Pickups go on and off randomly when switching: how do I diagnose and repair? (DIY)

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by neurosis, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Hi everybody. So, about half ano hour ago my PRS 5-way switch stopped working. i hope it´s that and not something more annoying.

    I was adjusting the guitar. Checking intonation and adjusting pickup height etc. Once I had it were I wanted the thing started acting weird. I was surprised thinking maybe the pole pieces were responsible pulling and bending but realized soon that wasn´t the problem.

    Sound comes and goes when I switch. If I am in the neck position and go straight to the bridge the guitar might or might not sound. Sometimes it just sounds lower, almost inaudible. The other way round, going bridge to neck it does the same but it seems less frequently. Middle position is ok I think but the single positions in between are barely audible as well.

    I tried changing cables to make sure it´s not that and the amp is ok, responding well to all eq changes with another guitar. So it´s the PRS.

    How do I troubleshoot this thing to find the problem? I want to fix this myself. It can´t be that hard. I have a good soldering iron and other tools. Would a multimeter help identifying the trouble area? This can´t be too difficult with patience and some time.

    Does anybody have a clue of what it might be and how to go about fixing it?

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    It sounds like a bad soldering point OR a volume pot that went on vacations...
     
  3. Swyse

    Swyse Swyse

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    It sounds like a dirty switch or bad solder joints.
    I'm leaning towards dirty switch.
    Get some contact cleaner and spray the switch and work it back and forth.
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Electronic components are so cheap and not really meant to last forever that when this happens I usually just rewire it with new parts. Most of the time it's an upgrade.

    If you're set on not replacing anything, clean it up with some DeOxit.
     
  5. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Hey Max. Now my Les Paul is doing the same. Weird that both guitars would get the same problem at the same time?

    I just tested the cables with a multimeter and I get all the opens and shorts in the right places. So it has to be the guitars.

    I just plugged into my interface and opened it´s UI. With the Les Paul the sound comes and goes without changing pickups. With the PRS when i wiggle the volume pot it crackles and goes on and off, but also the switch gives me trouble.

    Could it be that both guitars have a problem with the input jack apart from other stuff? Maybe the hole widened and so the connection wiggles... hence producing the volume drops.

    Rewiring it all will be annoying but you might be right. isn´t there a way to use the multimeter to troubleshoot the inside? What would I be looking at? If you know a good source to read about this let me know. i am all about learning.

    Thanks!
     
  6. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    If the problem is intermittent, meter testing can be a pain. It also means that there is likely an issue with the components themselves. The slider in switches, resistant strip in pots, and clips in jacks can all wear out mechanically.

    Depending on the type of jack you can typically just bend the connectors back in place, so it's worth giving it a try.
     
  7. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Ok. I just got the cleaner you recommended. I´ll check the connectors as well. Thanks a lot as usual!
     
  8. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    Damn this DeOxit stuff is miraculous. I have been setting up the guitar to the t but now, not only is the problem solved, the overall result is stunning. It saved me from having to look into the PRS wiring, which I feel is a bit daunting honestly.

    I can recommend this stuff. No more crackling, perfect sound and with my setup I have perfect transition between all pickup positions. Really happy with this.
     
  9. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Yeah, DeOxit is great!

    It also helps to blow some compressed air lightly through the components after using it, it can take a lot of crud off and you don't want it just sitting in the part.
     
  10. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    That´s a good point! I will check that as well. Thanks as always!
     

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