Take my advice: When MJ says she has something cool to show you, drop everything and investigate.
MJ, of course, is Maricela Juarez, the longtime manager of the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop. And the item in question was a clone of the DeArmond 200 pickup, also known as the Gretsch Dynasonic®. Predating the Gretsch Filter’Tron, the Dynasonic provided one of the key sounds of classic rockabilly, and was used at times by Cliff Gallup, Eddie Cochrane, and Duane Eddy. It’s also just about the prettiest-looking pickup I’ve ever seen.I’ve always wanted to try a Dynasonic, but I never owned the right Gretsch guitar for it. But MJ had created a version designed to fit a standard humbucker rout, so I gratefully scurried home with it and popped it into a Guild X-150, a single-pickup archtop. Not a Gretsch by any stretch, but a cool, old-fashioned guitar with a great acoustic tone. I strung it with heavy-gauge flatwounds—the strings just about 1950s player would have used.
And dang, does it sound cool. Not for everyone, mind you—unlike humbucking Filter’Trons, the Dynasonic is a single coil pickup with individual pole piece magnets, à la Fender. That means it can get a little noisy at high gain settings. But I love its tactile and three-dimensional tones. They sound so organic, with lots of nice “stringiness.” Does that pickup sound as pretty as it looks, or what?Dynasonic Pretty
As you listen, keep in mind those flatwound strings and the old-fashioned wooden bridge—if you used roundwounds and a brighter guitar, you’d get to Twang City real fast. But I still liked playing rockabilly and Travis-style licks with this warm, beautifully round tone.
You don’t usually think of an old-school archtop as a great distortion guitar, but I dig the primitive grind that unfolded when I cranked the combo amp. There’s an infectious “birth of rock and roll” quality to the crunch, a throwback to a time when distortion was less about science and more about reckless behavior.Dynasonic Distort
But then you can just turn down the amp, dial back the guitar’s tone control, and bask in a rich, classic jazz tone.Dynasonic Jazz
Did I mention that it’s pretty?