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 Post subject: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:23 pm
Posts: 2
I recently acquired a 330jg in a trade, intending to move it, but I've fallen in love with the neck. So life goes it seems; not a fan of the frets, but I have no compunction with modifying guitars (my G* 335 had tiny frets, much better with my usual 6150-type, for example), but that is not what this post is about!

This guitar has high-gains. I THINK they are the transition-era adjustable pole piece ones; there are "toaster-like" ridges on either side of the pole pieces, but no hex heads on the "buttons". I haven't tried adjusting them - I don't want to break the coil if they are the old type - but I think I could.

Both pickups measure around 11.5k DC resistance, in circuit, measured using the "select other pickup" method from the control cavity. From what I can tell - all the markings are solder-covered - the pots are 250k's, but the tones COULD be 500 - hard to measure without desoldering, I just haven't gotten around to it. The "mix" control seems to measure way low - like 175k - and the volume controls seem to be around the same.

The problem I'm having is that the bridge pickup is quite low output when adjusted sensibly - I have it around 1/16" from the E/e pole pieces. I was under the impression that the High Gains were supposed to have around the same amount of output as a PAF-style humbucker; the neck pickup seems to be in that ballpark (also 1/16" for the moment), but the bridge pickup is weaker than my Jazzmaster or a typical Strat pickup. Is this right, or is there something wrong? I tried just raising it as high as it would go without my copious palm muting making the D/G strings hit the polepiece, but it is still pretty quiet, and that close to the strings the sound loses a lot of clarity. I realize that the bridge pickup should be quieter than the neck - same pickup (minus pole spacing) and all that, but this is a pretty dramatic difference. To get the neck at unity with the bridge, I have to roll back the mix pot to less than half - contributing greatly to my other issue.

The neck pickup, no matter its distance from the strings, seems quite muddy to me - it is darker than the aforementioned 335, not to mention my Parker or PRS with Joe Barden pickups. If either the volume control or the "mix" control is turned down any appreciable amount, the pickup gets very "blurry" sounding, losing what little clarity it had to begin with. I suspect that the pots are way under spec, and loading the pickup a great deal.

I really like this guitar, and I want to love Rics in general, but as it stands these two issues make the sound difficult to work with. I am seriously considering getting someone to custom-wind me some pickups that may work better with my rig; I have no intention of using this Ric exclusively, but I can't swap guitars for it without significant (and in my multi-channel rig, impractical) amp-knob twiddling.

If there are no actual problems with the pickups, I suspect that the issue is a compound one: pickup loading brought on by low value volume pots, lower output pickups than I expect, super-high-impedance output due to pickup construction, and my own inexperience in setting up Rics are all contributing. My main guitars have Barden pickups in them, which are quite low impedance (though high output) compared to the Ric pickups - perhaps my guitar->pedalboard cable is contributing to the muddiness as well, though I have tried several and had the same issue, with the board and straight into my amp(s). I use high-quality everything in my rig - Lava, Divine Noise, or Evidence Cables, Fryette Amps, mostly boutique pedals (yes, my board is buffered, and correctly at that).

I just wanted to ask everyone's advice here before I go off and spend $$$ on having custom pickups made, or modifying existing pickups to fit*. I tend to prefer bright humbucking pickups - the HB-1's in 650's I've tried weren't my thing, and I doubt they would be on my 330 - but I want to see if I can get the High-Gains to sound "correct" before doing any modifications. I suspect that I'm going to have to replace the wiring harness - I'm probably going to add a treble bleed circuit to the neck pickup while I'm at it.

Anyone have any advice on the matter? And before you go off and say "read the forum for the info", let me tell you that I have, and have followed as much of the advice I have found as possible, without actually desoldering anything - truth be told, I've heard of the low-output issue occasionally here and at that other Ric forum, but rarely have I seen anyone complain of a muddy neck pickup. Mine IS muddy - it isn't just me who hears it, and it is DARKER than the darkish (Tim Shaw) PAF's in my 335, no matter how it is adjusted. Also, I've read little solid advice on how to set up the pickups - I am not an inexperienced tech, but these pickups have got me a bit perplexed. They seem to be similar in construction to p-90's, but they certainly do not respond like it on MY guitar. Note that I'm not looking for any particular sound - I just want it to sound RIGHT, which to me means reasonable clarity and output. Am I asking too much from these pickups?


* From what I can tell, Filtertron-style and Firebird-style pickups will fit in the existing High-gain covers, with little to no visible modification other than the actual polepieces - though the baseplate of the covers themselves might need to be modified, the bobbins of a 'tron style may need to be shaved, and there might be some very slight routing for the Filtertron magnet.


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 Post subject: Re: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:41 am
Posts: 39
Location: Ontario
Im a newbie here; but Im a happy owner of a 09 330 so just wanted to chip in my 2 cents:
If the topic of the pickups being originals, fully functional, well adjusted is out of the way; then, if the strings are new and the blend control works, and the tone controls work too and if all combinations have been tried, then I would try different amps...just to make sure that the pickups are the issue.
Hoping more experienced guys can help here
Cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:59 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:23 pm
Posts: 2
anothersixstringer wrote:
Im a newbie here; but Im a happy owner of a 09 330 so just wanted to chip in my 2 cents:
If the topic of the pickups being originals, fully functional, well adjusted is out of the way; then, if the strings are new and the blend control works, and the tone controls work too and if all combinations have been tried, then I would try different amps...just to make sure that the pickups are the issue.
Hoping more experienced guys can help here
Cheers!


I've tried several amps - Fryette Sig:X, Fryette Memphis, and Fuchs ODS 50, all with and without my board, and with different cables. Thanks for the help, though!


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 Post subject: Re: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 2:29 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:49 pm
Posts: 573
Location: Stanstead, QC
Sounds like you may not have the original solder job on the pots. I would invest the $70 in a new wiring harness and pots factory-fresh before starting to play with trying to match replacement pickups.

They are currently out of stock, but normally available through the BOUTIQUE => electronics button at the top of this page.


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 Post subject: Re: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:07 am
Posts: 3710
Regarding the neck pickup and overall dullness, yes, I would replace the 5th knob pot and any other pot that does not measure full value +/- 10%. Being such a low value, they're sure to be sapping off high end to ground. Also, make sure when you change out the 5th knob you do NOT ground the 3rd lug -- keep it open.

Regarding the bridge pickup, it is possible the .0047 inline cap has drifted in value over time, and needs to be replaced. You can check by putting a temporary jumper -- Mr. JH even suggests a foil gum wrapper wrapped around the cap touching both leads, to see if the output of the pickup raises noticably. Even with a fresh cap, since it is cutting lows as well as changing phase of the signal 90 degrees above the hinge frequency of the bridge pickup circuit, and with being closer to the bridge there is less string excursion over the pole pieces than over a neck pickup, the bridge pickup will be slightly lower output. That's why the 5th knob circuit was developed.


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 Post subject: Re: 2006 330 low bridge pickup output, muddy neck pickup
 Post Posted: Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:00 pm
Posts: 4
Location: London
just to reply to this oldish thread, i also found my neck higain to be muddy. However, the Bridge higain on my 1990 330 is nice and loud. Very like you i loved the way the Ric played but had some issues with it sonically.

Replaced my neck higain with a toaster, which is much brighter, and later with a Seymour Duncan Firebird pickup. i had to crack open the original case, pull the coils out and then insert them into the Ric pickup casing but it was easier than yu might thing and it sounds good.

I'm not sure about Filtertrons, probably you'll have to try and see. With a bit of routing a Dearmond 2k goes in fine as well.

I also have 500k volume pots and no tone controls and i'm very happy with it that way.


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