New DIY wiring harness for my Anniversary

Discussion in 'Technical Side of Things' started by JHowdy, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. JHowdy

    JHowdy Country Gent

    Age:
    53
    Nov 16, 2013
    Finland
    I’ve had a bit troublesome end to my summer of 2019. First my 5E3 Tweed Deluxe amp started acting very strangely in June, then my G6118T Anniversary’s wiring harness started giving me trouble in July. The first trouble nearly ruined one live gig and the other gave me (some more) gray hair in another. Luckily I got them both fixed in the end, in August. Maybe I’ll talk about the amp in a separate thread yet, but let’s go to the Anniversary problem first…

    So, I had to replace the pickup selector switch to my '03 Anniversary, because the old one started not connecting to the bridge pickup. Something wrong with the switch contacts, or the plastic knob that moves them I guess. Okay, I saw no use in messing with the old defective switch, but decided to replace it and also the tone (mud) switch at the same time & effort, and ordered new Gretsch (Switchcraft) switches for them both.

    The original wiring harness was made of very thin, shielded and noise insulated cable, with plastic inner and outer insulations. Anybody who’s done some soldering knows what will happen to such old cables, when you try to detach and reattach them. Yep, the insulation will probably melt and get ruined. I predicted this to happen and ordered me some ‘vintage style’, stranded 18AWG cloth insulated cable, both in white and black colours. Not to make the guitar’s inside look vintage, it’s just what I happened to find from a Finnish guitar & amplifier parts seller and they said it to be very well recommended. I decided to make ‘telephone style’ twisted pairs out of those separate black and white cables, for every separate potentiometer and switch. It turned out to be a good choice, the cloth insulated cable was very easy and pleasant to solder, with no melting and burning plastic in it. Plastic, uhh, I happen to hate it in every possible use.

    I had some difficulties in the job, too. The original, Japanese made mud switch looked TOTALLY different from the new switch from Switchcraft, and when you put those two side by side there was not much else in common with them but the switch lever. So there was no help from the old one to be able to connect the new cables in right order. So, I searched the internet for a Gretsch Tone Switch wiring diagram, and the one that I found was… faulty! The mud switch wiring diagram was correct, but the pickup selector wiring was kind of upside down, or topsy-turvy. The diagram suggested that two white signal leads to be soldered into the switch frame (ground). There were not much explanations in it, just the illustration, so I didn’t know which soldering tip did what (until later, with an ohmmeter). When I followed the wiring diagram precisely, I shorted the three-way pickup selector switch, which finally meant no sound out of the guitar, just a humming noise when I touched the pickup selector. At this point I was about to give up and order a new, complete wiring harness from TVJ, but no... I gutted the guitar once again, took an ohmmeter and find out what was causing all this. The signal lead to ground short, that is. Sure, maybe I should have measured the wiring right away after the very first soldering, but who am I to suspect the wiring diagram shown at the website of a very, very famous parts & pickups maker? I then changed all the black ground wires and two of the white signal wires to opposite tips on the pickup selector switch et voilà! There Be Sound Again!

    The outcome? Improved the overall sound incredibly, the difference between the old and new wiring harness is like night and day. You can guess which is which? The old sound was a bit weak, but now I really get the attack out of those TV Jones Classic/Classic+ pickups that I have in my Annie. Hooray, I’m a very happy fellow right now!!!

    Here are some random pictures of the gutting operation :).

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    MTurner and CaliforniaSlim like this.
  2. JHowdy

    JHowdy Country Gent

    Age:
    53
    Nov 16, 2013
    Finland
    Finally I've got a question to all you Sound Gurus :). The capacitors that I now have in the Tone Switch are of some random quality. Would it be wise to change them into Orange Drop capacitors that TVJ recommends, or into some paper in oil (PIO) capacitors, like Emerson for instance? If so, which of those two types would you recommend?
     
  3. ramjac

    ramjac Gretschie

    410
    Aug 14, 2011
    Wisconsin
    Check out this video. It gets a little tedious to sit and listen to all five tests, and test 5 is really the only one with any perceptible difference if you want to skip ahead.

     
    JHowdy and Dave-B like this.
  4. JHowdy

    JHowdy Country Gent

    Age:
    53
    Nov 16, 2013
    Finland
    Okay, the guy poured a boxful of junk on his table. #1:C, #5:B. Skipped #2-4. Not much difference in that test, which means no need to change my "blue ceramics" into something else. What a muddy sounding guitar that was, by the way.
     
    pmac11 likes this.
  5. JHowdy

    JHowdy Country Gent

    Age:
    53
    Nov 16, 2013
    Finland
    I've got one reason to change the caps though. The blue ceramic ones I've got there now were ordered online without checking their physical dimensions. That is, they're very small sized and I had to use extend wires to get them reach to the switch tips. They work alright, they sound fine (or rather, the guitar sounds just fine), they're just butt ugly to look at at the moment. That's why I didn't attach a photo of the tone switch :).
     
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