Wiring problem

Tele-mann

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I have an extremely frustrating wiring problem. It's not on a Tele this time, but a simple one pickup lapsteel. (Feel free to delete the thread if non-tele topics are forbidden).

I bought a mid range, used 6 string lapsteel online. The tonepot had been removed, and having both built, repaired and rewired many guitars before, I thought this would be a walk in the park. I bought two pots and soldered them according to the basic principle for tone and volume for a single pickup. But it simply won't work! Should be super simple and easy installation, but here I am hours later and all i get when I plug in is terrible static. Is there a special wiring trick for lapsteels, or something? Tips very, very welcome!
20220601_214207.jpg
 

Freeman Keller

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Is your jack wired correctly? It is very easy to reverse the pin and ground connections.
 
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Tele-mann

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Thanks for responding! I am following a very basic diagram (enclosed), so I wouldn't expect to make that mistake. But I appreciate all suggestions, so I'll switch them around to see if that's the problem!

Since posting the problem, I opened up a different lapsteel that I have and copied the wiring from that one to see if that helped. But, same problem! The only way that has worked so far is to go back to the "original" wiring with only volume. But I'm not giving up on having a tone control just yet. I really need it, can't be running over to my amp every time I need to play lapsteel 🙂

I keep wondering if there is something special with the pickup, which demands a certain wiring 🤔
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Swirling Snow

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"Diagram assumes pots grounded via control plate" means a metal plate, or a plastic plate with conductive foil on it (like a Strat). What I do is take those pointer washers and solder a wire to the pointer tab. Gibson solders a bare wire to the back of the pots, but I think that's messy.

TLDR: Your diagram is missing a wire. (the tone pot is properly grounded, but the volume and pickup are floating)

If you got that covered.... I dunno. Test all the parts individually? Bad pot? Cold joint?
 

Tele-mann

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Thanx. I'll try that as soon as I get home!

I have taken the pickup apart to look for any broken connections also. But couldn't find any.
 

Tele-mann

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Please excuse the messy soldering. I've tried out ten different wirings to make it work, so aesthetics are already out the window 😉

I tried out the suggestion from Peegoo here, with an extra ground wire between the two pots, but still no sound unfortunately.

Any ideas as to what could be wrong??

The thin black cable at the very top goes to the bridge. The blue wire which splits into hot (thin red) and ground, comes from the pickup. Otherwise red is hot and black is ground.
 

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peterg

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I would unsolder everything and do a number of continuity tests with a multimeter. Pickup, cap and pots. Could be as simple as your pickup not working. A fried cap would send most of the signal to ground. With all the soldering done on the pots they could be fried.

Is the fact connected properly.
 

Peegoo

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The blue wire which splits into hot (thin red) and ground, comes from the pickup. Otherwise red is hot and black is ground.

The blue wire is coaxial, and overheating the spiral shield (ground) wire is a common problem when soldering it to the pot case. The excessive heat melts the center (hot) wire's insulation and that shorts the signal to ground, completely killing the signal. Here's how to test for that.

Unsolder the red wire from the pot's tab 3 and connect it directly to the output jack's 'hot' tab. doing this completely bypasses the volume and tone pots. See if you get signal to the amp in this configuration. It will tell you if the pickup is working ot not.

Try this test and report back!

Volume-Pot-Connections.jpg
 
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misterdontmove

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I would unsolder everything and do a number of continuity tests with a multimeter. Pickup, cap and pots. Could be as simple as your pickup not working. A fried cap would send most of the signal to ground. With all the soldering done on the pots they could be fried.

Is the fact connected properly.

Or, if you're a hack like me, and don't have a multimeter, wire the pickup directly to the output jack and see if it works. With the added ground wire, your wiring looks correct. If that pickup is bad, or the wiring shorted as peegoo suggested, than all the rewiring in the world won't get sound from it. If the wire did short from overheating, you could also shorten it a bit to start fresh.
 

Tele-mann

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Try this test and report back!

Volume-Pot-Connections.jpg
Thanks for the input guys! The pickup checks out. Works when directly connected to the output jack.

Besides, the guitar worked fine earlier when connected only to the volume pot. All the trouble started when I tried to connect a tone pot. And when I reverse everything to the way it was when I bought it, it works fine (which is even more frustrating 😖)

I'll enclose a picture of how it was wired originally. Maybe you can see something there which could explain why it doesn't work with a tonepot in the mix, soldered in the most basic way. The yellow wire goes to the output jack.
 

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peterg

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Nothing from the original wiring indicates that adding a tone pot would cause problems.

The wire you used for your mod looks to be of a thicker gauge and not pre-tinned. Maybe get hold of some proper 22 gauge hookup wire.
 

Tele-mann

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I agree, the original wiring looks standard to me too. That's why it's so strange that a mod didn't work. Makes me wonder why a previous owner apparently removed the tone pot.... A mystery.

I don't think the wire is the problem, however. I did the first tries with fancy "vintage cloth" guitar wires, but it didn't help any.
 

Tele-mann

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I agree, the original wiring looks standard to me too. That's why it's so strange that a mod didn't work. Makes me wonder why a previous owner apparently removed the tone pot.... A mystery.

I don't think the wire is the problem, however. I did the first tries with fancy "vintage cloth" wires, but it didn't help any.
 

dsutton24

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Do you have a meter? Turn both controls fully clockwise, plug a cable in, and measure the resistance from tip to sleeve on the plug on the cable.

Looking at your soldering I'm guessing you've melted the insulation on that pickup lead.
 

Boreas

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Try a different T pot? Wouldn't be the first defective pot the world has seen. Or it could have been roasted if too much heat was used to solder it. Perfect wiring won't help much with a bad component.
 

Tele-mann

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The meter revealed that there was something wrong with one of the pots. Bought new ones yesterday, and now it works. However, the output is extremely low for some unexplainable reason. Checked the pickup with the meter and it shows 11, which should mean quite a powerful output. I have to crank tje amp to 8 or 9 to get the same volume that my other guitars produce at 3.

I wonder if there is something wrong with the pickup too... or maybe it's a wiring problem.
 




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