Help! Newly Installed Electronics/Pickups. But Now Tone Pots Do Nothing

ToneCapMan

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Jan 17, 2022
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France
Hi

I've never changed pick ups or electronics myself. But I figured: What could go wrong dropping in a pre-wired Epiphone quick connect pre-wired harness & quick connect Probuckers? All I have to do is solder a single ground connection from the bridge to a pot & that's it, right?!

Welp, I took all of the electronics out of my 2014 Epiphone Les Pau Standard, popped in a pair of Probuckers & the pots, caps, 3 way switch, and output jack they came with. Its an Epiphone quick connect system, so everything is pre-wired & soldered. The pick ups, 3 way switch, and output jack connect to each other via 3 easy to use molex devices that easily clip together.

As far as I can tell, I've connected everything properly & haven't accidentally reversed the neck & bridge pick up or made silly mistake like that. But THE TONE POTS DO NOTHING WHEN I TURN THEM. They don't change the tone or loudness of the signal.

The system has pull/push coil splitting volume pots which also seem to do almost nothing (I'm not even 100% sure they change the sound at all but I've never used these so maybe its supposed to be VERY subtle?)

On top of that the bridge pick up seems VERY quiet and I have it raised about as high as it will go. And finally, the tone of the pickups does not seem to be an improvement over the cheap old Alnico Classics (not pro) that came stock with the guitar. There seems to be a noticeable improvement in clarity on string attack over the old pick ups, but the tone sounds a bit like its coming through a megaphone, though perhaps I just need to mess around with my amp, as I'm not used to the pick ups....

I HAVE NOT SOLDERED THE BRIDGE GROUND WIRE TO A POT YET as I don't want to have to constantly un-solder & redo the connection as I fiddle with this thing. I have the tip of the ground wire touching the metal of the neck volume pot though. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT NOT HAVING SOLDERED THIS GROUND WIRE IS CAUSING THE TONE PROBLEMS? I don't know a ton about this stuff yet, but its my understanding that even without this ground connection the tone shouldn't be affected, but maybe I'm wrong??

Everything was purchased brand new and all of the wires appear properly soldered. I wondered if perhaps the tone caps are dead, but it seems unlikely that I'd have such bad luck as to have received TWO broken caps. Here's a photo, though I'm sure that you can see much in that mess of wires. But any advice is massively appreciated! Thank You In Advance!
 

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Speedy454

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Oct 1, 2013
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Highland, IL
Make sure that your connectors are on properly. They are usually keyed to prevent them from being put on wrong, but you never know.
Since your neck pickup is not sounding right, start with that connection and verify it is on right.

I also had an issue with an Epi where one of the pickup wires was improperly crimped where it goes into the plastic connection. One of the pickups would just go dead intermittently. I was able to find it and fix it, but as an electrical engineer it was fairly easy. For a layman it would have been a PITA.

It is highly unlikely to be a pot or capacitor. It is most likely a connector or connection within one of those plastic connectors.

That's why so many people rip those out of their newer Gibsons and solder all the connections. That's more work but more reliable.

I just recently installed Probuckers, good pots and caps in an older Epi LP Plus Top that I got on trade. Although the plastic connections seemed tempting to make it a quick job, I cut and soldered.
 

ToneCapMan

TDPRI Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Posts
23
Location
France
Make sure that your connectors are on properly. They are usually keyed to prevent them from being put on wrong, but you never know.
Since your neck pickup is not sounding right, start with that connection and verify it is on right.

I also had an issue with an Epi where one of the pickup wires was improperly crimped where it goes into the plastic connection. One of the pickups would just go dead intermittently. I was able to find it and fix it, but as an electrical engineer it was fairly easy. For a layman it would have been a PITA.

It is highly unlikely to be a pot or capacitor. It is most likely a connector or connection within one of those plastic connectors.

That's why so many people rip those out of their newer Gibsons and solder all the connections. That's more work but more reliable.

I just recently installed Probuckers, good pots and caps in an older Epi LP Plus Top that I got on trade. Although the plastic connections seemed tempting to make it a quick job, I cut and soldered.
Thanks for the tip! I've just noticed (by putting some overdrive into the signal) that the bridge pick up is giving a slightly shaky signal intermittently and the bridge volume pot spins considerably easier than the other 3 pots. So maybe there is something wrong with that pot.

Ironically, I actually DO want install these pick ups with better, non-coil-splitting pots and solder everything myself, but I figured since it was my first time doing any of this I should first try the "easy" to use quick connect system they came with & see how it goes. I think I'll probably just end up buying some pots and caps and soldering everything the the old fashioned way. Seems like too much of a hassle to trouble shoot this quick connect system. And the coil splitting pots just seem like one more thing that can fail that I don't even use.
 

ToneCapMan

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Jan 17, 2022
Posts
23
Location
France
Everything is grounded except for the wire coming from the tailpiece, but even that I have resting on one of the pots so its touching metal EDIT: even this is grounded now. But nothing changed.
 
Last edited:

TwoBear

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Mar 31, 2020
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2,315
Location
oc. CA.
Without the bridge grounding wire attached you’ll get more noise. It’s sort of that last connection that attaches your hands and body to the electronics and without it you’ll get a noticeable buzz but I would think you would get signal.

Do you have any clip leads-A piece of wire with two alligator clips? Or if you can make one up you could use that in the interim.

I’m definitely inclined to agree with speedy that you probably got a bad factory connection. After the last couple years there seems to be a glut of hastily fastened product. That might not have anything to do here at all, but it may be relevant.

Have you tried grabbing each connection while you are strumming it or have someone strum it, while you push and prod the connections and see if you hear an intermittent jump in volume. If you’ve got push pull switches with splitters you should definitely hear a difference in the pick ups, and you can also pull them up and carefully touch a screwdriver to the pick ups on each bobbin and see if you hear a difference.

Usually when you pull them up that splits them and you should hear one bobbin louder than the other at that point. Pictures always help. If you said you didn’t solder the last connection to the output jack and then there’s definitely a problem there that has to be completed.

Again if you can just get someone to strum while you physically hold the connection you should hear a big difference.
 




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