Another PCB thread, sorry. Neuters my guitar?

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by Diocletian, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. Diocletian

    Diocletian Senior Member

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    I did do a search and clicked on a couple of links that looked as if they might address this but I just got an error saying the page wasn't found.

    Anyway, I now have 3 SG Standards, Gibsons. 2016, 2005 and 1999. All three had the same pickup config in them with the 498T/490R. Only the 2016 has the PCB in it.

    I noticed right away that, although the 2016 sounds great, it doesn't have as much output as the other two guitars despite having the same pickups and the pups are set at the same height etc. The older guitars really rock - put it it this way, the 2005 with the bridge pickup volume knob on the 3 position is still hotter than the 2016 on 10. The 2016 is very sensitive to the volume control, it really does affect the gain BUT on full on it still doesn't have that much power. ANd, on top of that, it actually seems to feed back as if the pickup is microphonic.

    To address this I bought an Angus Young pickup and put that in. It's a great pup, like a 498T on steroids, BUT, it's still not as hot as the other two guitars and still, when turned up to 10, has that weird little microphonic thing going on.

    I've messed around with the pickups and wiring in all three of these guitars, but in the end it comes down to a simple fact: the 2016 sounds neutered in comparison to the others. It's as if there's a limit on how much gain you can get.

    So is it the PCB that's causing it? Or something else?
    I love playing the 2016 and it sounds perfect for AC/DC cos it has just the right amount of gain for that Angus sound but....it irritates me that something is clearly not right here!
     
  2. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    I'm a supporter or replacing the PCB in guitars for:

    different taper pots
    better quality pots
    better quality caps
    components of the values you choose
    using the wiring scheme you choose
    robustness
    ease of serviceability
    simplicity of design
    vintage accuracy

    All of those can be great reasons to replace a PCB but it's unlikely to make your guitar louder unless the value of the pots (not jus the taper/type) is also changing in the process and, even at that, it would be a minimal change.

    Connect the pickup directly to the output jack and see if the volume increases with the PCB completely out of the circuit.



    Other factors that may be contributing to volume differences in guitars of the same model with the same pickups:

    Every piece of timber is unique so every guitar will sound unique.
    Not all guitars are the same volume acoustically, so not all guitars will be the same volume electrically, even with the exact same pickup/electronics.
    Pickup height changes volume.
    Pole piece height changes volume.
    Pickup angle in relation to the strings changes volume.
    The amount of relief in the neck and other factors of action and setup change volume.
    Gibson pickups with the same model number often change in specs over the years.
    Wire can vary from one spool to the next.
    The setup of the winding machine is adjusted several times a day, over the course of years, you can certainly expect some variation.
    Magnet manufacturing can be crude and not all magnets of the same type from the same foundry (even the same batch) will sound the same. They can have flaws in the casting or processing or be not fully charged or charged on an imperfect axis.

    So, basically, there are many many factors that can be at play, here.
     
  3. WhiteEpiLP

    WhiteEpiLP Senior Member

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    Don't slip on the way down the "Tone" wormhole. It's a long fall.
    I'd swap out the pcb just cause i think they look silly and over complicated.
     
  4. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    +100.....:applause::applause::applause:
     
  5. Diocletian

    Diocletian Senior Member

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    Oh don't worry, those days are long gone. I've spent a fortune on pickups and magnets and stuff over the years. I'm past it now, just wanted to know if anyone could explain the gain drop between the guitars.
     
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  6. Diocletian

    Diocletian Senior Member

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    That's a good idea. How to do it though since the pickups are the quick connector type?
     
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  7. viking20

    viking20 Senior Member

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    I dont for one second believe that the pcb in itself holds your tone or volume back
    The values of the pots used might , though , pcb or not....
    Try to measure the value of the pots on there , you will have to disconnect the pu wires to measure the volume pots
    If you want to change the value of the pots , you might as well change it all out to old school pots......if you want to save money , seek out individual pots. If you want to pay more buy a "kit"........all there is to it , IMO
     
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  8. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    Having a PCB itself is NOT the issue. A bad component used on one, certainly possible. But you could just as easily have a bad pot in one without a PCB.

    Sounds like you have something happening that shouldn't be. And likely, if you re-wired it, you would fix it. But it wouldn't be due to specifically eliminating a PCB.

    If you want to remove the PCB, go for it. Even if "just cuz". But if it were me, I'd like to know exactly why it is behaving this way. You might consider wiring the PUP directly to the output jack. Just bypass everything. If you don't get the volume you expect then, then obviously the components on the PCB are not the issue. If that solved it, then you would know that it had something to do with the PCB assembly. And at that point, it's probably easier to rewire it, then to try to replace a specific PCB component (unless you're electronics savvy).
     
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  9. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Solder two short jumper wires onto a 1/4" jack and insert them into the holes on the pickup's Molex connector. It won't be stable but will give you the answer you want without any permanent modifications.
     
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  10. CCK

    CCK Senior Member

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    Very good post! By degree, I'm an electrical engineer, and electrically, I would be very skeptical that all other things being equal, a guitar would sound different with a PCB as opposed to traditional wiring. Copper is copper. ALL the reasons cooljuk listed are excellent reasons to abandon the PCB, but increased output isn't. Copper is copper.
     
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  11. C.J.

    C.J. Senior Member

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    Electronically they are no different. The tracks on my key-ring are super wide and the PCB is super high quality. Real world: yeah they really add noise, reduce options and over-complicate what is a simple thing.
     
  12. GitFiddle

    GitFiddle Premium Member

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    Or could you possibly straighten out a couple paper clips and insert them in the pickup molex and output jack molex connectors?
     
  13. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    That would work. All for temporary testing, it should be no problem. Just don't use those pastel color coated ones. ...or if you do, sand off the coating.
     
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  14. spitfire

    spitfire Senior Member

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    In this application, a PCB is certainly NOT adding noise. It is likely reducing it. And they are far simpler to build. But I agree they are more difficult to work with and especially to modify. More so for those with limited electronics experience.
     
  15. C.J.

    C.J. Senior Member

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    The PCB itself may not add noise but in this application it does/did in my experience. The cavities are not shielded from the factory and the grounding was 'iffy'. I used to be able to get radio on P90's even without gain, which had me scratching my head - all P90's a prone to this but this was more antenna than transducer. I can't explain it but there was no doubt the PCB/stock wiring were the cause. That all went away when I hand wired it, even without shielding.

    FWIW I didn't have any real problems de-soldering components from the PCB, although a hot air gun and/or a solder sucker were required. So about $80 in specialist tools most people don't have and if they did would rather spend on a pre-wired harness. People on other forums who complain they are 'flimsy' or w/e are fibbing. Its the thickest sturdiest PCB I've seen in a long time.
     
  16. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    It just that it's DIFFERENT.

    Guitar players fall to pieces over DIFFERENT, and forums just make it worse for some..
     
  17. paco1976

    paco1976 Senior Member

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    Have you measured the pickup values? Though they might be same model there can be differences through the years.
    Do the same with the rest of the components.

    Just an idea.

    I wouldn't touch the PCB. I had a 2010 Les Paul Standard with the PCB and I didn't like the PCB. I'm happy I never removed it and started throwing money in stuff that would really make a significant difference.
    I liked the sound and the guitar, it was just me knowing there was a PCB... It is not worth the effort.
     
  18. GitFiddle

    GitFiddle Premium Member

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    I have no problem with different, if the difference was to improve the product "FOR" the consumer. Most product changes these days are for the benefit of the producer. Either to streamline the process or save money. Like some modern automobiles in which you have to lift the engine to change a spark plug.

    In this case they were probably able to lay off several nice ladies, with families that sat at benches all day assembling wiring harnesses. Saved the company some salaries and health insurance. But I guarantee the the price of a guitar didn't get any less from the change.
     
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  19. C.J.

    C.J. Senior Member

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    Same reason I won't buy Chibsons. Decent wages, paid leave, health insurance, pensions, set hours etc. Not to mention the wholesale rape of the old growth 'protected' rain forest. Since the feds stopped Gibson using tropical wood, its now all going to China (along with all the illegally logged wood from Africa too) and being turned in to pieces of shit by slaves worth $150 for consumption by bigger pieces of shit on the other side of the world who probably have decent wages, paid leave, health insurance, pensions and set hours. The irony being those same people can't see that by buying the Chinese tat they are only hastening the decline in their and their children's living standards and the erosion of decent wages, paid leave, health insurance, pensions and set hours.
     
  20. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    ^ Well all the chinese factories use local woods.....mahogany substitutes or cosmetic clones. Even for Epi that operates at a much higher pricepoint it is too expensive to make with huge transport costs......let alone for the the fakers.
    Veneers are often used for appearance.

    The second point is that none of the wood is coming from rainforest - all Gibson's honduran mahogany comes from Fiji plantations and has done for a while now. This source is CITES exempt unlike from Sth America
    Finally, the feds didn't stop Gibson from using tropical wood......they still use the same things they always have, and it was only a shortcut that got Gibson caught....not the legality of the wood in the first place.
     
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