Seeking Advice: What donor body for Gretsch Style pickups?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by drewcp, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. drewcp

    drewcp Squier Talker

    Age:
    34
    21
    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    Here's the TL;DR of my situation:
    I have multiple guitars, but none that sound like a Gretsch. So I want to put "Gretsch" pickups in something, but don't know what kind of body would be suitable, if any, for 200-300 USD.

    Long Form Explanation:
    I have a budget of $200-300 USD for the body, and used is fine. I'm thinking about putting GFS Retrotron or TV Jones, or other "Gretsch Style" pickups in...something.

    So what kind of body should I look for? What scale length? Solid body, Semi-Hollow, Hollow?

    I've tried researching this all over, and the general consensus seems to be the only way to get "that sound" is to have a hollow or semi hollow. I know there are inexpensive solid body Gretsch guitars (Electromatic G4525 and such), so I just don't fully understand what the issue would be with getting a Bullet Mustang, or LP Special and switching out the pickups.

    Has anyone done this and been happy with the results? What body did you use? What pickups?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    Pa
    image.jpeg I put a set of tv jones powertrons in a GFS Tele body.Sounds more like a Gibson than a traditional gretsch.
     
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  3. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    Pa
    image.jpeg I also own a cheap gretsch that has a stock bridge pick up and a p 90 in the neck. Plenty of jangle and growl.
     
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  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Squier-Meister

    104
    Jan 10, 2014
    Michigan
    .

    A Strat-Like-Object works quite well as a pickup swapping platform. I modded this one so I can swap loaded pickguards without detuning and no soldering nor screwdrivers. A few thumb screws, an RCA plug, and slide one out another in. All in less than a minute.

    You don't need to go to this level, just get a SLO and an HH pickguard and you're there!

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. wickedtools

    wickedtools Squier-holic

    May 16, 2010
    west texas
  6. Jmv668

    Jmv668 Squier-Nut

    Age:
    40
    615
    Feb 21, 2017
    Chile
    Buy a used 5120
     
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  7. MadJack

    MadJack Squier Talker

    Age:
    52
    20
    Dec 26, 2018
    Candler, FL
    I got a set of these:

    [​IMG]

    Gretsch Stock Electromatic Pickup Set W/Springs & Screws, Chrome. They came out of a G5420/G5422 Electromatic.

    I got them on sale at half off.

    I'm thinking putting them in either the Bullet Mustang HH I just ordered or an Affinity Telecaster HH.

    I've also have a set of GFS Memphis Alnico 2 Retrotrons. I might put them in the Bullet Mustang and put the Electromatics in the Affinity Tele. These mounting rings by TV Jones should be good to adapt them into the HB routes ( after drilling the rings for the two adjusting screw holes on the one side). Should make for a slightly hotter La Cabronita.
     
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  8. IronSchef

    IronSchef Squier-holic

    Age:
    56
    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    I went w/ TVJones pickups, same "tron" type as the Gretsch pickups ... worked great on a Tele!
    IMG_0198.jpeg
     
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  9. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Squier-holic

    Jan 7, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    If by "Gretsch pickups," you mean Filter'Trons, they don't drop in to humbucker cavities. You'll have to fill and drill and cover with the appropriate pup rings. "That Great Gretsch Sound (TM)" comes from the Filter'Trons and the hollow body (feedback tone:)).

    I put Filter'Trons in a Streamliner, but you can put them in a Firefly (when they return to Amazon for $140 or so), a used Epi Dot/Dot Studio, or Ibanez Artcore.

    Or you can put the 'Trons in a solid body guitar. It's all good.


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    Pa
    That is my all time favorite forum build.
     
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  11. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Squier-holic

    Age:
    39
    Oct 5, 2014
    Gilbert, AZ
    If you want a Gretsch like tone, I’d avoid the GFS tron series, they are basically regular Seth Lover/Gibson HBs. I’ve heard that one type, I forget which, does get the same Filtertron resonant peak when wired in parallel. I’d get a set of TVJ Classics or Filtrton sized T-Armonds instead, both with the English or universal mounts to make adjustments a breeze. There are cheaper alternatives but it comes down to how much fidgeting you want to do to not only make them fit, but adjust them as well. Speaking of Gretsch via GFS, Surf 90s are decent, kinda Dynasonic ish pickups. I have a set in my Bullet Strat.

    Solid/semi solid sound the same to me, one just feeds back earlier than the other. Nothing sounds like a hollowbody but a hollowbody, with the exception of some special designs like an early 50s Jet. I say go for whatever style body and scale you want, it really is about your preference. I will say using a floating bridge and vibrato is part of the sound :) Regardless, the pickups make up a majority of the tone, and you’ll nail it with TVJ. Here’s some of the guitars I mixed up with Gretsch, including a Sparkle Tele-Jet I’m still working on..

    7ABB605D-EEF4-471A-AB67-3013D3181E9B.jpeg 8D55ABB0-48A5-492B-8C1C-FF005ADB506A.jpeg 426333A8-86AF-4323-9D09-F3FE582DFE25.jpeg 4E424EA6-E574-4999-9EB2-E0965DB75556.jpeg
     
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  12. drewcp

    drewcp Squier Talker

    Age:
    34
    21
    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    I had never even considered a thinline type body for this, definitely something to think about.

    That's more useful info than you might think. I already have the LP/SG tones in other guitars, so I'm probably not going to do what you did there, but it's still good to know.

    I've got P90s in a LP SP-I, but after my post I found a few solid body Electromatic Jets (?) near me. I'm not super familiar with Gretsch nomenclature and apparently the sellers don't really know model numbers either, but they are solid body, with one or 2 pickups and a bolt on neck. If you're getting the jangle out of yours I might just look for something used that already is a Gretsch and save myself the work.

    I feel like I've seen that before, maybe in the past on TDPRI? Anyway, it's super cool. I love the idea, and want to have an axe like that someday, but right now, I'm just looking for something that sounds different than what I already have, and can be left alone.

    I would have to save up a while longer to do that, but if one comes along at a steal, I will have to consider it. Thanks!

    Bullet Mustangs are so cheap it's hard to resist the temptation to just go that route, but I worry that the short scale is going to affect the tone too much. Also, here, and in other forums, the general consensus seems to be the magic of "That...Gretsch Sound" is in a hollow or semi-hollow. That said, I am still tempted to pickup something like a hardtail bullet strat and see what happens.

    It looks fantastic, as do all of your builds. Does it just sound "different" than a Tele though, or does it sound like a Gretsch?

    I'm not worried about filling/drilling/etc. Your streamliner looks killer. There was an Artcore with TV Jones 'tron style pickups in it on craigslist recently, but I just didn't have the cash at the time.
     
  13. drewcp

    drewcp Squier Talker

    Age:
    34
    21
    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
  14. drewcp

    drewcp Squier Talker

    Age:
    34
    21
    Dec 14, 2018
    Saint Paul, MN
    Thanks. Really lovely guitars. And your thoughts are appreciated, definitely going to take that all into consideration, and sort of digest/process it all throughout the day.