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Humbucker gone thin and quiet


(@jimsplatt)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

Hi guys,

The bridge humbucker on my Washburn 335-alike has suddenly gone thin and quiet. If I turn the tone pot down, it works like a volume pot and the volume drops to almost nothing. Any ideas? I'm guessing it might be the pot rather than the pickup, but I want to dismantle as little as possible, so I haven't opened anything up yet. 335s are a nightmare to take apart, as you are no doubt aware... :)


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Could the tone capacitor be shorted?

If something would make me thin and quiet, my wife would appreciate it!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@jimsplatt)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

Haha - it'd be worth a fortune!

You might well be right about the capacitor - I guess that would leave the tone pot as just a volume pot...


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(@jimsplatt)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

No luck - the capacitor seems fine...


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

Tested the resistance of the pickup?

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@jimsplatt)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

Sorry, had chance (at last) to get back on to this project, and it's still driving me mad... I ordered a replacement pickup which has finally arrived - I installed it today, and the problem is still there. The new bridge pickup creates the same thin sound as the old one. The pickup I installed shows about 13.2 ohms, whereas the stock neck pickup shows around 8. The neck pickup is way louder though - how can that be?

:?


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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

I don't know. May be a bad connection somewhere like a "cold" solder joint, a wire that's broken inside the insulation and making partial contact, a problem in the selector switch or in the tone pot... I'd be very suspicious of the pot.

It's tricky, but not impossible, to change out pots in these semihollows. The trick is to tie a piece of dental floss or something securely to the old pot before you let it drop into the cavity and fish it out through the F-hole. Then you can use that thread to pull the new pot into position. Calls for patience.

Bridge pickups are naturally quieter than neck ones because the range of string motion is smaller near the bridge. I understand something went bad suddenly on this one that affected both pickups, of course.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@greybeard)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5899
 

It isn't by any chance a splittable pickup is it (does it have 4 wires)?

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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(@jimsplatt)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

Thanks guys. Not splittable, unfortunately, although my first suspicion was that one of the coils had failed on the old one. That's partly why I changed it, but the problem is there with the new one. Th one I've just fitted is a bridge pickup from an Epi Les Paul, so it should be a bit OTT, if anything, on a 335 copy, but no...

I had all the electrics apart yesterday (all pots out, switch, socket etc. - a real mess of dental floss, as you can imagine)and looked over everything, resoldered some connections, replaced the socket etc. The 13 ohm reading on the new pickup is coming from the socket, and so is at the last link in the chain. 13 ohms should mean a pretty hot output, shouldn't it? I just fitted a 10 ohm humbucker to the bridge of my Strat, and it is far pokier. This is why it seems so odd that the output should be low.

It dropped quite suddenly, I think, on the old pickup. One day it was fine, the next I noticed it was really weak. The neck pickup is still fine - exactly as it has always been.

I guess changing the pots might be the next step, but I can't see why it would be reading 13 ohms at the socket if either was bad? I tried moving wires around while I had them out to see if there was any crackling or loss of signal, but nothing. I'm completely stumped...


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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

Run the pickup directly to the output jack, bypassing all the other components. (You don't need to solder it, just use some alligator clips.) Check your sound. If that's good, then it's not the pup (or the jack, obviously.) Then add back one component at a time.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

You're talking 13K ohms, right? That would be a very hot humbucker indeed.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@duffmaster)
Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 855
 

Honestly, if you've got the time, I'd ditch the old electronics and start new. Fresh wire, pots, capacitors, everything. Can't go wrong that way.

I think your problem might be a bad connection with the pickup selector. Try looking at that.

http://store.guitarfetish.com/guelco.html

Plus upgrading your caps to sprauge orange ones, higher quality wire, etc should give you a little better sound quality.

Shouldn't cost a fortune either.

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(@jimsplatt)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 6
Topic starter  

Yes, I think it might be a good plan to rip the lot out and start again...

I tried it bypassing everything, and there was a definite improvement, so it looks like possibly being the volume pot. As a temporary measure, I've bypassed both pots and sent it directly to the switch, which seems to work ok - no control over the pickup, but at least I can turn it on and off, which is fine for now.

It's a pretty horrible pickup, the Epi bridge, so I might put something nicer in and perhaps coil tap it with a push/pull pot. Maybe an IronGear Steam Hammer - something with a good amount of lead poke.

Rather comically, I just bought an old Jap reissue 72 Tele Custom, and it has a very similar problem! Neck pickup great, bridge almost non-existent. So that'll be coming apart too... It has an odd thing going on whereby, in the middle position, both volume knobs take the entire volume down to zero, rather than working for their respective pickups. Oh, well, at least I'll know a bit more about wiring by the end of it...


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(@ricochet)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 7850
 

That's right, if things never went wrong, we'd never learn how to fix them!

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


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(@trguitar)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 3711
 

It feels so good once you do fix the problems though doesn't it.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,
grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."
-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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