Workshop: Pickguard Pickup Frustrations

Last year (I think?) I spruced this guitar up enough for its owner to get it going again. This year he came by with a Kent-branded 60s pre-loaded pickguard and had the intention of installing it.

As usual, for retrofit to an acoustic, placement of the pickup (despite its thinness) needed to be changed so it would clear the strings properly. It took a bunch of fuss to get this to mount without needing a screw in the body as well, but I finally got it worked-out.

The second part of the plan involved replacing the mini-jack that came with the pickguard to a standard 1/4" guitar jack on the face -- which also necessitated moving the knobs around to get it to fit with the jack and cable-end dropping into the widest part of the f-hole's opening.

After that I wired-up a ground from the tailpiece to the jack from inside the body.

While fussing with the pickguard's mounting I kept noticing that the signal would drop over and over no matter how many times I stripped and resoldered the end of the pickup's leads. I eventually yanked the whole lead from the pickup (see how rotted-out the interior of the cable is! -- hence the problems of it grounding to itself) and had to go inside the cover of the pup and directly wire-up new leads from the +/- sides of the coil. I try not to do that on these old Japanese pickups because...

...under that cover the coil and magnet and its fragile leads are simply taped-up with what appears to be ancient masking tape. It is really easy to damage these pickups with disassembly. Fortunately, everything went well, and with everything back in place I was able to reinstall the whole assembly on the guitar and fire it up.

As expected, the tone is crisp, clear, and balanced -- with that vaguely-acoustic tone that Danelectros often have -- but leaning more towards the DeArmond spectrum.

The old wiring harness also got all of its soldering-points re-heated but remained, otherwise, factory-original -- including the "backwards" tone control.

1 comment:

bigscorp said...

I love this guitar! Pickup sound is kind of flat, tough and punchy sounding all at once, very Stones'y Street Fighting Man. With the volume pegged on a 70's Princeton Reverb there is just a whisper of feedback. Thank you Jake!