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Where to look for a problem with new wiring producing no sound

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Even "back-routing" to create extra space below decks but still have enough wood on the surface so you can mount the control plate and not have any telltale gap into which picks, dimes, set lists, love notes, crumbs & other objects can fall.
    That's a truly wonderful idea. The problem is, that as I mentioned, I have a lot of distracting stuff going on, and I am far more readily set up to cut through the guitar than to do a decent job of guided routing at this time. You may cringe to read this sorry remark, but as things are, I intend to open it up with large diameter drill bits, careful hand sawing, and hand sanding. I have all sorts of wonderful tools with which I could do a much better job along the lines of what you suggested, but I have become physically handicapped, the necessary tools are not organized for use, and to try to find them and get them set up would be a project that I don't have time for and I don't find this guitar to be worth.

    I suspect that most of the people on this site make rewiring guitars a major hobby or perhaps work, and while there have been times when I could and did look at it that way, right now I'm doing it only because I can and must, if this guitar is going to do anything other than sit around collecting dust. I'm not shooting for any ideal. I just want it to play. I feel no need whatsoever to protect the integrity of the body of this instrument, being what it is. It's not a learning experience. I am comfortable with my understanding of guitar electronics and my capabilities of following a simple schematic and soldering stuff together. This is just a nuisance to me.

    Enlarging the cavity by opening through the back will do nothing harmful to the sound, I can't imagine, and it will be the easiest and quickest way for me to reliably get this thing playable. I just want to get that done, so I can have some fun with it and get about the other bullshit I'm dealing with in life at the moment. Playing the guitar keeps me sane, but with some of the stuff I'm up against, to take the time to set up for controlled guided routing would just be more time and effort than it is worth at the moment, by far, and it would be a distraction from the time I have to play, which is my primary interest--I didn't buy this thing hoping to have to do all this work on it! From the amazed wording of the reviews, it never occurred to me that I would find myself where I am, and I am not happy to be here.

    In fact, this whole thing is a sorry mistake that I'm just trying to put behind me as efficiently as possible. I have too much other stuff I have to deal with, and I'm far more interested in playing the guitar than rewiring and reworking it. You have to know if I was dealing with a worthier instrument, I would be doing exactly what you've recommended and enlarge the cavity by guided routing, but I'd have to add even then, when I can get around to it. It could be years.

    Being what it is, I just want to get it done, and I'm just thinking of the quickest way to get it playable. I don't care the least how it compares to a Fender tele, in terms of the issue of the cavity opening to the back (plenty of other guitars do that, and no one is troubled by it), just as long as I can get a reasonable sound out of it and have some fun playing the damned thing! In any event, whatever I do, it will end up a better instrument than it started, even if it has a peculiar cover plate screwed to the back where it doesn't belong! That's the way I see it. I'm missing something in the persistent suggestion that I'm somehow mistreating this piece of junk by just opening it up and being done with it. I stripped and refinished the neck with tung oil. I dressed the frets that were a ridiculous mess. I've put on some nice pickups and shielded against interference (of course, I'll have to redo some of that). I put on some heavy brass bridge saddles. I put on better tuning machines. For all its faults, the intonation is fine, and I think it will be a fun and nice sounding guitar to play, considering how it started out. When I'm playing it, that cover plate and the fact that I cut away a bit of the body wood to expand the wiring cavity will not bother me in the least!

    Thanks again (sincerely). Rob


    • #17
      Alright, now this is something that could save me a bunch of time. It never occurred to me that I could slacken the strings enough to slide the pick guard with all its attachments out (in fact, I hope I can, but I tend to keep strings on the short side--from an old article in Guitar Player, I wind the three bass strings so they only wrap around the string post one to two times, so it doesn't allow for a lot of slack), but if I can do that, of course I can assess the problem, correct any problem that I might find, and only go through the trouble of cutting through the thing if I put it back together and find myself in the same place. I'm not exactly "worried" about shorts to the conductive paint, but the cavity is small enough that I think it most likely, when I pushed the wiring into the cavity, something tore loose, one wire got pushed into another (I even insulate the legs on the capacitors before I solder them in, so I think this the least likely), or there is a short against the conductive paint. I don't mean to sound overconfident, but this was about the simplest job I've done on a guitar in terms of the wiring, and although I didn't check it beforehand, it all looked perfect. Maybe I will find a mistake when I test it, but it's good to know this won't turn into a game of throwing away multiple sets of strings and spending hours disassembling and reassembling the thing.

      That was my whole problem with this. I really think it most likely that the damage was done by having to force the works into the undersized cavity, and it made me cringe to picture having that happen over and over, losing multiple sets of strings, and going through the time and effort of disassembling it repeatedly, when I don't have a lot of free time to invest in this in the first place. If I can slacken the strings enough to free the pick guard and the electronics and am fortunate to find a correctable problem that does not recur when I reassemble it, this idea will have saved me a bunch of time and effort compared to starting by enlarging the cavity. If in the end, though, it looks like the problem is simply that the cavity is too small, I will be enlarging the cavity in the way that represents the least time and effort to me right now and just get this done with.

      I feel really stupid. I just read through what I wrote, to do a final edit before I sent it, and I realized how stupid I have been to be worrying about strings. Even if there is not enough length to simply slacken them adequately, there is no reason I have to take them right off the instrument! I can certainly reinsert them in the tuning machine posts after I've done any work, as long as I haven't pulled them right out of through the body. I have to laugh at myself. Hahaha! Anyway, this discussion has simplified the problem tremendously.

      Thanks for that very workable idea. Rob


      • #18
        Originally posted by nevetslab View Post
        It's often the simplest circuits that those of us who are involved in very complex amplifier circuits and such make the most mistakes. And, when the build is so space-constrained as yours sounds, I feel your frustration.

        A couple years ago, I came back to a bass guitar project I had first tackled back in 1968...modifying a stock Gretsch 6070 Tennessian Hollow Body bass, adding a Gibson Humbucker as a neck pickup. I had disconnected the stock Gretsch pickup, but this time around, decided to rewire the instrument from scratch. Now, the back of the Gretsch has a huge opening underneath the body pad and plastic cover, though where I was going to place the controls would still be a major fitting problem with my large adult hands.

        With where you are on your project, and not knowing where you've made the mistake(s), I'd suggest pulling the wiring back out and starting over in a similar fashion, so you can verify everything IS wired correctly first, then do the tedious fitting operation.
        Thanks for expressing the understanding. The one ironic issue that also comes from your discussion offered, though, is the question of what I'm dealing with. That Gretsch is a beautiful and presumably valuable instrument. On the other hand, I am dealing with trying to make something pleasantly playable out of a piece of junk that was misrepresented in reviews. As such, I am looking not for the most ideal way to accomplish it but the quickest and easiest. I just got a message from Dave H that led me to realize that I don't have to worry after all at all about wasting buckets of strings, so I will be disassembling it, testing the connections, and reassembling it, but if it proves to be entirely a problem with the cavity being so tiny, and after assuring everything is wired correctly, it doesn't work again after I reassemble it, I have no qualms whatsoever about cutting right through the body to enlarge the cavity in the quickest, easiest way.

        Thanks, again. Rob


        • #19
          I'm not sure if you've already routed out the back, but if you just need a bit more room in the cavity, here is an easy way to enlarge it from the top. Take a 3/4" straight router bit- preferably 1" or less cutting length- and slip a 1/2" bearing over the shank before you put it in the collet. Set the depth so the top of the cutter is 1/4 to 3/8" below the guitar top and then when you run the bearing around the top edge of the cavity the router will undercut the sides by 1/8" all around, adding a useful amount of space. Of course going through the back will work, but making a rear-access cavity with a recess for the lid (and making a matching cover plate) is quite a bit of effort if you don't already have the templates made up.

          Also, with regard to the strings, sometimes it is less bother just to capo (or tape-o) the strings near the nut and just take the bridge off. Not an option for string-through-body though if that is the case.

          good luck,



          • #20
            It's a good thing I can laugh at myself

            Originally posted by big_teee View Post
            The pictures were for us, so we could see what you have, and what your working on.
            Pictures also cut down on the amount of questions we ask you to know what you're doing.
            I took pictures at every point along the way, but the scale was such, especially given the crowded nature of the work (there are three jumpers plus five wires soldered to the switch alone--even looking directly at it, it takes work to see what's what), that I am sure the pictures would not help anyone. I offered a link to the primary schematic I used for anyone who wanted to take a look at that in a prior response.

            The main issue, though, is that I finally figured it out, and I have to laugh at myself. I actually enjoy doing that. At least I love to laugh! It just finally clicked about 5 minutes ago.

            It turned out, despite my being so convinced that it was all due to the tight cavity for the wiring, that that had absolutely nothing to do with it. The guitar came apart easily and there was no evidence whatsoever of any damage to the wiring tied to it being too tightly forced into the cavity. I will not be carving a hole through the instrument after all.

            I got it open and looked everything over. The connections were all where they were supposed to be. I took my Fluke to it, and practically everything demonstrated good connections and continuity of signal.

            I'm laughing at myself because I found the problem then and missed the fact that it was the problem. I mean, even though I knew it was a problem, I didn't think it was the main problem that caused my hearing absolutely nothing when I plugged the guitar in, until it just finally occurred to me this morning that it was the exact problem. Fortunately, I already have at hand what I need to fix it.

            When I wired it up and realized there was little room for things to fit, and I didn't want uninsulated wires to be pressed up against each other, I did something my father used to do and coiled the legs on the volume and tone caps and then covered them with rubber tubing as insulation. Well, as it turned out, even though I was aware I needed to be cautious and soldered the joints rapidly, the coiling brought the body of the caps close enough to the heat that I cooked both of the caps. There was neither continuity or capacitance across either one. The problem was, I said to myself, "Well, that's a problem, and they should be replaced, but they both only affect tone, so that still doesn't explain the entire lack of sound."

            I distracted myself while waiting for arrival of the replacement caps by building a computer, but in the back of my mind I was still belly aching over why there was absolutely no sound being produced. I was like, "Where on earth else can I look?"
            Then it just clicked before I started typing up this note. Surely the volume "kit" cap is meant to keep tone consistent while you change the volume of the instrument, but it is also the only connection between the two active terminals of the volume pot. There was no continuity across the cap that connected the terminals, so there was no continuity across the pot, and it broke the circuit involving every pickup selection. Of course I heard nothing!

            I had another reason to get a good laugh out of this. I ordered the replacement parts through Amazon Prime, just to hasten getting this done. I had to order two 0.47 uf caps for the tone, as they only sold a minimum of two. The kit I got through StewMac included only a single smaller cap for the volume "kit", but through Amazon I was able to get the more typical volume kit that contains a small cap and a low resistance resistor. The thing that got me laughing, though, was when they arrived, I knew immediately what they were, without even opening them, but they put each of the tiny items--the set of two 0.47 uf caps and the volume kit--in its own 9" x 12" envelope!

            Anyway, thanks all for all the input, but I'm confident this is over. I will just solder in the new tone cap and volume kit leaving the legs full length and covered with longer narrower rubber tubing as insulation, and I trust all will be fine.



            • #21
              Originally posted by RobRed View Post
              Anyway, thanks all for all the input, but I'm confident this is over. I will just solder in the new tone cap and volume kit leaving the legs full length and covered with longer narrower rubber tubing as insulation, and I trust all will be fine. Rob
              Sure hope that does it! After you have it all working, hows about a photo of your prize?
              Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.


              • #22
                Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
                Sure hope that does it! After you have it all working, hows about a photo of your prize?
                I'm just tuning the strings and will go plug it in once they're tuned. The one thing I can tell you is that there is capacitance across both caps now, so I have good reason to suspect it will be fine, thanks.

                I'd be happy to put up photos, but I don't see how I would go about doing that. If you could give me a little explanation in that regard, I'd be happy to do so. I can include some before and after shots of the caps the first time and the second, as well.



                • #23
                  1) Do you have a bridge ground?
                  2) Wire one pickup directly to the jack.
                  Do you still have hum?


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by olddawg View Post
                    1) Do you have a bridge ground?
                    2) Wire one pickup directly to the jack.
                    Do you still have hum?
                    1) Yes
                    2) No. Thanks for the idea, but I am well beyond that now. I initially had a terrible hum that left the instrument incapable of producing a pleasant musical tone, which was my reason for rewiring it in the first place, but now that it is wired correctly with beautiful pickups, and the cavities are covered in conductive paint, it produces a clear and wonderfully musical tone. On top of the dramatically improved sound, with the frets appropriately dressed and the neck refinished in tung oil, this piece of junk is now a real pleasure to play!



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