Detailed view of FilterTron Black Top

JoeGretsch

Electromatic
Dec 7, 2016
22
Palm Beach
Hello All,

While I was installing a B-5 Bigsby on my G5435LH BK Pro-Jet, I removed the pickups in order to see how they were built and mounted, and I took some pictures. Here they are :

351060IMG9740.jpg

883020IMG9746.jpg

648510IMG9747.jpg


As you can see, the FilterTron Black Tops seems to have nothing different externally from the standard FilterTron, with the exception of the cover. So a swap is probably possible... But let me say that I find the Black Top very good sounding, probably having "that great Gretsch Sound" kind of tone, so eventually I wonder if a swap is worth (?).

A+!
Yes, wow and THX for posting these inside views. I am an electronics expert and I want to comment on the fit and finish of the hardware you are displaying first of all. This is VERY WELL MADE! These are in my opinion a merging of technology and timelessness. These are, you are right, some very authentic sounding pickups. There are a couple of points that I have not seen on these forums about them that I would mention. Depending on your personal setup, this may vary slightly but I am saying that from my experience, these Blacktop Filtertrons reveal their nuances when placed as close to your strings as possible! I use a LASER BEAM and a PROTRACTOR to do my setups. This has been a tremendous help in "dialing in" those little touches that make your setup perfect for "you". At any rate, these pickups are SO MUCH HOTTER when you put them closest to the strings. This is where you are getting your "bell tones" and "brown sound" from if you are looking for that!! Using Amplitube 4 is AWESOME with these pickups because they EMULATE SO WELL!! Amazing TUBE SOUNDS from my computer rig!! I also have some great Amps but I wanted to mention that!
 

hcsterg

Friend of Fred
Silver Member
Feb 13, 2012
6,865
France
Hey JoeGretsch,

Would you tell us the distance that you have between pole top and understring (Low E side Neck, Low E side Bridge, Hi E side Neck, Hi E side Bridge) ?

Thanks !

And nice Surf Green Pro-Jet...

A+!
 

gentlemanbass

Gretschie
Aug 28, 2011
329
mactier
There is a 1968 6073 bass for sale - claiming all original - however one the of the pickups is a black top .

Did Black Tops exist in 1968?
 

Joey L

Synchromatic
Jun 24, 2016
571
White Plains, NY
I have a 2016 5420 with Blacktops. Not at all bad pick ups. I did change and install TV Classics. By comparison, the Classics are a much more refined, smoother, sweeter toned pick up, really in a league of its own.
 

markachou

Electromatic
Feb 16, 2018
9
Belgium
And after taking it apart:

View attachment 19347

View attachment 19348

View attachment 19349

As you can see, it's very easy to take apart (and a paun to put back together with all those loose parts).

The magnet is a simple bar magnet thats slapped to the underside of the bobbins. It's probably ceramic.
I didn't test wether I could take it off easily.
On the supertrons of my Viking, the bars and blades are held in place just by their own magnetism. I suspect on this filtertron it's stuck there with some glee, as the pickup poles probably won't procide enough magnetic pull.

Nether this filtertron, nor my supertrons. Are waxpotted.

BTW, this filtertron must've been taken apart before; the two washers that are used to mount it to the alu bar are not identical. One is a pertinax bus, the other looks like a bus taken off of something else.
 

markachou

Electromatic
Feb 16, 2018
9
Belgium
And after taking it apart:

View attachment 19347

View attachment 19348

View attachment 19349

As you can see, it's very easy to take apart (and a paun to put back together with all those loose parts).

The magnet is a simple bar magnet thats slapped to the underside of the bobbins. It's probably ceramic.
I didn't test wether I could take it off easily.
On the supertrons of my Viking, the bars and blades are held in place just by their own magnetism. I suspect on this filtertron it's stuck there with some glee, as the pickup poles probably won't procide enough magnetic pull.

Nether this filtertron, nor my supertrons. Are waxpotted.

BTW, this filtertron must've been taken apart before; the two washers that are used to mount it to the alu bar are not identical. One is a pertinax bus, the other looks like a bus taken off of something else.

Hello Michiel, your pics are very interesting to me because when I was young (and stupid) I modified the wiring of my country gentlemen (made in 1976) in order to split the two filtertron's coils and have the possibility of connecting them parallel or serie with a switch. Now that I'm old (and reasonable) I wanted to re-wire my gretsch like "original" The problem is that I did'nt remember how these coils were connected. So I join a pic of one of the filtertron : You see a black and a red wire coming out of each coil. So following advices of various forum, I connected the two coils as indicated in the pic here enclosed. In serie: the red connected to the black and going out with the other red - the black remaining connected to the ground I also followed the diagram that gretsch is publishing. BUT when I've finished the job, I feel that the sound is thinner than originally and the output signal of the guitar is much weaker. So as you've seen the details of this connection on your filtertrons, can you tell me if the connection in serie shown on the pic is well the right one ? Thanks for your reply
Marc
 

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Waxhead

Friend of Fred
Aug 30, 2014
5,186
Australia
Hello All,

While I was installing a B-5 Bigsby on my G5435LH BK Pro-Jet, I removed the pickups in order to see how they were built and mounted, and I took some pictures. Here they are :

351060IMG9740.jpg

883020IMG9746.jpg

648510IMG9747.jpg


As you can see, the FilterTron Black Tops seems to have nothing different externally from the standard FilterTron, with the exception of the cover. So a swap is probably possible... But let me say that I find the Black Top very good sounding, probably having "that great Gretsch Sound" kind of tone, so eventually I wonder if a swap is worth (?).

A+!

Hey thanks for posting useful information on this forum :)
 

markachou

Electromatic
Feb 16, 2018
9
Belgium
Thanks for this info. Unfortunately, man dont see the connection of the two coils. In the meantime, I've found the diagrams that I made and the infos that I wrote 30 years ago when I modified the wiring. It's incredible because it seems that the original gretsch connection was exactely the contrary that everybody on the net told me. In fact for this country gentlemen built around 1976, the two red wires were connected together and one black wire going to the ground and the other was the output. So the coils are in serie but not in phase opposition. The way indicated by my gretsch web friends (red connected to black) had the result to connect the coils in phase opposition with the consequence of a ridiculous thin sound at a very low voltage output and not "that great gretsch sound" So I will open again the guitar tomorrow and make the connection as original --- I will advise you about the result !
Thanks again for your reply.
 

markachou

Electromatic
Feb 16, 2018
9
Belgium
VERY IMPORTANT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE THE SAME GUITAR THAN ME: In fact for this country gentlemen, the correct wiring between the two coils of the filtertrons is in serie, BUT the red wire of one coil connected to the red wire of the other coil and one black wire to ground and the other black = output !!!!
 

Sonny Strimple

Country Gent
May 8, 2011
1,153
Western Maryland
There is a lot of good info in this thread!
I have a 2017 G5420tg and the pickups sound better to me than the pre-fender filtertrons on the prolines I have owned.
Mine have a brighter Gretchier sound to them.
I also use a Bigsby aluminum bridge and bridge base with 11/49 flat wounds.
I fingerpick without thumb or finger picks and it still gives me a bright tone/sound.
I love the sound I'm getting and would not want to swap them out for anything.
They really are great pickups.
 

TV the Wired Turtle

Gretschified
Jul 25, 2009
14,712
Sandy Eggo
just remember that the simple act of opening the top of ANY humbucker makes them sound more awake and dimensional.
I've ordered a few sets of tvjones filters w "open top" and I love them so much more they just look strange to me. Having the absence of the brass over over the bobbin reveals air and dimension to me that is held back by the coveres even if they have the slots for the pole screws. If you get the soap bar covers that are just black plastic its evident even more so.
 

Sonny Strimple

Country Gent
May 8, 2011
1,153
Western Maryland
just remember that the simple act of opening the top of ANY humbucker makes them sound more awake and dimensional.
I've ordered a few sets of tvjones filters w "open top" and I love them so much more they just look strange to me. Having the absence of the brass over over the bobbin reveals air and dimension to me that is held back by the coveres even if they have the slots for the pole screws. If you get the soap bar covers that are just black plastic its evident even more so.

Do you have any photos of them mounted that way? Would be interesting to see. Could be a Hot Rod sort of thing.
 

Joey L

Synchromatic
Jun 24, 2016
571
White Plains, NY
82B0B79B-7504-4921-9F36-D3203B2B1A8D.jpeg
Thats pretty cool! I've never tried the blacktops, or regular filtertrons for that matter, but people around here seem to be very pleased with them. I did recently round up a set of tv classic pups, and they are absolutely amazing, especially compared to the stock gretschbuckers. But it took a lot of patience to wait around and find them in my price range. As far as your blacktop filtertrons go, I'd say if it isn't broke don't fix it. But nodding sure is fun...
Attached is a shot of the TV Classics in my 2016 5440 I mentioned in an earlier post. They were a direct fitting swap with no modifications required to the body of the guitar. Lastly, I drilled two holes in the pickguard ( not shown in this photo) so I can adjust the pick ups, with a small Phillips screwdriver, without removing the pickguard.
 
Last edited:

JoeGretsch

Electromatic
Dec 7, 2016
22
Palm Beach
Hey JoeGretsch,

Would you tell us the distance that you have between pole top and understring (Low E side Neck, Low E side Bridge, Hi E side Neck, Hi E side Bridge) ?

Thanks !

And nice Surf Green Pro-Jet...

A+!
Well, you can barely do it that way with this model Gretsch anyways... One has to do this by ear and with micrometer, digital. That's the only way to get the wonderful even tone across all strings that I have. It is also a good idea to set up the rest of the guitar at the same time though, meaning that I can barely slide a dime under any of my strings, have zero buzz, no flat notes and of course great harmonics and tone... I love this thing! Of course it didn't sound or play this way out of the box and this setup method has taken me over 30 years to perfect... Everything Is Not For Everyone... Oh yeah and there's a Stainless Compton Bridge on here that looks like a Lightning Bolt! Custom from Pops for me...
 


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