Lame humbucker from my 85 Explorer 425

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by 1Way, Dec 25, 2004.

  1. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    CharlieB and all

    The guitar
    I have an 85' Gibson Explorer 425 (3 uncovered PUPs, 2 single coils) with a humbucker in the bridge. Has three separate on off switches instead of a 3way toggle. All the switches and the jack never gave me any problems, however I think once I plugged it into a different amp (nicer tube amp) and I think it popped unpleasantly during plugging it in, changing cords didn't help, but I mostly play out of headphone amps or small practice amps so I only noticed that once. It sports a Kahlar Flyer trem instead of a standard stop piece and bridge. Ebony fretboard with dots, low wide frets, all black hardware, and a sparkles metalic gray paint job with lots of clear coats.

    The problem
    Low output humbucker
    I like Gibson guitars, especially the old style pickup setup, i.e. two duel humbuckers as in SG's and LP's, etc. But my guitar does not sound good like most Gibson's I've played. The only guess has been that the humbucker is a "Dirty Fingers" pickup, but I have no confirmation on that. Gibson customer service does not seem to know either, but I think that was where the guess came from. If I recall correctly, the Dirty Fingers are supposed to be a higher output pickup, but to my ears, it is rather on the lame side (quieter and with less punch), it does not have as much bottom end as I would like, it's tone focus seems in the upper end. One suggestion was that maybe it was wired incorrectly at the factory or that it's out of phase.

    Discovery
    I would like help to diagnose if anything is wrong with it. Oh I forgot to mention, it comes with a single coil tap that works correctly the best I can tell, "but" the single coil mode is even lower in output and does not enhance the sound/tone, so I stick with the not quite as lame duel humbucking mode.

    Normally Gibson makes great pickups...
    In comparison, the two single coil pickups seem to have more life in them and especially the middle one seems to have a better or wider tonal range, although it's not a duel humbucker and I prefer humbuckers over single coils, even though (to my ears) these sound good for single coils.

    I've never taken it apart nor had anyone else do it either, never messed with the pickup shrouds, it has no pick guard and the control panel is only over the pots and pup switches. I do have a digital variable ohms multi-meter and am willing to do what it takes to breath some life into this otherwise enjoyable guitar. Maybe it's just a wiring problem, or maybe the guitar wood and construction is not worth the effort, or maybe should I go after upgrading the pickup to something else. I would consider a 57' classic or something "PAF" similar. Whatever works best.

    Thanks in advance for your time and consideration.
     
  2. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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  3. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    1 - I'm not doing well financially.

    2 - I haven't sold it yet.

    Sometimes, even often, things are "more difficult" when you don't have enough cash to do what you want to do.

    BTW, His proper name is "Jesus" (among others) even though many slur it commonly. Thanks for the excuse to reference His birthday on this memorial day.
     
  4. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    Yes his name IS Jesus, King of King, Lord of Lords, Great Provider, Great Physician, Bright Morning Star, Triumphal Master, Ruler of All, Prince of Peace, Son of God and Son of Man!

    I was slurring Jeeves, the quintessential butler. Nah.. You're right Jeeze, Geez, GeeWhiz, Krike, Kripes, etc etc are all perversions of the name Jesus... which in turn is a mutation of the name Joshua (or Jeshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah is salvation). So I guess if you're saying someone is joshing you (as in fibbing) then thats a slur on Jesus too.

    For those fellow believers out there, I offer my sincerest apologies, with the hopes of n'er slurring again. Keep in mind I only walk in grace, not float above it.

    However I am tempted to write the book "Cheeses of Nazareth, or, Ewe Dew: The Cheesemakers, for They Shall Inherit the Girth". Its a curdling neo-classical restrospective of a cottage industry.

    Sorry you're not doin' too well. Well maybe you can sell that Explorer, get the Epi, maybe have a few bucks left over AND have a lighter guitar too.

    I know the back thing too well. Forget even my ash Strat for any length of time standing up. Thinline Tele's and SG's keep me goin' though.
     
  5. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    CharlieB, thanks for the response. You said a very precise thing.
    Not quite, I don't mind good natured kidding around, my person is a prime target for jokes. Rather, I am forever identified with Jesus because of what He has done in me, and so I am happy to try to spread more good news whenever possible. You took that abrupt (smirk) comment rather well. And thanks for the well wishes. But I am rather set against getting the Epi, it's too expensive for the value you get. I will try to wait patiently for a nice used Gibson, and for my Gibson to sell.
    BUT I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!

    ...
    :shock:
    Eh, hmmmm, ,,, I'm ok. :oops: :D
     
  6. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    Get a used Epi !!

    I mean really... get one, save the $$ and pull yourself together a bit (slowly).. there's always aspiration of getting the Gibson (makes life interesting).

    FWIW, it took two to three years AFTER surgery for my back to get up to its 90 percent good as new level.... where it stays except for a few twinges at times. It lets me know when I've "overdone" it.
     
  7. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    My back has always been at about 70-90% since I was really young. I hurt it badly by de-rouging corn, it's like detassling corn only earlier in the season you go down on your hands and knees and tear out the rouge plants so that there is only one plant per spot. Well I did not know about ergonomics and repetitive stress injuries and so I pulled mostly from my dominant right hand side. It was terrible, I was barely able to walk for a week. I also had two other significant ill treatments to my back. So I always knew that I needed to make a concerted effort to get back into shape to keep my back doing the best it can do. But then life happens and so much of what you want to do is not practical or possible.

    Say, I recently brought in two ladders into my apartment and some 2x3's for the express purpose of exercising my back with inverted stretching and such. Have you tried any inverted exercises?

    I tried the Epi's and their best is simply not good enough, the upscale Epi Elitist would need a two pickup upgrade and so we are talking about the better part of a thousand dollars before it's done. And the common cheaper Epi's are not nearly as good, as they say, you get what you pay for.

    A used Gibson is the better value but costs more upfront. Plus I already have a used and chipped Epi Les Paul Special, it's light but doesn't play nor sound well, and a Gibson Explorer 425 it's heavy but sounds ok and plays great except for the main pickup, it's lame. I could hold off buying an SG better (But I can't wait!!!) if I had the pickup problem taken care of in the Explorer.

    Also just as important, I have an idea for supporting the guitar strap from a belt around my waist and a semi-flexible support rod going up to my strap shoulder and into a shoulder strap support pad, making the guitar feel like it weighs one pound or so! "If" that works out, or I can find another way to support the guitar while I play (standing), then for less than $150 I could enjoy a great Gibson guitar on the cheap while I wait for more founds and a deal on an SG.
     
  8. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    Inversion tables work pretty well. Never tried one, or a ladder. I really dont do much for my back right now - except to not over-do things. Its like.. I can easily lift 100lbs or even 150lbs with effort... ONCE. Do that over and over... its not a good thing. I get a little extra dirty at work, as I tend to kneel on the ground if I have to work low, rather than bend, that sort of thing.

    I'll reiterate my case of the faded.....<smiles>
     
  9. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    And I'll reiterate my request for pickup diagnostic assistance and advice. I hope someone will respond accordingly.

    The Gibson SG Special Faded "needs" a pickup upgrade in the bridge and to my ears the guitar is brighter than the Special or Standard, although that might be amendable with a pickup upgrade (note, I certainly prefer more low end than brightness). The Standard can also use a bridge pickup upgrade, but for my use, it would be more than good enough for years and years. Also, I've never had a Gibson with a rosewood fingerboard, so I want to have that instead of the Faded's ebony fingerboard, I hear they are not as bright as ebony, plus I like the looks of rosewood better too.

    This next guitar might be the last guitar I ever buy, it's hard to say. So I don't want to be disappointed this time around. Last time I settled for nearly good enough for about 2.5 decades. ... I'd like to reduce disappointment, if you know what I mean.
     
  10. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    Your asking a question only you can answer.

    If you dont like the pickup, change it.

    Which one? If we all knew that answer, we'd not be hanging here!

    Do down to the store, play some stuff... say... hey this is good, whats in it, and get THAT.
     
  11. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    CharlieB

    The suggestion was that maybe it was wired wrong or it is out of phase, so naturally I'm wondering about diagnosing such things before simply replacing it.
    :roll:
     
  12. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    Ah so sorry. Its not a DF from the era of guitar you have. It may be wired wrong.

    You can check to see if the two coils are wired in parallel rather than series, that would account for the tone and output.

    Dont ask me how to correct it... I'd need pics at least, and a layout and pics at worst.
     
  13. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Yes! I'll see what I can do. Thanks for giving me a chance! (throwing things, digging up little screw drivers and a flashlight and...) I already know that Gibson does not have a wiring diagram, but the pickup wires themselves should be discernable via where they are connected on the pickup and where they go too, right?

    I'm good with CAD drawings and can easily make a detailed diagram.
    :shock: :D 8)
    Can we post graphics here? My TurboCad produces .JPG's.
     
  14. CharlieB

    CharlieB Active Member

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    yes

    just look at it... go to www.guitarelectronics.com too

    Make sure the two coils are in series when they're both on.

    Now it COULD be gibby wired them that way on purpose to match those single coils better..... but of course it needn't STAY that way
     
  15. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    EXCELLENT.
    I have to find a small philips somewhere, so the pickup will have to wait for a few minuets while I seek one out.

    Now please go over to the other forum, I have a response to your recent web page update about you know what.

    :D
     
  16. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Wow, things are different than I expected. The pickup was tightly placed into it's cavity with almost no extra wire out all. I was barely able to lift it out enough to see it's bottom side. The pickup wires have a two conductor setup (or two leads) per wire. On the outside is a wire mesh that is basically all soldered together at the volume pot. Then there's an internal wire inside a rubber-insolated sleeve. There are two such wires coming from the pickup.

    I took off the control plate and was in for surprises. The wires and connections were almost unanimously rough. Looked like someone was having a bad day the day they did my guitar. I tried to examine all the connections but in some cases it was not possible because of being on the underside. Of special note was soldering the internal leads which were stranded with about 6 or 8 strands. Some of the solders flared out the strands before welding so it looks really bad, and some welds show only 4 or so strands, although each strand is rather thick. Whoever did this neural central connection job must have been on some kind of crappy piece rate and only cared that it lit up some test instrument just long enough to get it off his workbench. What a crock.

    Even the guy who screwed in the plate on, probably the same crappy guy, he screwed the screws in too much towards the inside of the cavity so that now half of the screws have stripped out and chipped out the tiny bit of wood holding them in!

    I've heard that the early to mid 80's were a bad time for Gibson and shoddy craftsmanship, but wow, I wouldn't have expected things to be so poorly done.

    I'm thinking this guitar's control center needs a complete rewiring job.

    Now onto the pickup. It says Patent 2.737.842 and has little screw ends protruding out the bottom side in two rows matching the duel humbucker individual poles from the topside. Plus four little screw heads in line with these many individual protruding screw ends. There is nothing much else about the pickup that tells me much. One duel conductor wire goes into each side of the pickup. Do I need to release the pickup from it's mounting/adjustment plate and go from there?
     
  17. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    I forgot, there was one black insolated wire that did not have a wire mesh outer shroud that went to the tone control and came from what looks like the bridge/trem area. And there were no capacitors, well, there was one very skinny but round thing with both sides connected to the tone control, it's brown in color and "very" thin, about 1/4" or a bit larger in diameter. On one side it says

    MP
    203M
    100V

    The volume pot is a bit different looking as it's so tall. One half towards the wood (topside) is metal and the half nearest the back plate is black plastic. On it's side it says 71482. And in the farthest most hard to reach connection location, there seems to be an inner wire lead connected very closely to an outer wire mesh lead which looks like a "no no" to me. I see no markings on the tone control but it looks like a more normal pot in size and with the all-metallic housing.

    Is there a way to find out which pickup I have?
     
  18. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    There is one braded wire (outer and inner leads) that goes from the tone control to the volume control. It's stretched tight! And the end at the volume control looks awful. The volume pot has three terminal tabs. The outer exposed portion of the tone-to-volume wire seems like it's supposed to be connected to the outer of three tabs, while the inner lead looks like it is supposed to be connected to the middle tab, the one outer tab that is farthest away and most difficult to get to, it has a single rather large diameter wire protruding off of it, but it is cut off about 1/8" away from the tab, as though there used to be a solid wire lead soldered to it, but was cut off for some unknown reason.

    BTW, I found the pickup and wiring diagrams you mentioned earlier, thanks. Too bad none of them cover a three pickup, two singles and one double coil with three separate on/off switches. In fact none of them show how to work with separate on off switches. But the logic behind them should be fairly easy to understand.

    I checked out the middle position single coil and it has only one braided wire lead coming out of it, and on it's bottom it says

    1801183,

    but this time I could see smallish wires at the end of the pickup, one was white and one was black.
     
  19. ess

    ess Guest

    post a pic? :idea:
     
  20. 1Way

    1Way Active Member

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    Ok, I'll see what I can do, but a webcam will not be very detailed nor do well at an extreme close up, which is what I need.
     

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