Roswell Filtertrons vs the real deal

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by gretschfan, Sep 21, 2021.

  1. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    Hey folks. So I am fairly new here. My background is a player/luthier/builder/enthusiast. I posted a thread on the electromatic group where I installed trestle bracing in my 5120.

    Part of my project and my reasoning for posting here involves swapping out the early 2000 reissue Filtertrons I installed 10 years back. The easy solution no brainer solution is obviously the TVJ classics or some of the other boutique offerings which are all really nice. My intent here isn’t to trash the other options as I think they are great. But they days their are many different Filtertrons out there and they no doubt have inaccuracies that make them not great options. What I have are a pair of Roswells I scored for $40 for the pair. Of the majority of budget Filtertrons, these looked closer in specs and had better reviews than some of the other budget Filtertrons that are more comparable to PAFs. I ordered a pair of sand cast alnico 5 1/4” thick magnets from Philidelphia Luthier that I will swap after I install and do a before sound clip so I can do a before and after comparison. I also have a magnetometer that I will use to check the Gauss between the old Filtertron and the new one with each different magnet.

    Just know that I am fully aware that this will bring on flaming from others. Just scroll on please.

    In the meanwhile here is a comparison of the Roswell to a 1966 Filtertron.

  2. Outlaw

    Outlaw Country Gent

    Jul 13, 2011
    I don't know anything about Roswell pickups but looking at the spec they seem about right and should be more so with alnico 5 magnets.
    For the price definatly worth a punt.
    Looking forward to a demo when you have them installed.
    gretschfan likes this.
  3. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    So my vintage Filtertron DC resistance checked at 3.8k. The roswells ring in at 4k and 4.8k. The pole screws are also pretty much wrong.
  4. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    Oct 4, 2020
    Those roswells look like they might be more like blacktop filtertrons than traditional ones. That half-sized magnet is the biggest indicator to me. That's the most obvious difference between the higher end Gretsch & TVJones vs gretsch blacktops.

    That said, I'm not an expert. Just looking at what I see.
  5. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    From what I am reading, there is lots of really good information out there on the real deals and the various reissues. It’s hard to separate the “mojo” and lore from the science on some of it. The HS Filtertrons sound great. The TV Jones sound great. Many of the more recent reissues have become dimensionally close to originals even on the pickup covers. It seems with all of the reissues the common differences all seem to be:

    DC Resistance
    Magnet alloy and dimensions
    Pole screws

    These Roswells seem to be pretty close to originals sans the magnets, which is an easy swapout. They have a baseplate like the HS filters with the trimmed ears. If screws and a magnet get you closer to original than the HS filters, that that would be a huge win for not alot of $$. Which when you consider a pickup swapout on something cheap like and electromatic, that is a huge win. But for me more than anything this is just a fun learning experience.
    David_GS likes this.
  6. Hickeroar

    Hickeroar Gretschie

    Oct 4, 2020
    For the money (around $30), I bet the Roswells are great. It's probably one of those things where you spend 500% as much money for 5-10% "better" of a pickup by getting the TV Jones or Gretsch version. For some people that's worth it. For others, that's absolutely absurd.

    For myself, I just waited until I found a sale on the TV Jones until they ended up slightly more reasonable ($229.50 for a set of two). Even after doing that, I only noticed a small difference in the TV Jones neck vs the Blacktop neck. The TV Jones bridge sounded a lot better than the blacktop bridge to my ear though.
    Craig Encinitas likes this.
  7. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    Totally. Many are not interested in monkeying around with desoldering to remove pickup covers to swap magnets and are okay spending the money on a pair of TVJ or even the Grestch HS Filters. Both are really nice. And to be honest, if it were not for the work guys like TVJ and and other pickup experts have done to analyze originals, the Gretsch HS and the other authentic repros wouldn’t be as good. And much of the knowledge wouldn’t be out there. I just am hoping to learn something and put some info out for those that are fellow tinkerers like myself. I suspect that a pair of pole screws and a magnet swap for under $25 would get you better than HS Filters on a $70/pair setup.
    Craig Encinitas and Outlaw like this.
  8. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    Hickeroar likes this.
  9. DougWheeler74

    DougWheeler74 Synchromatic

    Jul 10, 2019
    NE Wisconsin, US
    Two thoughts:

    1. We don't do flaming here so you're safe with questions.

    2. One of the R&D labs that I worked in had tensile testing machines. Each one had the manufacturing company's motto on it: "One test is worth 10,000 expert opinions." Give a go and see what you think; you enjoy tinkering and the money involved is small.
    David_GS, section2 and Hickeroar like this.
  10. j.s.c

    j.s.c Country Gent

    Aug 19, 2008
    B12A1421-837C-4FE2-823D-4D2E49A74F16.jpeg Woo! I read your trestle bracings thread i was thinking about that. And you know what i already have the Roswell & replacement bigger alnico magnets, thus same Idea but too slow compare to your Brain.

    The pole screws don’t seem so wrong to me. Just not so tall compare to tvj’s screws (which are the new normal).

    So thanks for your great contributions and I will follow your path very soon.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  11. Marv666

    Marv666 Gretschie

    Jul 26, 2020
    I had installed a set of the roswell hot rod filtertrons in a 5122 (not mine) and thought they sounded really good.
    Definitely different than tvj or hs filtertrons but a good pickup none the less.
    The hot rod version comes with alnico 5 if i remember correctly but i don´t know what their output is....
    if i had to guess i´d say they´re a little hotter than tv classics
  12. j.s.c

    j.s.c Country Gent

    Aug 19, 2008
    I have a question in mind for months but was too lazy to compare the tone impact of the simplest pickup mod ever being made.

    => The same pickup with 2 magnets just by adding the extra one by magnetism

    I presume the magnetic field is the sum of the two as they naturally stick one to the other, that is to say same orientation...

    Does it work like that ??

    new6659 likes this.
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Electromatic

    May 16, 2017
    Near Detroit

    Here are a few of my general pickup performance notes that may help your investigation:

    Magnetic field strength can be counteracted by how close or far the pickup is from the strings. Alnico/ceramic ... only matters what the field strength is and proximity to the strings. Too many use 'factory specs' created for weaker alnico when setting their stronger ceramic pickup height and yes there is a huge tone shift. Just lower that ceramic pickup and you can achieve the same results.

    You can also alter what you have by lowering the pickup and raising the screw poles too. If TVJs have 'taller screw heads' then they are effectively raising the screw poles. You can use screw poles as mini-EQ adjusters too, I'll often put a Strat Stagger into the humbucker poles of a neck pickup. 1/8th to 3/16ths does a lot of tone shaping, especially when the pickup is set low already.

    Bobbin winding is important for 'output strength' too, and while many get 'wound up' about using DCR vs Inductance/Henries measurements I found from ranking pickups by sound and then going back to measure ... DCR and Henries tracked right along with each other. So using DCR can give you a relative idea between two similar pickup geometries what you will get for output. DCR is much easier to measure with more commonly available equipment and that is why DCR gets reported more often. Filtertrons tend to be lower kohms, often half of the typical PAF, and that is part of what makes them work the way they do.

    The very important feature I found was internal capacitance of the pickups. Internal capacitance causes a pickup to range from 'muddy'/dark/smooth to bright/articulate/'ice-pick' depending on what someone wants out of their guitar tone. The control for capacitance is how the bobbins are wound. Machine-wound will give higher capacitance and darker results, hand-wound will introduce scatter and much lower capacitance providing that boutique pickup clarity and articulation. Many of the import pickups seem to be hand-wound or have used cleverly programmed scatter winding machines.

    So if you want more classic Gretsch brightness you need lower wound bobbins, hand-scatter-wound if possible, weaker magnets, pickups further from the strings, raise the screw poles slightly, and use your ears in those height adjustments not some 'spec' printed somewhere.

    Then all of that detailed pickup work can be undone if your Pots and Caps are working against you. Pots have a 20% tolerance range, caps a 10% range and they all matter. How dark or bright you want the guitar's output. How much 'presence' or highs to let through even when the knobs are 'dimed'. Measure what your control parts are actually built at. You can fix a muddy machine wound pickup by putting a series cap on the pickup's hot lead. Rickenbacker did this at the factory and many Gibson owners have done it over the years to fix too dark sounding guitars. So don't forget to analyze and swap the pots and caps when you get that set of pickups perfected, they are all part of the system.

    new6659 and j.s.c like this.
  14. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    So correct me if i’m wrong, but isn’t the actual gauss of the different magnets still going to effect the Henries of the pickup still regardless of pole distance from the strings? If I am correct then the inductance is still going to have a different tone effect even if the magnetic string pull being the same by compensating string distance.
  15. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    I suppose you could do that, but that will be in addition to what is inside the cover too so that may be a bit more effect than desired. I physically desoldered the covers to access the magnets. Here is what the Roswells look like compared to the Gretsch HS Filtertrons.

    Attached Files:

  16. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Hey I understand your thread is for luthiers and those interested in pup specs.

    My interest in pup specs goes no further than how they sound and perform in a specific guitar.
    The specs are just numbers otherwise.
    I also have no particular interest in vintage anything.
    Don't care how old anything is, only interested in how it sounds and performs today in my guitar.

    If you do install these Roswells in a guitar and give us your opinion on them I'll get interested then.
    But please don't waste your time with any youtube videos in an attempted tone comparison and ask us which we prefer.

    Cos I'll tell you now every pup in your video will sound the same on youtube.
    And every one of us will hear something different with different playback equipment.
    Nothing to do with you, that's the outcome on every youtube video that alleges to compare the tone of anything.

    So please just give us your professional opinion on how the pups sound thru the whole gain range.
    And if you only speak of the clean tones then you're only concentrating on 10% of the pups tone range :D
    gripthong and gretschfan like this.
  17. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    Interesting pickups... Thanks for the input ;)


    My sole experience about Roswell PU is their Jazzmaster model :oops: installed on Harley-Benton JA-60 (and Squier JM) guitars, and I'd say that it is very positive. :cool:


    j.s.c, David_GS, Marv666 and 2 others like this.
  18. gretschfan

    gretschfan Electromatic

    Jul 24, 2011
    Ft lauderdale, Fl.
    Tone is subjective. While I may prefer one, others may disagree. My goal is to actually get some mic audio, not just a phone mic youtube video. I agree that YT videos are poor quality often and don’t have enough fidelity to discern. The specs and data is what separates the “mojo” and speculative aspects of many opinions from actual science. The reality is some people swear that a vintage this or that is better and can’t be duplicated in sound quality. And while some of that is sometimes true, often times the “mojo” factor skews the data in favor of vintage versus tangible data. So that is why I am inclined to share and discuss. I totally appreciate your perspective.
    j.s.c and Waxhead like this.
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