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Trouble shooting electronics, garbled pickup sound on acoustic


BiggRedd
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I bought a Ibanez aeg18 years ago. I never did anything bad to it I can think of but somehow something broke in the electronics and when I plug it into an amp it just sounds horrible. I tried searching eBay for complete replacement parts but couldn't find any. Could take it anywhere and pay a lot to get it diagnosed but want to check here first the steps to take to check if it's the pickup, the input or the tuner/eq. Any thoughts of where to start?

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He's talking about the normal sound of a piezo pickup, I suppose. :lol:

 

Put a FRESH BATTERY in the preamp if you haven't already.

 

Sometimes slide and rotary pots (volume and tone controls) get dust and gunk in them when they're stored for a long time. So, 'exercise' the controls a little bit by sliding them through their full travel several times - best to do this while not plugged into an amp. Make sure your cord from the guitar to the amp is good too.

 

What kind of amp are you playing through? Acoustic electric guitars are usually amplified by a PA, a guitar amp will work but most guitar amps have a strong "mid scoop" even when the tone knobs are in their middle position. So a guitar amp might make an AEG sound boomy (too much bass) and harsh (too much treble) at the same time. Try turning up the midrange or turning down the bass and treble - raise the amp volume to compensate if you need to.

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As Mr. Grumpy, Grant, and Phil have all said, start with a new battery. But if the old battery has gone bad and leaked it may have damaged the preamp and you may be out of luck. If that doesn't solve the problem you have two basic possibilities, electrical and mechanical.

After you replace the battery, if that doesn't do it start with the electrical. Check the output jack to make sure it's not loose and that the plug feels solidly in place when it's inserted. Next take the strings off and make sure there are no loose wires and such. Usually there's a tiny cable that runs from the pickup to the preamp and plugs into it. If the plug is loose try to plug it in properly.

If the wiring checks out we come to the mechanical part. Make sure the saddle is pushed firmly into its slot. If none of that works take the saddle out and inspect the bottom of it and the transducer. The bottom of the saddle should be flat, the slot should be free of debris, and the transducer should look like it fits correctly and lies flat. A friend got his older Yamaha acoustic/electric working correctly again that way.

If none of that solves the problem, preamps do fail sometimes. Some older Gibson acoustic/electrics are known for that. You or a tech can replace it with a generic one but the new preamp won't necessarily fit the existing hole. You can also install an endpin preamp but none of the existing controls will work any more.

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I have always replaced the batteries when I tested it. I just did again with some nice new ones. when I plug it in some of the notes come through but in general sounds like someone breathing too hard into a mic with their hand cupped around it. The connections look good.nice and sturdy. From a visual point of view it looks great, externally anyways. I was overdue to swap the strings anyways so have them off and feeling around inside.I used my phone with the light on to video and look around inside. Everything looks connected and good. I think next course of action then will be to take the preamp out and take a look around. I've had this guitar for quite a while. I bought it new and wasn't long after the warranty ran out that this happened. It's always been treated very well so for anything to happen to it is just bad luck rather than abuse. I'll report again.

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I doubt you'll be able to tell much by simply looking at the preamp but then again you might get lucky and spot something. Even if you do, it may not be something you can fix. A good instrument tech can replace the existing preamp but the replacement won't fit the hole. As I said, another option is to install an endpin preamp and live without the controls on the existing one. Good luck and keep us posted.

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I had an under saddle transducer fail on me and it was sort of like what you're explaining. The intermittent fault was at the point where the pickup "strip" joins the lead wire.

 

Try pushing and prodding gently on the bridge saddle to see if you can make it crackle or change.

 

I replaced mine and it was good to go. I'm pretty careful with my gear, but I think I broke it by drumming on it.

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I may just take your suggestion of an endpin preamp. I did take the guitar apart and all the wires everywhere look properly in place. Think it would take more investigation cost than its worth for the amount of time I'd actually spend using it through an amp, which is rare as it is. I'm in a 90's rock cover band and could use it but with all the other toys I buy probably not a good investment right now to spend investigational money. I appreciate everyones input.

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I may just take your suggestion of an endpin preamp. I did take the guitar apart and all the wires everywhere look properly in place. Think it would take more investigation cost than its worth for the amount of time I'd actually spend using it through an amp' date=' which is rare as it is. I'm in a 90's rock cover band and could use it but with all the other toys I buy probably not a good investment right now to spend investigational money. I appreciate everyones input.[/quote']

If you want to "fix" the problem before you know what it is, be my guest. I'd suggest you check the UST as Grant said before you do anything. For that matter, there's a complete EMG pickup and preamp set on eBay for $39.99 shipped: https://www.ebay.com/itm/EMG-AmpJak-EMG-AS93U-AT93-Pickup-Acoustic-Active-Pickup-Preamp-System/112624538423?epid=1100024649&hash=item1a38f21337:g:HkcAAOSwmudZ8nV0. Should be good enough for a guitar you don't play much.

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