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I managed to repair my 64 Strat pickup :) - now I am wondering what destroyed it

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by inra311, Nov 27, 2017.

  1. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    Oct 12, 2008
    Some years ago one day all of a sudden the neck pickup of a 64 Strat was dead. Infinite DCR, no sound. As I could not see any obvious problem, I put in a replica pickup.

    I assumed it was corroded inside and the corrosion from the pole pieces killed the coil wire, as it is often the case with old pickups.

    I wanted to let it be rewound but still have not, mainly as I heard about some people in the US offering (expensive) rewinding with the original wire, winding it off and on again. Prefered to find someone for such a job - one day... Glad I haven't yet because...

    ... for some reason I had another look at the pickup this weekend, and on one side of the coil I could see an open wire end. Also I could see a deformation of some wire turns exactly where it was broken, see pictures. The open wire end was the 'wrong' end, the one finally going to the white cable. I knew I need the other end, the one from ground. I could not find the other open end, knowing that it MUST be there obviously.

    I measured the other end with just 11 ohms to the end of the coil so I knew it can only be 10-20 turns before the end of the coil. I carefully teared it off, hoping some of these turns would free the hidden other open end. I removed about 6 feet of wire. Unfortunately this did not reveal the other end.

    After endless searching, carefulle cleaning the coil with all kind of little brushes and pins, and even moving rather lose wire turns slightly around with a toothpick, I managed to find it. It 'fell' down to the bobbin, so it really was almost under the coil, the turn directly down at the bobbin, with the wire end being bend a bit into the coil, thus invisible all the time. I then teared off one turn of this wire and soldered it again to the coil end eyelet. Voila, the pickup worked again. :)

    Now I wonder: what could have caused this deformation of the coil wire that broke it there? The guitar played fine, was stored away, and was dead the next time. No accident or abuse.

    I guess the pickup cap must have touched it, maybe a sharp edge. The neck pickup is tilted as the celluloid guard has shrunk, moving the neck pickup a bit toward the middle pickup until the bottom bobbin was in touch with the wood I guess, thus the slanted pickup. Could this have moved the cap against the coil. Or the shrinkage of the guard itself that bruised the cap? Anyone ever encountered something similar?

    IMG_9591.jpg IMG_9593.jpg

  2. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    Stressing just to read...
    Well done !

  3. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    Looks like the PU cover managed to bruise the coil, could be that the pickguard shrinkage helped. It probably worked it way like that over time and then one day or night, it decided to snap... Good work on restoring it, wonder if it lost somewhat of its output. Probably unnoticeable.

  4. Lonn

    Lonn Mod Admin Staff Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Admin Post
    Well done! I did a similar repair on an old SD pickup a few years back. I got a dead one in a box of stuff and immediately saw the loose wire ends. A dab of solder and all was well.

  5. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    Did you have to insulate the solder point ? Or just leave it against the insulation of the rest of the wire ?

  6. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    Oct 12, 2008
    With 11 ohms out of 6,000 ohms removed now, it should only be less than 0.2 per cent be lower, definitely unnoticeable.

    I did not solder both ends together but removed the last turns - only like 15 turns, see above - and soldered the end of the coil wire to the eyelet. Removing those turns directly on the surface of the coil was possible, sometimes it went off very easily, sometime a very little force was necessary, I guess due to more wax, holding my breath each time but luckily it did not break.

    It is like new now - well, not really new ;) - but no signs left of any repair :) except the solder on the eyelet is shiny now. (How to age it?)

  7. usul1978

    usul1978 Guitar bricolo Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 9, 2015
    Blowing on it while it solidify ? That would make it less shiny...

  8. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    Yes, but it increases chance on cold joint. I would not recommend it.
    guitarman1984 and Inverness like this.

  9. Robins

    Robins Dr. von Loudster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 22, 2010
    Greeat job! maybe it even sounds better yet.
    It was obviously a mechanical fault or hit in any way. Something stabbed through? I know highly unlikely but sometimes you poke around with stuff and think nothing bad has happened and suddenly you notice you have a bleeding finger by poking in a string end for example.

    All the best,

  10. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 9, 2014
    I use a replacement pickguard on my 64 because the original has shrunk so much. Its twisted the neck pickup too much to leave it. It actually places a large amount of force.

    I wonder if neck pickup is most frequently damaged because of this..

  11. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 19, 2014
    Up a lazy river

  12. TomH8

    TomH8 Strat-O-Master

    May 1, 2014
    Great job! I would get a new guard just in case that's what caused. Keep the original guard obviously

  13. fezz parka

    fezz parka Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    I managed to repair my 64 Strat pickup :) - now I am wondering what destroyed it?

    Good for you for fixing it.

    Why was it "broken"?
    Because most people are unaware of how fragile a pickup is. The weren't meant to be handled. Installed in a guitar at the factory, and only meant to be adjusted in height. :D
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
    Bodean likes this.

  14. Tone Guru

    Tone Guru Senior Stratmaster

    Dec 13, 2011
    Music City TN
    Most likely you have a different formulation of solder than what was used in 1964.
    You can reflow both joints with the same modern solder.
    Preferably just leave it alone, let it age on its own.

    Excess flux residue can be cleaned up with alcohol or similar solvent and q-tip.
    BTW, I'm not a fan of lead free solder.
    Just follow prudent safety procedures.

  15. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    Oct 12, 2008
    After some detective work I think I can answer the question what destroyed my pickup. It was really the shrinking guard that bruised the pickup cap. This seems to b a real danger for all Strats with already shrunk pickguards.

    Here are the details:
    I got some pictures taken when the pickup was still installed and working. The pickguard has shrunk considerably, in the direction of the green arrows. The damage was where the red arrow is:


    Stress here seems typical. Compare this picture from the web and note that the pickguard has broken just there (wow, what a cool '61 Strat):


    This goes together with the pickup cap having a sharp edge from tooling marks here (see red arrow, picture of a '64 cap from web).


    Conclusion: Be careful with already shrunk pickguards. Maybe better sanding the cap at the inside edge a bit or widening the pickguard there, and destroying some originality this way, than having the pickup destroyed. If its is defective already, search for the reason at these or similar places.
    Yves, jofish and Michelotti like this.

  16. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    Was exactly my thought... I check every so often, but my pickguards are not shrinking that much until now. Lucky me...

  17. inra311

    inra311 Strat-Talker

    Oct 12, 2008
    What would you think favours shrinking most? Heat, sun, dry/humid air, temperature shocks, ..? At least I could verify by comparing to my old pictures that is has not shrunk noticeably further during the last 12 years :)
    And hardly shrinkage on so many other Strats from the same time.. !?

  18. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    I think our Western Europe’s climate benefits the condition of the pickguards

  19. guitarman1984

    guitarman1984 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 24, 2013
    I agree!

  20. crashbelt

    crashbelt Strat-Talker

    Feb 27, 2012
    Thanks guys for a really informative thread and congrats to the OP for identifying and sorting the problem.

    The mint green guard on my avatar 65 has shrunk somewhat with the screws all pulled inward a bit and the neck pickup tight agaist the guard and angled but no cracks. I've toyed with getting the guard sanded a bit to relieve the stress but not yet done it as the guitar is kept in a pretty benign UK climate and hardly gigged.

    The idea that the guard shrinkage might also damage the coil may make me think again about having it slightly sanded so thanks for this information.