Surf 90 in 5120 bridge too quiet

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by DangerTwanger, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. DangerTwanger

    DangerTwanger Electromatic

    4
    Jun 26, 2020
    New Mexico
    Hey all, this is my first post, so please understand if my question is silly or obvious-

    I just bought a 2008 5120 on CL and it's a lot of fun. I had a 5125 many years ago and just loved the Dearmonds on it, but I've always wanted that orange stain, so I bought this guy for low $$$s with a Surf 90 swap in mind after reading about them on here. I got a Surf 90 bridge pup delivered just the other day and put it in (hillbilly style for now). The pickup works, in that it makes sound, but it seems very thin compared to what I was expecting from a semi-hot, p-90 style. The remaining Gretschbucker in the neck is significantly louder at the same amp settings (testing through a little 60's Silvertone tube amp), and overdrives readily, while the Surf 90 in the bridge doesn't seem to have much character or hotness at all. I checked the ohm readings on both from the jack, and they checked out for what I was expecting (Gbucker neck: 8.1 Surf 90 bridge: 7.74) I've got a custom Esquire build with a single coil TwangKing in it that just screams at the same volume levels, which is something like what I hoped the 90 would do. I know that there are varying opinions on GFS pups, but most of what I read made me think they would have at least some bite. The Surf 90 is raised as high as it will go.

    A few unique factors:
    Excited to get the new toy wired up, I used jewelry solder from my silversmith girlfriend's workbench for the initial try. I've since learned that this isn't ideal. I went and got some 60/40 rosin core now that I can replace it with, but my impression was that if this was the problem, I'd be getting a bad read off the multimeter.

    The Surf 90 came with three wires instead of the two I was expecting. They are listed on the little info card that came with the pickup as Red= Signal +, White= Signal Ground, Black (actually just unshielded silver)=Pickup Shield Ground. After reading around a little, I just treated the red as hot and "black" as ground and wrapped some electrical tape around the white wire (which I guess is used for coil tapping?) Should I be doing something with the "Signal Ground"?

    Finally, I short-cutted with the hillbilly splice. I know that this is mostly looked down upon, and I do think I'll drop the pots and do the full job eventually, but I'm curious if the shortcut could be contributing to the seeming weakness of the Surf 90.

    Whew! That was a lot of info, so thanks to anyone who made it through, and particular thanks to anyone who can provide any assistance or advice!
     
  2. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    356
    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    You shouldn't have taped off the white wire - that's your pickup coil's ground wire. The black/bare one is just the ground for the metal casing of the pickup - basically the shielding (against noise) of the pickup (the two grounds are probably separate in case you want to phase reverse one of the pickups).
    I'm amazed you got any signal at all with the coil not grounded...
    BTW, no coil tapping - this is a single coil, not a humbucker!
     
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  3. DangerTwanger

    DangerTwanger Electromatic

    4
    Jun 26, 2020
    New Mexico
    Oh, okay! That makes sense. So should I just treat them as one ground and solder them both to the ground coming from the harness? Or solder the white (currently unused) wire to the ground in the harness and leave the bare one alone? Thanks so much for your response. (And forgive my utter lack of electrical intuition)
     
  4. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    White and ground together to back of pot, red to wiper.
     
    wabash slim, DangerTwanger and RomanS like this.
  5. RomanS

    RomanS Gretschie

    356
    May 26, 2010
    Vienna, Austria
    ^ This!
     
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  6. MTurner

    MTurner Friend of Fred

    Age:
    64
    Aug 17, 2010
    Clayton, North Carolina, USA
    What's a wiper?
     
  7. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    The pot center solder post.
     
    MTurner likes this.
  8. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
  9. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Gretschie

    497
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    Did you buy the orange G5120 off the Abq craigslist? The ad is still there, I just checked. I've been watching that one for a month.

    It sounds like you know what you're doing and I agree that your initial problem is that you need to ground the white wire.
     
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  10. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Go back and read the manual, lol. Reminds me of my wife's complaint. "This recipe sucks. I even changed several of the ingredients and ratios and it still sucks." Good luck.
     
    new6659 likes this.
  11. DangerTwanger

    DangerTwanger Electromatic

    4
    Jun 26, 2020
    New Mexico
    Ha, I did indeed! There was actually a 5129 on there that I had just decided to pull the trigger on when someone else (who I believe posted about buying it here or on one of the other Gretsch forums) snagged it! I'm glad I got the 5120 though, it's so durn pretty! Thanks!
     
  12. DangerTwanger

    DangerTwanger Electromatic

    4
    Jun 26, 2020
    New Mexico
    Thanks for the responses everyone! I'll get that wire grounded and see what happens!
     
  13. Randy99CL

    Randy99CL Gretschie

    497
    Feb 17, 2020
    Albuquerque
    HAAAAA! I am the one who bought that G5129T LOL!
    The guy started at $525 and I researched them, liked it but decided I didn't want to pay that much for it. I watched it for over a month as he'd drop the price a little at a time. I decided to buy when it hit $440 but waited and the next day he dropped it to $400 and I jumped. I gave him the $400 he was asking for it. Decent gig bag included too.
    It's a nice guitar, made in 2004 so it's seen some use but with some polishing compound I can make it look like new. And it plays and sounds amazing.
    http://www.gretsch-talk.com/threads/g5129.203848/

    So you bought the G5120T in Bosque Farms for $460?? I know that's the only one I've seen listed lately but the ad is still there. Once I got my G5129T I like it so much I've been watching the other to maybe pick it up later.
    Glad you got it, good for you, it looked beautiful in the pics!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  14. wabash slim

    wabash slim Gretschified

    Age:
    70
    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
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