so I get to the gig last night and...(wiring content)

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by beautiful liar, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. beautiful liar

    beautiful liar Member

    Dec 29, 2008
    get to the gig last night, set up, and the neck pickup on my tele doesn't work. The output is about half of what it should be and it was a bit noisier i think too.I was without lots of my favorite woody tomes all night:( It's a nashville, so I faked it on the strat pickup and tragedy was averted, but now i'll have to get it fixed.

    But my question is this: what could be wrong with it and why could it have happened?

    There is some backstory here, the bass player has hed the electrics funk out on him twice over the last several months, and another bass player who uses the same practice space had the same thing happen to his. I'm not an electrical engineer, but something seems to be amiss.

    Could there be "bad electricity" in the practice space that could be causing all of this? If so, sre there any precautions that can be taken so as not to run up an enormous repair bill?

    Any info/suggestions are greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.
  2. TimSt.L

    TimSt.L Member

    Jan 23, 2012
    I don't believe electricity could foul out a passive pickup.
    It definitely sounds like your practice spot is haunted. Just get an exorcist and he will fix you right up. :)

    Edit... if you are worried, grab a meter and check your practice spot. Maybe get some good power strips with surge protectors. And if you can afford a power conditioner, those always a bonus, no matter what the situation.
  3. Tuberattler

    Tuberattler Member

    Jan 7, 2006
    Eastern Washington in the Desert
    Check the wall voltage and set up a monidtoring meter if possible to see how much it fluxuates.. you may be suprised. I had stuff happing to my stuff years ago when I first moved into this house and it runs between 122-126volts consistantly.

    I run all my stuff through spike protection and my vintage amps off a Vari-ac set to 110v, no problems in years.
  4. crgtr

    crgtr Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Sounds like a cold solder joint to me. Either that or you pup is dying. I would try resoldering the 2 leads 1st.
  5. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Connecticut, outside of Hartford
    Sounds like you all share the same crappy tech :rotflmao

    I would guess that you're going to find a bad solder joint between the neck pickup and the output jack. If you want to find it fast, pop the control plate, plug it in and gently wiggle the wires until you find the right one.

    It could be the switch too, but I'm used to seeing them die a bit more slowly than just plugging it in one day and it stops working. You could try contact cleaner in the switch if you'd like. I think you'll find a loose wire ON the switch, though.
  6. beautiful liar

    beautiful liar Member

    Dec 29, 2008
    actually, it did happen to the bass after a repair job, so you crappy tech comment isn't that far off- i know who not to take it to at least.

    i bought my guitar new about a year ago, so it seems a bit early to be having problems like this, but it gives me an excuse to change the ugly pickguard while i'm at it. thanks for the wiring advice.
  7. cdntac

    cdntac Member

    Jul 4, 2010
    Electrical spikes aren't going to affect one pickup but not the other.

    As others said --- check your joints.

    At first I was thinking perhaps a pot but with only a tone and volume pot on a Tele and the other pickup working's obviously not a pot.

    The pickup itself just might be failing. Who knows why. A friend's bridge pickup does the same thing sometimes. He'll give it a whack with his pick and then it'll work fine for a while. It's not the solder joints but rather something within the pickup itself that is causing the problem.
  8. Sensible Musician

    Sensible Musician Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    we all need to ask for credentials from "guitar techs". good ones is an extremely small subset of ones.

    let's say you're taking your instrument to a guy who owns a screwdriver and does setups. easy pass/fail for whether he knows the first thing about electronics is whether he has within arm's reach a lot of tools for working on electronics: at least two meters, a proper soldering station that is really old, maybe a scope...

    and go ahead and ask him where he learned electronics. it should be some kind of apprenticeship, a school, a list of books, etc. - anything congruous with proper learning.

    some will say they are autodidacts/"self-taught" and that's fine so long as it's actually self-directed learning from proper sources. you actually can't literally self-teach yourself electronics in a single lifetime because it would require you to reproduce the sum of relevant human discovery. good approach to self-directed learning: get a stack of books and work through them; bad approach: poke strat innards with a stick, ask teh intarwebs¹, regard articles in guitar magazines as anything but ad copy, any video that featuring a baseball cap and "What's up YouTube..."

    there are good guitar techs out there. and there are guys who are great with the mechanical and woodworking aspects of guitars - whom we could regard as specialists - who just don't know electronics. if there's nobody in your area who is a good all around tech, find someone who tinkers with non-guitar electronics and get their help. DIY electronics is coming back as a hobby among the people who assemble their own computers and brew their own beer, so it's a better time now to find someone than it was 10 years ago.

    but the odds are against you walking into the closest guitar store and finding someone who knows his active filter from his LC. you have to search and inquire. it's polite to ask for credentials; what's rude is techs doing work for which they are unqualified.
    anyway, as far as your actual problem/question, i would watch the behavior of an analog ohmmeter across the output while working the controls - before you open up the guitar. sometimes on teles the control cavity is tight and things get bent close together. in any case, it is probably a case of too much or too little continuity, and it is possible that you will inadvertently "fix" the symptoms when you start moving parts around. better to start tracking down the problem while you can definitely recreate it.

    ¹yes, irony
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2006
    +1 on feeling out your "tech" (interviewing, really). It's not necessarily school creds your looking for as much as real-world experience and explanations of what he would do that actually make sense and inspire some confidence.

    As for a bunch of guitars going dodgy with no connection but the same practice space, what about moisture as a culprit? Condensation might be compromising switch contacts and whatnot.

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