Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

IconProjects, musings about guitar builds, guitar repairs, vintage tube amplifiers, old radios, travel, home renovation, and other stuff.

Gretsch G5120 Upgrades: TV Jones Pickups, New Wiring Harness and Compton Bridge (Pt. 1)

If you're wondering what the heck happened to the Hickok 288X restoration, here's the deal:  it's only oscillating up to about 5 Mc or so.  I need to do some more troubleshooting.  I decided to take a break from it for a while and work on something that will be quick and rewarding.

This is a Gretsch G5120 that I got about a month ago.  I've pretty much wanted a Gretsch my entire guitar-playing life.  I think it was that dude in that band from England who had one that started it.

Anyways, vintage Gretsches were always out of my reach (still are).  But the newer Korean-made ones are really nice, and offer a lot of Gretschness at a reasonable price.   I got this one used.  It's only like a year or two old.  It's like the famous 6120, but has different pickups, a Bigsby B60 vibrato (vs. the more expensive US made B6), and a poly finish.  But it's still a full-body archtop Gretsch.  These things are wildly popular nowadays.

The standard "Gretschbucker" pickups have a reputation for being mediocre.  I didn't like the ones on this guitar, so I decided to go whole hog and change the pickups, wiring harness, and bridge.  These are all popular mods to these guitars.

First we take off the control knobs.  Metric allen wrench is whatcha need.

Dig the "G" knobs.  Just like an old one.

There is also a 5122 model - a little thinner, and with double cutaways.  Both models come in orange (the traditional color...think Eddie Cochran and Brian Setzer), black, sunburst, or 'walnut.'  Mine is the latter. It's a dark red that I really like.

I first marked the location of the bridge on a piece of masking tape.  You'll see this in a later picture.

Knobs off, so we unbolt the controls.  These are metric, our replacements are SAE.

Careful not to scratch the finish!

I'm going to change out the stock 7/8 inch Bigsby spring for a 1 inch spring.  The vibrato handle will sit a bit higher, and I understand the taller spring is a bit stiffer.

The 1 inch spring is standard on the B6 - not sure why there's a difference on the B60.

If you've worked on old Gibsons, Rickenbackers, Gretsches, or communications radios (Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, etc.), you recognize the knurled nut we have here.

These things are beautiful, but using a set of pliers will mar them.  You can get a special socket, but I do this so rarely, I have a special technique.

Wrap a thin rubber jar opener thingy around the nut, and carefully use pliers on it.

Should come right off with no marring of the nut.

There is a black wire for the tailpiece ground that goes to the output jack.  Clip that off, and tape it to the top.  We'll connect it to the new wiring harness.
Four screws hold the pickups in place.  Easy to remove.

 The whole harness - the pickups, wiring, pickup switch, and pots - can be removed via the pickup openings.

This is the result.  Note the two pieces of tape where I marked the position of the bridge.  The bridge isn't attached to the top, so I need a reference to put it in the correct place.

The complete harness removed from the guitar.

I'm replacing it with a new TV Jones harness and pickups.  The new harness has better quality CTS pots, and a nice Switchcraft switch.

All posts related to this project:

Part One (this one) - Removing original pickups
Part Two - Fitting bridge base and start of wiring
Part Three - Installing TV Jones pickups
Part Four - Finished!


Post a Comment 0 comments:

Post a Comment