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Tele Cabronita – ‘TheTron’

Was great to see this Brett Kingman demo using a Tele Cabronita with Mr Glyns The Tron pickups to demonstrate some really cool pedals the other day. He’s got dozens of guitars to choose from, so chuffed he chose my pickups.

TheTron pickup set is based around the legendary Gretsch pickups Of the 50’s and 60’s. To say TheTron has character is an understatement. TheTron is full and rounded with a well balanced mid range but with that distinctive ‘Clank’ that separates it from other pickups. The neck pickup is clear and fat and the bridge stands out from the mix without ever sounding harsh.

There are more demos here: https://mrglynspickups.com/2021/09/22/thetron/

Over the years I’ve repaired a fair few old Gretsch pickups and noticed the best sounding ones are at the upper range for ohms. I’ve taken that design and tweaked it until I got the fullness I was looking for but without loosing clarity or clank.

Most of my pickups are made in collaboration with a professional player, but not TheTron. I started playing guitar at the age of 16 when I first heard Malcolm Young – a Filtertron through an almost clean valve amp. I didn’t feel I needed another set of ears for this one, I knew exactly what I wanted.

I needed this pickup set to be crystal clear with a clean amplifier but to come into its own when pushing an amp to clip. The neck pickup needed to be clear, full and chiming in both a big archtop and in the neck position of a Telecaster. The bridge pickup needed to have no shortage of character, a clean almost jangly tone when played gently but with enough go in it to push the front end of a valve amp to clip when you dig in.

TheTron is the perfect pickup as a Gretsch upgrade, for the modern player wanting something other than Gibson style humbuckers, rockabilly players after that traditional tone, jazz players or, like me, Malcolm Young fans. There’s so much you can to with The Tron.

For the modern player with one foot in the past.

Tele Cabronita https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOdXLT6XwMyl5p3dysXkznyAp5gt_Z5HN

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Gretsch FilterTron – a look inside

The Gretsch FilterTron is something rather special. Originally designed in 1954/5 by Ray Butts for guitarist Chet Atkins who wasn’t satisfied by the DynaSonic pickup he was using. It has become a classic but often misunderstood pickup.

It has left a distinct mark on the sound of Rock’n’Roll. It’s the sound of Malcolm Young, Brian Setzer, Billy Duffy and plenty more. That unmistakable ‘Clank’ on the attack of the note is the essence of the FilterTron.

I started playing guitar because of the sound of A FilterTron. Listen to Malcolm Young on the intro to “Jailbreak” – that’s what I’m talking about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRo2m6RYJpI

But you don’t only find FilterTrons in Gretches, there’s the rather cool Fender Cabronita Telecaster.

So how does it make that distinctive sound? What makes it so different from a PAF?

Here’s a vintage Gretsch FilterTron from 1961, let’s take a look under the hood.

Gretsch FilterTron

With the cover off it looks quite different from a PAF. There are 2 rows of adjustable poles and they’re bigger than on a Gibson. The top of the bobbins are rather neatly hidden by a thin plate.

Filtertron with the cover off
Filtertron underneath
Gretsch FilterTron

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Those are very narrow bobbins and this one measures only 4.2KOhms. Not a lot of coil strength there but look what they’re sitting on. That is one fat magnet. It’s an Alnico V and literally twice the thickness of the Alnico 2 (usually) that you’d find in a PAF. So not only more powerful magnetic material but double the amount of it compared to a Gibson.

So that FilterTron sound consists of a weaker, thin sounding coil so lots of highs and twang from the windings and getting the aggression, attack and ‘clank’ from the powerful magnet.

This is the original FilterTron, the design didn’t change much through to the late 60’s although there are plenty of inconsistencies. They can have a dc resistance from 4KOhms up to 5KOhms.

By the 1970’s they had changed the design and really they just didn’t sound like Gretsch’s any more.

Bobbins

A lot of the modern ones are simply small humbuckers with cool looking covers and just miss the whole point of the FilterTron sound.

It’s all about those weak coils and that monster magnet.

Gretsch FilterTron
Mr Glyns Pickups

My own version of the FilterTron will be available soon.

Feel free to get in touch for pickup repairs or new pickups mrglynspickups@gmail.com. 021 912 678 https://mrglynspickups.com/