335 Electronics Installation (a.k.a. How to take years off your life)

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by hillbilly, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    By popular demand... :D


    OK, first, let me stress how important preparation is for this kind of electronics install. This isn't something you can do an hour before a gig.

    You'll need:


    • Rubber or Plastic Tubing. I use aquarium air-hose tubing. 50ft/$2.50 at WalMart in the pet section. Cut 4 pieces of 3-ft-long each.

    • A 1/8" dowel rod, at least 2 ft long. At least I think it's an 1/8"...

    • A 1/4" plug. Cut this sucker off, and jam the 1/8" dowel rod in the end of it. SuperGlue might help make it more sturdy.

    • A hex-nut. The kind that goes on the pots.

    • 6 ft of scrap wire, cut into 3-ft lengths.

    • A shoelace. The thinner, the better.

    • Towels, cloth or paper. Lots of them. I prefer cloth, but you have what you have.


    To start, you gotta get the old harness out. But first, before you go tearin' into the guitar to get the pot harness out, >think<: what could impede my progress?

    Yes, the ground wire. The ground wire is commonly soldered on the metal braid of the Bridge pickup lead. So, in my experience, it is best to remove this first. It is wrapped around the braid, and soldered on good, so you'll have to carefully apply your iron to melt the solder around the ground wire and kind of twist the pickup away from the ground wire. Easy to type, tricky to do in real life. Make sure you put your towels down on the top of the guitar so you don't accidentally drip solder or burn the top of your guitar with the soldering iron.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]



    Once I get the ground wire off the metal braid, I stuff it down to the bottom of the pickup route, and tape it down with masking tape:

    [​IMG]





    Now, time to get the harness out. Grab your High-falutin', Hi-Tech, Roswell Knob Puller (a.k.a. the shoelace), get up under the knobs, wrap once around, and pull ^up^ while resting your thumb on top of the knob so you don't shoot it across the room, like so:

    [​IMG]


    Once you get the knobs off, loosen up the hex-nuts and the jack, and collect the nuts & washers and set them aside (don't lose them).

    It will take some manipulation, but you can gently manuever the whole harness out.

    You are now posed with a new dilemma: unsoldering the pickups from the Volume pots. "HA!...I can do that..." you say.:slash:

    Not so fast, Slash. Gibson uses some kind of Chernobyl Solder on there that will take some patience (and heat) to get it off where they ground the braided wires to the backs of their junky-ass pots. If you don't want to do this, just clip the pickup leads as close as you can to the point where they are grounded to the pots. You'll lose an inch of wire. Maybe this will matter later on... :hmm:

    If you've gotten this far, you can remove the Bridge pickup and set it aside. Don't lose it, you will need it later. :naughty: I like to leave the Neck pickup in the guitar--no real reason to remove it, but I tape its lead down with masking tape. Unless you are changing out your pickups, then go ahead on with taking it out.

    So, now you got the harness out. What a mess this thing is:

    [​IMG]



    I always like to see what kind of resistance the pickups have in the guitars I work on, and my buddy Steve's 335 is no exception. Gibson chose a pair of BurstBucker Pro's to go in this beastie:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note the dates of manufacture of the pickups... :hmm:





    got Tone?
    [​IMG]
    That cap needs some Viagra&#8482; :lol:






    Part 2 follows...
     
  2. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    Alright, so we got that old harness out of there, and we didn't burn the house down. Time to prepare...


    First, you've got your harness. Whether you bought it somewhere, or you made it yourself, please, please I beg you: test it before you install it. How? Hook your pickups up to it really quickly (i.e. "not permanently"), plug in a cable, and tap on the pickups, making sure the Switch, Volumes & Tones all work like they should. Take it from one who's found out the hard way, it sucks donkey balls having to install & then take out a 335 harness because it doesn't work, because something shorted out, or for whatever reason it's not working...

    For this reason, every pre-wired RS Guitarworks 335 harness is tested at the shop, by me, to make sure that the Switch, Volumes & Tones all work like they should.

    [​IMG]

    So, the harness works. It's time to make a decision:

    • Solder the pickups to the Volume pots...

    or


    • Solder leads to the Volume pots to extend the lengths up towards the Bridge pickup route.


    On my pre-wired 335 harnesses, I put "extention" leads on. Why? So that if someone feels "experimental", they won't have to spend all freakin' day just to change out some pickups...the leads are right there--just solder the pickup's leads onto the extentions from the Volume pots. Again, I learned this from experience...just trying to save some headaches.

    If you decide to solder the pickups directly to the Volume pots, make sure you ground them to the back of their respective Volume pot.

    Just to re-cap:

    1. You've tested the harness.
    2. You've got the pickups hooked up to the Volume Pots, and grounded to the back of the Volume pots.

    On to Part 3...
     
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  3. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    Just when you're getting ready to go for it, one more thing you need to observe: there are 2 kinds of 335-style guitars in this world:


    • Jack on the top of the guitar body


    • Jack on the bottom/side of the guitar body

    If you have the jack on the bottom/side of the guitar body, time to get your Reachin' Stick/dowel rod with the jack plug on it.


    • Put the flat finish washer on the stick.

    • Put the hex nut on the stick.

    • Fish the Reachin' Stick (with the washer & nut on it), through the hole for the jack, towards the Bridge Pickup route.

    • Put the lock/'star' washer on the stick, and...

    • Plug the plug into jack of the harness.

    You will use the Reachin' Stick to pull the jack through the side of the body, with the lock/'star' washer on the jack, and be able to screw the hex nut on top of the flat washer, all in one motion. :naughty:


    If your jack is mounted on the top, then you have to get inventive. My way was to fish a long piece of scrap wire through the jack's hole in the top, and get it to the Bridge pickup route.

    I then put a lock/'star' washer on the piece of wire, and let it fall down on the wire, inside the body. I then ran the wire right through the jack (like a plug), out the back and gave myself a few inches of slack.

    I then tied a spare hex-nut onto the end of the piece of wire, so it is behind the back end of the jack.

    Next, tie the other 3-ft or so length of wire to the hex-nut, so it is hanging out of the Bridge pickup route and outside of the guitar.

    When you pull the wire out of the hole for the jack, the jack should be pulled right into the hole, using the spare hex-nut behind it as leverage. Slip the finish washer & nut on the top, finger-tight.

    Then, use the other length of wire to pull the hex-nut & wire assembly back out the Bridge pickup route.


    But, you can't do that just yet... :naughty:

    Time for the Plastic/Rubber Tubing (see Part 1):

    Label one end of each piece of rubber/plastic tubing with:


    • NV
    • NT
    • BT
    • BV

    Then, into the appropriate holes in the top, fish the rubber/plastic tubing through the holes, and angle them towards the Bridge pickup route:

    [​IMG]

    Pull each individual piece of tubing up through the Bridge pickup route, and put a lock/'star' washer over the end of it.

    Then, attach each piece of tubing onto the matching pot's shaft, taking care not to cross the pieces of tubing. The goal here is to pull the tubing (with the pots attached) in a straight shot from the under-side of the guitar, up through the pot holes easily.


    Drum-roll, please... :D

    Now is the time to get serious... :Ohno:

    Get the whole harness (semi-organized) into the body of the guitar. Jack first, followed by the Tones, and then the Volumes & Switch. This may take some effort, but you're almost done.

    Pull the jack through its hole in the side or top (as described above), pull the pots through the top, slip the finish washers & hex-nuts onto the tubes and down onto the pot shafts. Just get the nuts started on the shafts, finger-tight, but don't tighten them down yet. Here's what it looks like:

    [​IMG]



    Time for a very important part: Test the harness again. Make sure the switch, Volume & Tone controls do what they are supposed to do by tapping on the pickups. If everything is good, tighten everything down.

    Re-attach the ground wire to the braid of the Bridge pickup. Or, if your Bridge pickup doesn't a metal braid lead, you can solder the bridge ground to the back of the pickup...or you can loop it underneath the pickup height adjustment spring & screw. :naughty:

    You are done. Have an Adult Beverage or 3 of your choice. :cheers:

    If you have a problem, you are still at a point where you can troubleshoot. Pull the harness back out, with all the tubing attached. Start with pieces of wire inadvertantly touching other pieces of wire or legs of pots. Bad grounds. Cold solder joints. This is why I heat-shrink everything. This is why testing the harness outside the guitar is so crucial.



    I hope this has been helpful. :)
     
  4. VILLANOVA

    VILLANOVA Senior Member

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    either way, still seems like a massive nightmare :laugh2:

    you managed to make it a little less bad, though. great post! very informative
     
  5. gmacdonnell

    gmacdonnell V.I.P. Member

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    There are hard-learned lessons. I think this post will save a lot of people headaches, time, and money on Advil. ;)

    Just wish I could've read it a few years ago!

    Great article, Billy. Thanks so much, on behalf of 335 players everywhere!
    Rock on, my man.:dude:
     
  6. sidepartings26

    sidepartings26 Senior Member

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    Awsome awsome post. Is there anything like this for the les paul?
    :applause:
     
  7. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    This is excellent, Billy! I know because I've done this a couple of times. A tip for input jacks that are mounted on the top: take a 1/4 " jack that's grinded down on the sides so it fits through the hole in the top and solder some length of unused cable to it. You can then push it through the hole, plug it into the jack and pull the jack right to it's place and back through the hole. For those who don't use prewired assemblies: make a cardboard template to make all your connections pre reinstallation so you can be sure every piece of cable etc. will be of enough length.

    like this:

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    great post man, thanks.

    I've used heat shrink tube rather than the rubber tubing. DON'T use heat shrink with adhesive in it. Push over the shaft of the pot, hit it with a lighter, and it's on there tight. Pull them through, drop the washer/nut over the end of the tube, tighten it up, then a small cut in the tube removes it.
     
  9. skeeterbuck

    skeeterbuck Junior Member

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    Billy, What guitar were you using for your demo pics?

    That pickup cavity is very spacious to say the least.

    Just last week I did a Tokai ES 120 (335 copy) and the opening was less tha an inch. I could barely get the new CTS pots in sideways one at a time. What a PITA!

    Besides Billy's great directions, I also recommend that you allow yourself plenty of extra time to complete the job. A job like this that is not rushed seems to go a lot smoother.
     
  10. joek86

    joek86 Senior Member

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    Billy,

    You are quite a resource and we are lucky to have you on the forum! Thanks!

    ~Joe
     
  11. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    If you've read the thread so far, you read the How-To's & the Watch-Outs in the text, so this time instead of explaining it all, I just took a bunch of pics and I'll makes notes as I go along...

    Today's example was a nice 339 in for an RS Vintage upgrade kit, but with a twist--I wired both sides of it Modern and Vintage, operated by 2 push/pulls. The only problem being that 339's are skinny suckers and there's not alot of elbow-room for those push/pulls. I didn't measure, but it was t-i-g-h-t... :cool:

    Set up the output jack first. Got my Reachin' Stick™ with the flat washer & nut already on it, ready to go. The photo's are step-by-step for the jack, but you have to do the jack and stuff the rest of the harness in at the same time...

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    [​IMG][​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Here's the harness, ready to go in, Tones first. Tubing on the 2 Tone pots...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Note the lock/'star' washers on the pots first, then the tubing... :cool:

    So, I pulled the jack and gradually worked the 2 Tones down into the guitar at the same time. A little here, a little there...

    This 339 is über-thin, so working the push/pulls up-&-into the control holes was a bit of a challenge, especially since it was first-thing in the AM and I haven't even had 1/2-a-Mountain Dew yet. [​IMG] But I got it together rather easily (read: "lucky") and both push/pulls just went up-&-in like butter:

    [​IMG][​IMG]



    Part 2 coming up after these messages...
     
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  12. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    Because of the layout of the 339, I didn't need tubing for the switch & Volume controls, so I just put them in by hand...

    [​IMG]


    Now to re-test the harness, in case I torqued some wires somewhere along the line, or broke a ground, or something...it's always something... :rolleyes:

    So, I got out my Hi-Test Hot Rod Harness Tester:

    [​IMG]

    ...and I hooked up the test leads to the pickup lead extensions that are attached to the Volume pots:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Everything tested out 'OK', so now to attach the pickups to the extentions...


    Attach the 'hot'/'+':

    [​IMG]

    and then the ground:

    [​IMG]
    You can see where I put heat-shrink over the 'hot'/'+' (above)

    Did the Neck pickup first. As a rule, I never cut pickup leads. It affects re-sale value of the pickups, and many manufacturers will accept a return/exchange if you haven't cut any of the pickup's lead. So, I coil up the extra pickup lead in the cavity so it isn't flopping around in the body of the guitar...

    [​IMG]



    Did the Bridge pickup the same way, but I have to account for that pesky ground wire. So I left enough room for it, and once I soldered it on there, I used a mini-zip tie to bundle the Bridge pickup lead & the lead from the Neck pickup together so that you can't see any wires through the F-hole.
    [​IMG]


    Again, I hope this was helpful, sorry for the length and all the pics. Like I said a few posts above, preparation is the main thing here. The actual install is easy. :naughty:
     
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  13. hillbilly

    hillbilly V.I.P. Member

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    That guitar was my buddy's new 335 with block inlays, I think it was a 2008. Regular 335's, Gretshces, and the big jazz boxes are a piece of cake compared to some guitars.

    Some of the old 335's with the pots inside the metal cans are the worst, because it seems as though they built the tops, installed the pots inside the metal cans on the top, then, put the tops on the rest of the body & neck, and then sprayed them. Changing those pots out is a pain because you basically have to dremel through the F-holes to get at the pots. Talk about suck... :rolleyes:

    The 339's (slimmed-down, small-body versions of the 335) are the 2nd-worst, because there's no room to maneuver...

    Luckily for me, that's what I had to work on today :rolleyes:, and, as luck would have it, the customer wanted some special tweaks (which I was able to oblige), but it required the use of 2 push/pull pots. I think 339's are an 1-&-a-1/2-inch thick, and push/pulls are 1-&-a-1/4-inch, so there's little room for error. Given the thread here, I took a bunch of pictures along the way (see the above posts). :cool:
     
  14. Guido

    Guido The Gweeeed V.I.P. Member

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    Great post, Billy!
     
  15. joek86

    joek86 Senior Member

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    +1
     
  16. Jason S

    Jason S Senior Member

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    Man. I wish this post was around last year. When I did mine.
     
  17. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    Nothing to add other than my thanks for such an informative thread. Cheers, hillbilly.
     
  18. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    wow!!! thanks !!
     
  19. SpinWheelz

    SpinWheelz Senior Member

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    I can see how the input jack might easily be the biggest nightmare to pull back into the body if the jack is on top, not on the side. Could the plastic tubing be used in this case? What if you took the plastic tubing, shoved the 1/4" plug into one end (or maybe just tape it up big time) and thread that through the hole? Would that work?
     
  20. sliding tom

    sliding tom Senior Member

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    http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/tonefreaks/40089-335-electronics-installation-k-how-take-years-off-your-life.html#post717072
     

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