Solved: Nothing from the neck humbucker

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ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
edited January 17 in Making & Modding
I've just a superstrat I own for the first time in ages. It's got HH configuation, 1 vol and 1 tone & a 3 way switch (Bridge, both split, neck).

There bridge and middle positions work fine but i''m not getting anything from the neck. The wiring appears fine and everthing is connected up with no visible damage.

I'm assuming that the volume pot, tone pot and jack are fine as they are shared with the bridge. 

Any idea on what might be causing it?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Faulty switch or dead pickup…

    Take the pickguard off and connect the guitar to the amp. Set the switch to the neck position and turn the volume and tone up full. Touch the terminal where the neck pickup is connected. If it buzzes, the switch is fine and the pickup is dead. If not, it's the other way round.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • RabsRabs Frets: 55
    Also you want to check that non of the ground wires are touching any of the live wires. Especially when talking about braided wire, sometimes just a single strand has escaped and is touching the live terminal on the pot..  That will short it out...
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 543
    Wouldnt expect a huge issue if the middle position works, getting at least part of the nck pickup......switch?
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Rabs said:
    Also you want to check that non of the ground wires are touching any of the live wires. Especially when talking about braided wire, sometimes just a single strand has escaped and is touching the live terminal on the pot..  That will short it out…
    Which would then give silence in the middle position as well as the neck, so it's not that :). It's an open circuit if the middle position works.

    In fact - that will help. Does the middle position give you just the bridge pickup, or both pickups with only the neck position being silent? If you get both pickups it's definitely the switch.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • RabsRabs Frets: 55
    ICBM said:
    Rabs said:
    Also you want to check that non of the ground wires are touching any of the live wires. Especially when talking about braided wire, sometimes just a single strand has escaped and is touching the live terminal on the pot..  That will short it out…
    Which would then give silence in the middle position as well as the neck, so it's not that :). It's an open circuit if the middle position works.

    In fact - that will help. Does the middle position give you just the bridge pickup, or both pickups with only the neck position being silent? If you get both pickups it's definitely the switch.

    Lol.. good point....   Silly me..   Yes..  probably something at the switch end then...
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    ICBM said:
    Rabs said:
    Also you want to check that non of the ground wires are touching any of the live wires. Especially when talking about braided wire, sometimes just a single strand has escaped and is touching the live terminal on the pot..  That will short it out…
    Which would then give silence in the middle position as well as the neck, so it's not that :). It's an open circuit if the middle position works.

    In fact - that will help. Does the middle position give you just the bridge pickup, or both pickups with only the neck position being silent? If you get both pickups it's definitely the switch.
    Thanks for the help ICBM.  I was slightly wrong in my initial post, if I turn my amp right up I can hear the neck pickup but it is very quiet compared to the bridge.

    It's 4 conductor. Gibson colours so white/green together, black separate and red separate. If i'm on the bridge the red buzzes and black does not. On the neck the red buzzes and the black buzzes but not as loud.


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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:

    I was slightly wrong in my initial post, if I turn my amp right up I can hear the neck pickup but it is very quiet compared to the bridge.

    It's 4 conductor. Gibson colours so white/green together, black separate and red separate. If i'm on the bridge the red buzzes and black does not. On the neck the red buzzes and the black buzzes but not as loud.
    Sounds like the black wire should be connected to ground but isn't.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    edited January 10


    This is what it looks like on the switch. The black is attached in the same way as the bridge and that works fine. (I agree in advance, it's an overly complicated switch).

    The neck pickup is the green/white on the left side and black & red on the right.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    edited January 11
    Faulty switch, I think. That's a dual staggered-throw DPDT, and it's meant to coil-split both pickups in the middle position. My guess is that the switch is not making contact between the ground (the thick black wire in the foreground) and the black wire from the neck pickup.

    It's not an overly complicated switch, but the way it's used is - switching the black wires is completely unnecessary and just introduces this possibility. I would connect both pickup black wires directly to ground - just move them to the middle terminals if it's easier. The switching will still work correctly.

    For what it's worth I would also connect both red wires to the unused terminals next to them as well as the ones they are now - that will also improve reliability.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    @ICBM Wisdoms duly awarded!

    Which pins do you suggest the reds are moved to - move both to the empty ones on the outside row or just the neck?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:
    @ICBM Wisdoms duly awarded!

    Which pins do you suggest the reds are moved to - move both to the empty ones on the outside row or just the neck?
    Not move - connect them to the unused pins as well, so the switch has three rows of parallel connections like the middle one with the white wire is now. That will make the single-pickup settings much more reliable because it will double-up the switch contacts in those positions. There's nothing you can do about the middle position, but a failure there will still leave one pickup working so it's not so bad.

    You could do the same on the green/white wires but it would make no useful difference since it would just guarantee each pickup would be split when it's not in use :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    edited January 11
    @ICBM I tried switching the reds and it didn't improve. I've also tried a total rewire of the switch with the Dimarzio wiring diagram and Ash's advice on the pickup colour coding and got the same result.

    Very quick with the switch forward (should be neck), loud in the middle and loud on the bridge.

    This is how it is currently wired:


    Based on this wiring diagram:
    http://www.dimarzio.com/sites/default/files/diagrams/2h1v1t_1ep1111web.pdf


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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:
    @ICBM I tried switching the reds and it didn't improve. I've also tried a total rewire of the switch with the Dimarzio wiring diagram and Ash's advice on the pickup colour coding and got the same result.
    Sorry, I maybe didn't explain clearly. Adding the extra connections to the red wires won't fix your problem, it will just stop the same thing happening there.

    I think the fault is in the black wire half of the switch. Move both black wires to the middle terminals where the thick black wire is connected. If you did that - or connected them directly to another ground - then the fault might be in the pickup after all.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    edited January 12
    I tried connecting both blacks to the middle pins with the other two blacks.

    How does a pickup even fail - I guess it's most likely a connection on the pickup?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:

    How does a pickup even fail?
    With a modern pickup, usually either physical damage or a bad solder joint between the coil wire and the hookup wire. Is it an uncovered humbucker? If so, have a look around the edges and see if the tape has been disturbed somewhere so you can see the copper winding wire.

    With old pickups, usually corrosion, especially on things like Fender pickups where the coil is wound directly onto the metal magnets, or old Hofners where the wire insulation itself chemically degrades, producing an acid with attacks the winding wire.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    It's a Oil City Pickup so should be well made. It is uncovered and i'll check it out this evening.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    It would be very surprising if it was faulty given that…

    If you want to be sure, try a quick test which will confirm if it's the pickup or the switch - swap the red wires and the green/whites so the switch works backwards. If the neck pickup is still dead (with the switch now in the bridge position) it's the pickup.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    It's currently setup as per the wiring diagram above. So If I reverse everything attached to the outside pins it'll switch the neck to the bridge as you suggest?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:
    It's currently setup as per the wiring diagram above. So If I reverse everything attached to the outside pins it'll switch the neck to the bridge as you suggest?
    Yes.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 4731
    I have a guitar lead which terminates in two croc clips for this sort of thing, you can just connect them anywhere in the chain to isolate pickup/switch/pot issues, for example connecting your pickup directly to your amp.
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    Slug coil on the humbucker is the problem. The neck Scrapyard Dog + neck reads: 1.3m ohms and up - it fluctuates.

    Screw Coil - 4.69k ohms
    Slug Coil - 0.9m ohms and up- it fluctuates.

    As a test i'm not making a schoolboy error the bridge pickup comes in a 12.7 kohms.

    Not sure why it is reading high in Mega ohms - does that indicate a ground fault?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 20174
    Elwood said:
    Slug coil on the humbucker is the problem. The neck Scrapyard Dog + neck reads: 1.3m ohms and up - it fluctuates.

    Screw Coil - 4.69k ohms
    Slug Coil - 0.9m ohms and up- it fluctuates.

    As a test i'm not making a schoolboy error the bridge pickup comes in a 12.7 kohms.

    Not sure why it is reading high in Mega ohms - does that indicate a ground fault?
    It indicates an open circuit - infinite impedance - with a tiny bit of spurious fluctuating reading caused by stray voltage being picked up in the coil.

    Get in touch with Ash, I'm sure he'll be able to sort it out.

    The good news is that the switch will be OK, it would be extremely unlikely for two faults to occur independently. Not sure why you originally got some buzz from the black wire when you touched it, just one of those oddities which confuse things...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    edited January 12
    Thanks for all of your help ICBM. It's been instrumental in me getting this far. 

    @TheGuitarWeasel has been helping via PM. Thanks Ash for the support so far.
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  • Pickup issue solved, @Elwood returned the pickup to me ... arrived at 9.00 this morning, traced the fault and returned it fixed by the 11.00 post Special Delivery ... under my 'lifetime guarantee'. :-)
    Sorry dude, sometimes these faults can appear ... even though we DCR test every pickup before packing. 
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Oil City Pickups  ... The Guitar Weasel blog

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  • RichardjRichardj Frets: 1387
    And that is why we use guys like Ash to make our pickups.....
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  • ElwoodElwood Frets: 247
    Pick arrived back this morning and is back in the guitar and working fine. Thanks again for all the help on here and especially to Ash for the phenomenal service. 
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