Duo-Tron Experiment

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Duo-Tron Experiment

Postby synchro » Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:17 am

I’m not much of a tone chaser. The basics have to be in place, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile trying to capture every last nuance of anyone’s sound, even Chet’s. That having been said, I recently decided that the Powertrons in my G6119-1959 were a bit too powerful for my tastes, being designed for an overdriven sound (and I am not designed for an overdriven sound). :)

I had heard all sorts of wonderful things about the Duo-Tron pickup and decided to try one, but just one. The G6119-1959 in question is a replica of a ‘59 Tennesseean, as seen on the cover of Chet Atkins’ Workshop, but I have added a neck pickup. It has the 1959 style anti-feedback (AKA trestle) bracing and delivers a punchy sound. Even with the Powertrons it sounded similar to Chet’s signature sound.

In the case of this Guitar, I decided on a Supertron in the neck, because I love that pickup, and a Duo-Tron in the bridge. The guitar has a simplified control set, just a pickup switch and a master volume. After performing the swap, I plugged in and was immediately overwhelmed, with bass. The neck Supertron really seemed to amplify the bass response of this guitar. I cranked the bass side down and left the treble side as high as possible and ended up with a balanced sound. The bass remains punchy, but not overwhelming.

The bridge Duo-Tron was not nearly as powerful as I would have expected and it certainly was much less powerful than the bridge Supertron. I had to raise it as far as possible without interfering with the strings before it would balance with the neck pickup. The bridge Duo-Tron was a bit of an enigma. It has a pronounced midrange honk to it, but it seems tameable. Like the neck Supertron, this pickup is very clear and very smooth.

Selecting both pickups brings out the best this combination has to offer. It’s a good solid starting point for the classic boom-chick of Chet’s RCA era recordings. The bass notes are punchy and the accent notes on the 2 and 4 have just the right kick. It sounds every bit as good as my G6122-1959 Country Gent, which was Paul’s take on Chet’s favorite Gretsch.

My long-standing belief than tone is, to a great degree, in the hands, remains unchallenged. This guitar can produce a good Chet sound, but it can’t do it on its own. It still demands the right techniques and the right voicings. At the root of it all is the fact that these pickups are variants of the Filtertron developed by Mr, Butts, all those years ago. The Duo-Tron is a wonderful development and certainly is a reflection of Paul Yandell’s dedication to the cause. The effects of his efforts live on and are tribute to the cause of preserving this music.
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