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Scratched one guitar off my wanted list...

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Post by DuoFuzz Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:41 pm

Hi one and all

It's been ages since I've posted anything on here so I thought I should post this up.

Me and my bro Steve (G.A.S.man) were at a local guitar show last month when I bumped into a guitar I have wanted for ages but thought I would never see in person. Short story is I threw my money at the seller and ran away with this....

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It's a 1981 Aria Pro II Thor Sound TS-400 in a lovely golden Oak finish. Two of the mini toggle switches operate each pickup in series or parallel, not the usual coiltap setup. The third mini toggle is in/out of phase. 

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The neck pickup isn't the original but it is an MMK45! The original pickup wire had been snipped in the neck rout leaving the rest of the cable attached the control pots. The new p/up was then grafted onto the end of the existing wire using electrical tape! 

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Originally this was fitted with Protomatic III (MMK45) pickups and they both need four conductor wires so the series/parallel switches work properly. The neck p/up fitted now only had two conductor leads and wasn't wired right so I decided to take it apart and four wire it myself, and it works!!! 

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The chances of getting the correct original spec p/up (four wired, zebra, double row allen slugs, neck MMK45) are slim to non, so it was worth a shot! I'll post up some pic's of that work later.

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This is my first set neck Matsumoku and it plays and sounds amazing. There is some dings and dents on it, but it's pretty clean considering it's nearly 33 years old. 

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And the price, £175 isn't bad is it?So Happy

DAN.
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Post by hoax Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:22 pm

You stole it Dan!!

Well done

Hoax Very Happy
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Post by jim Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:14 pm

Wow! Amazing! Congrats on a good find and a splendid restoration! I wouldn't know how to split or rewire it myself but by the marvellous looks of the guitar it must have been a joy to begin with. Good job!
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Post by Sgt. Vimes Tue Nov 26, 2013 9:19 pm

beautiful colour, nice catch Dan!
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Post by Barry Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:43 pm

She's a beauty and a classic from that period. Well done!  Yes yes! 

Wiring diagrams are hard to come by on the Mats site, so anything by way of documentation would be welcomed I'm sure.

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Post by mortarman120gang11c Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:59 pm

Very nice Congrats
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Post by corsair Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:31 am

I think that series are ugly, but they are truly wondrous to play! Don has a 600 (?) that I fiddled with last year and it was very nice to play indeed, if hideously ugly....

Further, I think that that headstock is the most aesthetically pleasing 3+3 ever made...
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Post by Catalyst Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:37 am

Nice score Dan, a Thor Sound is also on my wish list somewhere Thumb Up
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Post by DuoFuzz Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:41 pm

I'm so pleased I decided to buy it, I won't get another chance at that price.

Barry, don't hold your breath but I'm going to try and draw out the circuit in Paintbrush. I've done some diagrams for myself in the past and was wondering if it would be any good?

OK, I've sorted out some pics of my pickup surgery. There is a lot of pics and some are grainy cellphone pics, so sorry in advance! Smile 

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This is the only pic I have of the rear of the non-original neck pickup. I'm still not sure what Mats guitar this came from? Aria's seem to have double hex slug pole pieces, I can't think of any Westones with double white coil MMK45's so maybe a Westbury? The early style of ink stamp on the baseplate matches the original Thor Sound pickup so they are from the same era.

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This is what was lurking underneath! Expert wiring I think you'll agree Face Palm . The black cable is original Aria pickup wire and it's solder joints to the controls look untouched.

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Beneath the fabric ribbon and black sticky tape (seen in the backround stuck to a tile) was this. Each coil has a black and a red lead, the red wire on the left coil is attached to the baseplate earth along with the hookup cable shield. The black wires from both coils are soldered to each other and the red lead in the hookup cable, this joint is covered in a small length of tubing and pushed between the coils. The remaining red wire from the right coil is connected to the white lead in the hookup cable and again, it's joint is pushed into tubing and between the coils. I removed the hookup cable completely, leaving the 1" long coil wires for later.

In order to copy the Aria four conductor wiring I had to take apart the Thor Sound's original bridge pickup.  

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While unwrapping the coils I found a staple stuck to the inside of the ribbon!

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This one is a bit more complicated Shocked! The coils still have a red and black wire each but the hookup cable has four coloured leads plus a cable shield. The colours are black, red, brown and orange. 
The connections are:
L/H coil red ====== black hookup
L/H coil black ====== red hookup
R/H coil red ===== brown hookup
R/H coil black === orange hookup


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This is the four connections unfolded. The red and brown hookups are pushed between the coils. The remaining connection from the left coil tucks under the right bobbin and vice versa. This pickup has rubber spacers under the coils they're glued to the baseplate and the bobbins so it couldn't be taken any further apart. I copied all this info and carefully rebuilt the bridge pickup and moved back the the neck pickup.

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I extended the original leads and added the green lead to connect the shield to the baseplate. I've used heat shrink tubing the cover the joints and then another longer piece to bundle them together. A length of four core cable would have been much much easier, but I didn't have any! No 

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The leads have been fed through the baseplate. The glue had dried up years ago so I could separate the bobbins from the plate. Note the wooden spacers used in this pickup instead of rubber, and an extra piece of veneer shim on the plate? It was there when I opened it up, so I just left it. Maybe thats where the tone comes from!!! Rolling Eyes 

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Shield earth connected. I later cut back the heat shrink tubing from the wires to gain more space.

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My version of the Aria wiring setup.

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All tucked in like the original.

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The protective wrapping is re-attached and it's finished! The red and brown wires between the coils were later pushed down so they're less visible.

And basically thats it. Some of it was a bit daunting, thinking you're going to wreck perfectly good, sweet sounding 30 odd year old pickups, but it went without a problem.

(This time!!! What a Face )

Thanks for looking,

DAN.
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Post by hoax Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:53 pm

Dan

The neck pickup is probably from a Hondo Professional

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Post by DuoFuzz Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:54 pm

Cheers mate, never thought of that.

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Post by Barry Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:42 pm

Nice job Dan!
So glad it worked out for you.
And thanks for the documentation sunny

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Post by The Chad Mon Dec 02, 2013 3:06 pm

Very nice Dan, those are great hunks of wood.  How do you like the feel and sound?!
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Post by DuoFuzz Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:11 pm

Hi Chad.

I love my new toy and it sounds great, but then again I'm a sucker for some MMK45's. The series/parallel switching works a treat and make a change from the usual coil tap arrangement.

The guitar itself feels quite heavy but it's really resonant, even unplugged it rings and rings. The wings are made of sycamore so that might have something to do with it?

The neck is a very comfortable C shape but at the moment I have the same problem I get when I play SG type guitars. The neck feels further away from your body than normal so I keep landing on a different fret than I was expecting! it's a 25.5" scale with 24 frets which is probably why it keeps catching me out.

It's my favourite at the moment, I keep going back to it so it must be good!

DAN.

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Post by Barry Mon Dec 02, 2013 9:34 pm

DuoFuzz wrote:....I have the same problem I get when I play SG type guitars. The neck feels further away from your body than normal so I keep landing on a different fret than I was expecting!
I have exactly the same problem with SG's. Feel like such a twit.

I believe the "G" stands for "Giraffe".

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Post by jim Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:33 am

DuoFuzz wrote:
This is the only pic I have of the rear of the non-original neck pickup. I'm still not sure what Mats guitar this came from? Aria's seem to have double hex slug pole pieces, I can't think of any Westones with double white coil MMK45's so maybe a Westbury? The early style of ink stamp on the baseplate matches the original Thor Sound pickup so they are from the same era.
In fact the Paduak series were outfitted with white double coil MM45's but.. like the Aria's you mention with hex pole pieces...  Spot on observation by Hoax:  'Probably from a Hondo Professional'

Check out this thread: http://forum.westoneguitars.net/t3380-mmk-45-designs

Note that a lot of Hondo Professionals came with late 72's early 80's DiMarzio's Super Distortion humbuckers.

Great job! Excellent post!
Thanks for sharing your insights and documenting it with that many great detailed photographs Dan!
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