Tips on modding an EBMM Majesty to passive operation.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by mildew, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. mildew

    mildew Member

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    I recently wrote up my experience modding my Majesty to passive after the stupid electronics died on me out of warranty. Posting it here so others can reference...


    Clip pickup cables where they connect to the PCB - cables are in bundles labeled N and B. The ends at the pickups are not hard wired, they use a dimarzio quick connect, but are not altered if you are leaving the stock pickups in.

    [​IMG] - this shows the cable bundle label "N" at top right, B is beside it.


    The wire colors are standard dimarzio - link here https://guitarelectronics.com/guitar-wiring-resources/humbucker-wire-color-codes/

    Unplug the piezo connecter from the preamp board (the white block to the right of the three square blue trimpots in the middle of the image.

    The "from the trem claw to guitar earth wire" is allready attached to the metal earthing plate on the inside of the control cavity so does not need to be moved.

    Now you have two choices - attempt to remove the stock wiring intact so it can be resold, or just clip all the wires to disconnect them. My board had already died, so i just clipped all the wires and pulled the PCB boards and the battery box out. Also remove the stock pickup selector.

    I recommend buying all new pots - the stock ones are cheap crap that develop intermittent faults as soon as you touch them with a soldering iron. To get the knobs off the pots first carefully pry the rubber friction ring off - the grub screw is under the ring. You will also need a new pickup selector, (Les Paul style not box style) as the stock selector is on/off/on and you need on/on/on.

    Get some copper tape and shield the area around the pickup selector. Check with a multimeter that its well connected to ground. (stock circuit does not need shielding here but passive does).

    Re wire everything up as a standard two humbucker guitar. The new pickup selector will only just barely fit, and the screw on lever cap will only just barely thread on through the outside of the guitar - i tightened mine up with a drop of glue.

    One of the advantages of re wiring the guitar is more coil tap options. I used "North coil tap" on Neck and "South coil tap" on bridge, this tapped screw coil on both pickups and made middle position humbucking when tapped. Wiring for taps i got from here - https://guitarelectronics.com/guita...up-control-wiring-mods/humbucker-wiring-mods/

    This leaves you with a guitar with normal passive operation, and IMO much better tone than the stock system - much more character, chime, touch sensitivity, and treble. Of course this means no onboard boost or piezo, but you can install your own boost or piezo preamp if you want to.

    My final step was to buy a bit of mahogany and fill in the giant battery box hole. It added a bit of weight to the guitar, gave a bit more low mids, and sweetened the tone! (there is plenty of space inside the control cavity for a 9v battery if you put in a boost or piezo preamp)


    Hope this helps anyone considering passivizing their Majesty :)
     
    DR5Guy likes this.
  2. mildew

    mildew Member

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    An update - i put together a stripboard Earthquaker devices Black Eye, (modified SHO booster) and got the Piezo working again. Initially used the stock 75k Push/Push pot as volume, but just like the stock 500k it developed intermittent faults as soon as i touched a soldering iron to it. Really sad that EBMM uses junk parts in such an expensive guitar. (Ordered a 250k pushpush off Aliexpress.)

    I hate having to unplug guitars with batteries so i wired the currently unused top switch as a master on/off for the battery.

    Piezo is activated with the Pushpush pot, was getting a big pop when switching from magnetic to piezo so added a .010uf cap to the output of the Black Eye to catch the thump, now switches silently and has highpassed the piezo nicely for an acoustic tone. (Spanish style acoustics dont resonate much below 200 hz )

    Now to find a use for the third knob. Tone knob or onboard boost would be obvious, but i don't really use either. First ever guitar with a built in autowah?


    ***edit - Did some a/b'ing with my PRS SC and decided the Majesty had too much at the super high frequency end, so put in a .033uf tone control on the 3rd (500k) pot. It's always at 10, but still has shaved off the very top frequencies and sweetened the tone nicely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2019
  3. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Member

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    250,000 pots from AliExpress, that's a tall order!
    It's a little ironic that you're complaining about the cheap electronics in the Majesty, but then order parts from there.

    3rd knob could be a bass-cut, like G&L uses.
     
    sid9170 likes this.
  4. mildew

    mildew Member

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    My last order of Kaish push/push pots are 100% working so far. I find that there is Chinese stuff thats fake and breaks instantly, and then there is Chinese stuff thats as good as brand names but 1/3rd the price once shipping is added. (For some reason it costs $7 - $10 to ship from local supplier to me, but shipping from China is free).
     
  5. adrianb

    adrianb Member

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    I've gone through many push-pull pots from Stewmac over the years and never got any long-lasting good use out of them.
     
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  6. Rachmaninoff

    Rachmaninoff Member

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    It would be nice to have photos of the whole process.
     
  7. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    HOW does that happen?
    Local mail can be punishing but shipping charges vary dramatically.
     
  8. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    Sellers in China are just eating the shipping cost to get business.
     
  9. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    there are bourns and now even full-size CTS push-pulls out of the allparts catalog that are pretty sturdy
     
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  10. adrianb

    adrianb Member

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    If i ever need a potentiometer + switch in a single package again, i'd probably give push-push pots a try, which seem to be more rare than push-pulls. Somehow the spring action of a push-push is more reassuring to me. With a push-pull it's possible (in my experience during live use) to not pull on the switch enough to activate it. The knob could also come off (happened to me once).
     
  11. whoismarykelly

    whoismarykelly Oh look! This is a thing I can change!

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    The problem with push push pots, aside from all of them being low quality, is that its very easy to unintentionally activate them and then snap off the tiny little shaft in the middle of playing.

    For me its a full size bat toggle for anything I want switchable on the guitar.
     
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  12. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    the problem with push-push pots as i see it is you're not always 100% sure which way the pot is set while "in the heat of battle", you might find yourself smacking the thing three times to figure out whether it's up or down.

    with push-pulls "up" is always "up" and "down" is always "down", the same action always nets the same result
     
    adrianb likes this.
  13. DR5Guy

    DR5Guy Member

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    @mildew, thank you for the write up. Never expected Majesty's electronics to be so complex. Just out of curiosity, is the pc board that failed available from EBMM?
     
  14. mildew

    mildew Member

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    There are four separate pcbs, with hundreds of SMT components and tens of wires connecting them. The guitar was out of warranty and i did not want to throw good money after bad in an out of warranty repair. Worked out great, in stock form it was really only for shredding, now its great for the dad rock styles i mostly play. Especially now its got hot PAF's...
     
  15. mildew

    mildew Member

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    New update :) - i finally got around to replacing the stock Illuminator pickups with some hot PAF's. The Illuminators were not bad (once wired passive) - only around 10k so not crazy hot, and sounded decent in coil split mode. (Access to neck and bridge split was one of the benefits of passiveing, stock only allows coil split in middle position).

    I used a DiMarzio Paf Pro in the neck, and a Suhr SSV in the bridge. I knew i was going to have to severely modify the pickups to install them so chose cheap 2nd hand ones - did not want to destroy a set of lollars!

    The challenges were modding the pickup wires to use quick connects, and physically fitting the pickups into the cutouts. The stock pickups have no mounting plate or legs, just a pcb under the pickup with a 5way quick connect plug. They are way lower in height than normal pickups.

    To put male quick connect's on the pickups i used 2.54mm pin spacing terminal header strips. Snapped off 5 wide, and used the humbucker wire color codes on this page https://guitarelectronics.com/guitar-wiring-resources/humbucker-wire-color-codes/ to convert between the Suhr pickup and the Dimarzio quick connect plugs. The diagrams on that page are ordered "Ground + South start, South finish, North finish, Hot" but the quick connect plugs are ordered "South Start, South finish, Ground (shorted to South start), Hot, North finish."

    I quickly found that my cheap header strips melted from the soldering heat, so i wrapped them in aluminium foil to heatsink them.

    I did not want to resolder the control cavity electronics, so i used identical connections on my new modded pickup quick connects as were on the stock pickups. Luckily this kept the pickup selections identical to the Illuminators - coil closest to fretboard on neck tap, pickups in phase and humbucking on middle tap, coil closest to bridge on bridge tap. (The control cavity is wired "North coil tap" on neck, and "south coil tap" on bridge, and new pickups mounted with screw coils facing the outsides).



    Next was the task of compressing the pickups to fit the tiny pickup cavities. I had to trim the corners of the baseplates right back to the edge of the tape. The Suhr in the bridge i lowered by bending the mounting legs in a z shape. The pickup mounting holes no longer matched the holes in the guitar, but the edges were touching the guitars mounting holes so by tightening the screw heads down on the edge of the bent pickup leg i got a firm mount. I also had to shorten the screw coil screws, chopped them shorter with large tin cuting shears.

    The stock neck pickup is even lower, so i bent the mounting legs on the Paf Pro out flat, and cut their length down so that once again the edge of the metal reached the screw hole, then tightened the screws down on that.

    Really pleased at the sonic change that going to Alnico5 hot PAF's has made. More character, less mud / tighter bass, better note definition on distorted chords,more "open", and more classic rock. Stock the Majesty was optimized for high gain, but with trem blocked / stupid computer replaced by normal passive operation / dad rock pickups its my #1 guitar and im selling most of my PRS collection and downsizing to just the Majesty, a Strat, and a CU-22 soapie! The only downside remaining with the Majesty is the number of dead spots on the neck. 12th fret on the G being the most severe one. (google it, they all seem to have it). But i guess it just comes with having such a skinny neck. And i think the latest Majesty models have updated neck construction that "might" have fixed the problem... (they have also completely redone the stock computer pcb, so the failure rate may have been fixed - or made worse :) )

    p.s there is only 47mm of space in between the pickups on the Majesty, so hopefully using two different pickup brands has increased the tonal change between bridge and neck. (They sound very different now.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  16. tmd187

    tmd187 Supporting Member

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  17. mildew

    mildew Member

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    Since i posted this info i have been keeping an eye on the EBMM forums, and the failure rate of the Majesty guitars really is shocking. Not a week goes by without some poor person posting "Help, my Majesty has stopped working". They have now completely redesigned the stock electronics, hopefully the new ones will be less flaky.

    Once again, my passive modded Majesty with hot PAFs is now my favorite guitar, sold off all but one of my PRS collection. Only downside is the large number of dead spots on the neck - none of my core PRSi had even a single dead fret position. The newer Majesties with laminated necks might have solved that however...
     
  18. cxx

    cxx Member

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    This was in reference to posts 4, 7 and 8.

    No, there is a discrepancy in postage pricing between countries. I read about it in an article from a guy who was put out of business by knock offs of his products from China. They could ship at a small fraction of the cost for him to ship domestically.

    It started looking into it when I ordered a D shovel handle through ebay from china where the total cost was under $3. Turns out to be an international agreement on final delivery postage rates.
     
  19. mildew

    mildew Member

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    Yes, its just ridiculous how much cheaper it is for me to order off Aliexpress rather than locally. Recently got a digital PH meter, was $25 off Aliexpress including shipping, same thing would have been $187 from a local shop. After a month i broke it while clumsily shaking water off the measuring tip, if it had been a $187 item it would have really sucked, but i was much less stressed replacing it for $25. (and getting an extra $8 one as a spare if i stupidly break it again). Of course with current events, ordering stuff from China might be a thing of the past.

    Oh, and before you say "the $187 one would not have broken" - it is the identical product, and the tips of digital PH meters are VERY delicate.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020

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