Cleaning Up A Muddy Gretsch
Towards the tail-end of the 1950s Gretsch started fitting its guitars with a three-way switch offering two preset degrees of treble roll-off plus a tone bypass in the middle position.
Unfortunately the 0.1mf and 0.047mf capacitor values that the company chose were not very well thought-out. Such was the excessiveness of the treble roll-off that players came to refer to them as ‘mud switches’.
After Gretsch was purchased by Fender, pickup maker TV Jones persuaded the company to install 0.012mF and 0.0039mF capacitors instead. With these new values the ‘mud switch’ becomes a very usable and useful feature, and flicking a switch is quicker and more precise than turning a control knob.
The smaller cap skims off the twang, giving the Filtertrons a Gibson PAF-style grind, and the bigger cap gets the neck pickup into clean bebop jazz mode… or even a ‘woman tone’ with added distortion.
Carrying out electrical work on any hollowbody is a ‘ship in a bottle’ deal, but it’s not too bad if you’re careful and methodical. You’ll probably have to remove the tone and pickup selector switches simultaneously.
First tie strong polyester sewing thread around the shafts of the switches, leaving long lengths of thread for pulling the switches back into position after the mod.
The easiest route is to remove the neck pickup and pull the tone switch through the pickup route to solder in the new caps. If the hole isn’t big enough, you may need to slacken off the master volume pot at the cutaway horn and pull the switch through the bridge pickup rout or one of the f-holes. Fiddly… but if you’ve got an old Gretsch, it’s worth it!
8. Wiring Secrets Pt.8