TV Jones Announces Ray Butts Ful-Fidelity Filter’Tron Pickups

January 17th, 2017

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Electric guitar and bass pickup maker Tom “TV” Jones is proud to announce the release of the Ray Butts Ful-Fidelity Filter’Tron guitar pickup, which was built to Butts’ exact personal specifications.

Butts is the inventor of the Gretsch Filter’Tron electric guitar pickup.

“This is the most original and authentic re-issue of a Filter’Tron guitar pickup to date. Period,” Jones said.

These pickups are made according to Ray’s personal journals, notes, designs and Jones’ extensive analysis of the original Filter’Tron. Butts was awarded one of the first patents for a hum-canceling guitar pickup (No. 2,892,371, June 30, 1959.) Ray’s initial goal was to create a pickup for Chet Atkins that achieved a true high-fidelity tone, with an even, flat response and less noise from external sources—thereby alleviating shortcomings of early pickup designs.

In describing the Ful-Fidelity pickup, we quote directly from Ray’s original “principal features,” notes: “Variable Reluctance Magnetic Units with wide frequency response three times better than most conventional pickups. Exclusive double screw volume adjustment under each string permits absolute balancing of response from strings. Pickup of hum and interference practically eliminated from external sources.”

Butts is also the inventor of the legendary EchoSonic guitar amplifier (U.S. Patent 2,804,499, August 27,1957.) The EchoSonic amplifier was originally used by none other than Chet Atkins, Scotty Moore, Carl Perkins and Luther Perkins (Johnny Cash) among others.

“He was a problem solver,” said Tim Masters, modern-day maker of the EchoSonic amplifier, close associate of the Butts family and possessor of Butts’ original notes and schematics pertaining the to amp. The EchoSonic was the first amplifier conceived to be all-inclusive and included built-in effects, specifically an on-board echo. The collaboration between Jones and the Butts family—daughter Katha House and son Randy Butts—began in 2008 at the annual Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) convention in Nashville.

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Tom was instrumental in locating Ray’s missing custom Gretsch Silver Jet guitar, used as a pickup tester. This guitar can be seen—with stereo Filter’Tron pickups in Tony Bacon and Paul Day’s The Gretsch Book.

“This all started when I showed Tom Dad’s Silver Jet. He asked if he could take it apart and analyze the guitar,” Katha said. “As soon as he attached the multi-meter to it his eyes lit up—like a kid at Christmas!

“Tom showed a passion for Dad’s work,” she continued, “and he still does. You don’t see that very often. Tom knew so much about Dad’s work—he understood it. He understood the vision—and from that passion comes trust.”

In 2012, Jones was given Ray’s remaining pickup parts, tooling, technical journals, notes and other items by Katha and Butts’ grandson, James House.

TV Jones will offer a lower 3.8K ohm version for the neck position, and a 4.2K ohm version for the bridge position.

“I have worked on many late-Fifties Gretsch guitars with these ohm reading variations,” Jones said. “Each offering includes the standard pole-to-pole width along with chrome and gold plating—as used by Gretsch at that time. In Ray’s era, factory-made guitar pickups were not wax saturated as they are now. These pickups will not be saturated in order to remain absolutely historically correct. I notice a more three-dimensional, open-air quality to the tone of a pickup that is not saturated in wax. Microphonic feedback is not a big issue with this design. To be clear, though, I do find waxing necessary for higher-gain, ‘squeal-less’ applications.

“We will also offer vintage aged versions through our upcoming TV Jones Custom Shop. There will be two gradations of aged chrome and gold. The most aggressive aged gold finish is closer to nickel, because nickel plating is present under gold plating, thereby also creating a sort of aged nickel option.”

The pickup will feature three cover options:

• Late 1957-1958 blank (unstamped)
• 1959-early 1960 “PAT. APPLIED FOR” stamping
• 1960-present “U.S. PAT 2892371” stamping.

Note: All are 5/8” tall for neck, and 3/4” tall for bridge.

“Custom heights will also be available through the upcoming TV Jones Custom Shop,” Jones said. “This way customers can order, for example, a short bridge or a tall neck to suit their individual needs. We’ll offer multiple options for customers requiring unique mounting options.”

Specifications (See above for custom options)

• Finishes: Gold, chrome
• Mounting: Standard “Gretsch” Filter’Tron Specs
• Neck: 3.8k ohms • Bridge: 4.2k ohms
• Base Price: $175 (chrome), $180 (gold).

The Ful-Fidelity Advanced Design Electric Guitar Pickups will initially be sold exclusively through the TV Jones Reverb Shop January 19 to February 9.

TV Jones will be at the 2017 Winter NAMM show from January 19 to 22 (booth 5829). Visitors are encouraged to visit and play everything in the TV Jones line, meet the staff and TV—and more.

For more information, visit tvjones.com or call 360-779-4002.