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J-retro + Dimarzio Ultra Jazz + SX = problem :(

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by karrot-x, May 14, 2005.


  1. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    So I hooked up everything as stated above, black and white wires on each pickup are attached to eachother, soldered then taped over with electric tape. I soldered the green and red pickups wires to two, two-pin connectors so i can slide them on and off of the pre-amp. I have the ground going to the black wire that's coming off of the jack, and I also added a little extension for the current ground.

    Problems:
    1. Huge amounts of hiss when the mid is selected above -3.
    2. Huge amounts of hiss when any trebble is there.
    3. Heavily distorted, non ear pleasing sounds.
    4. When you touch any part of the bass that has metal it makes a clicking noise.

    Things I've tried:
    1. Changing grounds.
    2. Checking wires, haven't replaced any just made sure all solder points were there.
    3. Different amps.


    Just tried to play through it using my Mesa M-Pulse 600 and svt cabs. It sounds better, the hiss is much more minimal, and the distortion isn't as bad but it's still not "right."

    Does anyone know what's the plus and minus for the Dimarzio ultra jazzes? Green = plus?
     
  2. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    If you look at the wiring diagram, available on the dimarzio web site, you'll see that red is hot and green is ground. Black and white get soldered together then insulated with electrical tape or heat shrink tubing.

    http://dimarzio.com/Text/Install/UltraJazz.pdf
     
  3. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    I did look at that, and I looked at the diagram that came with my pickups. I didn't see where it said which was hot and which was cold, thank you.

    Now, the noise is still there, highly undesireable, anyone have suggestions?
     
  4. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    I'm not sure if you mean that you didn't see it before, but you see it now. Or if you didn't understand the diagram.
    As a rule of thumb, whatever is going to the vol / blend pot is hot, whatever you're grounding is cold.
    All I can say is that I've used a few of these, and never had any noise issues.

    I'm going to make some suggestions, I don't know your experience level with mod work / soldering / active basses so don't be insulted by any of these:
    1) Does your amp have active/passive inputs? If so which are you using? If you're using passive input, you may well have to turn down the input gain to avoid distortion since you'll now have a hotter signal - esp when boosting eq
    2) How are your solder connections? Are they shiny or dull? If dull, you have cold solder joints which are undesirable and can lead to some of the issues you describe
    3) Have you tried soldering direct to the pins on the preamp?
    4) I'm not sure from your description whether you have grounded the bridge
     
  5. alibloke

    alibloke

    Dec 17, 2004
    Bristol, England
    +1

    From the description it sounds as though your bridge hasn't been properly grounded, in particular the clicking sound you are hearing when you touch metal parts on the bass.
     
  6. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8

    The diagram that I have from the pickups says "Solder the red wire of each pickup to the center leg of its respective volume pot." --- I didn't know that meant it was considered "hot."

    and then.."Solder the green wire of each pickup to the back of its respective volume pot" meant cold :/


    1)Active, and no insult taken.
    2)They're a bright silver.
    3)No, I don't want to directly solder to the pins in fear of burning them and ruining the pre-amp. However if you think it's the connectors I'm using I'll easily go find new ones.
    4)There is a wire coming from the bridge, underneath of course, and it's soldered to the black "ground" wire on the pre-amp. I think it's a grounding problem as well, I just don't have any idea how to fix it.

    Tried:
    1. Making sure the wire was fully threaded and the metal inside was touching the bridge.
    2. Taking of the bridge and moving it the wire to a differen't part of the bridge.
    3. Making sure that the contact between the black wire and the ground wire was done well.

    Also tried:
    1. Resoldering everything.
    2. I shortened the length of the wires to make sure that it wasn't trying to push through to far a distance and to make it easier to move things in the cavity.

    I can take pictures if it will help and post them, I have electric tape on all solder points and actually used some tape to keep wires neater.

    Thanks for the help :)
     
  7. alibloke

    alibloke

    Dec 17, 2004
    Bristol, England
    You should first try soldering the ground wire from the bridge directly onto the ground terminal on your output jack.

    I think the ground for your preamp should also connect to this terminal (either directly or indirectly).

    Im afraid I haven't had any direct experience of the J-retro, so Im just guessing per your description. If you're still stuck it might be better to post pics maybe? :confused:
     
  8. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    This definately sounds like a ground problem. The connectors should be fine although most repair guys and luthiers would prefer the solder method just for the security of the connection.

    Typically all of the grounds land on the case of the treble pot(at least this is according to Roger Sadowsky). Sometimes this connection is difficult because the casing on the pot is coated with a metal that doesn't take solder well. It is good to scratch the surface with a bit of sand paper or emory cloth but DON'T use steel wool.

    And ideally, you want all of your wires as short as possible but enough length that you can move around in there if a repair is necessary.
     
  9. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    Thanks for the advise ^^. I'm going to take pictures and outline the problem areas.

    The problem with me soldering to the treble pot is the fact that it's encased with a silicon board. The J-retro pre-amp is designed so you only solder to the connectors and the ground wire. I'm going to email John East, J-retro creator, and ask him what I should do.

    Also get some pics up, pretty soon.
     
  10. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    Were there instructions with the J-retro? John should have outlined the grounding method. Contacting Mr. East is the best thing to do. I understand he is very responsive and a very nice fellow.
     
  11. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    Yup there was and he did. Connect all grounds to the black wire on the j-retro. I have one ground wire so I soldered it to the black wire on the J-Retro.
     
  12. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I just checked the J-Retro website and it all looks straight forward with the wiring.

    I still think that you might have a ground issue. You may need to resolder the wires going to the single back wire that goes to the jack.

    Also, just a question but have you tried turning the gain down on the trim pots? The dimarzio pups are supposed to be pretty hot. Maybe you are over driving the front end of the preamp and that is what is causing the distortion.
     
  13. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    I'll try turning down the trim pots, currently resoldering the ground connection.

    Pictures soon to come, camera battery still charging.
     
  14. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I'm sorry...I just read your initial post again. I'd work on the distortion issue first. But if you are touching up the ground that sure wouldn't hurt.

    It really sounds like you are over-driving your amp with a hot signal. The trim pots might be the answer hopefully. You also might try just turning the volume on the bass down a bit to see if that helps. Or even play with the preamp gain on the amp.
     
  15. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    Ok, so I finished resoldering the grounds together, still no improvement. The distortion is pretty much solved now that I have the propper hot and cold wires working. The hiss is hte main problem, and the clanking.

    Here are the pics:

    http://www.black-horizon.org/images/bass/problem

    And specifically here's the ground:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I'm sorry but the photos are a bit fuzzy so I had a bit of trouble seeing what is going on.

    I went to the DiMarzio website to see what they say about wiring the pickups. I saw in the your photo that you have the black and white wires together for the bridge pickup. Do you have the same for the neck pickup? The DiMarzio instructions don't say anything about grounding the pickups to the preamp. It looks like the only thing grounded to the preamp is the bridge and strings.

    My thoughts are that the pickups need to be run to the ground wire on the preamp. BUT, BUT, BUT please don't do this until you've heard from John East and/ DiMarzio, PLEASE. I don't think that it would toast the J-Retro but I would get the go ahead from them. Please promise me that you will contact John East first?

    Also, just a friendly suggestion to make things easier to keep track of...buy matching colored wire. It's not that expensive and it sure helps you keep track of things.
     
  17. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    Thanks for the info, I'm going to email John East about the info and this thread as soon as I get to my girlfriends house. I know the pictures were a little blurry, the green wires coming off the pups are supposed to be "grounds." Which is of course going to the ground on the pre-amp or "cold". I'd buy matching colored wire if I had bought the connectors, I just cut them from a once working pc, ones the reset sw and the other is for the cdrom drive heh :).

    I hope John can help my problem.
     
  18. alibloke

    alibloke

    Dec 17, 2004
    Bristol, England
    Hi, great pics BTW. Okay, from pic 1 it appears as though you have the bridge ground wire (black) soldered to the white wire of the Dimarzio Ulra Jazz, am I correct?

    http://www.black-horizon.org/images/bass/problem/B01_0001.JPG

    There should be in fact be four wires coming off from each pickup, one red, one green, one white and one black.

    The white and black leads coming from each individual pickup should be twisted together, soldered, and covered with tape so they don't touch or indeed connect with anything else aside from each other (repeat the process for both pickups).

    The bridge wire should be kept completely separate from the black and white leads coming from your pickups. The black bridge wire should should ideally be soldered independently to the earth terminal on your output jack, or a dedicated star earth.

    Hope this helps.....
     
  19. David Wilson

    David Wilson Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Lower Westchester, NY
    yup, the picture caption states 'pickup white and black wire for bridge'.
    As alibloke says, the pickup black and white should be soldered to each other ONLY. Other ground wires should not touch this connection at all.
     
  20. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
    No I don't, guess that pictures weren't clear enough.

    I have the black wire and the white wire from the bridge pickup soldered to eachother, twisted and taped.

    I have the bridge wire going to the extension wire then to the black wire on the pre-amp.

    EDIT:

    Ah, I see where you guys thought I did that. The caption reads "Pickup white and black wire for bridge" what I meant to say was "white and black wire for bridge pickup"