Having owned a Grestch Electromatic 5420T since 2015, I’ve struggled to gel with it. It’s a fine guitar and plays well, but it fails to cut through in my band playing live. My other problem is that during guitar changes mid-set, the the 5420T with stock Blacktop Filtertron pickups has a significantly lower output level than either my US Tele or Clapton strat, despite adjusting pickup heights and minor modifications.

“Remember, with Gretsch hollowbody guitars, there’s no access to the rear of the guitar through a cavity, so everything has to be fed through the bridge pickup hole. We’d highly recommend for a small price, the Tube Kit for Tone Pot Harness to assist”

This is what was performed in order to upgrade the guitar:

  • fitment of 2 x TV Jones Powerton Pickups
  • fitment of TV Jones wiring harness

Level of complexity:

  • Moderate

Time To Complete:

  • Approx 3 hours

The Process

Start by removing the strings and be careful not to lose the Bigsby spring:

Using a metric allen key, loosen and remove tone & volume knobs before using an adjustable spanner to loosen nuts retaining pots and output jack socket. Extra care is reuired in order to prevent scratching the guitar finish. (We’d recommend holding material across the guitar body in order to protect it):

Fitting a Gretsch With TV Jones Powertrons And Wiring Harness

Remove the pickups by feeding the neck pickup through its hole and the complete wiring harness out through the bridge pickup hole. However, you’ll find a small black earth cable attached from the harness to the inside of the guitar body. Remove or cut this from the harness, leaving as much length on this as possible (because you’ll need to solder the new harness to it later) and tape it to the outside of the guitar body so that it doesnt get lost:

All of the guitars electrics should now be removed:

Screw the mounting clips to the backplate of the new TV Jones pickups:

Screw the dual screw mount adapter to the bass side of the pickup. This is because the Gretsch 5420 mounting ring has 2 screw holes on the bass side and one on the treble side (These can be purchased separately, and you require one per pickup)

Dual Screw Mount Adaptor

Fit pickup to rings using screws and compression springs. This image illustrates the Dual Screw Mount Adaptor fitment within the Electromatic pickup ring.

Dual Screw Mount Adaptor

Korean manufactured Gretch Electromatic use the metric system whereas US made TV Jones products are imperial. That will likely mean that holes for US tone pots and pickup switches are slightly too small and will need carefully enlarging using a reamer (this can be purchased from Amazon for £8 / $10.

Solder the pickup wires to the neck & bridge volume pots respectively. You’ll need a decent soldering iron in order to do this properly and without creating a dry joint or poor joint which will increase inpedance and lose tone. The technique is to hold the soldering iron onto the pot long enough so that you melt the solder actually on the pot’s surface (if you have to melt the solder on the soldering iron tip, its probably not hot enough).

I prefer to double check at any possible opportunity, so the complete harness is connected to an amp to check opertaion of all pots & switches and for any phase issues:

Remember, with Gretsch hollowbody guitars, there’s no access to the rear of the guitar through a cavity, so everything has to be fed through the bridge pickup hole. We’d highly recommend for a small price, the Tube Kit for Tone Pot Harness to assist:

You just feed the tubes and dowel through the holes, attach pots and switch and carefully pull through. You may need to allow a few attempts to get this right and is probably the most challenging part, but the Tube Kit really does help:

The last parts to be fed through are the selector switch and master volume, followed by the neck and then bridge pickup:

The earth wire from the harness needs to be soldered to the existing earth wire attached to the inside of the body and protected from touching other components using heatshrink or tape:

Attach pickups to the body:

Fit strings and adjust pickup heights according to the diagram below:

We’re nearly there:

Finally, plug in, test and give the strings a good breaking in by belting out some classic rock: