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Thread: The Dreaded Switching Jack Problem

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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    The Dreaded Switching Jack Problem

    Here is a copy of an awesome article about switching jacks.
    Courtesy and copyright of Mojo Music Supply.

    The%20Dreaded%20Switching%20Jack%20Problem.pdf
    Last edited by Steve A.; 06-16-2016 at 09:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    How do you make this a 'Sticky'?
    The issue sure comes up enough.

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    don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    Could the powers that be sticky it into the maintenance/troubleshooting section as well?
    Certified Dotard

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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    Magic!
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    Yep, sorted this problem on a couple of Marshall combos dating from the 1990's by plugging a patch cable across the effects loop (fine if you are not using the loop).

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    Member Andy's Avatar
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    5150's are known for this issue with their effects loop too. I've seen two myself.

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Every amp of any brand that has FX loops can have this. And the same problem can be in insert jacks on mixers or amplifiers. ANy jack that has the ability to interrupt the signal path has the potential to do this. Some amps like many Crate amps also have a footswitch jack that can have the same problem, only then it results in random channel switching or something lkek reverb going off and on. Whatever the footswitch functions are.
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    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Nice..never ran across that one before but many other post about the dreaded issue....The secret is out ha ha...

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    A friend advised me to use a burnishing tool to clean the oxidation from the contacts and then apply the Caig. I've found that technique to work great.

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    Much like cleaning the contacts in Tektronix scopes, one could wet some paper with deoxit and run it between the contacts in the jack...but maybe that's what the article suggests? I'm sorry, I didn't take the time to read it.

    I have seen this problem on quite a few amps.

    jamie

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    LOL just to be clear I was speaking of the link you posted, that I have never ran across it. Yes Ive done many many dirty effects loops Vavletronix comes to mind for me as they are a newer-ish amp with these issues also resetting the thing works wonders, I also see amps that have so much crud on them you can tell they have never been cleaned or service'd, ever. Original tubes from the 90's ahh sovtek days. I usually do what I call a tune up, where I go through and clean everything test tubes and voltages caps..... I even scrub the cab or head up too One guy brought me a HRD in such bad shape with all the typical HRD issues, it wasnt working and looked like it was stored in a chicken coop for 3 years. when I finished it, he come to get it and didnt even know it was HIS amp, seriously... Needless to say he was very happy and gave me a tip to boot yee haw. Good link, but I hope everyone dont see it LOL.. Actually some guys are mechanical,,, but most wouldnt touch their own amps as well they should"nt if they are not comfortable doing so...
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    Senior Member guitician's Avatar
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    Or just ask Switchcraft to make the jack better? With none of that "Initial Quality" that means it will work at least until the warranty ends. Silver plating, or a tiny silver rivet at the contact point, would totally eliminate the problem.

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Actually silver tarnishes. The fact we see this problem doesn't mean there are not also millions of jacks that never do get the problem. I have had many amps come through needing the jacks to be cleaned - new amps. My working theory is that they got contaminated in the manufacturing process. Circuit boards get wahsed after the wave solder step, crap can accumulate betweeen contacts. Once I clean them, they never seem to come back for it again.


    This happens to all brands of connector, Switchcraft, CLiff, you name it.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Senior Member guitician's Avatar
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    Yeah it tarnishes, but it's a conductive tarnish and the switch still works fine. I have a couple of old British made jacks were one has silver rivets as contacts, and the other has gold plating. And I remember sending off and email to Cliff asking them if they had gold plated 1/4" phone jacks and they said "yes, in qty of 1000 only". Why? Wouldn't you think that with all those gold plugs on cables you see being sold, that we could purchase gold jacks?

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    If people were lining up to purchase them, they would not have them as special order items. The truth is there is little demand for gold flashed contacts. I can't say I ever saw a gold plated plug on a guitar cord. They may be out there, but I never saw one.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Senior Member guitician's Avatar
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    I guess people just like to clean contacts then, or have their techs do it. So, much for progress.

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    I've seen gold plated plugs, both 1/4" and xlr, not really worth the cost unless you're in the medical industry.

    Yorkville sound specs gold plated contacts on most of their break jacks, but only on the contacts that are important. I don't think that I've seen that in any other product.

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Gold plated contacts are fine, as far as they go. They won;t tarnish, and offer low resistance. But that assumes all contact problems involve the metal condition. Gold will do nothing about dirt and film in the jacks. Certainly in clubs, the smoke gets so heavy that cigarette tar and nicotine condense on the surfaces and contaminate them. You can smell a club amp a milke away. Gold won't help.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Senior Member guitician's Avatar
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    I would think the spring tension of the gold contact would push through a film, and all it would take is a few molecules touching to get good conduction.

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    This is a real common problem down here in Florida. High humidity and non use of the jacks cause this here. The amp either goes up and down in volume, or cuts out completely... Cleaning the jack is the short term fix, replacing the jack will get you longer. Most guitar players and bassists don't know the jacks are there or ever know their use...

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    Senior Member Joe L's Avatar
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    Same thing here in Louisiana. Lots of humidity and occasional massive hurricanes.

    For 35 years, I have used nothing but a strip of plain paper to clean contacts. Just pull it between the contacts with a little added pressure until it comes out clean and you are done. It is a gentle abrasive and won't remove plating.
    ..Joe L

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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    The Dreaded Switching Jack Problem

    Here is a new post of the file.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Hello All,

    New to the forum. I am unable to view the pdf file which I assume has more detail in regards to a problematic switching jack. I have a Peavey Bravo 112 that the foot switch doesn't function. I have two other Peavey foot switches and they don't work either. I just bought the amp on CL and it worked intermittently when I first got it, than nothing. If I uplug the foot switch, I can switch the channels from the panel switch fine. What I have been able to determine from the thread is it appears to be oxidization of the jack. I am out of cleaning solution so am curious if this may be a possible issue. I haven't worked on compontent level electronics in over 20 years and am rusty (or oxidized ) and am not sure where the test points are to isolate the problem. Any ideas? I love the amp but really would like to be able to switch from clean to overdrive channel with foot switch.

    Thanks,

    dbossman

  24. #24
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    I reposted the pdf directly above your post (the site has issues with archived files.)
    http://music-electronics-forum.com/a...ck-problem.pdf
    As to the Bravo footswitch problem, if the front panel switch works than the circuit is sound.
    The jack or the front panel simply 'grounds out' the relay.
    Plus the jack has a normally closed contact to allow the front panel switch to function when there is not a foot switch inserted.
    Which must be functioning or the front panel would not work.
    So that leaves the footswitch itself.
    It is a simple 1/4" plug . Tip & Ring.
    Tip to Ring should connect or not connect.
    That can be checked with an ohm meter.
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    More often than not, these jacks develop problems on guitars as opposed to amps. One guy sent me a vintage guitar with severe corrosion at the tip of the jack and when I connected the instrument to the amp, it sounded like an attack of the humming-spitting-crackling bees. It was loud and ugly. Rather than using DeOxit, I just wired a new gold plated jack into the guitar. Screw vintage correctness. To be politically correct, I use Monster guitar cables, which have gold-plated plugs.

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    I don't recall if it's Monster Cable brand or not but the gold plated jacks often are too snug and the plug and jack can become permanently attached, leading to replacement of both! It seems some brands don't account for the thickness of the plating on the plugs and jacks.

    JT

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    Senior Member guitician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by imaradiostar View Post
    I don't recall if it's Monster Cable brand or not but the gold plated jacks often are too snug and the plug and jack can become permanently attached, leading to replacement of both! It seems some brands don't account for the thickness of the plating on the plugs and jacks.

    JT
    It's more likely that the metals became fused due to corrosion from the porous plating. Solid silver would work much better than any plating. And it could just be a thin tube over some tough plastic, no need to use a lot of silver.

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    Senior Member nevetslab's Avatar
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    At least on the Tektronix scopes, you're dealing with wiping contacts, where you can exercise the switch repeatidly. Or, on any piece of gear where switches can be exercised (50-100 times often) to wipe thru the long term buildup of oxidation. On Jack 'normals', though I too have had to resort to coating some abrasive paper with DeOxit, and repeated wiping between the normal contacts. When you can't get at the contacts, it's a bloody problem. Console patch bays in studios are just full of normals. Servicing those, you hope and pray the installion team left you enough service loop in the wiring. Repeated 'patching' of the patch cord into those only helps marginally, as there's NO WIPING ACTION on normals. it's a LIFTING ACTION.

    I run into the Insert Jack problem often enough servicing backline gear. At least on most of those jacks, if using Cliff or similar exposed contacts, you can slip in wetted abrasive paper to clean the contacts. When all else fails, insert a short patch cable into the Send/Rtn jacks to restore order. In the studios, dealing with viintage consoles, it's not uncommon to see a lot of patch cords completing the path.

    The source of the trouble is oxidation build-up over time. Been dealing with that problem for decades. Old Equipment-itis. Switches that don't ever get used, and someone pushes it, and now you've lost signal. Listening to it, it's grungy distortion, though most of the time, repeated exercising of the switch will get the switch to clear its' throat. Same holds true with rotary siwtches. Any mechanical device in the signal path is prone to this slow deterioration. I typically use 50-100Hz sine as a test signal when I'm exercising the switches. Goes from being grungy or no signal to finally sounding like it did when new. Be aware, though, that you may also have found switches that have solder fractures on the PCB. Most are NOT mechanically supported.

    Pots, too have the same long term oxidiation problem. Racking the pot back and forth repeatidly will, most of the time, restore order. Contact cleaner helps in this action, but you still have to exercise it. On old pots, where there are no replacements, I often have to disassemble the pot to do thorough cleaning. On some, that also involves copper cleaning compound to restore the metal to bright shiny appearnce. Re-assembly with application of a little red grease helps, to restore the viscosity feel it had when new. Contact cleaners destroy that grease that lubricates the shaft/bushing area of the pot.

    I do a considerable amount of vintage gear restoration, including consoles, so it's a tedious & time-consuming process, restoring the mechanical signal path so it doesn't break up & distort in use.
    Last edited by nevetslab; 01-09-2014 at 01:09 AM.
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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    For CLiff-type jacks, I have used a 1/8" burnisher for decades, it works like a charm.

    Mine is a GC9337, made by GC.

    FRYS.com*|*GC Thorsen

    There are also wider ones.


    Back when I worked on relay systems we used burnishing tools a LOT.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    I have one of those, come to think of it....need more, as the one I have is out at a friend's keyboard repair facility. They work quite well..thanks for reminding me!

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    For CLiff-type jacks, I have used a 1/8" burnisher for decades, it works like a charm.

    Mine is a GC9337, made by GC.

    FRYS.com*|*GC Thorsen

    There are also wider ones.


    Back when I worked on relay systems we used burnishing tools a LOT.
    I use one of those, too! It's still in the original little red plastic holder.

  32. #32
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Mine too. I have a small cardboard box in the corner of my tool cart drawer, it holds small hand tools. Looking for that red plastic cover is how I find the thing.

    It is the perfect size to fit into the Cliff jack contact spaces.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Lifetime Member km6xz's Avatar
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    This thread has been up for a long time and just read it for the first time. I am surprised that oxidation surprised so many people. I am also surprised so many people use abrasives on plated contacts. Burnishing tools are for soft contacts like heavy relays, power contactors etc, not for plated contacts which only need a bit of chemical de-oxidizing that does not score the hard plating at all.
    Scored contacts will have higher resistance and will corrode much faster.
    Oxidation is not dirt, it is the natural result of most metals in a sea of atmospheric oxygen and is a good thing....in moderation. A thin layer of oxide of the base metal is an insulator and pretty inert so more serious deep corrosion is prevented. Every melt aluminum? It is by nature, bright like mercury but is highly reactive with oxygen and corroded very quickly with a layer of aluminum oxide that protects the surface from more corrosion. It is the dull grey coating on aluminum, and of course our electronics depends on oxides such with semiconductors, electrolytic caps etc. High value caps indicate just how good an insulator oxide is, the oxide layer is very thin.

    Any normaled contacts will oxidize eventually, many pots and linear faders will also even if the main resist is plastic or carbon film. Every jack bay will be a potential intermittent or distortion inducing connection, it is a fact of life and every tech should be aware of preventative maintenance routines and schedules. Recording studios has thousands of TT jacks in each control room, and every patch cord. So, once every 6 months or so, every jack bay and every patch cord is treated with a very thin wiping of some form of deoxidizing chemical. It is not cleaning(cleaning with solvents increases oxidation), it is a chemical reaction that required extremely small amounts, just enough to slightly wet the surface. Any more, is usually wasted.
    Pay attention to the solvents used in cleaning equipment and know what material the plastic parts are made of before choosing a cleaner. Some plastics react badly, by melting or shattering is contacted by the wrong solvents. Keep solvents out of jacks, pots and connectors, and do not use "Contact Cleaner" on contacts, it is too "dry", dries too completely leaving the surface much more likely to corrode much quicker than if left alone. If you use a solvent cleaner, do not get it on contacts that have just been deoxidized or you have just undone your own work. Get a syringe and apply deoxidizer lightly directly on the resist surface of pots, and do not use spray. That uses too much, mostly gets on the pot lubricant so the pot feels bad to the touch with its shaft lube washed out. Same with the slides of linear faders, a fine fader can be turned to junk with one squirt of solvent or de-oxidizer.

    Anyway, what were techs doing if they got the symptoms of intermittent distortion or signal loss before being told of normalizing contacts in inserts and loops? The type of distortion generated and the weak signal symptoms should narrow the range of probable causes dramatically.
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    Junior Member Brazen's Avatar
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    ... and "dissimilar metals" cause a lot of the oxidation issues in electronics.

    DeOxit is a "Gadget Guy's" best friend! lol

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    Wirewound pots and gold plating..... design it well and eliminate the problem.

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