Weak Sound in Bridge Pickup After Pickup Change

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by guitaardvark, Aug 2, 2020.

  1. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Hey all,

    I see this problem all over the internet, but I've either tried everything that gets suggested or OPs rarely follow up with helpful solutions.

    I changed the bridge pickup in my RG470 to a DiMarzio Air Zone. Before installing it, I installed a DiMarzio pickup cover on it using this method (wax on top of cover, then solder base to cover). I got it wired up and it sounds like a single coil: it's not as full sounding as it should be (it's supposed to have a big low end), and the output is comparable to the single coils in the neck and middle position. In fact, the single coils have a lot more low end than the bridge pickup. I've double checked by comparing it to a guitar with a JB in the bridge, and the JB is much, much louder and fuller.

    Here's what I've done to diagnose:
    -I've triple checked the wiring/color coding according to the stickies on this forum, and it's all correct.
    -I've gone over the solder to ensure that there are no cold joints.
    -I've raised the pickup. The pickup is at a slight angle in the cavity (the poles near the bridge are about 2mm from the strings while the poles close to the middle pickup are about 4mm).
    -I've replaced the switch with a new DiMarzio switch.
    -I've checked the resistance on the pickup. It reads 17kΩ with the switch in the bridge position (which is normal, according to DiMarzio's specs) and about 3.6kΩ when split with the middle single coil, which is about 6kΩ on its own. I assume this is roughly correct due to Ohm's law, but someone may need to correct me on this.

    Other than that, I'm not sure what else to do. I'm hoping I didn't fry the pickup by installing the cover, and I'm not sure that the slight angle would make such a substantial difference in the sound. Any suggestions are welcome!
     
  2. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I was going to suggest tapping both coil screws or slugs while you have it on bridge mode selected to see if both coils are giving you sound but since you're measuring the correct resistance while on bridge mode then that's not the issue. Plus with the cover it would not be that easy. You could check if the two wires of the inner coils are well insulated and not touching somewhere.

    One thing to consider is if the pickup is all the way in the pickup cover. I tried to remove and reinstall a pickup cover and it wasn't as easy as I thought. One of the times the slug part was quite far away from the cover as the and that gave me a similar response.

    On another note the Airzone is not supposed to be a high output pickup, more of a medium output pickup. Sometimes pickups do not work all that well or as expected with some guitars. I'm not sure if that 2 mm difference would create such a great tonal shift.
     
  3. Phlegethon

    Phlegethon SS.org Regular

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    Going to see if I can't think through this. First thing: does your air zone sound similar to this vid?

    If it sounds like the above video, it's working correctly at least. Doesn't mean you agree with it's sound however. So for better or worse it would mean you'd need a different bridge pickup to suit what you're looking for.

    If it doesn't sound like that vid a few things come to mind:

    1. Pickup is damaged enough to affect the output, but not enough to stop working completely. This happened to my S770 I own. Only fix is to install another, actually working pickup. My suggestion? If you want a covered pickup, buy one with a cover already installed. No sense in doing more work than you have to.
    2. Check with information from Dimarizo regarding wiring/installation. Checking here was a great idea, but whenever things go south? I'd go straight to the people who make it (Dimarzio in this case) to get info and check against that as well. Because thin output from an otherwise working humbucker is giving me a possible 'parallel connected' vibe.
    3. You may have inadvertently done something to it installing the covers. You may or may not be able to salvage the pickup, depending on what happened.
    4. Height on a humbucker shouldn't be an issue at least. Not like they're single coils with magnetic slugs. It's possible for the pickup to be close enough to the strings to get in the way of playing. However, I believe this isn't causing the main problem.
     
  4. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the response fellas. I know that the Air Zone is supposed to be lower output, but when I'm comparing it to the JB, the JB feels like it's twice as loud and has a massive bottom end that the Air Zone is supposed to have, according to the DiMarzio Website. It doesn't have any of the character of the Tone Zone, which I am more familiar with. I'll try to get some DIs tonight and compare it to that video.
     
  5. Alex79

    Alex79 SS.org Regular

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    You probably just need to reverse two cables. It sounds like it is wired in parallel, which is why you are getting no bass, but still a quite high DC reading.

    https://d2emr0qhzqfj88.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/diagrams/1hum1vol1tone_0.pdf

    Try this first. Black and white together, red as hot wire on pot or connector. Green and bare to ground.
    Also maybe solder it straight to the jack , to rule out a broken pot. That happened to me once, I somehow overheated a pot with my soldering iron.

    I can definitely confirm that the Air Zone has a lot of bass, and it is quite loud as well (should be as loud as the JB, due to the big low end and mids).

    If you had damaged the pickup, it probably wouldn't work at all.
     
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  6. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    High DC reading but sounding thin and bright? To me it sounds like the pickup itself is out of phase, one coil to the other so yeah... Even if the color code you are using is right one of the coils might be winded reversed by whatever reason then.

    You should have black and white together, red as hot and green as ground. Try swapping around black and red and there are two chances: sounds good as humbucker in the bridge position but combined with the single coil in middle sounds out of phase (then go back and use red as hot and swap green and white) or everything works fine...
     
  7. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Yeah the parallel coils wiring is another thing to consider, especially if you bought the pickup new and had to solder it yourself. Or if you bought it used and the previous owner had wired it that way. The color codes for each company si different and things can get confusing really fast. Seymour Duncans if I remember correctly have Black as the hot, Green as the ground and you solder white and red together while Dimarzio, as mentioned, is Red hot. Green ground and you solder black and white together. Not confusing at all lol!
     
  8. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    A 16Kohms pickup (humbucker in series mode) in parallel will give a DC resistance of 4Kohms so if his measurements are 17Kohms then the pickup is not in parallel...
     
  9. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Thank you so much for the suggestions everyone! I'm sorry about not getting the sound clips. I don't have the guitar with me right now, but as of right now, I have it wired so that red is hot, black and white are ground, and green/bare are grounded. I originally followed DiMarzio's wiring diagram but ran into the same problem, plus the bridge was out of phase with the middle single coil.
     
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  10. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Yep, in that diagram the polarity is reversed hence the out of phase sound. I don't know why, maybe it has to be that way to work with the dimarzio single coils when the middle pickup is reverse polarity or that diagram is old or whatever, I don't know, but in that diagram the hot wire from the pickup is the black and it is not, it has to be the red wire...

    I don't know if that was a mistake writting that or what, but if you connect black+white to ground you will have the humbucker in split mode as que sound will go from the red wire (hot) to ground thru the black wire. For serial connection you need the black and white wires together, yes, but not to ground but to the switch or push/pull pot or whatever device you are going to use for split coil. If you are going to use it only in humbucker mode then those to wires are conected between them but to nothing else.

    Cheers!

    Edit:

    Now checking... doesn't that guitar has two humbuckers and a single in the middle? Anyway... stil one volume and one tone, isn't it? If so.. why using that diagram?

    I guess you modded the guitar.
    In any case, I would use this diagram as reference (at least the part involving the 5 way blade switch)

    https://d2emr0qhzqfj88.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/diagrams/1h2bv5w1v1t_split_0.pdf
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020
  11. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Thank you for catching that typo! I soldered it according to the diagram, so black and white are for the coil tap, not ground.

    As for the guitar, I did modify it to be HSS with one volume, one tone. The neck is normal Fender spec and the middle is RWRP, though I don't see how that could affect the bridge pickup in full humbucker mode. The bridge humbucker is wired according to the diagram you sent.
     
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  12. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Well, as soon as you try it with the new wiring let us know if it's working correctly. I think it should... The diagram you posted is weird, I don't get why all the colours are reversed but it doesn't matter now.

    Try and if the sound still is thin and brittle then the humbucker came with one of the coils backwards from the factory so you will have to swap just two wires and try but let's see what happens first...
     
  13. guitaardvark

    guitaardvark SS.org Regular

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    Alright, so I'm dumb. Outrageously dumb, but I like to update threads like this for posterity, so here's what happened.

    So the original wiring was in parallel. Once I wired it with red as hot, the clankiness went away, but it was really weak when compared to the JB. Here's the thing though: I did all of the A/Bing through a keyboard amp since that's all I had at my parents' house. I've returned home and recorded DIs with a bunch of different guitars, and the guitar with the JB had the bridge pickup so close that it was clipping my interface. Once I backed it down and compared the Air Zone with the rest of my pickups, the Air Zone is lower output than all of the other pickups I tested (Titan, JB, Yamaha Pacifica stock pickup), but not significantly so. I think the lower output is due to it being a lower output pickup than the rest, me being unable to raise the pickup all the way because of the slant (gotta route out the cavity a little more), and the fact that a pickup cover can roll off a little bit of high end.

    Thank you so much for the suggestions everyone. I feel dumb, but I'm glad this community exists to talk me through these things.
     
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  14. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    Well... If it's working, it's working.

    Cheers!
     

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