Tone of the Blacktop Filtertron vs HS Filtertron?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by DHart, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Is there enough difference in the tone between a Blacktop Filtertron and an HS Filtertron to choose between them? Or are they so close in tone as to be pretty much interchangeable?

    If noticeably different, how might you characterize the difference in words?
     
  2. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    Yes.
    I've had Gretsch guitars with both.
    BTs are a good filtertron imo good thru the whole gain range but HS Filtertrons are step up in clarity, smoothness and balance.

    I rate HS Filters as the 2nd best pups ever made after TV Jones Classics.
    There's very little difference between them in reality and HS Filters are cheap.

    BTs are a touch higher in output and a bit muddier imo.
     
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  3. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Thanks WH. Higher output and a bit muddier are not the direction I seek.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  4. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    They are not the same, they have differences in tone worth considering.

    IME, the HS Filtertrons have more output and are a little darker, or fuller sounding, as both are relatively bright. In other words, neither pickup is ‘muddy’, as far as humbuckers go, but both have a compression or flubbiness on the bass notes, a function of having dual coils. The high end is not muted on either pickup, there is just more mid and low end information happening on the HS FTs, IMHO.
     
  5. Rusty Silver

    Rusty Silver Gretschie

    For me Blacktops are very "bluesy", not really muddy, but they sound a bit dark. Anyway I really like them and they're perfect for blues and Chuck Berry stuff.
     
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  6. T Bone

    T Bone Country Gent

    I'll just say there are substantial differences. You really should play both to decide for yourself, but the differences are quite noticeable.

    I don't dislike the Black Tops, have them in two guitars (Electromatics) and can enjoy their sound. But I have the HS Filter'Trons in two Pro Lines, and between the two I prefer these.
     
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  7. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Country Gent

    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    I have only ever used The Black Tops on my Electro. I very much enjoy the their tone. At times I do tweak my amp eq for desired tone depending on the style of music I play from Stones, Clapton and even Satriani.
    I always keep my guitars stock the way it sounded when I purchased the guitar. The sound that made me fall for it. I have not yet tried had a guitar with the HS Filtertrons, but the day will come and I know I'll be amazed. :)
     
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  8. Bertotti

    Bertotti Friend of Fred

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    To me, the Blacktops lean more towards a PAF sort of sound, leans towards, while the HS do not they lean away from the PAF sort of sound. I do not care for PAF for my self so I like singles. The HS Filters and the Fender Hotnoisless pups are the closest I want to get to a more HB sounds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  9. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Over the past couple of years I have also been finding I no longer enjoy the tones of PAF/humbuckers - even the fairly bright, somewhat sparkly ones. Most of them are just too warm/dull/rounded-off sounding.

    I did install a set of modified Gibson Classic '57s in a Tele HH of mine (swapped an A5 magnet for the A2 in the neck pickup to increase the sparkle). And I run them with an 870k volume pot and No-Load tone pot, without covers. This has brought them to the point where they have a some lively, bright, clear sparkle to them - but they still lack the extra clarity and harmonic sparkle of a single coil or a Fideli'tron!

    [​IMG]

    So, I've kind of had my "PAF-humbucker" days and ok leaving them behind now. I may need to pop a pair of Fideli'trons in this Tele! :rolleyes:

    I love the single-coil clarity and sparkle - and the tones I've heard from some of the bright & clear Gretsch-style pickups!

    For my Fender Cabronita Thinline (far left, below), I am enjoying the Fender Fideli'trons, running them with a 510k Volume pot. The Fideli'trons definitely have more sparkle and clarity than I've heard from any humbucker.

    But I think I may be able to squeeze some more clarity and sparkle out of it, with a set of Gretsch Filter'trons or TVJ Classics!

    [​IMG]

    So, I'm vacillating between HS Filter'trons, Blacktop Filter'trons, and TVJ Classics for the Cabronita. I'm sure that any of them would sound pleasing to me as replacements for the Fideli'trons (which don't sound bad, either.)

    I'm going to just stew on it for a while, watch more YouTube videos, read more opinions... then make the choice. I do appreciate that I can pickup a set of Gretsch Filter'trons for about $165 vs. TVJ Classic set for about $270? Sort of thinking that the extra $100 expense may not make that much difference in sound?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  10. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    IMPULSE! decision made. 'nuff thinkin' an' surfin'... twas time for doin'!

    I went with a pair of HS Filter'trons for $144, free shipping. Not bad!

    Price was right and I think they will be a noticeable upgrade to the Fender Fideli'trons. My Cabronita Thinline is going to be getting a good bit more attention from me soon! ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  11. Trash Kidd

    Trash Kidd Country Gent

    Age:
    54
    Dec 14, 2015
    London U.K.
    Blacktops are great sounding pick ups, but if you want that authentic Gretsch chime the HS Filtertrons wins hands down.. I actually prefer them to TV Jones...
     
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  12. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Thanks, Nigel. I have a feeling that Blacktops will come to me in the form of another guitar. Perhaps the G5422. We shall see!

    From what I've heard, the Blacktops and the HS Filter'Trons are both quite pleasing pickups.
     
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  13. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Age:
    63
    Apr 5, 2014
    Detroit
    Good choice. Blacktops are a shade larger than Fidels/HS pickups, so it wouldn't be just a straight swap.
     
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  14. Rusty Silver

    Rusty Silver Gretschie

    If you'll go on the 5422 you'll love it.
     
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  15. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Going into a Fender Cabronita Thinline, if the Blacktops are more than just a hair larger than Fideli'trons, they would not fit.

    Also, the Fideli'tron set has slightly different pole piece spacing - slightly wider on the bridge pickup than on the neck pickup. Does Gretsch do this with Filter'trons?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Gretsch does not widen the pole spacing, never has. This practice is a little overrated in my opinion...
     
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  17. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    I have noticed on other guitars that pole pieces not perfectly aligned with strings doesn't seem to be noticeable to the human ear. The magnetic field seems to be a bit wider than the pole piece itself.

    That said, there is something nice about well-aligned pole pieces to strings. :)
     
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  18. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Just to cover my bases well I did, finally, also order a set of Blacktop Filter'trons... and I figured while I was doing so, I might as well have them pre-installed in a guitar... so I could hear them properly, right off the bat.

    Gretsch was kind enough to install them for me, in this body:

    https://www.guitarcenter.com/Gretsc...Tone-Dark-Cherry-Casino-Gold-1500000204467.gc

    Something tells me I'm going to really like what I hear!

     
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  19. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Friend of Fred

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    Those are such pretty guitars.

    My 5420 sounded real good with the blacktops. I really honestly thought I’d end up keeping them, but after playing one gig with them I decided they didn’t get me where i wanted to go. I guess i couldn’t get enough articulation or sparkle with overdriven volumes like I can get with the TV Classics in another guitar I have. So I decided to replace the pups in my 5420 with a TV Classic plus and a T-Armond. I couldn’t be happier about this combination.
     
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  20. DHart

    DHart Synchromatic

    644
    Jun 26, 2019
    Arizona
    Yeah... I think the looks wow me more than anything else about that guitar. But I do think I'll like the tones. I play mostly clean and only in my home music studio, so.... we'll see how it goes! I'm not above changing pickups either, if the spirit moves me.
     
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