have great QC. Try backing down the master volume slightly and give that a listen (in case you haven’t done that before). I found that my Powertrons sounded best when they weren’t quite at 100% volume.
     
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  12. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    Hot Rod wiring would result in lower impedance and could be brighter.
     
  13. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Maybe I should just sell the powertrons and buy some Classic Plus.
     
  14. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    CTS are good quality and you have the correct values. Linear taper or audio taper?

    In the blended position - the blend isn't all that great for me either and I have TV Jones pickups. I think it's kind of a threshold thing with the impedance of the circuit.

    Out of phase pickup won't matter when it's the only one switched on. But the guitar will sound thinner if in the blended position.
     
  15. stevo

    stevo Friend of Fred

    May 1, 2012
    Atlanta
    When did you get them? TV Jones will let you swap.
     
  16. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Back in early 2019 and not from TV Jones themselves. I got them as part of a package deal at 920d custom. I wouldn't be surprised if these can't be swapped.
     
  17. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Definitely audio taper, it's all 920d sells I believe.
     
  18. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    I think there is something wrong with the wiring. Did you follow TVJ schematics?
     
  19. kbcarroll

    kbcarroll Electromatic

    Age:
    38
    50
    Nov 4, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    The wiring matches stock wiring, it's just all new CTS pots with an upgraded switch.
     
  20. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Age:
    65
    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    That would be me.

    I had disconnected the two individual volume pots and was running just the master volume, mud switch and pickup selector. The difference was enormous although for me, not enough. I replaced them with two HS Filtertrons, never reconnected the two volume pots, and never looked back.

    Despite (very helpful) direct assistance from Tom Jones I was never able to get a sound I really liked, it was just a lot better.
     
    MyGirlGretta likes this.
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