Tremonti Pickup issue.

Discussion in 'Electric Instruments' started by Videoteacher, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. Videoteacher

    Videoteacher New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm having three issues.
    I have a PRS SE Tremonti guitar and I've purchased the USA Tremonti Brige Pickup, a Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Love neck pickup, PRS USA Volume and Tone Pots, and installed them all. When I play the Neck pickup everything works great, the tone knob works and sounds amazing!
    Issues
    1: When I play the the Bridge pickup, which is the Tremonti, It sounds great, but the tone knob has no effect on the sound at all. Both pickups are wired similarly.

    2: When I switch the toggle switch to the middle posistion I only hear the Neck Pickup, unless I turn the the Neck's Volume down one number then I hear the Bridge and no Neck. When i turn down the Neck's Volume completely I don't hear any pickup.

    3: This maybe the nature of the pickup, but the Tremonti Bridge pickup is so much louder than the Neck.

    Below are photos of the wiring. It is my first time ever using a sodering gun so I know it's a bit sloppy. Please somebody help!!
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  2. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    Some even closer up pictures of the solder joints on the pots would be even more useful.

    Being that you are new to soldering or have not developed a lot of expertise, some of the characteristics that you are experiencing may be attributable to the solder joints.

    From my experience, I like to use soldering "flux". It comes in a little tub and is cheap. You get it at hardware stores. I get my solder exclusively at Radio Shack because they are the only place I can find that has "electrical solder" that contains "lead". This solder can be purchased at Radio Shack in rolls of thin solder wire - like 1mm or less in diameter. It is easy to work with and melts at much lower temperatures than "lead free" solder. You should "not" use "plumbers solder", all of which is lead free. Use electrical solder.

    Get a small pencil type soldering iron, approx. 15 watts, and get a decent brand such as Weller, avoiding store brands. I also have a pencil type Weller soldering iron that is 40 watts, but it gets real hot fast and requires more skill to use and to know when to use it. Don't use a "soldering gun"; save it for other soldering jobs, whatever they may be. A pencil type soldering iron is inexpensive and can be purchased at a "True Value" hardware store or equivalent. Don't forget the flux; don't rely on "flux core" solder. Completely "forget" plumbers solder for electrical applications - go to Radio Shack and avoid a wild goose chase.

    Prepare your solder site, on top of the pot or where ever, by applying some "paste flux" and heat it with the soldering iron. You will see it start to smoke - this burns off any oils and impurities and prepares the soldering site. When you use the flux to prepare the soldering site you will immediately notice that when you heat the site of where you are going to join parts, that the solder will quickly melt and "sheet out" at the soldering site - the solder will not "ball up" and roll off.

    You want the solder to "sheet out". You do not want it to ball up and roll off, as you will learn quite quickly. Flux is the trick to get the solder to sheet out and adhere well to the parts.

    You want to use the "minimum" amount of solder necessary to solidly join the parts, wires, etc., together. You do not want to "pile up" the solder on top of the wires and soldering site. Piled up solder is an easy to spot sign that the particular soldering joint is a "bad solder joint", or even a "cold solder joint". Obviously you want to have good solder joints.

    I would unsolder all of my weak looking, piled up, soldering joints and start over using paste flux to clean the soldering site. You can actually apply the flux and wait to heat it up until you have assembled your wires, etc., at the soldering site, and heat everything up at the same time - melting the flux, burning off any impurities, and melting the solder into the soldering joint. I advise using as little heat as needed to get the job done.

    Position the soldering iron across from or underneath the soldering site and apply the heat there in such a way that the solder will be drawn across the top of the pot, thru the wires, etc., toward the soldering iron. This way the solder saturates the wire strands and the whole soldering site, rather than piling up on top of the items that you want to solder. Solder is "drawn" toward the hot soldering iron tip, almost like a magnet.

    It gets easy with a little practice. Others may advise you to use differing soldering techniques. This is just the way that I like to go about doing my soldering.

    Before doing it over and fixing the solder joints I'd make sure to have these items on hand, minimum:
    * A good quality "pencil" type soldering iron of approx. 15 watts like a Weber.
    * A small tub of "paste flux" and the optional tiny flux brush. Together these cost about 2 - 3 dollars but are priceless.
    * A small roll of 1mm diameter or less "lead containing" electrical solder from Radio Shack.
    * A yellow sponge with that green scouring layer, cut in quarters, wetted and squeezed out, for wiping off the soldering tip. You want to keep it clean and free of oxidized black material. Keep it coated with a thin silver coat of solder.
    * Needle nose pliers for holding hot wires, parts, etc., while soldering. You can use the needle nose pliers to push down on wires to hold them in place as well as to grab them.


    Using these inexpensive tools and accessories you will be able to do remarkable things with a simple soldering iron and solder. You will be able to quickly build a body of expertise and be relatively good at soldering. Developing soldering skills will enable you to fix and modify a lot of your guitars, present and future.

    So, without insulting you, it is obvious from the pictures that your soldering joints need some work. I can tell this because the solder does not show any evidence of "sheeting out", and I see where it is piling up. Less than ideal solder joints, as in the ones shown in your pictures, can be the source of a lot of problems that show up when concluding the job and testing the guitar when finished. You want to pay particular attention to having good solder joints at all "ground" points, such as on top of the pots and elsewhere.

    Also, check your work and look for wires that pull off with almost zero force, and wires that may be touching each other (bare wires). Double check your wiring diagrams and don't be afraid to ask for guidance when it comes to your wiring scheme.

    It is super easy to wind up with a malfunctioning wiring job and double and triple checking things can lead to you discovering where things went wrong. Often a bad solder joint will be to blame, and from just looking at it, it might look like it is an adequate joint - but after you unsolder it and do it again more carefully you may frequently find that the funky looking solder joint was the problem area after all.

    Knowing how to solder is a great skill and will help you solve lots of problems, as well as make upgrading to nicer pickups, etc., much more inexpensive. Don't let yourself be intimidated because it is easy to develop excellent soldering skills with just a little work and attention to detail. Get the right stuff and you will be "way" ahead of the game.

    I hope that you find my sharing of my own personal experience to be of use to you in your own quest to learn how to do most all of your own soldering. Your soldering work is definitely an example of a "good try", but you may need to go back and do some of it over and work on developing your soldering skills.

    Good luck and that is a very cool looking guitar. I hope you or others find what I have shared about my soldering experience to be useful. When I was a child of six or seven I was fascinated by the tools in my dad's work shop. I particularly liked soldering and repeatedly burned my fingers and hands on the soldering iron and more than once was shocked by drops of liquid melted solder dropping on my skin. It didn't take long before I started learning how to practice soldering safety, with and without success.
     
    #2 Duffy, Oct 9, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
    grausch and Chartle like this.
  3. ViperDoc

    ViperDoc Plugged In.

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    I'm no expert, but I once built a bass and fried my pots when wiring them without heat sinking the joint. Too much heat while soldering will ruin a good pot. That only sounds potentially like part of your problem. I used heat sink clips and it worked fine. Flux is also an excellent recommendation as above. Seeing a wire diagram will also help sort out what's going on here, it's difficult to see. Good luck!
     
  4. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    Good point on the heat sinking. I have used a damp washcloth wrapped up close as possible around the item to be soldered onto. The damp washcloth definitely soaks up a lot of the heat and is pliable and can be moved in close around the part that you want to draw the heat away from.

    Using a pencil type soldering iron and applying the least amount of heat necessary to get the job done is also a valuable strategy when soldering on pots and other sensitive items.
     
  5. Videoteacher

    Videoteacher New Member

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    Thank you for all the great tips! I'm going to retry and make them cleaner. What do you think happened with the three way switch? I didn't re do that one, all i did is connect the ends to the new Volume pots. The pickups sound great on the upper and lower positions, but in the middle is where I'm having an issue. When I switch the toggle switch to the middle posistion I only hear the Neck Pickup, unless I turn the the Neck's Volume down one number then I hear the Bridge and no Neck. When i turn down the Neck's Volume completely I don't hear any pickup.
     
  6. Videoteacher

    Videoteacher New Member

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    I think I may need a new tone pot.
     
  7. gball

    gball New Member

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    I think Duffy's advice above about covers it. Even though your pics are at relatively close range I am having trouble tracking the wiring to find any possible problems. Given that the solder joints are possibly the problem, if it were me I would probably start over again with fresh pots (or reuse the original Alphas - those are damn good pots that the SE's come stock with! And no pots are actually made in the US any more sorry to say) and practice my soldering on the old ones before the install.

    As to your question about the Tremonti treble pickup, yup, that thing is very high output and can overwhelm a vintage-output pickup like the WLH. I have the Tremonti in my SE245 and a Vintage Bass neck and it took quite a while of adjusting the heights and pole piece screws before I got a balance I could use on the fly without rolling back the Tremonti's volume too far. Now they sound great together and yours will too once you sort out the wiring.
     
  8. Videoteacher

    Videoteacher New Member

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    Thanks Jball, raising the pole screws solved the the difference in output... It's interesting that raising the whole pickup itself didn't. I'll have time to rewire this over the weekend. Would you recommend another tone pots? The PRS ones cost way more than others.
     
  9. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    Can you clean up and salvage the existing or original pots? Just heat up the solder and wipe it off with a sponge. Try to keep it as simple as possible and use existing parts if they are not burnt up, which they may not be.

    Once you get this guitar too messed up, you may have to bring it to a knowledgeable PRS type tech to get it put back together correctly. Hopefully someone here will have a schematic and know where to get the exact parts you need if you destroyed any of the pots, etc. Your existing parts may still be useable. The PRS store has some pots, but they may or may not work with your guitar. Also there is that Mann Made source for parts.

    I think you will be able to sort this out with patience and attention to detail; and possibly some input/help from someone that knows how to correct your problems. Try to keep the problems small and keep track of what you are doing.

    Good luck. Let us know how things are going.
     
  10. Dizzyg12

    Dizzyg12 New Member

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    Digging up this old thread as I'm about to switch the pups in my 245 SE to tremonti pups. I was wondering about the pots which I think I'm going to leave in for now. There is a small orange .022 capacitor on the tone pots already, it I know the tremonti to schematics show a .033 capacitor. I wanted to put in the .033 to make is as close to the tremonti wiring as possible, do I leave the .022s alone? I see this post above is a good example as he left his on.
     
  11. The Fight

    The Fight Long Hair Demigod

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    I would leave it. But you could always try both, that is a option.
     
  12. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    I would leave the 0.022 one in there. Changing it to a little higher one will not help you sound more like Tremonti.

    Tone is in the hands and head. Work on 'your' technique and play every day. You will see how you can change and shape the tone with your fingers and picking, using a pick, finger nails, or the soft part of your index finger will immediately change the tone; and adjusting 'how' you use the above picking techniques will give you a huge tonal palate.

    Also, when changing pickups it's easy to mess things up. I would carefully do one wire at a time, using paste flux and leaded electrical solder. Just replicate what is already there. That is key. Do a good job. Get good sheated out solder joints using the least amount of solder to get the job done well. I would totally leave the factory pots in. They knew which type of pots to use where, audio taper and linear taper. This knowledge that the factory dudes have makes the guitar work optimally.

    Good luck. Let us know how it works out.
     
    #12 Duffy, Jan 6, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  13. Dizzyg12

    Dizzyg12 New Member

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    Good advice and tips thanks! I wasn't necessarily attempting to get the tremonti tone, I just planned to move the 245 SE pickups to another guitar and chose the tremonti set to replace the 245 SE pups. I don't know much about the capacitors and their effect on tone but every tremonti set I've seen seems to have the .033uf caps except for the OP in this thread. So I just was curious if the change was necessary or if it would be fine with the way it's currently wired. From what I can tell the .022uf is soldered to the pot leg and to the casing. The wiring schematic for current tremonti models actually shows the .033 caps soldered between the pots (the middle leg of each) to bridge them, so would I need to make any changes there with how the caps are soldered to the pot? I'm assuming it's the way it is for a reason. Lol

    My plan will be to ride with what's in there and just literally swap the pups and see how it goes. Eventually I will need to replace one volume pot as the post is stripped and the nut isn't as tight as it should be but I've made it work for now.
     
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  14. Duffy

    Duffy New Member

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    Maybe wrap some Teflon plumbers tape around the pot post and then try to snug down the nut. It might work. Otherwise I would take it to a good guitar repair man, not GC. Maybe order a new pot from PRS, but a repair man should have exactly what you need and charge only a small amount to put it in. Maybe have him put in the pickups.
     

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