Ray Butts article on guitar.com

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by lordhelmet, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. lordhelmet

    lordhelmet Electromatic

    Apr 5, 2020
    I just found a good article about Ray Butts and his innovations beside the Filtertron on guitar.com.

    And an older one from 2020 about his rediscovered pickup-tester guitar.

  2. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    "In his first correspondence with Gretsch regarding the pickup in 1955, Ray reveals he already had two designs for the Filter’Tron: one more efficient, the other less expensive to produce."

    So . . . which one wound up as the Filtertron?!
    pmac11, ZackyDog and michelb like this.
  3. Archtops

    Archtops Gretschie

    Mar 4, 2021
    Interesting stuff thank you!
  4. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Interesting. It was never made clear who at Gretsch came up with the Hilotron. This might suggest the design of it was already in the vault...
    Henry likes this.
  5. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    Jul 31, 2017
    Ray was working on a way to cancel the 60 cycle hum of single coils when he came up with the Filter'Tron, hence the filter in the name. You may be correct, but more likely it was another hum bucking design.
    Ricochet likes this.
  6. michelb

    michelb Synchromatic

    Mar 27, 2020
  7. Dana Rudd

    Dana Rudd Country Gent

    Nov 26, 2019
    Greybull, WY
    Thanks for sharing, good information.
  8. AllenK

    AllenK Gretschie

    Thank you for posting that informative read.
  9. doc538

    doc538 Electromatic

    Sep 20, 2017
    That was a fun and informative read, thanks.
  10. Outlaw

    Outlaw Country Gent

    Jul 13, 2011
    Very interesting read, I love learning about all that stuff!
  11. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    There is barely a sliver of evidence to support what is wild speculation from my part. Fun though.

    The other more difficult design might have been the Duotron? When Ray applied for his Filtertron pickup patent the drawing showed a variation of the Filtertron with either the Bass or treble side fitted with blades. TV Jones made it into the Paul Yandell Duotron a couple of years ago. Blade type poles like on the early Supertron pickup were laminated to counter Eddy current losses and presumably more complex to manufacture. Again strictly speculating(in fun).
    65club likes this.
  12. 65club

    65club Electromatic

    Jul 31, 2017
    Yeah, I have no evidence of my claim either, but it's supported by Occam's razor. I'd assume Ray came up with more than one design to "buck the hum" and the one that did that effectively while being the most efficient to mass produce is the one the won.

    MY wild speculation is that one of his designs had two coils next to each other lengthwise instead of side by side, sort of how a P-Bass pickup is designed but without the overlap. Since this hum bucking design would have one coil per 3 strings, it's what led to him coming up with the splittable stereo pickups that come out a few years later. Again, I have no evidence to support this at all, and have no idea if he thought "hey if I do that I can make these stereo too" or if it was Chet or Gretsch that asked for a stereo version after the Filters were well received.

    My theory both supports and is supported by your Duo'Tron theory, in that at some point obviously Ray realized the pickup didn't need to be the same unit across all six strings.

    You may know this already but he was a tinkerer and came up with some weird stuff at Chet's request, like the pickups for the bass strings in the end of this fingerboard.

    And just in case y'all haven't already seen his test bed
    Ricochet likes this.
  13. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Your theory about the Stereo pickups sounds very plausible to me.

    I can’t recall ever seeing those pics, so thank you. The historical significance is probably lost on a few but I love this stuff!
    65club likes this.
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