#1
First time post, so please be gentle (but let me know if I'm in breach of any etiquette).

I have an Ibanez AEF37E acoustic electric that I bought used a few months ago and now that I have the time to start plugging in and playing it, I'm noticing that the low E and the A strings aren't being picked up/amplified at all. DGBE are all fine and amplified equally well, but the lowest two bass strings not so much.

The guitar has a Fishman Presys preamp and I'm not too sure on the pickup itself. The guy I bought it from said he had to replace the pre-amp and possibly the pickup, so of course I have to question who did the work and what kind of quality it was, but that aside, can anyone offer some ideas as to why these two strings (and only these two) wouldn't be picked up? Any ideas on what to look for?

Thanks in advance.
#2
are some string bronze and some other nickel strings? Like did you recently break those strings and replace them from a mismatched set?

Sometimes some pickups have a hard time picking up certain string material.

I'm no expert on electronics but I would assume that a pickup would either work on all the strings, present a problem equally distributed on all the strings, or simply not work at all.... I don't know how to explain it working with some strings and not working with other strings.

My first action would be to get a new set of acoustic strings, it would be the cheapest way to knock out a few possibilities.

EDIT: Also pop in a fresh battery. It might not be this but you want to get the easy fixes out of the way so you don't feel stupid if you have to take it to a luthier and it was something silly.
Last edited by flexiblemile at Jan 21, 2014,
#3
Well, I haven't changed the strings or the battery since I bought it, so the simplest solution might be the best solution. I'll swap everything tonight and see.

Just in case, any other ideas?
#4
Well, I just had a chance to check things out again and even after a battery change it would seem that there are still issues...and not just with the E & A. Here's a breakdown:

E - No real output. If I crank the amp I can hear some deep sound but nothing definitive
A - Dull, muddled sound only if the amp (not preamp) is way up
D - Sharp, crisp, loud
G - Sharp, crisp, loud
B - Dull sound only if the amp (not preamp) is way up, but you can kind of make it out
E - Audible sound, but not very crisp. Somewhere in between the sharpness of the G and the dullness of the B

I'll probably take the strings off and have a look under the bridge later tonight but, in the meantime, I'd love some additional thoughts on what could be the issue here...thanks!
#6
I started to change them but I decided to snap a few pics before I got too far and I have a few questions:

1. Is there supposed to be green wrapping around the pickup?
2. Is there such a thing as a two part saddle, or is this thing broken?

Either way, I think a replacement saddle is in order. I'm assuming that part of my problem is the really uneven bottom and combined with the green wrapping on the pickup, the saddle isn't making contact with the pup for those strings where the sounds is dropping out.

Thoughts?




#7
that was a good idea to check that out. What is that green thing? Does it seem like it was deliberately applied? If you take it out and reinstall the saddles, does it move around?

I've seen saddles that were in two parts but usually they don't touch each other, like they're installed at two different places on the bridge

Anyways feel free to experiment more (for example taking out the green thing, reinstalling the saddle and adding your low E to see if it's better) but if it was my guitar, it would be luthier time.

Also let this be a lesson to you, try before you buy. Maybe you could have negotiated a few bucks less or have avoided this mess altogether.
#8
I did some research last night and Ibanez was putting these two-piece/split saddles in their AE guitars in the early-mid 2000s. I just ordered a one-piece TUSQ replacement saddle.

The green thing looks like some type of packaging or other insulation, but if the pup is a Fishman Sonicore (like I suspect), then the green stuff looks like the shielding/wrapper that connects the pup to the wiring and was likely left under the bass strings because whoever did the work on the saddle and pup did it super half-assed.

Once I have the green insulation off and the new saddle installed, I'll report back on any progress.
#9
Uneven response across the strings is almost always due to poor contact between the UST and saddle.

Whenever I fit a UST I always use a thin shim of self-hardening clay between the UST and the saddle.

The clay can be bought in most craft shops. It acts just like normal clay but hardens slowly after contact with air. Just roll out a thin sausage of clay with a tube or something until it's about 1/16" thick, cut out a piece the same size as the saddle (use the base of the saddle as a guide) with a razor blade or craft knife, pop it on top of the UST, refit the saddle and press down hard. Leave overnight for the clay to harden.

I've done this many times and it's always worked well. And it's reversible - the hardened clay scrapes off easily if you ever need to remove the UST.
#10
If you change to a one piece saddle you may experience intonation problems. Two piece saddles are not just for looks. Measure length accurately. Cheers
#11
Status report:

TUSQ saddle showed up today. I removed the pieces of plastic that were covering the pickup and filed & sanded down the new saddle. Once I had the saddle height fine-tuned, I restrung the guitar, and plugged in and...problem solved. Considering the shape of the bottom of the original saddles and the crap that was in the way of the saddle and the pup, it's no surprise that some of the strings didn't get picked up.

I think we're all good now. Thanks for all the feedback.