Volume 51 - Guitar Electronics

Written by Patrick Podpadec on . Posted in Northcoast Voice

 

Stay in Tune
By Luthier Patrick Podpadec

 

The summer is flying by faster than I can keep up with. My son will be going back to school in just a couple of weeks and we haven't got our summer quota for camping in yet. We do have a weekend planned for Aug 19th & 20th to go down to Wayne Ohio for their 22cd annual Bluegrass Festival held at the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club on Rt.322. ( approximately 5 mi, east of route 11 on rt.322 )

 I will be setting up a booth and displaying some of my methods of repair work and different things that I make in my shop. I hope that the patrons of the festival will appreciate the different tools that I will be presenting . I have always received good responses from other events that I have attended. I always have fun and meet a lot of new musicians, hobbyists and just good people in general. There is places to camp and a good food pavilion and a lot of interesting old engine displays around the grounds to see. The music is top notch with musicians like The Red Mountain Boys, The Prater Brothers, Matheson Family Pride, The Junior Blankenship Band , and many others. For more info you can call Jim Peska @ (330) 442-3377. I hope to see you all out there !

 Getting back to business it seems to have been the week for guitar electronics. I have had four or five different repairs come on the shop recently ,all having to do with electronics issues, I told you in the last issue about Jerry Tyler”s G&L legacy that I totally rebuilt the electronics (which turned out great by the way).
Another bass had some “scratchy” pots. Most of the time pots that make noises when you turn them is because they are gummed up with dust or some kind of corrosion from father time or excessive humidity or are just plain dirty. Most of the time they can be cleaned up with some electronic spray that cleans and lubricates the mechanism so that it works properly without making scratchy noises. On some occasions it is necessary to have to replace the pot because the corrosion is just done to much damage and the pot will not turn freely. In this case of the bass, I was able to spray some cleaner in the pots and work them around until the noises disappeared. The spray I use is called DeoxIt D5 and is made from Caic Laboratories Inc. It works very well in most cases. There was another Gibson Les Paul Junior come in that had a faulty pickup selector switch. I was lucky that I happened to stock a few of those type switches and it is not difficult to replace. I say that by assuming the repair person has some knowledge of electronic soldering. Without knowing how to solder properly you can get yourself into some serious trouble. I have gotten much better over the years by learning some good techniques from other professionals and videos that I have purchased over the years. It is very important to “tin” all of your solder joints and wires before actually soldering them. This insures that the solder will flow nicely over the joint with as little heat as possible so as not to damage any electronics with excessive heat. It takes some practice and a steady hand so if you have neither of those attributes it is wise to seek a professional's help.

Having mentioned “professional help” I am lucky that over the years I have been able to meet some incredible technicians that I have been able to enlist their talents to help me through some difficult electronic problems. There are good books on the subject and can be purchased through Stewart MacDonald and other luthier supply houses Stew Mac also has great tech support on their website. When I get into more difficult stuff ,such as designing some electronic gizmo that may not yet exist yet , I turn to my good friend , Mr Chris Dehass. Located here in Madison Ohio. ( He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) He is a wizard when it comes to electronics and plus he is an excellent musician , so when you talk to him about guitar electronics or musical effects for instruments he knows exactly what your needs may be. He helped me design a unique pickup configuration for the famed “Dreamcaster “ guitar that I built for Brian Henke a few years back. We installed three seperate piezo transducers that had their own preamps and were able to “EQ” them individually and then blend that signal so that it could be played with amplification in almost any setting without any feedback or overtones getting in the way. It has given Brian the ability to take the Dreamcaster to many more venues so that everybody can hear and see it. My Thanks again to Chris for his help on this project
My point is that we all learn things from many different places and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask any question .Usually there is someone out there that is willing to help you out with the info that you seek . Please don't hesitate to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 440 474-2141 for any questions concerning guitar work and I will be glad to help

Thanks Again!

Patrick from Wood-n-Strings/Liam Guitars