Distorting pickup

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Grimoire, Jan 1, 2013.


  1. Grimoire

    Grimoire

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    I have just picked up a Fender Jaguar Baritone HH - it's the first g**tar I have owned in many years. Playing it tonight I noticed the pickup on the low B was distorting. I know it's the pickup, as I tried various cables, signal paths etc, and I use my Bongo 6 through the same setup every day with no problems. I have lowered the screws just about as far as I can, and it's still there, albeit subtle, on both the neck and bridge pickups. It's not constant, but quite pronounced when I pick hard. I don't have any experience with these types of humbuckers, but I know that pickups inherently don't (or shouldn't) audibly distort. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Hactar

    Hactar

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    Passive pickups don't really distort though.
    They tend to do their best to reproduce whatever signal they pickup, and they don't really have a ceiling at which they stop reproducing signal transients.
    Thus, it seems that somewhere else in the signal chain. Perhaps the electronics are bad?
    Also, could it be mechanical noise (i.e. vibration, rattle, etc)?
     
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    It's not the pickups, since it's happening with both. It's your amp.

    Guitarist like when their pickups distort the amp, which is why pickup makers wind hot pickups. Try using the lower sensitivity input on the amp, or turn the bass down a little.

    Guitar pickups are usually wound hotter than the pickups in the Bongo. You have to adjust your amp for different instruments.
     
  4. Grimoire

    Grimoire

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    It is most definitely not my amp, as I am not using an amp! I am running into a Soundcraft notepad mixer, and that runs into my monitors. I have tried multiple channels on the mixer, at different levels, using my headphones, running direct into either of my audio interfaces etc - it is 100% the guitar. As I said, I know it's not the pickups, that's not possible, so it must be the electronics as mentioned above, a solder or something I assume.
     
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  6. abemo

    abemo

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    Have you tried using it with an amp to see if the issue still exists?
     
  7. jefkritz

    jefkritz

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    it is in fact the guitar, but it's not something you should fix with a hardware solution. your guitar is just hotter than you're used to. so, turn it down. turn down the volume knob on the guitar. or use the active channel/button on your amp if you have one. etc, just turn it down if you don't want distortion.
     
  8. Grimoire

    Grimoire

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    I don't have an amp at home, but I can take it to work tomorrow and try there.
     
  9. mcnach

    mcnach

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    it's most definitely whatever you plugged your guitar into, I'm afraid.
    The signal is hotter than what the input is designed for.

    Now you may continue arguing with everybody :), or listen and try to find a way to adjust the input gain in your mixer, or use a different input (if you have different inputs with different impedances etc).
     
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

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    +1
     
  11. Danelectrofy

    Danelectrofy

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    The Soundcraft Notepad is a tiny little mixer, although it does have attenuators on each mic channel. If you are using a transformer so that the instrument can be plugged into the mixer on a mic channel the transformer could be the culprit. Lessor quality transformers often do wierd things to your signal. If you are using transformers from Radio Shack as opposed to ones that actually work properly then your problem may already be solved. Dump the RS Transformers. I did a frequency response check on an RS Transformer and was appaled and promptly threw it in the trash.
     
  12. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    The mixer is an amp... it has a preamp. You are clipping the preamps. I clip my mixer's preamp all the time when I'm recording! Sometimes on purpose. That's also how some overdrive pedals work.

    Here's an example of a bass plugged right into a mixer:


    All the grit you hear is from the pickups overdriving the mixer because I had the levels a little too hot.

    Also, does the mixer have high impedance instrument inputs? You shouldn't plus a high impedance passive instrument into a mixer. The inputs on the mixer are low impedance, and that will load down the pickups on the guitar, and made them dull sounding. Ad since they are expecting a low Z source, that is part of the reason they are clipping.

    You should first plug into some kind of pedal, maybe like a compressor. This is why we use direct boxes between guitars and mixers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2014
  13. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Oh yeah transformers distort too.

    I'd go with an active impedance matching device. Even a tuner with a buffered bypass would work.
     
  14. Grimoire

    Grimoire

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    So after exhaustive testing tonight, it is definitely the guitar. But I was wrong on one thing, and it makes all the difference - it's not both pickups, just the neck pup. It was just some very faint string buzz that was convincing me that it was there on the bridge too, stupid I know. There is highly pronounced clipping on the neck pup - I have now tried it with the mixer, a Boss RC-50 with headphones, a Genz Benz Shuttle with headphones, and also DI out into the mixer. An Mbox 2 DI input, and a Motu Microbook II, through a bunch of effects, etc etc. So I guess it's something in the wiring...
     
  15. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Are you sure it's not the string? If it sounds like fret buzz, it could be a bad string or the bridge saddle.

    I say this from previous experience tracking down weird noises on guitars.

    Also, the neck pickup on many guitars is louder because of where it is under the strings. Unless the guitar has an over wound bridge pickup.

    But consider this, it's only breaking up on one string? Why not al of them? That's not the pickups or the wiring.

    I think your just clipping the input on your devices. It's easy to do with guitars (I'm also a guitarist).
     
  16. Grimoire

    Grimoire

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    I guess I'm thinking in terms of the strings energy, and the fact that the energy put out by the lowest string is higher than the others, and it is only there when I hit it hard. By that rationale I would have to hit the E string exceptionally hard for it to do the same thing, but as I said, I have little knowledge when it comes to guitar electronics, but I do know a fair bit about gain structure etc as it's my job (which is why this is confusing the hell out of me). I'm not discounting fret buzz I guess, I need to do some more checks. I will take it to work tomorrow, test it with multiple amps, and in the presence of multiple live sound technicians. How many it will take to accurately diagnose is anyones guess. Is it really possible to have it clip the inputs of all these devices, some dedicated to guitar? Especially when the output level on the instrument is turned down very low? Off for more analysis...

    edit: Fret noise can be ruled out, it still clips slightly when fretted at the 21st (highest) fret. So if it's physical, it could be the bridge saddle.
     
  17. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

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    Right, so I still think the output from that string is overdriving your gear.

    How far is the pickup under the bass strings? You generally adjust it farther away under the low strings.

    You can also try raising the string a little. Or switching to a lighter gauge set.
     
  18. abemo

    abemo

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    The strings should be set up to all behave roughlythe same in terms of output, etc., however, given that the string has a wider range of motion at the neck pup than the bridge, the neck pup tends to be hotter, unless the bridge pup was specifically designed to counteract this (as sgd said). Therefore, only having the neck pup distort still points to the amp/mixer
     

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