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Rewiring my Gibson RD Artist

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by NKBassman, Jul 26, 2012.


  1. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Backstory:
    My RD Artist preamp has never worked properly since it arrived in my hands last year. First the compressor/expander function wasn’t working properly. Then I started getting some static in the “bright” mode. It was fine at band practice, but ruined a few tracks we tried in the studio, which was totally not cool.

    The last straw came a few weeks ago when the neck pickup got really quiet all of a sudden. It didn’t actually completely die though, and the pickups are totally encased in resin, so I figured the pickup problem may actually lie with the preamp instead of the pickup itself, so last night I decided to start taking things apart.


    Action:
    First thing I did was to start removing the preamp board from the bass. Turns out the Bass and Treble boost/cut pots are soldered directly to the preamp board, so those had to be loosened from the top of the body to get the preamp out. The pickups, switches and volume knobs are connected to the preamp board with little multi-prong clip connectors (not sure what the technical term for these is called), so they were super easy to disconnect.

    I tested the pickups with a multi meter and as it turned out my assumption was correct. Both pickups measured the same, in the vicinity of 6.5 kOhms.

    This is where I ran into a snag, and why I decided to start this thread (assuming there’d be more problems down the road). I decided to try to keep the entire wiring harness intact and keep all the original components together for resale purposes. Everything was going smoothly until I got to the output jack… the nut is jammed on the threads and won’t come all the way off.

    So this is my first stopping point for questions:

    1) Anyone have any bright ideas how to get the nut off what I’m assuming is a buggered thread on the jack? The nut begins to loosen then jams after a few turns, at which point the whole sleeve of the jack begins turning. I suppose I could re-use the original jack, but I really didn’t want to have to un-solder any of the original wiring.

    2) I’m no whiz, but the existing jack seems to be some kind of stereo or switching jack (most likely for disconnecting the battery when unplugged). It has two “prongs” and 4 solder lugs. If I need to reuse the jack, I assume this won’t be a problem for a passive setup?

    3) On that note, I’d also like to toss around some ideas for how to wire it back up. I understand the issues with VVTT and the tone controls interacting, but at this point I’m leaning towards that type of setup anyway. Other ideas I’ve tossed around are VVT, Series/Parallel switching, or going hog wild with stereo outputs and whatnot. Open to discussion.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Some pictures:

    Removing the back plate
    [​IMG]

    Switches
    [​IMG]

    Other side of the preamp board
    [​IMG]
     
  3. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Made some progress yesterday with a little help from my tech. 5 minutes and a bruised fingertip later, he had the jack off.

    Now that everything is gutted, I'll be looking around for wiring diagrams. I'll post again when I come up with something.
     
  4. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta
    i had no idea the RD preamp used up so much real estate. sorry i don't have anything constructive to add, but i hope you get some solutions. RDs are cool basses.
     
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  6. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Well, now that I got the old jack out, that solved most of my problems from the first post, so now I just need to decide how to wire it up...
     
  7. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    So I've been looking around, and I think I might as well put stereo outputs in. From what I've been seeing around here (mostly posts by Line6Man), this is the type of jack I want: http://www.cedist.com/products/W-SC-L12A

    Using that type of jack would give me the ability to have both pickups play when only one jack is inserted, and separate stereo outputs when two jacks are inserted, right?
     
  8. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Ordered all new parts today.

    500k Pots
    0.05uF caps
    Gibson L-style 3-way switch
    2x Mono switching jacks as linked above... I sure hope they're the right ones!
     
  9. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Success! Detailed update to follow.
     
  10. HertzWhenIPlay

    HertzWhenIPlay Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    nice work and nice bass by the way :bassist:
     
  11. Mykk

    Mykk

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Location:
    Prescott, AZ & Hollywood, CA
    Is that bass considered a semi-hollow? :)
     
  12. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Well, I had a chance to plug the RD in for about 30 minutes yesterday, and I have to say it sounds a lot better now than it did before with the stock preamp! It doesn't have quite the low frequency "oomph" that it had before with the bass boost, but overall it sounds a lot clearer like taking a big blanket off the tone. It is still very punchy, and when playing with a pick the top end takes on this really sweet grind that sort of sits on top of the guitars without being shrill or harsh. Playing along to some mp3s yesterday the bass seemed to sit very nicely in the mix without any EQ or tone shaping.

    I decided to wire it with stereo outputs using the switching jacks I linked above in a previous post. I followed the Seymour Duncan Rickenbacker wiring diagram, with the only exception being the wiring of the jacks. The switching jacks allow you to plug one cord into either jack and get both pickups like a regular mono output, but it separates to stereo when you plug a second cable in to the other jack. It's quite nice to not have to wire up any switches or push/pull pots. The stereo outputs work perfectly, and I can tell already that the bass will sound amazing with a bit of OD on the bridge pickup and a nice clean fat EQ on the neck pickup. Just running each pickup straight DI into my audio interface sounded amazing without any tweaking at all. It's also dead quiet without adding any shielding, which was a pleasant surprise.

    I'm getting together with a new group of guys for the first time later this week, so I'll post some jam reports and some more pictures then. Unfortunately I don't think I'll be able to take full advantage of the stereo outputs in a live setting, but I am really looking forward to recording with this bass in the future.
     
  13. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Haha yeah pretty much. I don't know if I was just imagining it, or if it was from the new strings or what, but it seemed to have a bit more acoustic resonance after taking the preamp board out of that cavity. Probably all in my head :D
     
  14. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    did you put the original board back in it or swap it out completely? im looking to buy an original board if youre selling!
     
  15. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Nope, I removed the board and re-wired it passive. Thanks for the offer, but I'm going to hang onto it for now though.
     
  16. beebassdude

    beebassdude Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sterling, VA
    ok cool. did you try playing the bass at all without the preamp before you put it back in? mine has no preamp and still sounds awesome, i just wanna know what itd sound like with that board in.
     
  17. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Maybe I should clarify. When I bought the bass it was all original, including the preamp and all. Then the original preamp started giving me problems, so I removed it and now the bass is completely passive. The preamp is sitting in a drawer in my office. :D

    Anyway, I think the overall tone of the bass is still similar without the preamp, just cleaner now. I found the EQ points on the preamp too extreme, ie the bass boost frequency was too low, and the high boost frequency was too high (for my preference anyway). Boosting the lows could make things muddy, and boosting the highs made things really shrill and harsh with a lot of clack. The "extra" preamp features (compression, expansion, and "bright" boost) weren't terribly useful either. The Compressor circuit worked only on the neck pickup and was kind of cool for doing long sustained held notes and power chords because it would give you almost infinte sustain, but it sucked tone like crazy and totally killed the attack of the notes. The bright boost made the tone super aggressive which was cool, but was very difficult to set your tone in a way that would make it possible to turn it on and off as an effect. It basically had to be always on or always off and then you'd set your tone around it, otherwise again it was too harsh. The Expander circuit on mine never worked at all.

    All that being said, I usually favor a fair bit of treble at the amp, and I previously had the bass set up in C Standard. So take my tonal descriptions with a grain of salt.

    I currently have it strung up with brand new Fender 50-110 rounds and tuned to E flat. The slightly longer scale gives the strings a nice tension and "tight" sound that I love, and I was surprised at the amount of sustain it has too. In my opinion the bass sounds as good or better now than it did with the preamp. If you don't have one, I wouldn't bother looking too terribly hard for an original one... there's probably 100 better options out there these days. Check out Hertz's thread on the ACG preamp he installed in his... sounds very promising.
     
  18. NKBassman

    NKBassman Nerd Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Update!

    After re-reading this thread and remembering everything I loved and hated about the RD pre, I went and reinstalled it over the weekend. WOW what a difference!

    After running it passive for 6 months, I'd gotten used to the tone but never really fell in love with it. But now that I have a fresh comparison to the active tone again, I'd never go back to passive. It was totally gutless and lacked anything resembling the punchy powerful tone the bass has now. If the neck pickp issues come back (cutting out), I will be taking the bass in to an amp tech for servicing. The preamp is never coming out again.
     
  19. andysleigh

    andysleigh

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Location:
    g'ford
    Glad to see you saw the light ;)
     
  20. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    i'd have recommended keeping that huge, primitive preamp out of there and looking for different pickups!

    the stock units were very low output, as they were designed for the boost the stock pre offered.

    at the very least, throwing in a typical modern pre instead, with it's far greater fidelity and far smaller size might have been the way to go.
     
  21. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Location:
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Disclosures:
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    There's nothing primitive about that preamp! But it's not just a regular 2 band. That's a Moog designed preamp with compression/expansion as well as the 2 band tone controls.

    It is huge though.

    The pickups are Bill Lawrence designs.
     

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