Sunday, 14 February 2010

Remembering a lesson in wiring


Caina Guitars Model No.1, 1993 Vintage!
Just spent most of my Sunday repairing one of my guitars, which should have been a fairly swift task. However, the wiring inside is a legacy from my late teen years when I was (a) skint and (b) not known for my careful planning.

Anyway, although the way that the two pickups were connected was quite nifty, with a 5-way switch but also coil taps and series-parallel shifts (serious guitar geekdom!), none of the cable was remotely colour-coded (red, green and blue for the various earths, for example) so making any repairs or mods is far from easy.

None of the wires are colour coded - but it all works! The copper lining, by the way, screens out interference


Still, I was only 17 and the guitar was part of my A-level work, so I shouldn't be too hard on myself. What was worse was the model railway layout that I built about the same time also featured some complicated wiring - point motors, switched frogs, colour light signals with route indicators linked to the points, lots of isolation sections and plenty of power feeds, plus lighting in every building, etc etc.

Sounds great. However, it was virtually ALL wired up with red cable. How stupid that soon turned out to be! But, I could only afford one drum of wire at the time! Never again.

Back to the guitar and, after an hour or two's head scratching, I decided to simplify the setup, replaced the volume control (that was the reason I started poking around in the first place) and - believe it or not - kept the eccentric colour coding of the wires. Well, it's lasted nearly 20 years, so it seemed a shame to change it now!!!! At least the guitars that I later built as a semi-pro luthier were much better thought out....


Tuebrook in 'OO', c.1995. I miss this layout but the wiring was haphazard to say the least!

I shall have to dig out some more images of this and other old layouts and post them here. Watch this space...

3 comments:

  1. Hello George,

    This is just incredible: The other day, that bus story, and now this guitar! What a delightfully versatile approach to model blogging! I love it!

    More to the point: I too have a piece of screwed up wiring (a single-coil format Seymour Duncan humbucker I mounted at the bridge of my standard Strato some 15 years ago), currently resting under another piece of messed up wiring (my H0 layout due for the shredded quite soon). What would you do if the aforementioned humbucker did not work properly? First it was very noisy when idle and very feeble when played. Strings off, scratch plate off, I inverted the wiring, plate back, strings back on, a long unnerving tuning session (you know, floating bridge...) and it became even much worse. So basically I put quite some money, time and effort into significantly downgrading what used to be a fine guitar. Would you have any tips on how to "CTRL+Z" that one? Thanks!

    Zoltan

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  2. Hi Zoltan,
    I've only once fitted one of those single coil-sized humbuckers - into a Stat-style guitar I built for my brother some years back - a Kent Armstrong one, I think. I have to admit that I wasn't too keen on it, but he liked it (he played heavier music than me!).

    Anyway, it sounds like it could be a couple of problems with your pickup. Most likely the coil windings may have a short circuit somewhere or one of the internal connections may have been damaged. As everything is so compact on these type of pickups, there's also more chance of problems of this sort, although Seymour Duncan's are usually very reliable.

    If it was creating noise then one coil at least must have been affected.It could also have been down to a poor solder joint on the switch, but not as likely.

    Hope this helps!

    All the best,
    George

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  3. Hi George!

    Thanks for your reply. It certainly helped me gather all my courage, and while Hatton's 14029 was shunting the yard at Maudetown in your shed, my Strat was in for a treat. To cut a long story short: upon removing the scratchplate, I discovered my own masterpiece of "ill-connecting" and "mis-wiring". Then I found out that the original single coil pick-up had died during its 10 years of storage and was totally useless, so finally I put back the humbucker, but this time with all the wires where they ought to be, and guess what: For the first time, the beast sounds like it should. From now on, I have the neck-to-mid part to play Deep Purple, and the mid-to-bridge section to play Led Zeppelin. That's all I wanted, a pity it took me more than a decade to get the return on the investment!

    Next step: I should now find an N scale application for the original casing of a single coil Fender Strato pick-up. I guess I'll make up some industrial building with round ends and six chimneys...

    All the best,

    Zoltan

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