1976 Telecaster - Tone Control Acting as Volume for Neck Pickup

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by tinyelvis, May 20, 2019.

  1. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    Hi all. I am new user to this forum.

    I have an original 1976 Telecaster that I have never modified - wiring, pickups, etc. About a month ago, I noticed that the neck pickup sounded a bit weaker/thin than usual. Last week I noticed that if I roll the tone knob all the way down, the neck pickup loses all volume. If I turn it back up, the neck pickup returns.

    This behavior is not exhibited on the bridge pickup. :-\

    I removed the control plate and looked at the electronics. Visually, all the connections are still intact. I'm not even sure where to start with a diagnosis as to what would make this happen. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

    Thanks.
     
  2. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    Probably a dying pickup
    Usually the case , when the tone control acts as a volume instead
     
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  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    "50's wiring" usually causes that, perhaps the bridge has been wired to skip the tone control and go straight out? You said no mods ever though ...

    You might just need to 'reflow the solder' at the pickup eyelets where the lead wires are soldered to the super thin bobbin wire.

    .
     
  4. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    Hi. Is that on the pickup itself? Sorry for the amateur question. I'm just a picker; not a fixer. :)
     
  5. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    To play with this at a minimum you'd need a multimeter and a soldering iron. It might be best to take it to a good tech as that should be a very quick/simple/cheap fix as there's only so many parts in the signal chain.

    50's wiring refers to a different wiring layout, which isn't what you have. Since something changed (dead part, pickup on its way out) this isn't your issue.
     
  6. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    I disagree, the effect of 50s wiring is far more subtle than what the op is describing, and it would be completely out of place on a stock 70s guitar.

    Reflowing the solder might help, but as was mentioned earlier, the pickup is probably just dying.

    If you have access to a multimeter, it would be useful to measure the dc resistance. Plug in a jumper cable, and measure between the sleeve and the tip of the cable, putting the selector in the bridge position, then the neck position. In theory, you should get a reading in the neighbourhood of 5000 to 7000 Ohm.
    Another test if you're a bit more adventurous is to measure if there are any shorts against the pole pieces.
     
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  7. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wonder if the tone capacitor has died and now is acting like a wire connecting to ground instead of a capacitor connecting to ground. Then I think as you roll the tone knob back instead of shunting high frequences to ground
    you would be shunting all frequencies to ground....i.e., the tone knob would become a volume knob. If the capacitor itself isn't dead, just a very small short across the capacitor would have the same effect. For example, if capacitor wire is touching
    the control plate or any shielding in the guitar body.
     
  8. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm not sure what would cause a tone cap to go bad like that since there are very small levels going through it, but it does make sense considering the symptoms.
     
  9. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    If that were the case, would it affect just one pickup or both?
     
  10. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    Gives me a reason to buy a multimeter. :)

    For this test, if the neck pickup was bad there would be a big difference between them as I switch the selector?
     
  11. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Both.
     
  12. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    It's not like a basic one costs very much:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EK3NRS/?tag=tdpri-20


    No telling what you might measure; maybe an open circuit (infinite resistance), or much less resistance than normal, but it could also be something else. Measuring dcr is just a quick and simple way to start troubleshooting.
    Roy Buchanan for example had a bridge pickup with no reading, but that still worked, albeit sounding different.
     
  13. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, my idea would affect both pickups unless by chance the bridge pickup wasn't wired up to the tone knob at all.
     
  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Check with a magnifying glass for any stray wires contacting inside the control cavity. Only have to flip the control plate. Your cap might be shot although it's unlikely; but a strand of wire from the lead bypassing the the cap to ground will have this effect.
     
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  15. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    I got a multimeter. I get no reading on the neck pickup. 6.7 or so on the bridge. Time for a new pickup?
     
  16. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Did you disconnect the neck pickup before measuring the resistance? If you have a short in the control plate wiring then it could give you zero resistance. But if you disconnect the
    pickup completely from the control plate and measure resistance then you will know if the pickup is messed up or not. If you disconnect it completely and get a good resistance reading
    then you can then expect the problem to be a short somewhere in your control plate wiring. (And/or it could be shorting out when you put the control plate into the guitar and a bare wire
    touches the cavity shielding. If the wiring works great when the control plate is pulled out of the guitar, but then goes on the fritz when you place it back into the cavity, that's usually what is going on.)
     
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  17. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    I did not disconnect anything. Just tested the tip of the cable. I think the control plate wiring is fine as it looked okay last week when I opened it.
     
  18. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Looks like it. It's just a break in the coil, you could easily have the pickup rewound by someone.
     
  19. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Classic symptoms of a pickup with a bad coil.

    Just double check that it isn't anything else, and if not, send it in to the Duncan Custom Shop for a repair.
     
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  20. tinyelvis

    tinyelvis TDPRI Member

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    What would make a coil go bad? Just age? The coil has never seen the light of day since was installed in 1976. :)

    Duncan Custom Shop?
     
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