My 5410 Rat Rod project

Discussion in 'Electromatic Gretsch Forum' started by Control67, Jan 8, 2021.

  1. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    Hi, I mentioned my plans for this in my introduction post, but I thought this would be a better place to document the evolution of my Rat Rod.

    I bought this back in October as a 40th birthday present to myself. I had wanted a Gretsch for many years but just couldn’t justify the cost of a ‘real’ one and although the earlier electromatics looked good there was usually something that just didn’t do it for me. The current crop seem to have fixed a lot of those points though, with full hollow bodies and filtertrons in the ‘proper’ size.

    53BA3F74-A0F1-4AB0-B54E-2BF61FE9F848.jpeg

    So here’s where we are now - the first thing I did with my Rat Rod was to swap out the pots for CTS, the originals were surprisingly full size but the taper was all or nothing. I used linear taper, 1Meg on the master and 500k on all others, I used a vintage Phillips orange drop on the tone and a treble bleed on the master, while I was in there I used braided shield/waxed cotton for the runs between pots, switch and output and swapped the output jack for a switchcraft. I kept the OEM switch as it seemed good quality and the tip wouldn’t fit on a USA switchcraft.

    I’m waiting for a set of TV Jones classics to arrive, not that there’s anything wrong with the blacktops, they sound great but I think the AlNiCo TVs will get me closer to that classic Gretsch sound. With that done the electrics side of things will be sorted.

    Styling wise, I am going with the Rat Rod theme and running with it, the ‘283’ (that’s my ounce of perfection) decal is a vintage waterslide and I have some Moon Equipment decals on the way too, all waterslide with no vinyl being used. The Mooneyes will complement my upright bass which has proudly worn a set for well over a decade.

    I have ordered a brass serpentune from Tru-Arc, it’s a special order as I use a wound third so will take a few more weeks but I have enough to get on with in the meantime, I’m also considering a brass nut. The tuners seem fine, and suit the look of the guitar better than sealed tuners, but if I can score a cheap B6 then I might switch that out, but the B60 seems fine for now.

    I know that after spending on mods I could have probably picked up a used MIJ but then I would probably have wanted to make some of these changes anyway,
     
    Henry, DonArcher, StillHollow and 8 others like this.
  2. Dana Rudd

    Dana Rudd Country Gent

    Age:
    72
    Nov 26, 2019
    Greybull, WY
    Good to have you here Control67. The Rat Rod looks good as is, will be watching for pictures of the mods.
     
  3. aFriendbFrosty

    aFriendbFrosty Gretschie

    151
    May 22, 2020
    West Coast
    Nice:cool:.
    Can't wait to see the final version.

    The white Rat Rod is still my favorite of the three finishes.
     
    Outlaw, j.s.c and ffc65 like this.
  4. ffc65

    ffc65 Electromatic

    17
    Jan 7, 2015
    London
    Watching this thread with interest as I have the same colour rat rod, looking forward to see which of the upgrades you think have been most worth doing
     
  5. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    So these arrived today....


    BD979EA4-8EBF-4D20-9D94-F28EE7AE7FF4.jpeg

    Update to follow once they’re installed
     
  6. BentFX

    BentFX Electromatic

    51
    Dec 15, 2020
    Unspecified
    I was working through ideas for a Rat Rod, and was working out how to get red inserts into TV Jones pickups. At first I thought the red pickups were weird, then I heard that it was to give a taillight vibe. Then it made sense, I like em. Thought that red inserts peeking out from top end pickups would be cool. Started running through ideas about tearing new pickups apart just to swap the inserts, but the pole spacing is different.

    Anyhow, I e-mailed TVJ and got this response...
    I wonder what other colors they've got? It's a little late for those pickups, but if you upgrade again keep it in mind.
     
  7. ffc65

    ffc65 Electromatic

    17
    Jan 7, 2015
    London
     
  8. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    They came from Stewmac, around £100 each plus shipping. They came via fedex and I have t had any customs invoice as yet so hopefully I’ve escaped the VAT man but even if duty is added they should come out cheaper than usual UK prices.
     
    ffc65 likes this.
  9. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    2768A689-8116-44E0-A9CB-81C5051E22BD.jpeg Not fully installed as yet, but in place. I will say that the screws and springs supplied with the pickups were way too long and don’t allow for quite enough height without getting too tight for comfort so I have reused the stock ones. I wired in the bridge but I think a solder joint on the jack is off so I will reflow that tomorrow and report back with my thoughts on the tone. 2768A689-8116-44E0-A9CB-81C5051E22BD.jpeg
     
    BuddyHollywood, S.R.Cash and ffc65 like this.
  10. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    impressive mods you have done there, your ratrod is going to be awesome once finished, and the white is my favorite too.
     
  11. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    So fitting the pickups took a little longer than I had hoped for, tracking down a dodgy ground at the switch (the joy of braided cable and grounding several runs to one tab) led to me retiring the runs from pot to switch and switch to master, while I was at it I cable tied the runs do that the loom would be a bit more stable. No pics of the guts because it’s not that interesting, and I don’t like having my phone out while soldering because I’m messy, it’s expensive and solder is hot.

    tone wise - the TV Jones classics totally win over the blacktops. With the blacktops I found the bridge could be a little shrill on its own for cleans and ran a little too hot for my liking, the middle was great and the neck a little dark, but still a good tone.

    The classics are usable in all positions, with the bridge being a little quieter than the neck until the heights are balanced (bridge needed to be higher and neck lower than I expected). The bridge is smooth and sparkly, the neck warm and clear and the middle position is the best of both worlds, perfect for rockabilly and three distinct, and usable tones. The real striking feature of these is the definition and clarity though, string separation is well improved and the tone is well balanced.

    Rating the mods so far - the rewiring and new pots is only worthwhile if you use the volume and tone controls and want a smoother taper, otherwise what’s in there is cheap but serviceable, and there’s no real difference to the tone if you keep everything dimed. If you wanted the usability of better pots you could get away with just a pot swap and stick with the standard wiring but I’m a sucker for the waxed cotton push back insulation.

    The pickups, as you have probably guessed, are a big improvement, both in tone and (IMHO) looks if you prefer the more traditional aesthetic of the chrome covered ‘trons.

    The confirmed mods yet to come are the truarc bridge in brass and a brass nut, I anticipate that these should make a big difference to the tone, moreso the bridge than the nut which should help with tuning stability when properly cut for my 11s with wound G.

    Possible further mods could include new tuners - the stock ones look great and hold tuning ok but could be a little finer geared as they can tend to jump a little when you’re just a couple of cents out, again a possible change to a Bigsby B6 or B6c if one comes along at the right price, nothing wrong with the B60, I’d lust like a few mote arm options without having to drill out brackets.

    anyway, long post with no pics but some will follow later
     
  12. David_GS

    David_GS Electromatic

    58
    Oct 16, 2020
    Toronto
    That's a sweet looking guitar. Nice work on the mods. I was looking at a similar looking model when I bought my guitar a few months back. The Rat Rod was about $200 cheaper (Canadian) than the electromatic. In the end I went with a Streamliner and an amp, but considering making some adjustments to mine.
     
  13. StillHollow

    StillHollow Electromatic

    62
    Dec 9, 2020
    Virginia
    I read your posts Control67 with great interest. I am considering a pickup upgrade (Mojo Tones not TV Jones) and since I've kind of hated the all or nothing functionality of the pots it has been interesting. A few questions:

    1. Are CTS pots a direct replacement for the crappy ones that came with the guitar?

    2. My tech expounds the virtues of audio taper pots but you went linear, or at least you did on the master. Can you give me your thoughts on that so I can make an informed decision on what to go with.

    3. Why is there a treble bleed on the master? I was under the impression that once you get your pickup balances with the individual knobs the master simply lowers and increases the volume and keeps your balances intact. I'm a Gretsch newbie so there is obviously something I am not considering but I am trying to ramp up and learn as quickly as possible thanks to all the great and generous Gretschsters on here.
     
  14. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    The CTS need the hole expanding to 3/8” (around 9.5mm) from the metric 8mm hole, linear vs audio is personal choice but I find linear gives a smoother roll, although it’s down to your individual ears. The treble bleed could be put on all but received wisdom (TV Jones and others) says it’s only needed on the master.

    If you do swap go for split shaft or you will need new knobs as again the CTS are imperial (1/4” or 6.3mm) and the stock pots are metric 6mm.
     
  15. Control67

    Control67 Electromatic

    39
    Jan 6, 2021
    UK
    So here’s a couple of pics with the TV Jones’ in. Clean it sounds great but kick in the fuzz (Fredric effects super unpleasant companion) and it’s instant Poison Ivy, controllable musical feedback and dirty fuzzy goodness.
    42370ABE-AA88-4578-808A-76FA4660A27C.jpeg
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Outlaw

    Outlaw Country Gent

    Jul 13, 2011
    UK
    Personally not too keen on the red inserts, but regardless of that TV Jones Classics are great pickups.

    Your Gretsch looks very nice btw!
     
  17. Stefan87

    Stefan87 Country Gent

    May 20, 2019
    Brisbane, Australia
    Wow, that new picture there is just magic, makes me want one of these even more, love what you have done.
    If this had a 'V' cut bigsby on it I would want for nothing else in the gretsch world lol.
     
  18. ffc65

    ffc65 Electromatic

    17
    Jan 7, 2015
    London
    I think I might do that with mine....the red inserts kind of bug me a bit. I've always fancied seeing what the TV Jones fuss is about anyway
     
  19. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Friend of Fred

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Looks great.
    Well done!
    I’m also a big fan of using the leopard print blanket back drop.
    Truth be told, by leopard print blanket is a snuggie with sleeves for optimum snack access while watching TV.
    AB6135FC-412D-4D3F-B153-B789E4B316EB.jpeg
     
  20. SAguitar

    SAguitar Synchromatic

    806
    Jan 17, 2020
    Jack Plate, Oregon
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