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Thread: Quick disconnects for pickups

  1. #11
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Now I know I'm not nuts - or rather, everyone here IS nuts, just like me.

    I've been thinking about this stuff for 25 years - swapable pick-guards, swapable pickups, etc. I often have two pick-guards ready for my strats, usually one with sss, the other with hsh, but sometimes other combos. So I'm always planning on using some-kind of disconnect.

    Carvin uses the twist wire-clamps an electrician uses to wire a wall socket. These ones are a bit smaller. My Bolt came with a couple in there for the output wires from the pick-guard. My first thought was that it was a flimsy idea, but they've never fallen off and I tinker with that one a lot.

    Those "Premade Servo Leads" that Spell started this one off look like the clamps in computers. They work well, but sometimes they hang on so well, you can damage parts trying to get them to disconnect. Not great for repeated swapping; very secure for occasional swapping.

    I had a Dan Armstrong 30-some years ago. Selling it was one of the biggest gear-mistakes I've ever made. I wanted to put a Gibson humbucker in there, so I modified the pickup a bit and put it in a plexiglass shell I made. Sounded fabulous. Another friend of mine was making very good replicas of the original pickups that came with the guitar. Dan Armstrong's website has mention of him somewhere. Anyway, I can't imagine how the Dano system would be of any use to what we are talking about here. Am I missing something, dB?

    I don't like Seymour Duncan's system, cause - well, what part do I have to change most often? Volume pots - they take a beating on my guitars. Even push-pull pots annoy me (although I sometimes use them). I gotta replace them every couple of years (if I'm lucky).

    I like BD's idea. Yep, some of the piezo pickups have miniature phone-jacks - smaller than 1/8" head-phone jacks, and mono. I remember those jacks from years ago, too. I can't remember what they were used for back then, but I'm talking the 70s. Maybe transistor radios, but they would be 1/8", no?

    BD, is there no other source than piezo pups? Shame to trash a piezo pup (even a cheap one).

    And those EMG disconnects look like the ones Spell started this off with. Wait a minute...
    of course. I just looked in a couple of acoustics here - Fishman and Yamaha both use those disconnects.

    So for pickguards, either Spell's or BD's suggestions get my vote; for tele's and LP's, I think BD's little jacks would work.


    Just one guys' babbling...

  2. #12
    Axellent Member Braindancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doublewah View Post
    I had a Dan Armstrong 30-some years ago.
    Was that the one with the sliding pickup on a pair of rails that also served as contact leads? If memory serves, those rails were also the contact points for the output and ground...if so, how was the contact made...did it use brush braid like slot cars? Suspended ball-bearings?

    Quote Originally Posted by doublewah View Post
    Anyway, I can't imagine how the Dano system would be of any use to what we are talking about here. Am I missing something, dB?
    You know, DW, you might be onto something! One thing I've been doing a lot of lately is non-soldered connections when I'm testing pickups...one of my Raptor's has probably had 15 different pickups in it now. What I started doing is not bothering with solder joints...I just isolate the hot and ground leads from the electronics and the pickup, and use heatshrink to bond the two together. If you lay a twisted hot lead on braided ground, there's enough contact patch there by a long way that you don't *need* a solder joint...that kind of connection is reasonably oxidation-resistant to begin with what with the air protection offered by the heatshrink, and it would almost have to *completely* corrode away before all the little contact patches between twisted-lead and braid become buffered by rust. It's not as quick as a plug-in system, but it's more reliable, and if you tin the hot leads (not the braid) it survives a LOT of manipulation. This is pretty much the same type of contact method as a brush system...and I only just realized that.

    Another thing I looked at was those pinch contacts of the type used on home stereo speaker outputs. Tiny versions of these are used on cheap car/home amp boards now. They're surface-mount, so the receptacles would have to be on the control-cavity side, but twisted tinned ends on your pickup leads would be all you'd need to make that work. Problem is, I can't find them cheap enough to make them worth using. I'll tell you one thing, though...I sure wish people like Seymour Duncan, GFS and GAS used these on their preamp boards...it would make non-destructive assembly far less of a challenge for us ham-hands of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by doublewah View Post
    miniature phone-jacks - smaller than 1/8" head-phone jacks, and mono. I remember those jacks from years ago, too. I can't remember what they were used for back then, but I'm talking the 70s. Maybe transistor radios, but they would be 1/8", no? BD, is there no other source than piezo pups? Shame to trash a piezo pup (even a cheap one).
    They were usually used for those molded-plastic membrane earphone plugs that came with pocket transistor radios and tabletop tape players. A lot of the cheap Japanese pocket radios - in fact, at one point maybe half or more - used the molded submini plug. But those molded plugs are often too big to fit through a 1/4" pickup-lead tunnel. The heatshrinked plugs are specially-made for luthier application so that they can be threaded thru the bottom of a bridge without having to leave telltale drill scars around the low-E side of the saddle. I've never seen them anywhere else, and I've looked. I pay a lot more than a buck each for plugs, and I'll pay a buck at any thrift store for a molded cable with a submini socket. I'd certainly pay that for a non-molded submini plug pre-attached to a foot of braided coax.

    There might be another option tho, DW. You know those little plastic-covered tubular connectors they use for car-stereo wiring? You still find those at places like NAPA and some dollar stores. As long as you tin all your lead ends, how much hassle would it be to pinch on one of those when you need it, then cut it and re-pinch it off for a swap-out? Also slightly wasteful, and not as elegant as a proper plug/socket arrangement, but a much less labor-intensive method. This just came to me, in fact, and I think I might give it a try on my next surgery. After all, those connectors typically last the life of the car they're installed in. The one advantage I like with the submini plug tho is that with an adapter or tee cable you can plug it directly into an amp.

    Oh and another thing...almost forgot...a local buddy who's also been fretting over the replaceable-pickup thing was browsing this thread last night and left this for me this morning. He reminded me of something I've seen before, I think you might find these in ski shops or stereo repair shops...little slot-top bolts that you can tighten with your fingers. He suggested that if you widen the hole in a metal pickup plate, and if you can find the right color and right height of these bolts (most of the ones I've seen have tall heads, but I've also seen some with heads shorter than 3/16", which would end up not much taller at all than most plastic mounting rings), you can put little helicoils in the guitar body, mount each pickup on its own flat metal mounting plate (these are under $4 each now), and just pop the plates on and off using the four finger-tightened bolts. A bit of work, but for a favorite recording axe it might well be worth the effort. And if I had something like a basket-case LP or SG, I'd probably think very hard about doing this very thing. Hmm...I know where to get the helicoils...now where do I find those short finger-tightened bolts!! That might even be an elegant, and rather striking-looking, solution for swapping out strat assemblies too...I've already stripped the pg screw holes in both of my favorite Raptors.

  3. #13
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Bd, the Dan Armstrong connectors were very much like banana plugs. The female(s) would be in the pickup housing, and the two male plugs would stick out of the body. Not really out; it's hard to describe. Anyway, think banana plugs. Too big for our present problem.

    And yes, you're right about these submini jacks being made for luthiers. A watched a friend install a piezo pickup on an acoustic recently and it had that little jack. Brilliant.

  4. #14
    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doublewah View Post
    Anyway, I can't imagine how the Dano system would be of any use to what we are talking about here. Am I missing something, dB?
    perhaps not for this application- but I have always liked the concept of a PU you can swap out that easily

  5. #15
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Yeah, it was brilliant. Too bad other pickup makers didn't make their own third-party pickups for the Dano. My Gibson humbucker sounded great.

    And too bad other guitar makers don't pick up this idea. (Pun intended!)

    Quote Originally Posted by die Bullen View Post
    perhaps not for this application- but I have always liked the concept of a PU you can swap out that easily

  6. #16
    Axellent Member Braindancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by doublewah View Post
    And too bad other guitar makers don't pick up this idea. (Pun intended!)
    I've got a solution if anyone knows someone with CAD chops. You could easily build a quick-interchange system which allows you to pop a strat pickguard assembly off and put a new one on in about the time it takes to undo 6 screws and retune from slack, and a reliable fastener design that would work with factory-tinned pickup leads. A slightly different system using a more compact version of the same fastener technology can be used with existing Gibson-type mounting rings with the same degree of speed and reliability, and, you'd never know it was there unless you looked really closely at the mounting screws. You could probably sell a kit that retrofits one guitar and two pickguards or mounting rings for about $50 and install it in about an hour, and it wouldn't require any modification to the existing guitar other than PERHAPS solder joints for the control-side connector socket, but even that could be made solderless without much loss of reliability.

    But it's still three to five minutes to swap out in an LP, and perhaps a bit longer for a Strat since it will probably require slacking the strings to be practical. And IS THAT QUICK ENOUGH? Sure, thousands of players will put a C-note down on active electronics that take 4 hours for a novice to install correctly, but would this really fly in the marketplace? Or does the problem of having to slack off the strings on everything but locking-trem guitars pretty much rule out the viability of retrofit quick-interchange systems?

    Not sure I'd want to risk several grand and a month's work on a production run to find out.

    And maybe that's the same thought process that's been had by someone in every guitar plant on the planet over the years...who knows?

  7. #17
    Axeaholic Hu Duck Xing's Avatar
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    " have always liked the concept of a PU you can swap out that easily"

    There's a pedal steel company that does this. BMI? Not shure.
    A lot of interesting discussion here!
    Regardez cette guitare. Notice the mounting rings for the Fender-style pups. Using these, you could, instead of using wood screws, install heli-coils in the guitar body, and use machine screws instead of wood screws. You'd have to modify the ring to work on a Tele bridge though. The rings are quite thin, so they could easily be mounted on top of a Strat pickguard, and not be at all in the way.
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    Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end

  8. #18
    Axellent Member Braindancer's Avatar
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    I've seen that guitar, Hu! Not sure if it was in a GP issue or a store, That goes back to maybe the late 70s if memory serves...haven't the best record with file retrieval lately tho. Hu, do you remember if that particular guitar used a slide-in plate system that fit into 2 metal-lined slots on the front side of the body? I'd like to know if what I'm picturing is what you're referring to. For some reason, I think it was in GP that I saw it because I can recall a comment about the idea being impractical, since the design essentially locked you into the pickups made specifically for that guitar.

  9. #19
    Axe-honerated spellcaster's Avatar
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    I went looking for quick-disconnects this morning and struck gold. I inquired in a local hobby shop, thinking I'd try to get some for the Esquire build. They didn't have any parts for RC aircraft, but they tipped me off to new RC specialist shop that just opened in town a few days ago.

    I checked, and they actually had the female connectors in stock, but not the males. They're going to start carrying them for me and should have them in within a couple of weeks. I think I'll start using them on all my guitars.

    I looked back over this thread and noted TB's objection about whether the connectors would fit in a Tele wire channel. I have a feeling these ones will.
    "I know just enough to be dangerous....."

  10. #20
    Axe-honerated zontar's Avatar
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    It should be standard parts for guitar.
    I've been a pilgrim on this earth, since the day of my birth, I'm a long way from my home.

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