Replacing Hilotrons with Filtertrons in a 1966 Tennessean

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,982
Where the action is!
Another option would be to find a custom pickup winder to build a filtertron that would fit that route. Not sure if it's possible.
I don't think it is. The reason old HiloTrons are as short as they are is because the magnet sits in the space vacated by the missing second coil. With both coils, the magnet has no place to go but underneath, making the pickup taller.

But I don't know much about magnets. Maybe a neodymium magnet could be made thin enough for a Hilo-size Filter but still strong enough to function properly. I suppose a experienced pickup guy would know.
 

drmilktruck

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Double Platinum Member
May 17, 2009
20,359
Plymouth, MN
Before you do anything to your guitar, why don't you give TV Jones a call and talk to him about what you are hearing in your head that is missing from the guitar with the vintage Hi-Lo pickups. He is pretty good about interpreting the remarks of players about what they are searching for and he can make recommendations to you after having worked on countless Gretsch guitars over the years. And he won't be fixated on keeping the Hi-Los (even though that is also my predisposition) as he probably can tell you if he has a Filter'Tron that will fit into the smaller route under the Hi-Los. TV is a wonderful guy who is really easy to talk to. Be sure to have your questions lined out in advance, however, as he is a really busy guy.
I will echo Bob's point. Years ago I was redoing a 1964 Corvette and had ordered a single pickup for it. Tom called me personally out of the blue (I hadn't even asked a question with my order), talked about options and suggested what he'd do.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
26,707
Tucson
Before you do anything to your guitar, why don't you give TV Jones a call and talk to him about what you are hearing in your head that is missing from the guitar with the vintage Hi-Lo pickups. He is pretty good about interpreting the remarks of players about what they are searching for and he can make recommendations to you after having worked on countless Gretsch guitars over the years. And he won't be fixated on keeping the Hi-Los (even though that is also my predisposition) as he probably can tell you if he has a Filter'Tron that will fit into the smaller route under the Hi-Los. TV is a wonderful guy who is really easy to talk to. Be sure to have your questions lined out in advance, however, as he is a really busy guy.
I’ll jump in as well, and suggest giving TVJones a call. They’ll know the ins and outs of this as well as anyone.
 

Mark 6120

Gretschie
Nov 5, 2020
129
DFW
I tried to do this to my 67 Tennessean back in the 90's using the only available Filtertrons at the time, the ceramic ones. The bridge unit fit after removing some wood. The neck pickup never went in - it would have required serious routing to make it fit. After a few months (and after finding a 94 6120), I put the stock pickup back. It still needs a bit of work so that the pickup stays upright in its housing.

My advice is don't do it. If you want a different sound get a Gretsch that already has Filtertrons. Sell the Tennessean if you don't like it. I am still unsure about mine, though it stays in tune and is the most COMFORTABLE guitar I have.
 


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