I'm back! - And fixing up a Spectrum

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Post by beavis on Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:27 pm

Hi all, 

The older forum members here may remember me from back in the day. I love this forum and am happy to be back! I also hope everyone has been well and has been living the good life since I was last around. 

I am currently fixing up a spectrum sx. Lovely lovely guitar. I would very much appreciate some advice; I searched the forum and still have some open questions:

- Pickup replacements: no MMK 45, only the plastic-base humbucker with the lowest output of any humbucker ever. The singles (which appear to have a ceramic bar on the base) will also go. I am thinking of replacing the humbucker and the two singles with stuff from Iron Gear (steam hammer probably and over-wound pigs, or whatever they are called). I tried several GFS pickups in the past and disliked all of them, whereas I am very happy with the iron gear pickup in one of my guitars. Eventually, I might upgrade to Seymour Duncans if I find a good opportunity. Anyway... I am concerned about the dimensions of the single-coils. Will these fit in the Spectrum or will I need to swap the rings or something? Anyone tried this already?

- Bendmaster Deluxe: not sure what to think of this yet. Looks like a double-locking trem, but is not. I do not intend to replace, but I am missing 4 fine-tuners. Do Kahler fine tuners swap in easily? Or does anyone have some spares kicking around?

- Wiring seems a tad more straight-forward than on other models as this one has a five-way switch and only one DPDT. However, a diagram would come in extremely handy.. 

Any moderator should feel free to let me know if I posted in the wrong section, this could probably also be in the Wanted. 

Cheers
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Post by Barry on Sun Nov 18, 2018 5:21 pm

Hey hey! Welcome home! Great to see an old face, or at least, your avatar!
The SX is a nice model, and I happen to have mine out on rotation at the moment.

I too had the crappy UBC humbucker and replaced it with my go to, a GFS Crunchy Pat. I find it's specs and tone are pretty close to the MMK45 but to each his own. It seems to balance the original single coils quite nicely.

The single coils are ceramics but be aware that so is the MMK45, so don't let that be the guide.

I haven't used Iron Gear but I understand it's very good stuff.

As for wiring check here: SX Wiring

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Post by corsair on Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:30 pm

G'day, Beavis - long time, no see so good to see you back, mate!

Right... my SX did have a 45 so I was golden; I don't think I have any bridge spaced 45s spare, sorry; I do have a neck spaced one, though...

I've heard Iron Gear are pretty good too; I've used Tonerider and Kent Armstrong in projects and think they're great; excellent sound and good value for money... YMMV, of course!!

Deluxe bridges are OK if set up correctly, and that assumes that you have a working stringlock..... do you? You're right, of course, they're not double locking, just the lock at the nut.
The fine tuners are peculiar to Bendmaster and I've only found one other set that worked, which was off an 80s Hohner superstrat, which are even rarer than Bendmasters!! What I have done in the past - and this is in here somewhere - I bought some hex headed 6mm fine bolts and a friend made me some caps for them with my initials on the top; there's always a solution, eh! Especially if you're not fussy about strictly adhering to originality and go for function over form, as I am wont to do.

S/C rings should be OK; I've never thought to change any singles in my guitars...

You gonna show us what you have??
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Post by drsyn67 on Sun Nov 18, 2018 9:13 pm

Welcome back!
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Post by beavis on Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:00 am

Thanks for the messages guys!

Here is one first picture, she's completely naked at the moment: spectrum - I'm back! - And fixing up a Spectrum Img_6210 

(Not sure if that link is showing.. Need to perfect my image hosting skills..). 

I bought her recently from a really friendly seller, which made the transaction all the more pleasant. 

Barry's link to the wiring diagram does not seem to work.. Or am I doing something wrong?

Regarding pickups, I actually prefer ceramics, at least for humbuckers. It is just that I do not much like the site of a ceramic slab under a single coil. I was more expecting magnets on each side of the poles instead. I have read good things about Toneriders and Kent Armstrong as well and needless to say I am a huge MMK 45 fan, those are quality pickups; I must check those out. I could also consider the Crunchy Pat, it does look like the kind of specs I am after (ceramic, hot but not overly and good definition) So many things to do. 

As for the fine tuners, thank you Corsair for the suggestion. I might end up doing that then. I have two fine tuners which Thorn (IIRC) gave me and they are a perfect fit, but only two.. At least I do have the stringlock.
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Post by Barry on Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:17 pm

Looks good. Very Happy

Don't know why the link to the web site isn't working for you unless you're not logged in when you accessed it. (It won't be active otherwise)

Here's the full URL to copy and paste if you're still having trouble: http://www.westoneguitars.net/fixme/wiring-diagrams/spectrum-sx/

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Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Nov 19, 2018 12:50 pm

it seems that there are at least two versions of the SX, (one version seems to be identical to the MX) scratch

i have both SX and MX guitars;
my SX has volume/tone/tone
my MX has volume/tone

my SX has single coil pups with dual magnets
my MX has single coil pups with a single magnet


this red one is labeled SX


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this blue one is labeled MX
spectrum - I'm back! - And fixing up a Spectrum Enhance?fromCloud

here is the single coil pickup in the MX
spectrum - I'm back! - And fixing up a Spectrum Enhance?fromCloud

and here is a peek at the single coil pup with dual magnets from an SX
spectrum - I'm back! - And fixing up a Spectrum Enhance?fromCloud

in an A/B comparison the dual magnet single coils sound better to my ears.
the main trouble you will have replacing the single coil is that the routing in the body will not accommodate the typical shape of a modern s/c pickup
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Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Nov 19, 2018 1:21 pm

i also noticed that my MX models were made without the string lock.

here <- is an old thread i posted comparing some details of MX vs SX
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Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Nov 19, 2018 4:15 pm

schematic drawing for the Spectrum MX or in some cases, Spectrum SX (take 2) ...
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Last edited by gittarasaurus on Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:46 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : corrected schematic)
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Post by corsair on Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:20 pm

gittarasaurus wrote:i also noticed that my MX models were made without the string lock.

Yep; the MX has the Bendmaster Precision 2 post bridge, which is just the FT without the fine tuners!!

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Post by corsair on Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:21 pm

gittarasaurus wrote:schematic drawing for the MX or in some cases SX

after looking closely i  found a mistake in the wiring, Face Palm ... so i deleted the drawing until i can fix it

If it's the same drawing you sent me, mine works well! The pull pot is back to front, but that is most likely my dodgy soldering skills!!!

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Post by gittarasaurus on Mon Nov 19, 2018 6:57 pm

drawing fixed...

beavis says he has only one p/p, and the pic he posted shows only 2 controls

the SX with 3 controls (2 p/p pots) includes a phase reverse and coil split.

the MX {or SX with 2 controls (1 p/p)} has only a coil split.
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Post by Barry on Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:46 pm

My SX post is HERE if you want to compare.

Mine's a 1986, 1V, 1T(P/P) Coil cut only, no phase reverse.

Looks like they were messin' about with specs in advance of the looming company troubles. Likely using available inventory parts even if not originally spec'd for the guitar.

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Post by beavis on Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:58 am

Excellent! Most interesting! 

Yes, I confirm, the pick-up cavities are pretty much perfect ovals and will not accommodate a strat-style baseplate. As for the wiring, this is indeed a 1 volume (no push-pull), 1 tone (push-pull) and a 5-way switch. Basically, I have the exact same one as Barry shared above. I was also surprised by the light weight of the body (allegedly maple). 

I wish to redo the wiring from scratch, but will have to adapt the wiring diagrams available (thanks Gittarasaurus!; btw please say "Hi" to the Bay from me Smile). How I wish I could understand electronics better and devise the wiring diagrams myself.. 

I am quite happy not have two push-pulls as I tend to not fiddle with that too much. I am however thinking that a phase reversal could be funner than a coil split (especially because it is a single humbucker instrument). 

Also, I have not yet played it, but the neck seems fabulous. Really love the rounded out edges coming onto the fretboard.
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Post by Barry on Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:51 am

I will add the new drawing to the website.
Thanks Mike!

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Post by beavis on Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:53 pm

So! Thanks to your help, I have now soldered in a new Iron Gear Steam Hammer. It is visually very similar to the original humbucker and I hope will sound good enough. 

The original humbucker has only 2 wires plus a bare, whereas the new pickup had 4. No big deal but it slightly affected how the coil-splitting needed to be wired, if I am not mistaken. 

I did not put any strings back on yet, but used my old multimeter instead to get an idea of what is going on. The humbucker is supposed to read 15 kohms and comes a bit shy of that at 14.3 (if I measure on a plugged jack) or 14.6 (if I measure from the hot wire and the output). I am happy with that. The coil split is 7.x so that is looking good as well. The bridge+middle position on the 5-way switch indicates 4.x kOhms, which I find odd and cannot explain. The middle pickup shows 5.6 and the neck pickup does not give any signal to the multimeter. The seller told me the middle pickup was dead, but it seems to be a dead neck pickup. This bothers me for several reasons: i. I like neck pickups; ii. I have never seen a broken pickup - this is a magnet with some coil winding, not really "breakable" stuff so it must be a disconnected wire within the pickup.., and iii. the shape of the pickups means that I will struggle to find a replacement.

I could put strings on the guitar and see how it all works out. 

Prior to the soldering, I leveled the frets, crowned them with my new fret crowning file - which appeared to be a tad narrow for these chunky guys - and sanded/polished them to a nice shine (very happy with some automobile metal polish I used). I also ordered some 4mm fine-tuning screws on ebay and am curious to see how they fit in to the Bendmaster Deluxe. 

Would of course love your thoughts on this new pickup matter, or on anything else actually, all thoughts welcome Smile.
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Post by Barry on Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:23 pm

Sounds to me like everything is testing as it should.
For comparison, here are my readings:
N= 5.73 KΩ
C= 5.63 KΩ
B= 13.1 KΩ (replacement GFS)
B (split) =6.7 KΩ
C+B= 3.9 KΩ
C+B (with split)= 3.0 KΩ
N+C= 2.85 KΩ

As for a "broken" pickup, yes that usually refers to a break in the winding. If you're getting no reading you're going to need a replacement.
I have no recommendations other than to look for something in the 5-6 KΩ range. If you want to be really picky about it you could consider replacing both single coil pickups with a matched set, perhaps from Iron Gear?


Last edited by Barry on Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by beavis on Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:52 pm

Thanks a lot Barry, very helpful! These readings match what I have and confirm what I needed to know. 

Regarding the faulty pickup, turns out it is not the neck but the middle one. The previous owner - wisely - simply switched the wiring on the 5-way selector to allow for a combination between neck and bridge. I do not mind this apart from the fact that it makes fast switching from bridge to neck too difficult because the neck pickup selector is now in the middle position on the 5-way. 

It seems Warman pickups offer similar shaped pickups which would fit. Never used them. It also seems that I have a stripped screw on the mounting ring preventing me from removing the middle pickup. Since I rarely use the middle pickups on my guitars, I will leave it as is for now. 

This guitar is a real pleasure to play. A fabulous neck and I am lucky to have very low action on it (lucky because I did not need to waste much time setting it up). The Iron Gear sounds pretty good, very "open" with a lot of clarity on the chords and strong harmonics. It suffers a little bit in the lower range, perhaps because this is an all-maple with a floating trem, but then I do like bright-sounding guitars and this offers me the tone I'm after. All in all, a beautiful instrument with an outstanding neck and very comfortable and fun to play.
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Post by Barry on Sat Jan 05, 2019 5:12 pm

Excellent!
Yeah, the Spectrums do tend towards the 'bright' side, probably because of the Maple construction mostly. But in a band situation they will cut through nicely if that's what you're after. (Worked for me!)

By contrast I find that many of the Vantage models with Ash or Mahogany bodies will tend to rock a bit more on the darker side, even with the same MMK45 pickups. ('Course then there is the Thunder! Razz )

Good ole' Uncle Mats eh? Always something for everyone.

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Post by beavis on Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:41 pm

Absolutely! A great range of guitars. Compared to my Dimension IV, the feel and the tone are very different. The dimension seems to have a bit more resonance and oomf to it whereas the spectrum is a bit lighter sounding. To be honest, I am really loving this Spectrum. The polished frets and the fact it is in great nick feels like playing a brand new instrument. 

Surprisingly, I like the single coil neck pickup as well. Despite the low output, it packs a punch and gets down and dirty pretty easily.
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Post by Barry on Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:20 pm

Resistance readings are only a quick 'n dirty shorthand way to compare pickups, they do not accurately represent the true output "power". As you're discovering.

Henries are the more definitive measurement but you seldom see that number quoted.

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Post by beavis on Sun Jan 06, 2019 4:26 pm

Interesting, and that perhaps goes some way to explain why Lace Sensors have a rather high resistance yet sound so tame and clear (at least the Lace Sensor Golds, as these are the only ones I own).
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