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What pickups to put in my 5420t?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by EasyKill, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. EasyKill

    EasyKill Electromatic

    5
    Feb 15, 2017
    Long Island
    I recently got one of these Korean made semi-hollows because I love the Gretsch look as well as a few of my favorite musicians having used one (Rancid, The Reverend Horton Heat, Cage the Elephant). However, I've decided while I really like how this guitar plays, the pickups (Modern Black Top Filter'Trons) leave something to be desired. They're lacking clarity. I enjoy the clean tones a fair amount, but overall the tone is very rounded and lacking attack, especially when using distortion. Adjusting the amp's EQ didn't help as much as I would have liked. I was wondering what pickups you guys would recommend to open up the brightness and clarity without turning the guitar into a tinny, ice-picky, body-less mess.

    Below are some sample recordings of the Gretsch, as well as a Les Paul Studio Deluxe with a Burstbucker Pro in it for comparison. These were recorded with an SM57 out of a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue (knobs go from 1 -12) with the bass at 6.5, middle at 6.5, treble at 8, presence at 6.5, and the volume at 2 . The controls on both guitars were at 10/10.

    Gretsch Bridge
    https://instaud.io/LGw

    Les Paul Bridge
    https://instaud.io/LGx

    Gretsch Bridge Overdrive
    https://instaud.io/LGA

    Les Paul Bridge Overdrive
    https://instaud.io/LGB

    Gretsch Bridge Heavy Fuzz
    https://instaud.io/LGC

    Les Paul Bridge Heavy Fuzz

    https://instaud.io/LGD

    I have recordings of the other pickups as well if you think they will help. Anything that brings the Gretsch at or a little above the clarity and attack of the Les Paul should be fine. Please help me, I don't know what I'm doing. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Henry

    Henry Friend of Fred

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Welcome to the forum. One thing to check is the height of the pickup; filtertrons like to be closer to the strings than most other pickups. Try raising them a bit; that might help.
     
  3. EasyKill

    EasyKill Electromatic

    5
    Feb 15, 2017
    Long Island
    Thanks for the welcome. I actually already raised them. I even raised the pole pieces a bit on the treble side to try to get some more zip out of them, and while it did help I still think it might be time to try some new hardware. The bite seems to lacking on the low end too. Idk.
     
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  5. audept

    audept Gretschified

    Age:
    69
    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    Welcome to the forum, EasyKill!
     
  6. LongJohn

    LongJohn Gretschie

    114
    Apr 22, 2016
    Queens, NY
    Welcome to the club neighbor, there are at least two schools of thought when it comes to upgrading the 5400 series. One says T.V. Jones Classic for the neck and Classic+ for the bridge with a Compton or Tru Arc bridge thrown in for good measure. The other says look for a clean used 6120 and either sell the 54** or keep it as a back up/travel guitar.
     
    larryb and TSims1 like this.
  7. TSims1

    TSims1 Friend of Fred

    Jun 18, 2013
    Atlanta
    I really like 5420s. I think you get a lot of guitar at the price point, and personally enjoy the slightly more substantial necks. I would put a TV Classic and Classic + in that baby and call it a day. That's just me though.

    Ironically, I really LIKE the Blacktops but they sound much better(to me)in a Jet than in a hollow.
     
    wildeman and larryb like this.
  8. emitex

    emitex Gretschie

    361
    Aug 21, 2014
    NYC
    When I got my 5420, I immediately put in HS Filtertrons. Blacktops just don't do it for me.
     
    built2drag1985 and ZackyDog like this.
  9. EasyKill

    EasyKill Electromatic

    5
    Feb 15, 2017
    Long Island
    And with the TV Classics and the HS Filtertrons, are we talking higher output than the Black Tops? Or a different frequency response? There's all this stuff on TV Jones about resistance and inductance that I don't get either.
     
  10. larryb

    larryb Gretschified

    Age:
    47
    Oct 29, 2012
    Greenville, SC
    Great advice. Either HS Filters or TV Classics....and Classic-neck/Classic Plus-bridge is a mighty fine combo!
     
  11. Henry

    Henry Friend of Fred

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    This is just my personal opinion, but don't focus on output - except perhaps to match neck and bridge pickups. Focus on sound and tone. You can use a boost or just crank the volume or gain if you need to push the amp or increase volume. Part of the character and clarity of the filtertrons, I think, is their lower output.

    Any who the tvj website has sound samples. Is there a particular sound you're looking for, aside from attack? Or an example from a song or artist? Presumably you don't want your gretsch to sound like a les paul.
     
  12. Joey L

    Joey L Gretschie

    252
    Jun 24, 2016
    White Plains, NY
    I put TV Jones Classics in my 2016 5420t and am very happy with the clarity and classic Gretsch tone. I also found the Classics brighter than the Blacktops and are harmonically fuller to my ear.
     
  13. EasyKill

    EasyKill Electromatic

    5
    Feb 15, 2017
    Long Island
    I'm going for a dark surf kind of thing with my next project. Something that switches between jangly and reverby and mysterious to blown out and fuzzy at the drop of a hat. Something kind of like these:

    The Wytches


    DEAF CHONKY



    Arctic Monkeys


    But yeah I'm not looking to sound like my les paul. I already have one of those. But I get lost in the mix when I play the Gretsch with other people. Clarity and attack is key, but I need to get that with losing the cojones.
     
    larryb and BorderRadio like this.
  14. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    The current HS Filtertrons are fantastic; the neck pickup sounds just like a vintage Filtertron, to my ears. The bridge HS Filtertron is very good, but a little "hotter" than a vintage Filtertron. (I actually use two [2] neck HS Filtetrons; sorry I sound like a broken record).

    upload_2017-2-15_21-14-29.jpeg

    You'll need to fabricate a simple bracket to accommodate them in your G5420. There's a separate thread or two on this in the archives.
     
    emitex likes this.
  15. dreamingGretsch

    dreamingGretsch Gretschie

    133
    Oct 12, 2010
    Philippines
    Are they "drop-in" replacement? do you have the metal surrounds or the plastic ones?
     
  16. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Country Gent

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    Not sure what the blacktops measure but:

    HS Filtertrons : 4.1k ohms (neck), 4.74k ohms (bridge)
    TV Classics: 4.0k ohms (neck), 4.8k ohms (bridge) + wider bridge pole spacing
     
  17. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    Filtertrons are low output pickups, no matter if HS or TVJ. But they sound fantastic ... here's a good example, what to expect:



    The above Panther has HS Filtertrons, but TVJ Classics sound very similar and have the advantage, that TVJ also sells mounting kits for the G5420, which make them easier to fit. They also sell better electronics.

    A further improvement in tone will be achived with a better bridge, be it the Compton or True-Arc bar bridges or the ABM 2400 roller bridge, if you want to avoid intonation problems ... it's a TOM with roller saddles CNC-cut from a bell brass block and perfectly machined. All these bridges are expensive, but they improve tone and sustain.
     
  18. emitex

    emitex Gretschie

    361
    Aug 21, 2014
    NYC
    They are not a drop-in replacement and, as ZackyDog mentioned above in reply #13, you would need to fabricate a bracket to accommodate the mounting of them. There are other threads in the forum with lots of info on this. I have the 2016 5420, and needed to get new surrounds that the filtertrons would attach to. Blacktops attach to their surrounds with 3 screws. Filtertrons attach with 2.
     
  19. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
    That's why I would prefer the TVJ route, which makes the replacement easier, when ordering the mounting kit too ... or will that fit with HS Filters too?
     
  20. Aymara

    Aymara Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2013
    Germany
  21. thunder58

    thunder58 Friend of Fred

    Age:
    58
    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Welcome EasyKill . I'm your neighbor up here in Rockland County