#1
A few months ago I bought a Schecter Blackjack with the sustaniac pick up. So far I've loved the guitar but I started to notice something peculiar. Every now and then the entire signal would cut out and I realized that this was happening would I touched the volume nob, even so much as tapped it. Trying to figure out why this is happening would be hard enough on a normal guitar but with the sustaniac the electronics are even more complex. How should I go about fixing this problem? I have a little bit of experience with electronics and soldering things but...beyond that I'm pretty dead in the water.
#2
Did you look for broken wire joints, questionable solder joints, or try replacing the volume pot? When the signal cuts out is it dead silence or is there hum/noise? Dead silence means a short from the main signal path to ground. Noise indicates a broken wire or wire joint (wires can also break inside the insulation; this is rare with stranded wire but not too uncommon with solid wire).
#3
Quote by Invader Jim
Did you look for broken wire joints, questionable solder joints, or try replacing the volume pot? When the signal cuts out is it dead silence or is there hum/noise? Dead silence means a short from the main signal path to ground. Noise indicates a broken wire or wire joint (wires can also break inside the insulation; this is rare with stranded wire but not too uncommon with solid wire).


It's dead silence. Though I do use a noise gate.
#4
First thing to do is squirt the volume knob and tone contol(s) with some contact cleaner. Do each one individually and rotate it full on and full off a few times. I'd do the same for every knob on it and pickup switch.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#5
Quote by ryane24
It's dead silence. Though I do use a noise gate.

Yeah the tests are only valid if it's the guitar straight into the amp. It's important to eliminate as many potential failure points as possible.
#6
After hooking the guitar directly into the amp I have discovered that when it happens there is still a very small undistorted signal. Almost as if the volume knob is almost all the way down and barely allowing a signal through.
#8
Quote by ryane24
After hooking the guitar directly into the amp I have discovered that when it happens there is still a very small undistorted signal. Almost as if the volume knob is almost all the way down and barely allowing a signal through.
Well, the volume pot is as good a place as any to start. After that, you might want to take a look and the battery and battery connections.

(I never played with a sustainiac device, but I'm assuming it's powered).

A bad battery connection would drop the signal to almost nil, but most likely not introduce hum. That's the kind of thing battery issues would cause in a piezo-preamped guitar. Don't know if it would cause the same symptoms in your situation.
#9
Quote by Invader Jim
Sounds like an intermittent volume pot.


How would I test this? Replace the pot and hope it works?
#10
Read my post. Contact cleaner.

If that doesn't do it, then replace the volume pot. It can be tested with a multimeter, if you know how. Not too hard to do, it should read the least resistance wide open and the highest resistance when all the way down. If you get no reading anywhere, probably a bad pot. I doubt it's bad, I've seen very few go out, except the really cheap ones used in lower priced guitars, like my Korean Squier Strat. I replace volume and both tone controls 10 years ago. Higher quality pots, like those in my Cort and Peavey, and my amps, are all still going strong after many years. The pots in my 1973 Fender Super Reverb are all still original, working perfect. Pots in the Squier guitar gave out in less than 10 years. 1966 Harmony guitar pots still working perfect. A little contat cleaner about once a year and they just keep on going...

Any time you have scratchy noise or no signal, off and on at different volume levels, almost no signal even though it's turned full volume, get out the contact cleaner.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#11
Quote by Paleo Pete
Read my post. Contact cleaner.

If that doesn't do it, then replace the volume pot. It can be tested with a multimeter, if you know how. Not too hard to do, it should read the least resistance wide open and the highest resistance when all the way down. If you get no reading anywhere, probably a bad pot. I doubt it's bad, I've seen very few go out, except the really cheap ones used in lower priced guitars, like my Korean Squier Strat. I replace volume and both tone controls 10 years ago. Higher quality pots, like those in my Cort and Peavey, and my amps, are all still going strong after many years. The pots in my 1973 Fender Super Reverb are all still original, working perfect. Pots in the Squier guitar gave out in less than 10 years. 1966 Harmony guitar pots still working perfect. A little contat cleaner about once a year and they just keep on going...

Any time you have scratchy noise or no signal, off and on at different volume levels, almost no signal even though it's turned full volume, get out the contact cleaner.


http://www.homedepot.com/p/CRC-QD-11-oz-Contact-Cleaner-02130-6/202262505

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#12
Quote by Paleo Pete
Read my post. Contact cleaner.

If that doesn't do it, then replace the volume pot. It can be tested with a multimeter, if you know how. Not too hard to do, it should read the least resistance wide open and the highest resistance when all the way down. If you get no reading anywhere, probably a bad pot. I doubt it's bad, I've seen very few go out, except the really cheap ones used in lower priced guitars, like my Korean Squier Strat. I replace volume and both tone controls 10 years ago. Higher quality pots, like those in my Cort and Peavey, and my amps, are all still going strong after many years. The pots in my 1973 Fender Super Reverb are all still original, working perfect. Pots in the Squier guitar gave out in less than 10 years. 1966 Harmony guitar pots still working perfect. A little contat cleaner about once a year and they just keep on going...

Any time you have scratchy noise or no signal, off and on at different volume levels, almost no signal even though it's turned full volume, get out the contact cleaner.


All of this. But I want to add a couple things.

Usually if a pot gets fried, it will measure open across the outer terminals, but will measure ok between the middle terminal and an outer terminal depending on where the wiper is set and where the pot has become open. In a guitar, a pot will basically never fail this way.

Also, it's possible to have a pot that measures fine between the outer lugs (meaning it isn't burnt out) but the wiper is worn out enough to make intermittent contact with the resistive track. This is the most common failure mode of a pot. The way to test this is to use an ohm meter (analog, not digital) with the probes on lugs 1 and 2 of the pot. Rotate the pot slowly across its entire range and watch the meter needle. It should move smoothly with the pot and not jump around. If it jumps around, the pot is dirty and/or the resistive track is worn. If it's just dirty you can "clean" it a bit by quickly rotating the pot through its range to knock the dirt loose. This usually works for a few days if the pot isn't that dirty.

Shoot contact cleaner into the pot and rotate it quickly several times through its full range then blow it out with canned air. If contact cleaner doesn't work after 2 or 3 tries, replace the pot.

This is all assuming you've checked the battery and power connections and all first...
#13
Quote by Invader Jim
All of this. But I want to add a couple things.

Usually if a pot gets fried, it will measure open across the outer terminals, but will measure ok between the middle terminal and an outer terminal depending on where the wiper is set and where the pot has become open. In a guitar, a pot will basically never fail this way.

Also, it's possible to have a pot that measures fine between the outer lugs (meaning it isn't burnt out) but the wiper is worn out enough to make intermittent contact with the resistive track. This is the most common failure mode of a pot. The way to test this is to use an ohm meter (analog, not digital) with the probes on lugs 1 and 2 of the pot. Rotate the pot slowly across its entire range and watch the meter needle. It should move smoothly with the pot and not jump around. If it jumps around, the pot is dirty and/or the resistive track is worn. If it's just dirty you can "clean" it a bit by quickly rotating the pot through its range to knock the dirt loose. This usually works for a few days if the pot isn't that dirty.

Shoot contact cleaner into the pot and rotate it quickly several times through its full range then blow it out with canned air. If contact cleaner doesn't work after 2 or 3 tries, replace the pot.

This is all assuming you've checked the battery and power connections and all first...


I'm going to go get some contact cleaner when I get a chance but considering the guitar is like 3 months old shouldn't this like not be an issue? I keep the guitar pretty clean also.
#14
How long did it sit on the shelf?

Pots are not perfect, they can fail the second day you own it. Not common, but not unheard of. usually they last for years. but how long was it on the rack before you bought it, how well was it taken care of, and how much was it played by people who didn't decide to buy it? It shouldn't be an issue, but sometimes they fail with no warning long before they should. In most cases, a pot should be good for at least 10 years, I've seen plenty that still work much longer, like those I mentioned above. I also just remembered, I also have a 1940's Electromuse lap steel, still using original pots made around the time of WWII. I never expect new ones to last like that though...

Invader Jim had some great info, one thing I forgot, on the inside, look for a small hole right where the lugs come off the pot, where the wires are connected. that's the best place to squirt in some contact cleaner.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#15
ryane24: And for how long did the pots sit in a warehouse waiting to be ordered, and in another warehouse waiting to be used in that particular guitar?

I love old pots. Most of them can be repaired or even rebuilt into custom configurations. I've got several old tube and transistor table radios from the '50s to '70s and the pots are all still working great (after a good cleaning of course) to this day. Mini pots don't seem to hold up very well. I've dealt with mini pots made from the '60s to present and they all pretty much suck. Plus, you can't rebuild or repair them.

I've got some Stackpole pots from around 1959 that were completely frozen in rust after the guitar they were in had been basically dropped in a lake then stored in a shed for decades. Old Stackpole pots are quite valuable (only because they were OEM in early Strats) so I rebuilt them. Soak in WD-40 to free up the shaft, clean and polish the metal parts, clean the resistive track, set and clean the wiper contacts, and finally, apply new friction grease to the shaft so it turns smoothly. After all that (sounds like a lot but it really isn't), they work just great. If the pot has crimped-on solder lugs (like most old pots and even modern CTS pots) you'd also need to clean and reinforce the connections of the solder lugs to the resistive track; they are just crimped on and oxidation between them can make the pot become intermittent or fail.
#16
Well just to update you guys I tried the contact cleaner and that didn't do anything. I watched some videos on how to apply it correctly and what not. I contacted sweetwater to see if they would help me out and they said they would repair it free of charge so I sent it to them. I'm all about doing stuff myself but...considering its my most expensive guitar and they were willing to do it I figured I would leave it to the professionals. Thanks for the info guys.
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