Everything you need to know about Filter’Tron pickups – the humbuckers beloved by Chet Atkins, Neil Young and George Harrison

Gretsch Filter'Tron
(Image credit: Future)

It’s astonishing that Chet Atkins, George Harrison, Neil Young, Steven Stills, Malcom Young, Pete Townshend and Brian Setzer all relied on the same electric guitar pickup to achieve some of their greatest tones. 

Whether it’s country fingerstyle picking, ’60s rock, indie jangle, power pop or classic rock, the Filter’Tron can do it all. Even so, this particular pickup fell out of favour for over a decade after music became heavier and louder, and players became sustain-obsessed. The main issue was that they were exclusive to hollowbodied Gretsch electric guitars that were largely unsuited to the latest trends.

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Huw Price

Huw started out in recording studios, working as a sound engineer and producer for David Bowie, Primal Scream, Ian Dury, Fad Gadget, My Bloody Valentine, Cardinal Black and many others. His book, Recording Guitar & Bass, was published in 2002 and a freelance career in journalism soon followed. He has written reviews, interviews, workshop and technical articles for Guitarist, Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player, Acoustic Magazine, Guitar Buyer and Music Tech. He has also contributed to several books, including The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pittman. Huw builds and maintains guitars and amplifiers for clients, and specializes in vintage restoration. He provides consultancy services for equipment manufacturers and can, occasionally, be lured back into the studio.