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Review: Santellan Sounds "Elek-Trix" solderless wiring

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Rob DiStefano, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    Having worked last year with the Seymour Duncan "solderless Liberator" pot, i was skepitcal about the new Elek-Trix solderless full circuit systems from Santellan Sounds.

    The Liberator pots absolutely require soldering, the pots are small sized, the pot shafts are long and to allow for good looking flush knobs on a Tele control plate means dropping the Liberator pots down into the control cavity which severely restricts placing the wires - Iin fact, I just couldn't get any of these Liberator pots to fit properly.

    Fast forward to a week or so ago when Larry @ Santellan asked to send me a Tele Elek-Trix "kit" to test drive and I half-heartedly accepted, expecting yet another Liberator make-over. I was way wrong ...

    The Tele Elek-Trix is a very well thought out, totally solderless guitar circuit wiring system. Each full size Bourns pot is specific to volume or tone control and - this is the super neat part - each pot comes with all the pot selectable feature options you'd care to want or need. Like, wow.

    The volume pot allows for both 250k and 500k dcr values, treble bleed cap, modern or vintage wiring, single or dual coil mixed usage, straight out tone pot bypass. The tone pot allows for both 250k and 500k resistance, and NINE cap values that range from .010uf to .059uf. Whoa! Neat or what?!

    I populated a Tele control plate with the Elek-Trix pots and switch, put their pre-soldered Switchcraft jack into an Electrosocket and installed it into a Tele body. Now comes the easy part, the wiring, which is just a matter of putting the jack, pickup and bridge ground to their respective spring-grab mini terminals. Then I referenced the switch settings charts and selected the kind of circuit and caps I initially wanted (yes - via the dip switches and wiring scheme, you can change any of those values at any time!). Done.

    Setting the loaded control plate into the Tele body control cavity required relieving some of the cavity side wall wood. As you can see in one of the pix below, the switch's connector increases its width and might mean some control cavity tweaking is in order. The body I used was a GFS paulownia Tele body, and those control cavities are always on the small width size. This was not a big issue and easily accomplished.

    Plugged into a Little Dawg Prince 5F2A tube amp, the controls worked fine and my Lion and Tiger pups sounded blissfully superb. :mrgreen:

    While I'll continue to solder up my guitar and bass circuits, the Elek-Trix system is a total no-brainer must-have for anyone wanting to roll their own guitar without having to light up a soldering iron. Way cool.

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  2. drvoodoo

    drvoodoo Tele-Holic

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    Interesting, do you have the impression that it will endure giging? In the heat of battle will it still perform as good as a good soldered piece? As in good soldering not cold solder etc. Does it add anything unwanted to the sound ( I know subjective but still)? Great review:)
     
  3. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Very interesting. Those connectors are used for electronics and they are reliable.

    But I do get a "Wow! that looks complicated" feeling from looking at that.
    Ooh look! DIP switches! - interesting combinations?

    Maybe that's because I can use the smouldering iron and am not afraid to use it.
    And if I'm wiring up a guitar, well there it is on the bench.
     
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  5. KokoTele

    KokoTele <img src="http://www.tdpri.com/gifs/vendor.png" /> Vendor Member

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    It looks like a neat system, though, I'm not in love with the fact that you have to use all of their components.

    The one major drawback I see is the depth required in the middle of the assembly. Lotsa Fender guitars don't have control cavities that are full-depth from front to back.

    Rob, you are correct that the Liberator system does require someone to solder the components together, but it was really designed only to do solderless pickup changes, not to make a wiring assembly without soldering.

    I'll be curious to see how the Elek-Trix system doesn. Like jefrs says, it looks a little complicated, and I suspect that a lot of people who want to work with that many DIP switches (or even know what options the might want and what they mean) will probably find soldering fun and easy.
     
  6. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    ....
     
  7. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    there is no question in my mind that anyone with half a brain, who can't even hammer a nail, who at least can read the english language, can push in the connection wires and flip the dip switches. this system is *perfect* for those who have never soldered or don't wanna solder. heck, pre-teens can easily install this system.
     
  8. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    imho, this not a system for ME ... and probably not for YOU. i like to build my circuits from the ground up and i love the smell of carcinogenic solder fumes in the late morning. this system makes *perfect* sense for folks other than we. it's really that simple. once installed, there's nothing to swap out or buy unless a component goes bad or gets busted - how often will either occur?

    i'm not promoting or defending the Elek-Trix offerings, just offering a totally impartial review and personal opinions, as expressed from my vantage point,

    the ONLY tele E-T drawback, if any at all, is the SIDE fit in a tele body control cavity. but as to pushing in the wires and flicking the dip switches, any idiot who can read the excellent info/data sheet provided could do that.
     
  9. Phostenix

    Phostenix Tele-Afflicted

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    I really wanted to post a Rob DiStefano-esque "People should just learn how to solder" response, but the people of the internets don't always get my humor.

    So instead, I'll offer a link to a similar option from Tone Shapers:

    http://www.toneshapers.com/Serenity-C316.aspx
     
  10. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    yes indeed, people *should* just learn how to solder, but for those who can't/won't, the elek-trix system is a very viable and affordable alternative, with superb components and build quality.

    now now, sir - this is a review of the elek-trix tele system. comments should be apropos to this topic - you should have started your own tone shapers review thread rather than hijack this one.

    however and imo, just looking at a content comparison between both systems, the elek-trix offers more for less.
     
  11. SamBooka

    SamBooka Tele-Afflicted

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    I understand the practicality of the solderless system.
    Even if you dont mind soldering.. not all of us bring one to a gig (hell.. I bring my iron in the shower.. you just never know). For that reason alone it can be of interest to some of us.
     
  12. toneshaper

    toneshaper TDPRI Member

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    Thanks to Rob for the review and the time and effort he put into it. As for high-jacking the thread, my other hat that I wear is the Toneshaper/Serenity product line designs in which I am partners with George of Acme Guitar Works. Elek-trix is my thing so that I can explore new ideas and concepts since the Tele has the smallest cavity to work with. These ideas will eventually end up on the Toneshaper side when we add new guitar models next year but I still plan to keep Elek-trix as my testbed for Tele only products.

    KokoTele has a good point about how some models differ in the shape and size of the cavity. The terminal block I use allows the system to be backwards compatable with older pickups. But if Tele pickup manufacturers could standardize on a 2mm polarized low profile connector then I could do away with it and design it to fit in any cavity. Changing pickups would be a plug and play process with more individuals being confident in swapping out pickups which should lead to more pickup sales.
     
  13. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Hmm, pre-teens eh? - I could solder pretty good when I was 8yo, I had my own 200W (good grief!) soldering iron. Crystal radio sets, remember them?

    Seriously though, it is an interesting system. But I do wonder. Most folks re-wiring a guitar will probably be able to solder, or want to learn. It is not exactly difficult - for someone able to use a screwdriver without injuring themselves, even an 8yo.

    What attracts me to it is the DIP switch reconfiguration. Although once having found your perfect combination the DIP immediately becomes redundant.
     
  14. Rob DiStefano

    Rob DiStefano Poster Extraordinaire Vendor Member

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    ....
     
  15. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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  16. tapollok

    tapollok Tele-Holic

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    Based on Rob's review as well as promptly returned emails from Larry at Elek-Trix answering my questions...I just ordered a 4-way to pair up with a new set of Keystones which should arrive Monday.

    Solderless...cool.
    But the switch-flipping/tone-shaping possibilities are waaaay-cool to me.
    I'm fickle about sounds...everything sounds different to me from morning to night...loved my #1 at 7:00 a.m. ....all wrong 12 hours later.

    Yes, I have assembled a partscaster from scratch...I can solder ok.
    Just prefer to spend my time playin'.

    I'll give 'er a go.
     
  17. SPUDCASTER

    SPUDCASTER Friend of Leo's

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    What kind of price range (ballpark) for a complete unit? Or did I miss that?
     
  18. BobbyB

    BobbyB Tele-Holic

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    Solderless ???? What is this madness!!!:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
    :D
     
  19. tapollok

    tapollok Tele-Holic

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    www.elek-trix.com

    I ordered @ 3:44.....shipment confirmation
    @ 4:29.

    That's crazy.

    No affiliation.
     
  20. thumbpick

    thumbpick Tele-Afflicted

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  21. krasy

    krasy TDPRI Member

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    Hi Guys,
    i am elek-trix customer and here is my 2 cents.
    I have a 4 way switch kit in my Squier Affinity Tele. Installation took me about 10 minutes. It is completely solderless. All you need is wire stripper and screw-driver.
    The only modification need to be made to fit my control cavity was to rotate the 4 way switch (so the first position is now neck pickup and last is bridge) because of the neck pickup wires entrance.
     
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