calling on G&L Z-coil experts

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by impj, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    I bought G&L USA Custom ASAT Z3 last year based solely on YT reviews since I couldn't find one to test out. Also, I like G&L in general.

    My Z3 is quiet as long as my hand is on the string, otherwise it's louder than my other single-coils. This is especially true when I have my pedalboard on. It's not as quiet as my pickups with PAF style humbuckers.

    Is this normal?
     
  2. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    I’d say it’s not unexpected... my Tele with N4 Noiseless pickups does the same.
    The science bit... as far as I can gather... is that when you touch the strings you ground your body and the noise which you are picking up is shunted away to ground. When you don’t then your body acts as an aerial picking up interference which is then picked up in the guitar (normally in the wiring, or switches — since in your Z3 and my Elite Tele the pickups themselves are humbucking / noise-cancelling). Quieter guitars in that context tend to be ones with better shielding and in particular with screened cable used internally.
     
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  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Normal wiring on a guitar will be noisier when not touching the strings, properly wired guitar it will get quiet when touching the strings.

    Check the faraday cage shielding inside the guitar. Is it continuous from the pickguard to the cavities.
    Check that there is a shielded cable to the jack from the volume pot. Fender "ironically" uses a pair of separate wires in most of their guitars, G&L may do the same thing. If two separate wires were acceptable then we'd run lamp cord from the guitar to the amp not shielded cable.

    .
     
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  4. Electric Warrior

    Electric Warrior Tele-Meister

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    Z-coils are supposed to be "noiseless." I had a Z-coiled ASAT for a good while and I recall it being very quiet, hands on the strings or no. So what you're saying doesn't sound right to me. If you're comfortable troubleshooting, go for it.
     
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  5. scooteraz

    scooteraz Friend of Leo's

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    Noise being louder than single coils is NOT normal. Z-coils are a humbucking package, two coils per pickup, each sensing three strings (one coil for the high strings, one coil for the low strings). Indeed, part of the reason for the Z-shape is the coils would bump into each other if they were in line and the middle two strings would not have proper coverage. As an aside, Fralin senses the middle two strings in a slightly different way on his split blades. They should be as silent as a PAF; in my admittedly limited experience with Comanches, they always were.
     
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  6. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    This is what I had figured. I wanted to know that this isn't normal before I started poking around. Thanks.
     
  7. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    Thanks.
     
  8. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    If you, or someone you know, has a multimeter, set the multimeter to continuity. Put the black probe in the input jack of the guitar, then touch the red probe to the strings, bridge, control plate, all metal parts, etc. If you hear sound in all those locations, your guitar is properly grounded.

    If it’s louder when using your pedalboard, it is most likely your power supply for your board, or the quality of cables you’re using on your board. Hope this helps.
     
  9. JDB2

    JDB2 Tele-Meister

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    OT, but how do you like the tone? I've got regular ASATs with the MFD soap-bars but have been eyeing a Z3 . . .
     
  10. chezdeluxe

    chezdeluxe Poster Extraordinaire

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    Humbuckers like Zcoils only get rid of mains cycle hum not other extraneous noise.

    That is where good shielding is the answer. Grounded shielding attracts that noise and shunts it to ground. When you touch grounded strings, bridge,control plate etc you act as the shield and the noise (but not mains cycle hum) reduces.
     
  11. regularslinky

    regularslinky Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a Comanche. The Z-Coils are as quiet as humbuckers, much quieter that single coils. IFAIK, they ARE humbuckers, they just don't sound like humbuckers.
     
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  12. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    They're not humbuckers. They are a miniature equivalent to a precision bass pickup pair. One half of the Z is wound RW/RP to the other half.
     
  13. Golem

    Golem Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I feel like it depends on your definition of humbucker. I'd consider stacked and side-by-side designs that buck hum to be humbuckers. Why wouldn't I consider a Z coil a humbucker it uses a slightly different strategy to buck the hum?

    Tone-wise they can definitely cop single-coil tones.
     
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  14. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    That is a humbucker. It bucks hum. The geometry is kitty corner end to end instead of side by side, but the principle is exactly the same.

    They are ceramic and to my ears are a bit sterile, but they are really powerful and versatile with the passive treble bass circuit. Roll up the bass for distorted tones, roll it off for thinner chime clean tones. One person’s sterile is another’s clear tone so it comes down to personal taste.
     
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  15. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    First part of that is not correct. Noise cancelling of all sorts, including P-bass style split pickups (such as Z3s) and Noiseless ‘single coils’ (which usually have a second coil underneath for noise cancellation) aim to pick up the same induced electrical noise on two coils but out-of-phase: adding the electrical outputs of the two coils cancels the noise out. Doesn’t matter what the source of the noise is or its frequency — mains hum is just the most dominant electrical noise source that we think of.
    The second part is spot on! Pickups are only part of the noise problem and only part of the solution — every bit of the wiring can pick up noise, and shielding (if cavities and of cabling) is the next part of the answer.
     
  16. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Yes, you are correct.

    But, if someone mentions "humbucker" I think they are talking about the PAF humbucker design.

    I prefer to think of the z-coil and p-bass format as a split single coil, since each coil is only operating on half the strings.
    i.e. 2 halves = 1.
    The result = single coil sound with noise cancelling (the noise cancelling = humbucking).

    So, I would consider the z-coil a hybrid single coil with humbucking.
     
  17. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    When you say "is quiet" or "is louder," are you talking specifically about hum, or is it other noise?

    I experience the same thing with a LP'ish guitar I have (which obviously has PAF-type HBs), that effectively gets rid of 60-cycle hum, but there's other buzzing and similar noises that are due to poor house wiring, or have noise-inducing stuff plugged into the same circuits (e.g. stuff with switching power supplies and such).
     
  18. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    It's a hum.

    I've already tried plugging into different part of the house, turning lights & other electronics equipments around me. Using two different amps, I consistently get a same result.

    PAF-style humbucker, it pretty much silent. Z-Coil is louder than either T-Style or S-Style single-coils when I don't touch the strings. When I do touch the strings, Z-coil pickups are quieter than either single-coil pickups. However, Z-coil isn't as quiet as my PAF-style humbucker even when I touch the strings.

    I'll open up Z3 to see what's going on once I catch up with my work.
     
  19. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    Thanks, man. With exception of the control plate, everything else is getting near 0 ohms.
     
  20. impj

    impj TDPRI Member

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    I don't have experience with any other MFD pups so I can't really say how it comes to your ASAT Special (?). Having said that having a Z-coil was an adjustment, but it is really growing on me. I couldn't really give your more than this description as I'm pretty much a noob with guitar or music in general.

    After I've already purchased three ASATs with three different types of pups, I ran across a YouTuber name Jonathan Koh who seems to have done quite a bit of G&L guitar reviews. Sadly, he hasn't done Z3, but Comanche should be very close with exception of bass bleed and treble bleed compared to Z3's lone tone control. Here's his G&L guitar playlist, .
     
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