Strat neck pickup dead, need trouble-shooting help

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by subversivepinko, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    Well, it seems the neck pickup on my strat is dead in the water. I'm thinking the pickup itself had developed a short or something.

    If I switch to the neck position on the 5-way switch, I get dead silence. If I switch to neck+middle, I get middle only. This leads me to believe the switch is working fine.

    I opened the guitar up, and there's nothing obvious-no loose solder connections, etc. The connecting wire is braided, so it shouldn't have broken.

    Anyone have any ideas?
     
  2. GDSblues

    GDSblues Member

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    I think a simple test would be to see if you have any resistance (ohms) comming from that pickup. Borrow an ohmeter if you dont have one and see what you get. If for instance you get a reading of 6,7,8,9, ohms then the pickup is NOT shorting out and you have other problems. Check the readings at the end of the leads and right at the pickup....they should be approx. the same.
     
  3. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    Great idea. I'll see if I can come up with a multimeter. Thanks.
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    The pickup is not shorted (or you'd get silence in the second position too) but it is most likely open-circuit.

    Is it a modern Fender pickup with the plastic bobbin? These are notorious for having cold joints between the coil wire and the eyelet on the pickup - you can't really heat them up thoroughly enough to guarrantee a perfect joint every time without melting the plastic, but Fender seem to err too much on the side of too cold. I've repaired loads of them with this fault - it's best to very carefully scrape a little of the insulating varnish off the wire (it's designed to melt when soldering, but since it does so at about the same temperature as the plastic bobbin you can see the inherent problem...) and not worry too much about melting the plastic slightly.

    If you get no sound at all, the break is probably on the hot connection - if it's on the ground, you tend to get a very thin and quiet output from the pickup.

    Even if it's not one of these pickups, the same problem seems to occasionally occur on other new Fender pickups, even with the heatproof fiberboard bobbins. I've very rarely (or possibly never, I can't remember one for certain) come across it with any other manufacturer, FWIW.
     
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  5. alderbody

    alderbody Member

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    it could also (remotely possibly) be the internal contacts of the 3 or 5 way switch...

    check that out, too.
     
  6. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    Thanks for the info.

    John, it's a Seymour Duncan Alnico Pro II, and the bobbin is fiberboard. I'll check it out, though. Need to head to the hardware store to find a multimeter.
     
  7. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    Update: the pickup is reading 6.4k at both the bobbin and on the contact on the 5-way switch. What now?
     
  8. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    In that case the pickup is OK and you have a faulty switch. If it's a proper CRL type, most likely the two little contacts have become spread apart just far enough to not touch the rotor properly. You can sometines bend them back into place, but it may be more reliable to replace the switch. If it's a cheap box construction or PCB-type switch, replace it anyway - they're crap.

    Just to check, you did take the reading with the switch NOT in the neck/middle position, didn't you? If not, you've just accidentally measured the middle pickup instead. Yes, I've done that more than once too... ;)
     
  9. subversivepinko

    subversivepinko Member

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    Yup, checked the switch position.

    Switch is PCB type. Guess I'll order a replacement. Thanks a ton for the help.
     
  10. aryasridhar

    aryasridhar Member

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    My brand new strat had the same issue, from the store itself, cleaned the contacts, worked fine, then died, then worked fine again and now is dead again...

    I hate the freaking strat pickguard, accessing the internals is a pain in the ****ing ass...

    have to work on fixing it, I knew from day one the pickup was OK, just that damn switch, have to get the CRL type switch...the one inside the guitar is dead.
     
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    wow, ten year necro-bump!
     
  12. bubingaisgod

    bubingaisgod Supporting Member

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    The thread is decomposing, but still edible. I just bought an 1985 Contemporary Stratocaster (MIJ), from someone on Reverb, and the bridge humbucker position is dead. It hums until you touch the strings, then it's dead quiet / no sound. Strats are annoying, I have to remove the strings from the System I tremolo.
     

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