Mexicaster Overhaul with stone age tools (with pics)

Discussion in 'Fender' started by DarrellV, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    Completed and back together at last!

    I'm likin' the kind badas$ look of the 2 open coils in there!

    [​IMG]

    Plugged it in and OMG! Get ready, you've heard this one before, it sounds amazing.

    It's much louder with that tone control out of the way, the makeshift cap works great on the tone control with a good range of motion and very subtle change ratio.

    The pickup combos work as they should volumes and all, and of course they sound different that before.

    There is something about that barbecue in the bridge position though.....

    When I was testing it through the digitech I was using the same presets I've always used and one of them is clean with a slight slap-back echo. For country twang!

    Well this time the BBQ, which is advertised as a lower output PAF style pickup started breaking up into this creamy smooth velvety edged distortion on the outer edges of the clean setting.

    I had to dial the amp sim gain control back to clean it up again.

    But it has THAT vintage smooth creamy sound which may not be for EMG / Tread-plate lovers, but I LOVE that sound!

    Wow, I can't wait to use this at practice this Friday night!

    I played it all afternoon and my fingertips and arms are STILL sore! :D

    I LOVE that guitar again after giving it a good setup and getting the action down where I like it! :thumb:

    I thought those days were gone and had relegated this guitar to second class status...

    [​IMG]

    I even broke out my old Heritage 553 to use in my Lester's absence, went right past this one.

    :shock:
     
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  2. StingyCH

    StingyCH The Bearded Baron Premium Member

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    Love this project man :cheers: :applause:
     
  3. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    it's been a couple of days now and I've been playing the snot out of this thing!

    I find myself coming home from working and actually WANTING to play again.

    It's been a while since I've felt that way.

    So as I've been playing I've been fine tuning the setup of the action and the pup pole pieces to get it more dialed in.

    A complete setup takes me about a week.

    For me it gives my ear several breaks between playings to rest and hear things fresh each time and see if it still sounds the same or if I can notice any differences from the last time.

    Also gives the neck time to settle after the truss rod changes.

    In my experience I have seen some guitars continue to settle overnight or after a day or so, and the action can end up too low after being set to my liking the day before.

    [​IMG]

    This is pretty comfortable for me but could be better. I just need a set of nut files to fix the other end. Strings are uneven in height and the plain strings are higher than they need to be.
     
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  4. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    This is what I've got the pole pieces up to :shock:!

    Keep in mind this is a Strat and used to have a single coil in the neck.

    I found the neck hummer almost unusable for me because it was heavy and dark not a lot of focus. Muddy might be a good word for it. Too thick.

    I tried lowering it into the body but that didn't help the clarity any.

    So I used my old trick of lowering the pickup and raising the poles on one pickup.

    This has the effect of emulating a single coil sound by reducing the window of string the hummer sees. It takes the slug coil signal out of the picture, or at least reduces it considerably, and pronounces the screw coil signal.

    It sings now with a beautiful sonorous tone that is not muddy, but still full bodied. More important though, to me, is it is a useful sound. I can play stuff with it and like it! :thumb:

    [​IMG]

    Raising the bridge pole screws predictably brightened the sound but also 'lightened' the weight of the sound.

    It is still full bodied as a hummer should be, not thin or shrill like a single can be.

    But it has clarity that cuts through and still pretty good string separation. It 'rings' when a chord is struck. I like that!

    Crank the gain and that Barbecue just sings! :wow:

    Sweet creamy over-driven tone that just coaxes the notes out of me. Sustains for as long as I need it too, longer, actually. This is new...:hmm:

    The Barbecue:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. StingyCH

    StingyCH The Bearded Baron Premium Member

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    I use the same trick on my LPC :applause:

    Did you do this directly by ear or you started with a measure and then adjust one by one?
     
  6. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    I do all my adjustments by ear.

    I have a pretty good ear and I notice differing volumes across the strings pretty easily.

    I play a bit of Hank Marvin and Shadows type stuff that really relies on the sound of the individual strings.

    I can hear the volume changes as I pick from string to string across the neck as notes 'boom' or 'drop' through the melody.

    As I am playing a melody across the strings it is fairly easy for me to hear any difference in attack or volume or clarity relative to the rest of the notes.

    I'll tweak the pole-piece for that string or strings, or even adjust the pickup height if it is something across several strings.

    Then 'play it again, Sam!' LOL!

    Even if you could use a meter it wouldn't be the best solution to me because it doesn't take into account the ear's sensitivity response to different frequencies, speaker resonance in the amp / headphones etc.

    A meter could read even across all strings, for example, and the G string might still sound harsh to the ear, and need to be backed off a little anyway....

    Assuming you could find a way to pick the strings with exactly the same amount of force....

    I do my setups by ear as well. As low as they can go between truss rod and saddle height with no spank. A little plink is ok, but when the string spanks the neck hard enough to deaden the high frequencies, it's too low.

    And intonation?! Don't get me started! If it's not Molly Hatchet tight, my ear will hear it and it will drive me nuts!
     
  7. truckermde

    truckermde Senior Member

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    Nice!

    Glad you got what you're lookin' for out of it.

    (the toanz are in the cat stickers)

    :cheers2:
     
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  8. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    Shhhh.... You figured out my secret! :Ohno:

    Joey Dego is having this discussion in another thread right now!

    Let's not spoil his fun, we know where the tonez are! :h5:
     
  9. LeftyF2003

    LeftyF2003 Premium Member

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    Hey, that looks good. It's better than some of the solder jobs I've seen come out of Gibson! :laugh2:
     
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  10. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    As a side note after I had finished with the adjustments on the neck pup I sat and thought for a bit on why that might be, and I found myself thinking back to when it was invented and why.

    I speculated how the designers might have approached the this new pickup in light of what was then the current design of guitar pickups.

    All were single coil, their P-90 unit included. Unlike Fender's and the early Gretch De'Armonds their pickup had adjustable pole screws.

    We know they took the P-90 as their basis for coil windings.

    10,000 turns around a P-90 by simple division they arrived at the 5000 turns on each coil of their new humbugger. Arbitrary. They had no model to go on yet.

    They also used the bar magnet design on the P-90 for the humbugger.

    So it occurred to me that the designers may have never meant (or considered) the slug coil to be an active part of the original pickup design!

    That's why mine sounded so much better using only the screw coil and moving the slug coil down away from the strings!

    To me, further proof of this is in the fact that they didn't even put screws in the slug coil at first.

    To them it must have just been like a parasitic attachment, there only to dispense with the hum. It had no active role in signal generation.

    Further proof of this theory is in the way they covered it over in metal like a mere appendix, leaving only the screw poles showing.

    Again, like a P-90, it only had one row of screws facing the strings. The other non-important one was hidden on the metal cover.

    Fender discovered as Gibson did later, that the pickups nearer to the middle of the vibrating string (i.e. neck pup) get more signal energy from the string than the ones closer to the bridge. So they matched the amount of windings to compensate for the differences in string energy.

    They couldn't have known going into this how it would affect the sound of their new design. At this point they hadn't even HEARD it yet!

    Gibson must have noticed that their new design, while having the same number of copper turns as the P-90 and probably the same magnet, did not sound like the P-90.

    A combination of internal impedance between 2 coils that did not exist within the single coil P-90 and the wider magnetic window on the strings made for a thicker, fuller sound, without the spank, of the P-90.

    The neck pickup in particular would have become heavier and thicker sounding.

    This could be why the early PAF's went with lower strength magnets in an effort to reduce the thickness of the signal to a more tone-fully usable level. It certainly would have been the easiest thing to experiment with as compared to altering the windings :shock:.

    I'm pretty sure the P-90 is a hotter output pup than a PAF, so it wasn't because they couldn't have made the PAF hotter. I'm thinking it was done to help it's sound, as they understood it back then. To reduce the mud.

    Remember, when Seth was asked by Tim Shaw a while ago about the number of windings he used Seth off offhandedly and humorously replied 'we just wound them till they were full!'

    This indicates that the early attempts were not a perfect science and no one took the process too seriously, yet. How could they? It was still new! And they were out there on their own.

    Which is why I thinking that the humbucker, as originally conceived by Seth and others at the time, was made to operate as a single coil by way of elevated pole screws, and the choke coil was a necessary evil of no importance to the sound. Hidden under a metal cover, it was only there to choke the hum. Nothing more.

    My 2 cents. As Spock once said to Scotty, 'We don't have any evidence, only a theory which seems to fit the facts.'

    :D
     
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  11. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    So true! But I'm not one to toot my own horn, so to speak! :thumb:

    It's one of my pet peeves whether it is on plumbing or wiring, I like a good soldering job! :D
     
  12. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    Anybody? I know there are some old timers on here that must have seen these back in our heyday! :cool:
     
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  13. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    Except that Seth's first PAF din't have exposed poles..and had this to say to Seymour Duncan:

    [FONT=verdana,arial,helv,helvetica][SIZE=-1]SWD: Are the coils made by hand in the prototype humbucker (PAF)
    Seth Lover: Yes, that’s right, the coil forms are made from celluloid with a bar magnet underneath with iron pole pieces on each side, you see when I first designed this I had the cover plain on the original one...I wanted them to sell it without any adjusting screws because I found that with this there was much difference between the first and second strings like there is on most of the old non adjustable type there was quite a difference in the first & second string but this didn’t seem to have that major difference, and I thought it was not necessary to have pole pieces...well when you take away a talking point from a salesman it’s like breaking off your arm....the first thing I came up with an idea was just fake some things there so I stamped them on the cover, that didn’t please them either, by that time we already made the patent application...that’s why it went through that way, so they finally decided they wanted screws in there, so I put adjusting screws in it for them, then the question they asked me then was which way should those screws set? Should they set up or down? Well you’ve got to give them an answer.. so I decided to take the one closest to the fingerboard and put the screws facing it and the one closest to the bridge towards the bridge, laugh...that made them happy, they had a set way that it should be set, it only amounted to turning the pickup around...
    SWD: Did you feel the screws in it would change the flow of the magnetic field..
    Seth Lover: It would change the direction of the magnetic field out the top and also the bottom..

    His first design didn't have exposed poles..
    [​IMG]
    http://www.seymourduncan.com/blog/the-tone-garage/seymour-w-duncans-interview-with-seth-lover

    [/SIZE][/FONT]
     
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  14. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    Sweet! Thanks again, Kris! :thumb:

    Love real history!

    I'm not hard of seeing, FWIW :D with my glasses I have better than 20/20 vision.....:cool:
     
  15. Kris Ford

    Kris Ford Senior Member

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    It was just a bigger size when I copied it over. :D
    (I actually blew it up on my end LOL...don't wear glasses...YET)
     
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  16. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    :lol::lol::lol::lol:

    Thanks again! :cheers:
     
  17. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    Last edited: May 12, 2017
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  18. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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  19. DarrellV

    DarrellV 1 Year old and 8K this month or bust! Premium Member

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    That is a humble HD-400 I picked up used to get me by till I can part with a grand for a Helix.

    I was still using a near first gen POD XT PRO before this, so at least I am up to the HD class now...

    It was run direct in stereo to the mixer and I used the floor monitors for hearing.

    There are no presets used, I customized all my toanez over weeks of tweaking and saved my 4 most used ones.

    I also run this unit on a stand (yes I know its a floor model, I'm weird).

    This makes tweaking easier for me on the fly and you'll see me doing it during the video.

    I also make use of different pickups and combos to get my different sounds.
     
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  20. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    I have to say, I REALLY enjoyed hearing this. D, your playing is what kept me listening all the way through. D's playing added a nice hard edge to what might normally be more folkish in style. I dig the message of the performance and D's playing kept my interest.
     
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