G5420TG Stock Filterons are TOO WARM--What to do???

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by dubbldee, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. dubbldee

    dubbldee Electromatic

    Nov 30, 2019
    Much to the opposite of what I've read, these stock filtertrons are not jangly enough for me by far. I've tweaked
    the action of the pickups to as close to the strings as possible but to no relief. Still warmish and not bright at all. All pots maxed...meh.

    Tone pot maxed out, and still meh. I've been reading about modding the volume pot but not convinced that would necessarily remedy my woes. I'm considering TV Jones pups...?

    I'm playing bluesy/classic/rock and love the playability of this baby but not happy with the resulting tone.

    Playing thru Fender Deluxe Reverb III

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    Attached Files:

  2. radd

    radd Country Gent

    Dec 27, 2017
    Santa cruz
    Not uncommon on the forum to want a more Gretschie tone out of Blacktop equipped guitars. The standard solution here is TV Jones pickups.
    CalicoSkies likes this.
  3. j.s.c

    j.s.c Country Gent

    Aug 19, 2008
    Sounds strange to me as these blacktop should be brighter than everything that are coming from gibson's world. Perhaps a tech issue, why not trying to disconnect the tone pot...
    Is the lack of sparkles still here on every pickups selector's positions?
    section2 likes this.
  4. drmilktruck

    drmilktruck I Bleed Orange

    May 17, 2009
    Plymouth, MN
    Welcome to Gretsch Talk, dubbidee!
    dubbldee likes this.
  5. Lockupyourfatdog

    Lockupyourfatdog Synchromatic

    Aug 8, 2016
    Everett wa
    Something I’m going to try on one of my guitars is a push/pull pot wired as a bright switch. Might be an option.

    Also as everyone recommends tv Jones which are a great pickup I have to bring awareness to my favorite pickup-Alameda. They aren’t any cheaper but they are hand made per order and offer 3 single coil settings and 3 humbucker settings in one pickup! Want that Gretsch sound? They do that, as well as telecaster. Rickenbacker, and dearmond. 04931C58-3C0F-426D-B6A2-DC80B7DF8918.jpeg
  6. Sean McILwaine

    Sean McILwaine Synchromatic

    Dec 26, 2012
    London UK
    Apart from getting the pickups as close as you can to the strings did you also set or play around with the pickup poles and adjust to taste?
    Lockupyourfatdog likes this.
  7. Lockupyourfatdog

    Lockupyourfatdog Synchromatic

    Aug 8, 2016
    Everett wa
    good call! I totally forgot about that. I had to do that with my 5420 to get them to sound good
  8. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    I found both Blacktops and Trons to have that warmish compressed punchy low end. Kinda "what they are" IME. A similar TVJ will be very much the same. I'm not sure you are going to get too far away from that without going to DeArmond types or etc. But the other guys here are far more experienced with this than me.
    anthony466 and radd like this.
  9. section2

    section2 Country Gent

    Dec 21, 2016
    Welcome! I've never found Blacktop Filtertrons to be too warm. I actually found my Blacktop Filtertron to be so ice-picky that I swapped out the magnet to warm up the tone. Could it be that your pickups are too close to the strings? The closer the pickup body gets to the strings, the warmer it usually sounds. You might try lowering the body and raising the poles.

    If you want to experiment with electronics, you can try disconnecting the tone pot. That should brighten up the sound considerably. If you like what that does for you but you want a tone pot, you can replace the pot with a no-load tone pot (either 500k or 1M). When the no-load pot is dimed, it will be out of the circuit entirely.

    You can also try replacing the volume pots with 1M pots, and use a treble bleed in the master volume pot. The treble bleed won't brighten your sound when the master volume is turned up all the way, but it will help prevent treble loss when you turn the volume down. The other mods above will brighten up the sound at all knob positions.

    Many people do prefer TV Jones or HS Filtertron pickups to the Blacktop Filtertrons, so I'm sure you wouldn't regret upgrading. But people don't usually feel that their Blacktop Filtertrons are muddy at all, so I suspect that some basic adjustments should solve your problem. Good luck!
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
    Outlaw and Ricochet like this.
  10. xtcclassic

    xtcclassic Gretschie

    Jan 9, 2019
    Start here. I did this with my 5422 and it helped a lot. I still ended up swapping for TVJ’s, but not because the blacktops weren’t bright enough.
    section2 likes this.
  11. adauria

    adauria Gretschie

    Dec 22, 2016
    Wake Forest, NC
    Same here. I found the BTs to be too dark. I tried all the free stuff - adjusted pickups, new bridge, etc. But in the end the TV Jones Classics made it a much better sounding guitar.

    If I were you, I'd start with adjustments. If that works great. If not, you'll be starting down that rabbit hole of upgrading - no shame there!

  12. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    I am not sure what this has to do with Gibson, presumably he avoided Gibson because they have warmer tones.
  13. NWBriggs

    NWBriggs Electromatic

    Aug 23, 2019
    Montague, MI
    I swapped the blacktops in my 5420 for a set of TV Jones Brian Setzer signature pickups. I love them and couldn’t be happier with the change!
  14. jfassett

    jfassett Synchromatic

    Dec 9, 2017
    I swapped the blacktops in my 5420 for a set of gold foil pickups and love the tone! The pickups were about a third of the cost of a set of Tv Jones and they sound amazing, bright, vintage and a very cool metallic chime that I really like.
  15. dubbldee

    dubbldee Electromatic

    Nov 30, 2019
    Where'd you find them?
  16. Zeek

    Zeek Synchromatic

    May 29, 2016
    Illinos USA
    Welcome, Nice guitar love the gold hardware.

    I also did a pickup swap on my 5420, I put Setzers in it and I also put a new TVJ wiring harness. I am happy with the results.

  17. dubbldee

    dubbldee Electromatic

    Nov 30, 2019
    I wonder if TV Jones offers split coil harness and pups system. I'd love to throw some coil splits in this beast.
    CalicoSkies likes this.
  18. DennisC

    DennisC Synchromatic

    May 11, 2017
    There's a few things you can try.

    First is setup ... already covered.

    To decrease the load on the pickups, you can disconnect the ground wire from the individual volume pots. They then act as adjustable resistor only, which makes the load in any setting equal to 500 kOhm (and whatever the tone pot is ... this depends on the frequency, isn't that hard, but if at maximum, it is very low load...). In any one pickup option, the load, if wired stock, is equal to 250 kOhm, in middle position even 166.66 kOhm (+ what the tone pot adds - this is volume pots only) - and then always 500. If this isn't enough, a no-load tone pot would do a little, or changing the master volume for a 1000 kOhm. In case all of this isn't enough, you can add a lowcut, which is a capacitor and usually a pot parallel to it. 1 nF is a good value to start with, a 500 k pot should do it here. You could replace the two individual volumes by a balance pot, which then allows to decrease on pickup's output in one direction, the other one one's in the other - this is hardly reducing any choices (you then only can lower one pickup's output, not both's), but then you have a hole free to use for a lowcut pot. These should never be no-load, only a treble-cut works with these.

    If reduced load from individual volumes, no-load tone pot, 1000 kOhm master volume don't do the trick ... any adjustments are fine ... then you should consider other pickups.

    BTW, a nice colour combination - I have the same.

    ... I also have a pair of Magnatrons (it's a shame I heven't built'em in yet), which are said to be the twangiest hum cancelling ones TV Jones has to offer. Not a classic Filtertron regarding how it is built, but I don't mind, I don't care, it's my guitar, not a museum...

    I'm not sure on how I'll do the circuit, but one thing I definitely will do - replace the two individual volumes by a balance. Maybe even not a pot, but a two-pole rotary switch with different resistors - don't know yet, unsure about changing the pickups only and see how I like it, or doing it all at once...

    But ... the Blacktops may deliver less twang than HS or TV classic or even Magnatron, but in general these are on the bright side of dual coil pickups, they are not really dark sounding by any means.

    Is there anything wrong or broken? Every pot and switch does as expected? Nothing is lose, nothing acts weird or something? The 5420 is a pretty bright sounding guitar right out of the box.

    ... a treble bleed don't need to be added - she has one stock. Maybe not a perfect one, maybe there's something to change about it, but she has one.

    A splitting option is nice, I maybe will do so, too. TVJ's pickups, as far as I know, all come with four conductors if they have two coils, but I'm not finally sure on this - just ask them. They sure can make any dual coil pickup with four conductors if required. This will definitely make the sound much brighter. It always does.

    As pickips are pretty expensive (although worth it), I'd try rewiring first, as the first steps are for free (disconnecting individual volume's ground connection) and the next ones are cheap in comparison and may also work pretty good.
  19. DennisC

    DennisC Synchromatic

    May 11, 2017
    Anyway - don't panic on this, I just saw how long my Blabla happened to be ... :D

    Reducing load does a bit, but it doesn't perform a miracle. I tried this out (with a Telecaster), the difference between having a 500 k pot and a 250 k pot as volume isn't that big ... it gets really dark around 100 kOhm or so, but above, it's a little detail in the highest ends, and if any overdrive above homeopathic dose is engaged, it is even harder to hear a difference.

    Anyway, I seriously wonder that a 5420 is considered being too warm. Adding to checking if everything is as should, have you checked you amp settings, any weird EQ setting or something like that? Broken cable, dirty pots, mismatched speaker, ... .......? Tried another amp?

    ... if you're brave enough, you can make the blacktops splittable, too, but this puts them into severe danger. You'd have to connect a third wire from the internal connection of the coils to the outside world, which can, thanks to the tiny wire diameter, be a bit hard to do and may also destroy them.

    If you want to try out how twangy she can be with the blacktops ... and when you're at it anyway ... disconnect all the pot's ground wires and plug her in - you can't get more than this, without any load at all.

    ... and a lowcut may work with a no-load, too, if just after hitting the maximum resistance it clicks out and disconnects ... then the cap isn't bypassed anymore, therefore all signal is to be transmitted through it. May even be better than a non-no-load one is.
  20. S.R.Cash

    S.R.Cash Gretschie

    Aug 29, 2019
    Ontario, Canada
    A simple solution for me was, lowering the pickups lower than I normally would, just a bit, then bringing the poles upward. I have a row in each pickup removed, and though subtle, it does help. ... I pick more Rockabilly and Western if that helps where my tone is aimed.
    dubbldee likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.