Long term durability of pickup selector switches

bgmacaw

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8,079
What's your experience on the long term durability of pickup selector switches, both Gibson and Fender style?

I started wondering about this when my 1998 Gretsch Electromatic started having trouble with its switch. The neck part of the selector had lost enough springiness so that it was no longer making contact. I was able to bend it back into place where it would make contact again but I'll probably swap out the switch eventually.

I've had a similar problem a while back with the switch on my Ibanez Artcore with it intermittently cutting out. For it, I swapped out the switch with a Switchcraft one when I swapped out pickups and upgraded the other electronics.

Are Gibson style switches more susceptible to being bent out of contact than Fender style switches? It seems like leaving the switch in anything other than the middle position would eventually reduce the ability for that position to spring back against the contact.
 

whoismarykelly

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8,141
Its a thinner piece of metal being bent away from a ground connection which is definitely less reliable long-term than a blade switch. On the plus side though you can disassemble the switch and swap in new leaves without breaking the solder joints IIRC.
 

ahhlou

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777
+1 What Walter said. My experience with Switchcraft components have been nothing but positive.

Most guitars made off shore (not Japan) have poor electronic components. The exception may the PRS SE line.
 

whoismarykelly

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+1 What Walter said. My experience with Switchcraft components have been nothing but positive.

Most guitars made off shore (not Japan) have poor electronic components. The exception may the PRS SE line.

They use the same cheap stuff everyone else uses. Unless a company specs a specific high quality part, all the WMI guitars get a generic pot, switch, etc...
 

ahhlou

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777
They use the same cheap stuff everyone else uses. Unless a company specs a specific high quality part, all the WMI guitars get a generic pot, switch, etc...

Korean guitars (i.e. WMI) usually have "fair/good" components. I was thinking more of the Chinese and Indonesian guitars. Although quality is slowly increasing over the years.
 

robdean

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218
I recently put a rotary switch in place of a potentiometer in an f-hole semi. You probably need to have actually tried rewiring a semi through the f-holes to know what an awkward job it can be. All finished, all good, then about the third time I rotated the switch the whole thing fell apart inside the guitar. No more cheap Chinese rotary switches for me :-/
For what it's worth, the switch on my 1971 Gibson SG has never given me any trouble and that guitar already looked like a burning tank had driven over it when I bought it in the early 80s. High quality open leaf-spring switches seem impressively robust, but must depend fundamentally on really high-grade spring steel. USA Fender (Oak Grigsby) are resilient, though I actually feel the design marginally trades robustness for function vs Gibson. Junk import Strat switches die all the time, but are cheap enough to keep a bagful around for experiments and project guitars: they certainly have a shorter lifespan than cheap switches on Gibson-style guitars.
Incidentally, toggle switches, as for coil splits etc, vary tremendously in quality. It's easy to get good expensive ones or terrible cheap ones, but I've had the odd batch of cheap DPDT toggles that were fine: next time I find some I should maybe buy a hundred ;-)

I suspect the Electromatic and Artcore ranges both use Chinese switches...
 
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whoismarykelly

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Korean guitars (i.e. WMI) usually have "fair/good" components. I was thinking more of the Chinese and Indonesian guitars. Although quality is slowly increasing over the years.

Its all the same stuff in my experience. There aren't multiple grades of generic import blade switches, for example. Just the same PCB-based one in almost every import. Alpha or similar pots in all that stuff too. Pretty much all of those parts are fine from a functionality perspective. Better than Gibson putting 300K pots in humbucker guitars at least.
 

bgmacaw

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8,079
There aren't multiple grades of generic import blade switches, for example. Just the same PCB-based one in almost every import.

You can get better quality parts from China. I've ordered several such switches, jacks and the like to use in projects and cigar box guitars. But you rarely find them stock in the import guitars. I guess a few cents per unit adds up.
 

Mark Robinson

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9,261
I acquired a habit of leaving the Gibson switches in the middle position when putting the guitar down or in the case. Belt and suspenders move.
Never swapped one yet in my guitars. They are tough.
 

stormin1155

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2,771
I've occasionally had to replace a Fender blade switch. Import "Gibson style" switches yes, but I don't recall ever having to replace a genuine Gibson (Switchcraft) switch.
 

vortexxxx

Silver Supporting Member
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11,410
Aren't the current Switchcraft and CTS (Chicago Telephone Supply) switches made overseas these days? I'm not sure how the new ones hold up to the older ones, but the older ones were very solidly built.
 

walterw

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40,604
Most guitars made off shore (not Japan) have poor electronic components. The exception may the PRS SE line.
i've never seen even japanese guitars with electronics that were as good as the US standards, that's always the one place where they seem to fall down. (for example, MIJ fenders are terrific except for the pickups and guts)
Korean guitars (i.e. WMI) usually have "fair/good" components.
not that i've seen; again, OK but not great (SE included).

the only non-US instruments i see where the electronics don't really need upgrading are the mexican fenders, because they use the same components as the US stuff.
 
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ahhlou

Member
Messages
777
I have worked on SE's (not electronics) but the electronics look acceptable. The 3 ways look like Switchcraft clones. I have friends who play these guitars and they have little to no problems.

I have however worked on several Squire tele's and strat's (from Indonesia with box type selector switches) and have had to replace switches and jacks with very little use.

My experience indicates there is a difference in hardware being installed in over seas guitars.
 




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