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  #16  
Old 05-07-2012, 09:20 PM
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Come on, Dazco. Fluke makes a great meter. I recommend the Extech too because of cost but there's nothing at all wrong with Fluke meters. I happen to have one but if I were buying a meter for myself today, I'd probably pick an Extech. My Fluke has been with me almost 20 years and has followed me around the world when I was an engineer doing far more critical and abusive work than anything you'd encounter on a guitar.

And I'm still on the original test leads too, BTW, and actually I've NEVER had a set of Fluke test leads go bad using them day in and day out on numerous meters (and other Fluke equipment) in my career. You're really making me think that you may have a counterfeit Fluke, and it does happen.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:45 PM
dazco dazco is offline
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Listen guys, my fluke isn't a counterfeit or broken. It's simply not as good. It'll read caps but it's slow and won't read small values at all. The extech will read down to a few picofarad and instantly, a function thats quite valuable when working on guitars when you need say a 250pf bleed cap and the caps you suspect may be that values have no readable value or code on them. The fluke is worthless for that. In fact, the cheaper flukes don't even read current ! Not that you need that working on guitars, but geez....the $40 extech does ! I use it for building amps too so that comes in handy, and it reads high voltages and all that just fine. It's just a better meter ! How do you come to any other conclusion when it does everything the fluke does as well or better, has functions the fluke doesn't, and costs 1/3 of the cheap fluke? Come on man !

Look, one of you even said it....you don't need much for working on guitars. So to the OP who this is about if i'm not mistaken, the extech is about $40 or 1/3 the cost, it reads any cap you may need for guitar, reads current if you ever need that, (you can find a pedal's current draw and know what to look for in a A/C adapter for example) and is otherwise as good or better at anything the fluke does. You can buy the fluke but you will be wasting your money for what you need it for. (tho as far as i'm concerned thats true no matter WHAT you want it for !) I've had the extech for quiet a few years and it works like new. You don't need to spend more. It's a flawless meter and a great price. Just trying to help you out here, but do what you will...
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  #18  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:38 PM
rjsc5 rjsc5 is offline
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The display on my Fluke went south, not much use to me now!
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  #19  
Old 05-08-2012, 12:26 AM
donnyb donnyb is offline
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Wow !! I need to get my jaw off the desk. Such meter passion ! Seriously, really glad i asked about this before I run off to an Aussie hobby like store. DAZCO- you are in my price bracket and on my wave lenght. If I was setting up shop, Id go Fluke as durability and the ability to re-calibrate in a high useage situation is essential. For my guitars and my friends guitars, I think the Extech is the way to go. DAZCO- can you give me the model details and I will hunt for it via Amazon etc. Many thanks to all.
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  #20  
Old 05-08-2012, 05:52 AM
RussB RussB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dazco View Post
Everyone says fluke is best. Well, i took that advice and i now have TWO multimeters. A fluke, and a good one. The fluke sucks. Has a capacitance setting that doesn't work 99% of the time It's no better in any other way than my cheapie and i prefer the cheapie in most respects. Accuracy is not an issue, as i have compared and they both read the same except the cheapie is more sensitive to things and reads faster and more reliably and has more settings. So get a fluke and spend 3-5 times as much (and thats for the cheap ones) or get what i have and much prefer....a Extech. Cost $40, kills my cheezy fluke. It's all you need. Oh, and even the test leads outlasted the fluke by a huge margin. I believe at one time maybe, but today they have either been coasting on thier name or just went to hell altogether

That's just silly. Remember that every tool is only as good as the operator. You lose credability when you make comments like that.


You can spend less and get a suitable meter...I have a B&K 390A that is a good meter. I also have 2 Flukes. I've also had my share of discount meters.
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  #21  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:16 AM
Sensible Musician Sensible Musician is offline
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Somebody correct me if I've got this wrong.

Guy walks into guitar technical forum, obviously babe in the woods, asks which meter is best for guitar, and everyone recommends all these Fluke models for electricians that measure AC voltage and motor frequency but not inductance? I reread the whole thread again and looked up some of the model numbers but I still think I may be missing something.

Donny a typical guitar like a strat or les paul - basically any guitar that uses magnets and coils - has three relevant electronic properties that you need to work with to have any idea what's going on:
  • Inductance (L). This is the most relevant number to put on a pickup if you choose only one. Units are Henries (H)
  • Capacitance (C). You mentioned this in your post so you are aware of that.
  • Resistance (R).

These are the numbers you work with when you work with guitar. Turns out this is a common need for people who work with all kinds of resonant circuits, so there is a special type of meter for it, called an LCR meter. The one that I thought everyone used for guitar is the Extech 380193. It's $200, accurate, and reliable. AFAIK it is the only cheap, unqualified-good LCR meter. Comes with a warranty though it's a budget Asian meter, so who knows whether you'd get much response from them. A big part of what you pay for with more upmarket meters is that if you ever do have a problem, you can get actual people to help you and get it fixed.

Generally you don't measure the AC voltage that the pickup produces. When you measure the effects of that directly, it's to check relative phase of pickups and you do it with an analog (physical needle) ohmmeter. You need an electrician type meter for working with the rest of your rig but not with the guitar itself, except maybe beep test (continuity).

I'm no EE, but I believe meters can fall short of accuracy in two ways: consistency with self over time, and consistency with external reference (absolute). I.e. if you don't need to communicate data with the outside world - if a satellite isn't going to crash into the earth because you gave another engineer the wrong voltage for a part you made - it might be enough to compare values.

I actually do think that's true of guitar. For one, generally cheap meters are close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades. Also a meter that can be zeroed/calibrated allows you to compare items. But the main thing I'm looking at is that you have to tune a guitar circuit by ear, anyway. A guitar is not purely electronic - it may not even be primarily electronic...

The problems come when you do math/sims that are not linear. As your measurement drifts further afield, the results of equations become less useful. So you do want as much accuracy as you can afford.

If you can scratch up $300, your best bet would be an Extech 380193 and a Fluke 115. Also you can find more upscale Flukes all day on Craigslist real cheap (compared to new price). That's a real budget setup and plenty good enough.

If you want to go BUDGET BUDGET I have a few recommendations. I have a few "nice" meters but I am fascinated with cheap meters and can't seem to stop picking them up. I used to be like this with real cheap guitars after the first wave of perfectly manufactured $99 guitars...

Vichy DM4070 (eBay). It is an LCR meter for (I think) $40. It only has one test frequency, doesn't run tests - just simple circuits to measure - manual range selection, doesn't measure as many things as the Extech, a real old school knob for calibration. In short it's primitive. BUT the numbers it gives are very close to what I measure on the Extech. I could imagine living with this as my only LCR meter.

For voltage, cotinuity, etc - electrician meter stuff - I have an Extech MiniTec 26 in my emergency toolbox in my car, and it is not bad. I would look for a used Fluke or just get a 115 cheap first, but for cheap cheap it's usable - honestly probably the same as literally any bottom-end meter nowadays. I want to say I got it free or deeply discounted from Circuit Specialists for placing some minimum order.
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  #22  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:22 AM
dazco dazco is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RussB View Post
That's just silly. Remember that every tool is only as good as the operator. You lose credability when you make comments like that.


You can spend less and get a suitable meter...I have a B&K 390A that is a good meter. I also have 2 Flukes. I've also had my share of discount meters.
Whatever. Tell a guy who needs a meter for his guitar to spend $120 then. Geez...
By the way, doesn't look from his last post like i lost credibility with him does it? Because he recognises the truth, and the truth is that extech does more than the fluke and does what they both do as good or better and is solid. I have both, i know, and if you wish to believe i'm an idiot thats your prerogativ and i honestly don't care. But the facts are on my side. Fact:it does more. Fact: it does what the fluke does as good or better. Fact: It's 1/3 the price of the cheapest fluke. You know, i don't care if my credibility is lost with you. You keep on dreaming and i'll go with the facts, and the facts are that unless you buy one of the much more expensive flukes they are not the legendary gold you think they are. Thier cheap meters are no better than anyone and in the case of my extech the facts bear that out as clear as day.Either you believe i'm lying or to you a meter that does less and does nothing better is woth 3x the cost. I don't know which of those you believe but i'll let you worry about it.
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  #23  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:41 AM
PhilF PhilF is offline
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Fluke's are extremely nice, but are generally overkill and you don't in any way need to pay for their ruggedness unless it helps you do your job or something similar.
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  #24  
Old 05-08-2012, 09:16 AM
83stratman 83stratman is offline
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Maybe if your are designing/recreating pickups a LCR is useful, but in over 25 years of working on and playing around with guitars the only settings I have ever used on a meter (for working on a guitar) are continuity and resistance.
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  #25  
Old 05-08-2012, 09:30 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-_dUB8vy8U
(it lists all the models, in case you're interested)

Watch this video and scroll to 8:30. You will clearly see some of the differences between meters (Fluke not represented here). The continuity test is one of the most important things a meter does, and having one that responds quickly and latches is critical when you're looking for intermittent shorts and things like that. Most of the meters in this particular group, including the Extech, have horrible performance in this test. This is for the classic slam your hands on the table test. You attach the leads and then you knock on the guitar a bit to see if you get a short or an open. Often you can only reproduce it for a tiny fraction of a second, and most of these meters will miss that. Just to give you an idea, the BK Precision is spec'd for 100ms reaction time, though it's clearly faster. My Fluke 85 is spec'd at 1ms.

Also scroll to 20:00 and notice how the Extech meter CRASHES. As I said before, I might recommend it because of cost and because their cheap meters are better than a lot of other cheap meters, but judge for yourself what you're getting. In fact, if you watch the entire video the Extech has numerous accuracy problems, and one of them is so bad that he had to whip out a backup Extech the company sent him. So let's just stop this nonsense. While it may be a good enough meter for guitar work, the price is right, and I much prefer it over even worse meters that are out there, it is not the bees knees of meters. Period.

I'd forgotten all about BK Precision, actually. I didn't even know they made a lower cost meter. If it's really in the $100 range, that's a pretty good price. That would probably be my mid-range choice. Wish I had remembered about them before but I haven't had to shop for a meter in a long time.

Too bad people want to turn this into a pissing contest instead of a good, rational discussion of what's important in a meter and which models might be appropriate.
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  #26  
Old 05-08-2012, 12:41 PM
RussB RussB is offline
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Originally Posted by dazco View Post
Whatever. Tell a guy who needs a meter for his guitar to spend $120 then. Geez...
By the way, doesn't look from his last post like i lost credibility with him does it? Because he recognises the truth, and the truth is that extech does more than the fluke and does what they both do as good or better and is solid. I have both, i know, and if you wish to believe i'm an idiot thats your prerogativ and i honestly don't care. But the facts are on my side. Fact:it does more. Fact: it does what the fluke does as good or better. Fact: It's 1/3 the price of the cheapest fluke. You know, i don't care if my credibility is lost with you. You keep on dreaming and i'll go with the facts, and the facts are that unless you buy one of the much more expensive flukes they are not the legendary gold you think they are. Thier cheap meters are no better than anyone and in the case of my extech the facts bear that out as clear as day.Either you believe i'm lying or to you a meter that does less and does nothing better is woth 3x the cost. I don't know which of those you believe but i'll let you worry about it.

Now that's a rant! rock on dazco
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  #27  
Old 05-08-2012, 01:06 PM
SlideGeetar SlideGeetar is offline
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@Dazco, I'm with you. Fluke is a waste of money for a casual/hobby user. I build effects pedals and am constantly fooling with rewiring guitars and gutting their electronics and replacing, etc. I've built 40+ effects pedals. I use a $30 Craftsman meter.
If a guy says "hey I just need a meter for this one project" , I would never suggest he spend $100-$200. Unless money is no object. Is the OP a wealthy man? If money doesn't matter then sure go ahead with buying the top of the line DMM. But as Dazco stated, the extra precision you get from a Fluke meter means jack sh1t for an occasional hobby user.
The question was not "who makes the best DMM?" - because if it were, I'd agree that Fluke is probably the answer. But it's much easier to answer "Fluke" to a guy when yours is not the wallet being emptied.
Instead of a $150 meter, buy a $30 meter and have $120 to spend on a new pickup, or pedal, or put towards a new guitar or amp...

What did I do with the extra $80+ that I DIDN'T waste on a fancy DMM? I bought this...
http://www.peakelec.co.uk/acatalog/jz_dca55.html
It's worth it's weight in gold if you build pedals.
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  #28  
Old 05-08-2012, 01:11 PM
SlideGeetar SlideGeetar is offline
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Oh also, as far as measuring caps...
http://www.amazon.com/JYE-Tech-Capac...sr=1-2-catcorr

They are all sold out right now, but search the web, maybe they have them elsewhere too. I got mine for $10. Yes you have to build it yourself.
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  #29  
Old 05-08-2012, 07:37 PM
SatelliteAmps SatelliteAmps is offline
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OP - The Extech is a decent but cheap meter. If you look up the specs of how accurate they are, you will find them to be a lot less accurate than a comparable Fluke for the same money. It is good that is can do inductance, but to be honest, you will probably never use that function. You can go online to both Fluke and Extech's websites and look at the manuals and spec's of each meter, and they both will give you an accurate account of what the actual tolerance's are for each individual meter (including some that are no longer being made, in case you go used.) I compared the recommended Extech 380193 to a Fluke 83 (a decent medium high level Fluke) The Extech goes up to 2,000uf, while the Fluke can do 10,000uf. The Extech tolerance is up to 10%, while the Fluke is 1% (so the Fluke is more accurate, and can go higher) Extech goes to 10MΩ at 2% tolerence, the Fluke goes to 50MΩ at .4%. The Extech does not do voltage. Fluke does AC and DC up to 1000v. Fluke does AC and DC current (almost every Fluke does. Not sure why anyone thought they didn't.) There are more accurate models from each maker, but when comparing actual like models (which these two really aren't even close) to each other, the Fluke is more accurate on every count. Extech makes a model 430 that is closer to a Fluke. It's a true RMS meter, which would compare to a Fluke 87, if you want to do your own comparison.

Dazco - which Fluke meter do you have that is so inaccurate with caps? I've got four of them ( Model 83, 85, 87 and a 178) and all of them do excellent at doing caps, big and small. The only ever time I've seen a Fluke not measure accurately was when someone had cheap test leads that was messing with the measuring. Every Fluke is backed by a wonderful warranty. If yours is acting inaccurate, and everyone else's isn't, then you might want to have yours taken in to get checked out.
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  #30  
Old 05-09-2012, 09:08 AM
Sensible Musician Sensible Musician is offline
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I know a lot more about audio "engineering" than I do about actual engineering; here's an analogy from the former realm that I think may (?) apply to DMM's. Nowadays there are a billion cheap mic's and headphones - and everything else on the market - and there is a kind of bottom-end-of-usable-IRL market for everything. With mic's and headphones I have noticed that the companies that also make real high end stuff consistently do much better in the low end gear. E.g. AT makes unqualified good cans and mics under $200. I suspect it is because the low end stuff benefits from their high end R&D.

Which Extech meter is everyone talking about? They make decent meters and they make rock-bottom end meters. I could be mistaken, but I believe they compete as the value choice in all/most of the markets they target. E.g. if I want a good handheld LCR meter and have a budget of < $500 they are standing there all alone AFAIK...

How is everyone comparing and troubleshooting pickups without an LCR meter? Do you use this method?

In another post I forgot to mention gaussmeters, which I also need to get the full picture - even for workaday troubleshooting. I vaguely remember a story from Seymour Duncan about some humbuckers Andy Summers had sent him for repair. Turned out he had passed by some monstrous transformer on the subway where he was living/working, and the EMF had demagnetized the bar mags significantly. IMO I need to rule out the magnet in the question of, "Why does my guitar sound dull?" ...or shrill if e.g. I'm cloning a PAF

Or maybe I should ask what is everyone's assumption about application? Are we talking emergency field repair? Swapping pickups for fun? Or maybe we are assuming that a meter gets used outside the guitar more than inside - like, "I have no sound coming out my speaker, what's wrong?" I'm a tinkerer, plus I'm always trying to fill in my really spotty knowledge of electronics, so I like to fiddle, think, get creative inside the guitar... Also I play for a living so I have an accessible test area where I can crash my experimental circuits into the ground in flames at least 4 days per week LOL

Does anyone agree that an LCR meter and a DMM are different kinds of meters, and that both are super handy for guitar tech? I'm so surprised that there's no enthusiasm for the meter that seems most relevant to me if we're talking about the stuff inside the guitar. If I had to live with just one meter it wouldn't be an LCR meter, but I would miss it sorely. If I only had to maintain my guitar - no amp, pedals, etc - I would definitely choose an LCR meter as my one meter.

Of course IRL we don't have to choose. We can use as many meters as we want. I can't be the only person here with a mild clutter of meters?

I remember from another thread that the OP bought Guitar Electronics for Musicians and wants to learn about guitar electronics. If that's the case inductance is needed to do the math in that book.

Satellite, I'm so surprised that the Extech 380193 tested so poorly. I have the 380193 and I've never gotten any reading that raised an eyebrow to its published specs. Were both meters tested against a reference/bench/lab type meter? What prompted the comparison between LCR and DMM? What was your methodology? Did you publish your results anywhere?

DonnyB, maybe it would help if you told us your actual budget for test gear? Also what are your goals, however fuzzy/specific they may be?
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