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Thread: Rickenbacker Mono Jack problem

  1. #1
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    Rickenbacker Mono Jack problem

    A friend asked me to take a look at the "Standard" output jack on his Rickenbacker guitar (made ~2000), complaining that it has an intermittent short when using that jack. This is the Switchcraft #13 jack. It works fine hanging by the wires out of the guitar body, but when you push it into the guitar body, one of the switch terminals shorts to the center sleeve somewhere inside the stack of phenolic wafers. What surprised me was that the jack is crammed into a hole that's really too small for it.

    An even more interesting experience was calling someone at Rickenbacker who claimed 1) that you shouldn't have to cram the jack into the guitar body--even though this was obviously what they did at the factory and 2) that he'd never heard of such a problem before. He snottily suggested I might have a bad guitar cable. Translation: any problem is caused by end user error. I think this guy may have worked for my DSL provider at some point.

    I'm going to obtain and install a new #13 jack, but I'm wondering if I should cautiously enlarge the interior of the hole in the guitar body for the jack with a Dremel drum sanding bit to prevent a reoccurrence. The existing hole is big enough for a standard open jack, but not for the extra size of the more complex one.

    David

  2. #2
    Senior Member Plucky's Avatar
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    Hey Rhodes, this is fairly common. It's likely shorting out. Also, it may not necessarily be that particular jack that is the problem, as there are common connections. A quick test is to try rotate the jack into a position where this doesn't happen, but you should inspect the cavity and adjacent wiring and eliminate unwanted contact points. wrapping with electrical tape is another, albeit undesirable, solution.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    While I don't necessarily agree with the factory person, I've not seen too many Ricks that needed the holes enlarged to fit the jack in. If the original one worked for nearly 10 years, I can't see why a new one wouldn't fit in just fine.

    Was the cord stepped on causing the problem? Has the mounting plate been bent out of shape? If you keep the jack loose until the plate has been mounted and then turn and tighten it in position can you make it work without shorting out?

  4. #4
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Sometimes you can rotate the jack and get it to fit better.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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  5. #5
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    If you look under "snotty attitude" in the dictionary, there's a picture of a well known American guitar manufacturer.

  6. #6
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetfinger View Post
    If you look under "snotty attitude" in the dictionary, there's a picture of a well known American guitar manufacturer.


    I once posted here, in this forum, that they should use graphite in the necks of their basses, so they could get the profile nice and thin like in the early 70's. Since he said Moses wouldn't go after small fish like SGD, I pointed out that Fender and other use graphite in their necks.

    The CEO decided to write me and said:

    (I've censored his name because he seems to do searches for it)

    Dear Sir:

    A recent link brought me to your comments posted on the
    Music-Electronics-Forum last July regarding our stance on the use of
    graphite in necks.

    Competent patent counsel has opined that U.S. Patent #4,846,039 still
    effectively covers the use of graphite in guitar necks and will do so for
    some years to come. That is the basis for my comment.

    Gee, you don't use graphite in the SGD instruments do you? Well, it's
    unlikely the patent holder will bother you but unfortunately our somewhat
    deeper pockets would be a fine target for such an action. Actually, you
    might consider that as an indirect answer to the other question you posed .
    . .

    In any case, we have a much better idea anyway, and we'll see what the
    future brings.


    Regards,


    J*** *. H***
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

    R******** Int'l Corp.
    3895 S. Main St.
    Santa Ana, CA. 92707
    Now of course that patent has little to nothing to do with graphite reinforcement in the necks of basses. it's about the construction of a graphite neck. The holder of that patent, Moses Graphite will gladly sell you graphite bars to put in your necks.

    When I told him that he wrote back and said:

    Dear David:

    Thanks for your response.

    I am well aware of all the history you presented, as well as the legal
    theory. Nevertheless, our very experienced trademark and patent counsel
    believes the patent I cited does cover the way graphite is typically used in
    guitar necks.

    I certainly have no objection to graphite in a neck- the whole reason we
    sought an opinion in the first place was because we were considering it. But
    the fact that that there is some possible legal claim with regard to its use
    forced us to think further outside the box and I hope someday we'll be able
    to bring to market the results of this thinking.

    With regard to Fender's possible infringing use of graphite, I'll guess that
    the patent owners don't feel their claim is strong enough against pocket's
    as deep as theirs; the rest of your list is peanuts, with the exception of
    Ibanez. In any case, infringement by many still doesn't make it right and
    we've always been "by the book types"; it's certainly not a matter of fear.
    But the bottom line is, of course, that we have more business than we know
    what to do with, so there's not a lot of sense to change much anyway.

    I also thank you for your further comments regarding some of our designs and your appreciation for them.


    Cheers,
    I have two of their basses, and have always liked the designs, but they make screwy decisions, etc. There seems to be a level of paranoia and defensiveness going on. So if they think you have some kind of counterfeit instrument, they wont even talk to you.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

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    To resolve this question, yes, the original jack would short simply with gentle lateral pressure on one of the switching contacts--nothing likely or unlikely about it--at least according to my ohmmeter :-)

    I checked with a local Rickenbacker guitar enthusiast and dealer, and he agreed that the fit of this jack is often a problem. In fact, he said he's mentioned it to Rickenbacker, but, as others have noted, he said, "They don't take suggestions well." He added, "Rickenbacker's company policy is: if we made it and shipped it, it must be perfect."

    To keep the same thing from happening to the replacement jack, I used a Dremel with a sanding drum head and very carefully enlarged the interior of the hole in the guitar body until the jack fit snugly without being forced. I think it would difficult for anyone to tell it's been modified.

    To reiterate, the problem was the diameter of the hole in the guitar body vs. the diameter of the jack with the extra contacts--it had nothing to do with cables, mounting plates, etc...

    Also, the suggestion that the jack worked for 10 years is based on the assumption that it was brought to me as soon as the issue surfaced; however, the owner of the guitar said it had been a problem for a long time. He'd bought the guitar new and had never really used it that much.

  8. #8
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesplyr View Post
    He added, "Rickenbacker's company policy is: if we made it and shipped it, it must be perfect."
    Back in the late 70's I knew a guy that had a nice Rick 4002 bass. He actually got that from Rick cheap.. it was a floor model!

    Anyway the same guy had a 70's 4001 bass who's bridge had collapsed. I'm talking about the actual bridge with the saddles and not the tailpiece. He had bought the bass new.

    He sent the bridge back to Rickenbacker, figuring they would replace it. They told him "that's a defective bridge, and we don't sell defective bridges".. end of story. They would sell him one though. I think back then it was like $36. He refused based on the fact that the original was defective. Now he didn't have a bridge for his bass. So he had a local luthier, this old guy named Sam (not Lee) rig up a chrome plated threaded screw with height adjusters, like an old Fender bridge, if it had one saddle!

    I used to think "boy that was odd they wouldn't send his bridge back," or give him a new one, and that is had to do with it being defective, and they wanted to sell him a new one. But now I see that they must have assumed because it was crap it was a counterfeit, which it wasn't.
    Last edited by David Schwab; 05-24-2010 at 12:35 AM. Reason: typos... typing too fast
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein

    www.sgd-lutherie.com
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    He sent the bridge back to Rickenbacker, figuring they would replace it. They told him "that's a defective bridge, and we don't sell defective bridges".. end of story.
    As a result of the company's unwavering position on the quality of their products, the Rickenbacker dealer I met told me that if he gets a defective product from Rickenbacker, he just sells it as a "factory second" at a steep discount.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Plucky's Avatar
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    I can honestly say without a shred of remorse that Rickenbackers are the most frequently defective, poorly-designed and shoddily-made instruments of any of the major manufacturers. I generally refuse to work on them, and on those rare occasions when I do, I have to double or triple my quote for something as simple as a setup in order to cover all the extra time I will need to rebuild the bridge and repair most of the other issues that result from the design flaws and sloppy work. I could list them all, but I don't think the intertubes have enough room for that much text.

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