Long recognized as the leadingmaker of contemporary Gretsch-style replacement pickups, TV Jones has added a new flavor of vintage Filter’Tron to his lineup: the Brian Setzer Signature Set ($145 retail). A variation on the popular Classic model, the Setzer uses a custom design that Tom Jones concocted to give the rockabilly star’s newer 6120s the same thick, meaty-yet-twangy tone as his legendary original ’59 Chet Atkins Hollowbody. Long story short, Setzer loved ’em, and a signature set was born.
They still follow the general Filter’Tron formula using alnico magnets, but, unlike the Classics, the Setzers have mismatched windings in each of their two coils for a little more bite and clarity (much like a vintage Gibson PAF humbucker), plus slightly more powerful coils—DC specs are 4.5kΩ neck, 6.3kΩ bridge—and a custom pole alloy for a bolder attack. Chrome covers are standard (nickel and gold are also available), and the wires are shielded two-conductor with two further wires of four-conductor configuration tucked beneath heat-shrink tubing.
Tested in a semi-hollow Thorn Artisan Limited (a rather Duo Jet-like guitar) through a custom JTM45-style amp, the Setzers provided an extremely appealing rendition of that clear yet growling and slightly compressed tone that makes a good Filter’Tron such fun to play. In the neck position the Setzer offered more midrange muscle than the Classic that was original to the guitar (something you might not want if you’re chasing optimum clear and clean from that position), with a lusciously thick tone. The bridge had more meat and edge, and, to my ears, a more vintage-leaning character than a Classic (though not as much midrange thump as a Classic Plus). All in all, they’re a great sounding set for the edgier, snarlier side of rockabilly, yet superbly versatile too. It all adds up to an Editors’ Pick Award for the Brian Setzer Signatures.
Kudos An authentic rendition of the vintage Filter’Tron with more bite, edge, and complexity than TV Jones’ Classics.