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Distorting neck pickup

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by TeleFunking, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. TeleFunking

    TeleFunking Tele-Meister

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    Hi guys, I recently acquired an Aria Pro semi hollow guitar from the 80's. The guitar is amazing, really well-built, but I'm having a problem with the neck pickup.

    Even playing through a very clean amp (Roland JC-40) I get a subtle distorted sound when playing through the neck pickup. It sounds right, very clean, with the bridge pickup, but the neck always quite distorts the sound.

    Do you guys have any clue on how to fix it?
     
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  2. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Need more info - especially pix of the pups and heights.

    Checked to see if it is loose? Too close to or far away from the strings? You notice NO distortion in the middle setting? Could be a dirty switch.
     
  3. TeleFunking

    TeleFunking Tele-Meister

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    Here are the pics. The pickup is not too close to the strings and I get the distorted signal in position 2 of the switch as well
    20210305_131442.jpg 20210305_131431.jpg
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Is there loss of output as well as distortion? Has it always been this way?

    If your controls are accessed from the back, I would try taking a chopstick and tapping on EVERY connection - including the caps - while playing a note. See if you can create any noise or changes which could indicate a cold or loose solder joint. Also, tap on the switch in the neck position to elicit any noises there. While you are in that cavity, just hit it with some good contact cleaner. As long as it is opened up, I would also hit all the pots with contact cleaner as well.

    If all that fails, we need to look closer at the pickup. Tap each active pickup with the WOODEN chopstick and see how much noise is created, if any. Any significant difference in microphonics (noise being created by tapping)? If so, do the same thing directly on the pole pieces. Any stand out? If so, try screwing in the pole screw 1/2 turn, then test again. Take a magnifier and see if the screw is vibrating against the metal cover. Return to original position and recheck. Then try screwing it out 1/2 turn, test, repeat.

    If you can't find anything wrong with the cover, pole pieces, electronics, etc., it could be a bad pickup or possibly an errant harmonic vibration that annoys only the neck pickup.

    Happy hunting!!
     
  5. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Another quick check is if you have a multimeter, plug a short cable into the guitar, and check the resistance (kOhms) in each position of the switch. The neck and bridge pickup should be fairly close to each other, with often the bridge reading higher. If the neck is way off, it could also help point to an electrical or pickup problem vs. vibration.
     
  6. TeleFunking

    TeleFunking Tele-Meister

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    Thanks friend! I have already measured the pickups and they seem alright. I'll try following these steps to figure what is going on. My main suspects are a bad pot or solder joint...
     
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  7. Drak

    Drak Tele-Holic

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    I ran into that once with a HB that had a ceramic magnet.
    I swapped the ceramic out for an Alnico variety and the pickup sounded great.
    This is a long shot and probably not your problem, I know.
    And not damning ceramic magnets at all either.
    Just that your post reminded me of that instance because that's exactly what I heard that prompted me to investigate.
     
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  8. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    i think maybe a bad pot ore not so good soldering.
    try connecting the pup direct to the output and hear if it distorts than.
    if not, its in the wiring,pots soldering joint

    but also check the scratchplate, that can rattle to and the pickup can pick that up to
     
  9. regularslinky

    regularslinky Tele-Afflicted

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    As others said, check to see if anything is loose. I just had this problem with a Tele - I was getting a raspy distorted sound from the bridge pickup. I actually thought I had blown a speaker in the amp until I noticed that the bridge pickup and adjustment screws were loose. I had lowered the pickup a bit too far. A couple of turns of the screwdriver and it was fine.
     
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