What's a decent cheap-ish guitar with decent Filtertron-style pickups?

MisterZ

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Apr 29, 2016
Posts
1,273
Location
Finger Lakes of NYS
I have an Electromatic Pro Jet 5438T with "black-out" Filtertrons and they sound pretty good. It is a quality build and great player as well. You can find these used for under $500. I don't know how "true" the pickups are to original versions, but I am not complaining.


View attachment 920041 View attachment 920042
I have a 5435 Pro Jet that I assume has the same pickups as your 5438. Love the gold finish on yours!
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
12,530
Location
Beast of Bourbon
Here's a curveball that a few players have hit and really liked: the PRS Starla SE (import).

The Starla pickups are a pretty close take on the Filtertron's tone and response. They offer up a high midrange honk with plenty of clarity, and they also can twang and bark like their inspiration does.

A bonus is they're splittable.

Find a Starla SE in good shape used, and save a bundle.
 

tubejockey

Tele-Holic
Joined
Nov 25, 2015
Posts
620
Location
the bozone
I have a Gretsch g5220 and i can tell you that the broadtrons do not sound like filtertrons. They sound good, but more like a good Paf. I just got some gfs trons, and they sound great. 3 different winds and colors. They also have adaptor rings and pickguards. I bought the classic, and they dropped right into my Ibanez artcore.
 

studio1087

Telefied
Ad Free Member
Joined
May 10, 2003
Posts
26,064
Location
Near Milwaukee
I'm very tempted by this one......

uubg8tkui21t8gu5ld3r.jpg


Gretsch Electromatic snigle filterton with a simple wrap tailpiece. Brand new, pretty woodgrain. It's sitting at Island Music (nice store) in Neenah for $199. My common sense is saying "John you have some very nice guitars that you should be playing - you don't need a $199 guitar" The passion in me keeps saying "John you love your SG junior and Melody Makers with stop tails and single coils - just buy the damn thing".

Tough call man. I palyed it and it really fun.
 

hemingway

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Mar 14, 2012
Posts
9,182
Location
London, UK
Thanks to everyone for the tips.

If I go down the buying rout, my favourite option for now is the Schecter Fastback.

Gretsch electromatics, while an obvious choice, somehow just don't excite me, and I'm not convinced the pickups would be great.

A high-end Gretsch would be perfect, but it's way to pricey for me.

The Harley Benton Cabronita copies look stunning . . . but I'm done with really cheap guitars. I've had an HB and I know they're pretty good. But they just feel cheap to me. And I'm too old to be playing a guitar that doesn't inspire at least a little bit of awe.

So, in conclusion, I've never heard a bad word about a Schecter, and the ones I've encountered in person have been impressive. So if I buy one I'll let ya know how it goes.
 

schmee

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Posts
19,695
Location
northwest
I have an Electromatic Pro Jet 5438T with "black-out" Filtertrons and they sound pretty good. It is a quality build and great player as well. You can find these used for under $500. I don't know how "true" the pickups are to original versions, but I am not complaining.


View attachment 920041 View attachment 920042
I think those are Blacktops not 'Trons..........right ? Sound more like HB's.
 
Last edited:

schmee

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Jun 2, 2003
Posts
19,695
Location
northwest
Could be. I believe they were marketed as "Blacktop Filtertrons". But I don't have any original adds for when the guitar came out. I really don't know much about their import pickups.
I had them in a nice Streamliner I bought I think. They are good, but not the same sound as the 'Trons. Tron's seem to have that... percussive? sound that's kinda unique. But I'm not sure.... all that Gretsch stuff is hard to remember, even though I'm over on Gretsch Talk somewhat!! :lol:
 

hnryclay

Tele-Holic
Joined
Nov 30, 2020
Posts
642
Age
42
Location
Virginia
The blacktops are viewed more favorably than the broadtrons are by Gretsch people. I have a 5220T and love it. Does it sound like a pro model? No, but it was 1200 dollars cheaper.
 

Boreas

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Posts
8,504
Age
67
Location
Adirondack Coast, NY
I had them in a nice Streamliner I bought I think. They are good, but not the same sound as the 'Trons. Tron's seem to have that... percussive? sound that's kinda unique. But I'm not sure.... all that Gretsch stuff is hard to remember, even though I'm over on Gretsch Talk somewhat!! :lol:

Let's put it this way, I have not had the opportunity to compare them to other Gretsch Filtertrons, so I can't comment other than they sound pretty good in the ProJet.

This is from a 2015 GuitarPlayer article. Mine is a 2011.

CONTACT gretschguitars.com
STREET PRICE $499

NUT WIDTH 1.69"
NECK Maple
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24.6" scale
FRETS 22
TUNERS Vintage style
BODY Chambered basswood with arched laminated maple top
BRIDGE Bigsby Licensed B50 vibrato
PICKUPS Two Blacktop Filter ’Trons
CONTROLS Neck Volume, Bridge Volume, Master Volume, Tone, 3-position selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario XL110 Regular Light, 010-.046
WEIGHT 7.14 lbs
BUILT China
KUDOS Cool look. A twangy sounding rock-and-roll classic
CONCERNS None
 
Last edited:

NTC

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Posts
1,171
One point - a classic Filtertron IS a humbucker. It just doesn't have as much wire (less turns, lower resistance) as a typical Gibson derivative humbucker.
 

elihu

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Dec 24, 2009
Posts
10,176
Location
Texas
Of the ones that meat your criteria I know what I would buy: a Gretsch 3161 Historic Series in orange. There’s one on my local Craigslist for $550.
 

jvin248

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Apr 18, 2014
Posts
11,203
Location
Lions & Tigers oh Mi !
.

Get the actual new Gretch pickups you are after and then drop them in your Strat with a new pickguard. Make sure to also get the Gretch wiring harness to go with the pickups and then you'll get the tone (set heights/etc).

Find an inexpensive Epiphone Special to mod, the older 'clipped ear headstock' and bolt on necks were selling under $50 pre-pandemic.

Or get one of the Harley Benton models.

Here's my 'Gretch' angle ... a 1970 MIJ flat top LP with a Dynasonic in the neck and a P90 in the bridge. Which is basically just like the Epiphone Specials.

stratandglobal_img_4737c.jpg



Or get one of the PRS S2 Vela models. The bridge humbucker splits with push/pull to give a Tele single coil tone option.

iu
 




Top