Problems: help a newbie

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by stradivarius151, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. stradivarius151


    Jan 18, 2014
    Dear TB'ers,

    Being a longtime musician (trumpet/saxophone/piano/guitar/probably others too), I decided to get a bass. I found a Lyon bass and Ibanez amp for a good price on craigslist and went for it. Amp is fine. The only problem is the bass, as the owner didn't even know what brand it was and thus didn't know of any of the problems it has. Using my insufficient knowledge of jargon and likely to be long-winded explanations, I hope to tell you all just what is wrong with it in the hopes that you'll be able to help me fix it so I can enjoy playing it.

    The first thing one might notice on my bass is that it has no pickguard screws. It didn't come with a single screw, and the pickguard has just sort of been flopping around. Whether this is the source of the real problems is unclear to me, but as far as I know the bass was mostly sitting for awhile, which doesn't seem to me like it would cause the problems. However, the real problems are all under the pickguard. When I tried it out at the craigslist house, I couldn't get any sound to come out of the amplifier (exempting a few occasional cracks as I moved the cable plug around in the slot on the bass). Upon trying a brand new guitar, it was discovered the amp was not the problem. Knowing that the bass was a fixer-upper but that it was for such a good price, I went for it and brought it home. At home, I got it to play a little bit: it was really sensitive, I couldn't move at all or the sound would crackle and then go away, and I couldn't move the guitar cable in the guitar or the same thing would happen. Additionally, the sound would crackle and go away if the knobs were almost anywhere but all the way up. I found (from somewhere online, maybe it was on here) that the pots needed Deoxit or some equivalent fluid. I found a RadioShack tuner & control cleaner in our garage and used that on the pots. I have not tried to play it yet, because while I had the pickguard off to lubricate, (it comes right off, remember, no screws) I discovered a red cable coming (I think) from one of the pickups, but not attached to anything. Through experimentation (let a string ring while plugged in to the amp while moving that wire to various points around the pots; when I got sound, it should tell me I stuck the wire in the right spot) I found that a little piece of metal sticking out from the main volume control pot (one of two knobs, is closest to strings and farthest from cable insertion, so I think it's main volume) is where that wire was supposed to go. I have soldering tools (look, if I had the money for a repair, I would have just set my sights a little higher for the bass) and can fix this wire, however, there's a problem: when I touch that loose wire to that metal post on the volume pot, an additional crackling/buzzing noise comes out of the amp. I don't believe it was there when I got it to play before, but I don't know this for sure.

    What's causing that additional crackling? Should it be soldered (and how, because I don't know all the subtleties of bass and bass repair like I do for the other instruments) yet, will this cause the crackling to go away or stay? Is the crackling fixable? I want to do everything short of actually breaking it.

    If there's anything you'd like to add, feel free to do so, because I'd like all the expertise I can get. Thanks everybody.
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Ok this is pretty simple really. The wire needs to be soldered to the correct lug where it used to go. Crackling is a sign of a bad connection--that's why we solder.

    The reason the pickguard is flopping around w/out screws is because a previous owner tried to monkey with the wires, failed, lost the screws, and said F it, I'll just sell it to somebody who doesn't know any better.

    If you paid much more than $25 for this bass, I'm sorry.

    The good news is the wire is easy to fix. Look on the Seymour Duncan website, or here in the pickups forum, for wiring diagrams to confirm how it should go.
  3. stradivarius151


    Jan 18, 2014
    I did pay less than $25 for the bass... so at least I've got that going for me.

    Thanks for the advice.
    Is that the only thing that needs to be fixed, from what you've been able to tell?
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I think you need to solve that problem first, and then see where you are. The next thing to check might be whether the output jack needs to be replaced, but you won't know until you fix the first problem.
  5. stradivarius151


    Jan 18, 2014
    What will tell me that needs replacing? What's the worst that will happen if I don't?
  6. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Pictures showing how the wires are connected would be a big help. In my experience, output jacks rarely need to be replaced. Also, if it is a bad one you are unlikely to do any damage unless you really crank the amp volume.

    If the bass worked when you got it, you have one or additional more loose connections. The most likely being the ground at the output jack.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Once you fix the other problem, just check that the tip of the cable fits snugly in the jack and makes a good, solid connection. If it doesn't, then any movement of the cable -- if, say, you're moving around while playing -- could cause the signal to "crackle" or cut in and out.
  8. B Major

    B Major

    Nov 20, 2013
    Boston, Ma.
    I'd make sure the bass doesnt use active pickups... If it does, you may just need to replace the 9v battery..... Check the back of the body and see if there is a plate that can be screwed off. If there is, replace the 9v battery you find in there n see if that works..... Might just be that simple. Good luck....
  9. stradivarius151


    Jan 18, 2014
    No, it definitely has passive pickups. No battery anywhere. The output jack is making fine connection, I can see it when I have the pickguard up.
  10. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    What happened after you sprayed the pot cleaner and re-soldered the lose wire? Did that fix it? If not, then you still have a bad connection(s) somewhere or one or more of the components is bad.
  11. stradivarius151


    Jan 18, 2014
    After that (I just soldered it) it works perfectly. I also put on new strings, screws I bought for the pickguard, and wiped off a sticker from the church it used to belong to. Very happy with myself for finding that steal.

    Thanks everybody for your advice and support!