Fatter Sounding Pickups for G5230T

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by MikeKingAtl, Jul 24, 2021.

  1. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    I'm looking for advice on pickups.

    I got my first Gretsch guitar, a G5230T Electromatic and I'd like to change the pickups to something with a fatter sound. This guitar has the Blacktop Filter'tron pickups. I was thinking of maybe trying out the Blacktop Broad'tron pickups (the ones that come stock in the G5220). And I'm hoping to get some advice on this.

    I've been happily playing a Telecaster for a while, and I'm wanting a second guitar, something that sounds different from the Tele so that when I'm recording a song, I have a variety of electric guitar sounds to pick from. I was initially thinking of getting an Epiphone Les Paul, but when I went to my local guitar store, I played a G5220 and liked it better than the Epi Les Paul - it seemed to have more personality and a better sound. But I wanted a Bigsby, so I ordered a G5230T and had it shipped to my house.

    Now, after replacing some parts, the G5230T stays in tune pretty well, but I'm not enjoying the sound. It's hard to describe sounds with words, but to me it sounds sort of cheap, thin and clangy. And I know sounds are personal and different people have different preferences. But I remember liking the sound of the G5220 I played in the store better than the guitar I ended up getting.

    I play mostly clean-ish sounds, country, jazz, blues. I want the pickups to sound clear and cut through the mix, but be fatter and warmer than the tele pickups. Is it pretty easy to switch my guitar from the Blacktop Filter'trons to the Blacktop Broad'trons?

    I don't care about getting a typical Gretsch sound. I just want something fatter and warmer, maybe something closer to a mini humbucker. I don't have a lot of experience with different pickups, but I know the ones I have on this Gretsch aren't going to work for me. It's not close enough to the sound in my head that I'm going for.

    Thank you for any advice you can offer.
     
    maloburro likes this.
  2. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    Congrats on the new guitar and a shame that you're not enjoying the sound of it, the one thing i wiuld suggest is to have a go at changing the height of the pickups and see if that helps at all, my 6120ssl had a very thin sound to it when i first got it but adjusting the pickups made a huge difference.

    If that doesn't work then you should be able to easily change the BT BT in when it comes to pick up rings and all that as the bolt pattern is the same, you will need the BT BT rings, the only thing im not sure of is the routing underneath, i personally would like to know if they can be swapped as i have wanted to do the same with my 5230.
     
    dmunson likes this.
  3. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    I don't hate blacktops, but they have their place and if it's not the sound you're looking for, there's nothing wrong with swapping them. I dropped a Duncan Psyclone and an HS filter into my Pro Jet and they're much fatter - still "Gretschy" but with more cojones. You can usually score HS filters pretty reasonably, might be worth trying.

    -m
     
  4. yeipi

    yeipi Electromatic

    17
    Sep 10, 2020
    Argentina
    The 5230t have a treble bleed circuit, which reduces bass as you roll of the volume. Maybe you can try removing it before switching pickups. Takes something like 3 minutes with a soldering iron so I think is worth a try
     
    new6659 likes this.
  5. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    That's really not what a treble bleed does. It reduces treble loss as you roll off the volume.

    -m
     
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  6. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    Thanks for the help Stefan. If I get a pair of the BT BT pickups, I'll be sure to get the rings too. From reading on this forum, it sounds like those BT BT pickups aren't generally loved by the Gretsch community, so I can probably find someone who switched away from them and try them myself. And if I don't like them, I can switch back, or look for something else.

    I enjoy writing songs and recording them at home. I'm working on a song now where my Tele doesn't sound right, so this is exactly why I bought the Gretsch. This morning I tinkered some more with different amp settings, knobs on the Gretsch, and reverb in my DAW...and I got a sound that I like, it sounds really nice to me, so I can proceed with this track. But I will continue to investigate changing the tone of this guitar. I like the guitar's bones, really like the Bigsby, the guitar feels good in my hands and the tone is in the ballpark of what I'm wanting. I do think with different pickups it will sing the way I want to hear it.

    I probably need to go back to guitar center and play some different style pickups to get better educated.
     
    Stefan87 likes this.
  7. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    Hey Mr. Coffee, I really appreciate the help and recommendation of the pickups you went with in that guitar, I will research them and try to find some sound clips. Seems like the HS pickups and the TV Jones Classics are very popular on this forum.

    And it also seems like many people like the stock pickups that come in the 5230 (the ones I have). I think they sound really good in the middle position, when I crank up the amp. It gives a solid crunch. My music tends to be a bit more mellow and I'm looking for a sweet, singing tone for melodic leads. Anyway, they're not sounding quite right to me, so I'll try something else. I'll look into the Psyclone and HS filters. Thanks!
     
    mr coffee likes this.
  8. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    Thanks for the tip, Yeipi. I recently heard about treble bleed circuits, but I'm not really up to speed on them. I'll check it out. Actually the youtube video I saw indicated the guitar (a different Gretsch than the one I have) didn't have the treble bleed and the reviewer recommended adding it, so it's possible to roll off the volume without completely losing the mojo.

    I feel like the tone knob on my 5230T doesn't work very well. It's not a smooth, gradual transition. --- But I haven't done a whole lot of soldering (and what I have done in the past wasn't a very good job!) so I haven't ever switched out pots.

    I saw that TV jones sells a complete, pre-made wiring harness. But when I opened the little plastic covers on the back of my guitar, it looked really intimidating!
     
  9. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    Bear in mind the Psyclone is crazy hot, although it still has a certain amount of filtertron flavor, probably due to the harmonic content inherent in a pickup that's wider than a typical single coil but not as wide as a PAF style humbicker - probably not what you're looking for.

    -m
     
  10. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Age:
    62
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    MikeKingAtl likes this.
  11. Mark W

    Mark W Country Gent

    Age:
    69
    Jun 6, 2008
    Central Florida
    It sounds like what you are looking for is a humbucker but I could be wrong. Maybe before you spend anymore money on pickup changes try a G2410TG or a G2420T and see if you like the way it sounds. IT comes with Broad’Tron BT-2S humbuckers. I like the sound of them. They are not the "Typical Gretsch sound" - but should cover sonically what you are asking about.
     
    MikeKingAtl likes this.
  12. Outlaw

    Outlaw Country Gent

    Jul 13, 2011
    UK
    Just buy an Atomic brain, that'll do the job nicely.
     
    MikeKingAtl likes this.
  13. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    Thanks, Mark. I will check them out. I think I need to head back to the guitar store and try out some different guitars/pickups.

    (I thought a filtertron was a humbucker? I guess it's a humbucker that's sort of in between a fender single coil and a gibson humbucker?)

    When I bought the 5230, I thought I was getting the same guitar I played in the stored (the 5220) except with a Bigsby added on. But now I know that it has different pickups.
     
  14. mr coffee

    mr coffee Country Gent

    Oct 7, 2009
    Houston
    A filtertron is a humbucking design, however when most people mention a humbucker they mean a pickup with the dimensions of a Gibson PAF. The Filter'tron is narrower and taller, which is a huge contributing factor to the characteristic "Great Gretsch Sound." The width of a Gibson style humbucker means you are getting a lot more harmonic content than a Filter'tron, while the width of a Filter'tron means you are getting more harmonic content than a Strat-style single coil (or, by extension, a Hot Rails or Classic Stack type design, which are also humbuckers but fit in the space of a Strat single coil).

    Confused yet?

    -m
     
    TomK likes this.
  15. Rayzor

    Rayzor Electromatic

    Age:
    56
    71
    Feb 28, 2016
    AR, USA
    Maybe the Full’ Trons, I have them in a Broadkaster Jr and they are warmer and fuller than blacktops I have in my Electromatics
     
    MikeKingAtl likes this.
  16. dmunson

    dmunson Gretschie

    378
    Dec 19, 2015
    Charlotte, NC
    Maybe it's just me, but after playing with the pickup elevations, I was able to dial in some great tones on my G5230T. I would take a look at that before you go any further.
     
    MikeKingAtl, Henry, new6659 and 3 others like this.
  17. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    Atlanta

    Yeah, start at the start. However, just know that typically that clunk and clank with a bright top end and shorter sustain IS a kind of traditional Gretsch voice. It MAY be the Gretsch sound isn’t what you actually want. Just food for thought.

    Also - what amp were you playing through at the store? What amp do you play at at home?
     
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  18. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    no! Thank you, your explanation was really clear. So a filtertron is a humbucking design, but it gives a different sound than a PAF. I can hear that my Gretsch is fatter than my Tele, but not as fat as a Les Paul. I think I'm wanting something fatter than a filtertron, but not as fat as a PAF. So that's why I was thinking the BT BT pickups, which are what I heard in the store, might be right. And I was thinking the HS filtertrons and the TV Jones filtertrons might be too similar to what I have in my Gretsch right now. --- But I can go back to Guitar Center and do some more research. They had a bunch of different Gretsch's. I played 5 or 6 different ones, with different body shapes, all about $900 and less. And lots of other guitars I can play to get a better idea of what different pickups sound like. --- And I can take my Gretsch with me to A/B them.

    Thanks for the help, TSims1. I really appreciate it.

    At the store I played the guitars through...I think it was a Blackstar maybe...I believe it was a solid state amp. It wasn't a great amp, but I felt like I was able to hear the differences in the guitars pretty well. And I could turn the gain up and down a little bit to hear the clean and slightly dirty tones I tend to use. At home I've played it through a Fender Excelsior. But what I use most is digital amp emulators. I use an Eleven Rack so that I can record quietly with headphones. And today I was using a digital model of a small fender blackface combo amp - I'm not sure what it's based on, it might be a Fender Princeton.

    I do find it a bit challenging to play a guitar in a store through some random amp, and then know what it's going to sound like in a mix. I really need to hear the guitar in the context of my song to know if it works or not. I'm probably not very good at hearing a sound in isolation and knowing if it will fit well.

    And honestly, I think the need for a fatter guitar tone in this case isn't really a matter of my personal preference or a desire to be Gretschy. The mix really just needs it. The guitar doesn't sound optimal for the song. And I think this song is a good example of what I bought this guitar to do going forward.

    What should I expect it to sound like as I raise or lower the pickups? The neck pickup is slightly less than 1/4 of an inch away from the low E string. And the bridge pickup is really high - less than 1/8 of an inch below the low E string.

    And I noticed these pickups, or maybe it's just the bridge one, is very microphonic. It freaked me out when I was playing a rhythmic finger style part on the guitar...I was like "what the heck is that crazy sound????" and it was my fingers lightly slapping the pickup, or slapping the strings right above the pickup.

    --

    I really appreciate all the help!
     
    mr coffee likes this.
  19. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    From what you said there I would be leaning towards grabbing a set of BT BT's, if you already liked them then I would just go with that, also a set of BT BT will be cheaper then HS FT and a lot cheaper then TVJ, there are a few TV jones pick ups that will give a bit more body to a FT but again not sure if it's what you might want, the sound samples on TVJ website might be a good place to look if you are the least bit curious but as Tony said maybe FT are not the sound you are wanting.
     
  20. MikeKingAtl

    MikeKingAtl Electromatic

    8
    Jul 24, 2021
    Atlanta
    I went back to the guitar store with my 5230 (which has BT FT's) and A/B'ed it with a 5220 (which has BT BT's), and I actually preferred my guitar. I have nice, new strings on my guitar. Whereas the 5220 in the store had the factory strings and still had the plastic wrap on the pickups (not sure if that effects the sound). But the FT's had a better, clearer sound. To my ears the BT's didn't sound richer; they sounded cloudier. So now I'm thinking I'll just leave this 5230 as it is. I'm glad I went back to the store to do the comparison.

    I might end up buying some additional guitars. I played some different ones in the store and enjoyed that. I can see why people get addicted to buying guitars, they each have their own sound, feel and personality. I like the Les Pauls. And I played a hollow body jazz guitar with flats on it that really suited me. -- My original idea to limit myself to 2 electric guitars was for the purpose of limiting choices, to keep the music making process moving forward and minimize time spent tinkering - if that makes sense. I also play/record bass, drums, acoustic guitar, piano, mandolin, banjo, dobro and lap steel. As I spend more time with this hobby, I'm getting better at getting a cohesive sound and a pleasant mix, and I want to keep getting better. And I want to eliminate things that aren't working well and have a narrow set of tools to work with. Anyway, that's sort of where I'm coming from.

    I really appreciate the help from the Gretsch aficionados.
     
    MotorCentaur likes this.
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