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Old 07-03-07, 01:20 PM   #1
Bainzy
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Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

On late 50's bursts, was the tailpiece ground soldered to the bushing, or simply wrapped around it? From the rear cavities I've seen, it appears to be in a very small channel that was routed before the top was attached - is this right? Any pics or info would be appreciated.
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Old 07-03-07, 01:41 PM   #2
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

See what you think of this:

On guitars which had tail piece studs, the body wasn't routed to make room for the string ground. There was a small hole drilled between the high-E tail piece stud hole and the control cavity AFTER the top was glued on and the holes and cavities drilled and routed. The wire was simply inserted through the hole and the tail piece bushing was pressed in. The friction fit held it in place. The wire wasn't soldered to nor wrapped around the bushing. It was simply in contact with the bushing, which was all that was needed.

On dedicated Bigsby guitars which had no factory tail piece bushings it was done differently. There was a small hole drilled through the back of the bridge pickup cavity into the hole for the high-E bridge post. Again, the wire was inserted and the bridge post screwed down into the hole, making contact with the wire. The other end of the string ground wire was wrapped around the shielding braid of the bridge pickup and that WAS soldered.

The routed channel prior to the top being glued on was on the early-'50s goldtops.

That's what I've seen in my travels. If there are any other factory versions of string grounds from that era, I'd like to learn about them too.
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Old 07-03-07, 01:44 PM   #3
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

That is absolutely correct as far as I know.
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Old 07-04-07, 03:18 AM   #4
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

I think Bainzy is asking as he's building a burst you know.
Bainzy is building his from korina.
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Old 07-04-07, 06:00 AM   #5
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Yeah, and I wanted to ask as I'm just about to break out the hot hide glue and join the top to the body. Thanks for the information mofinco, that's pretty much what I suspected. I've seen the route in early goldtops for the wire, that appears to have been pretty large (1/2" wide maybe?) and I can imagine that would influence the sound somewhat. The kind of routing I thought Gibson might have done later on would be pretty much have just been a few mm wide at the most, but if its a hole drilled after then that's what I'll go for.

I've been taking pics at each stage, so I've got some more to add in the Guitar Shop thread such as gluing up with HHG, copying measurements onto the planed body blank from a plan such as Stew Mac's, using a drum sander in a drill press to shape the body outline, and routing cavities etc. I'll wait until the top is on, take some photos of that and then add them later this week.
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Old 07-04-07, 06:09 AM   #6
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

This begs the following question...Would you get a better ground if the ground wire was soldered in some fashion to the bushing prior to inserting it into the top? Seems to me that it might make the guitar a tad more quiet. If cold solder joints make your guitar noisy, I would think that a simple press fit against a bushing would have about the same effect.
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Old 07-04-07, 06:50 AM   #7
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

if the press fit is snug then there wouldn't be any problem. The problem with cold solder joints is sometimes the wire might be sort of swimming in solder and not actually make contact.
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Old 07-04-07, 07:33 AM   #8
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by mofinco View Post
See what you think of this:

On guitars which had tail piece studs, the body wasn't routed to make room for the string ground. There was a small hole drilled between the high-E tail piece stud hole and the control cavity AFTER the top was glued on and the holes and cavities drilled and routed. The wire was simply inserted through the hole and the tail piece bushing was pressed in. The friction fit held it in place. The wire wasn't soldered to nor wrapped around the bushing. It was simply in contact with the bushing, which was all that was needed.

On dedicated Bigsby guitars which had no factory tail piece bushings it was done differently. There was a small hole drilled through the back of the bridge pickup cavity into the hole for the high-E bridge post. Again, the wire was inserted and the bridge post screwed down into the hole, making contact with the wire. The other end of the string ground wire was wrapped around the shielding braid of the bridge pickup and that WAS soldered.

The routed channel prior to the top being glued on was on the early-'50s goldtops.

That's what I've seen in my travels. If there are any other factory versions of string grounds from that era, I'd like to learn about them too.
I've been wondering about Bigsby guitars for a while since I've seen so many variations of the ground wire. I've also seen a small long hole drilled into the control cavity from near the endpin but always wondered if it was factory. What do you think?
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Old 07-04-07, 08:59 AM   #9
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleBoogie View Post
This begs the following question...Would you get a better ground if the ground wire was soldered in some fashion to the bushing prior to inserting it into the top? Seems to me that it might make the guitar a tad more quiet. If cold solder joints make your guitar noisy, I would think that a simple press fit against a bushing would have about the same effect.
It's a good mechanical connection, much better than a high quality switch. The reason cold solder joints can produce noise is because there's a layer of oxidation in a cold solder joint that can cause the joint to act like a resistor or even a diode in some cases.
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Old 07-04-07, 09:08 AM   #10
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleBoogie View Post
This begs the following question...Would you get a better ground if the ground wire was soldered in some fashion to the bushing prior to inserting it into the top? Seems to me that it might make the guitar a tad more quiet. If cold solder joints make your guitar noisy, I would think that a simple press fit against a bushing would have about the same effect.
Mmm... under that thinking, that would make practically every stop-tail Gibson (and other manufacturer that does is the same way) defective and noisy, right? If you don't think simple physical contact is enough to make good working electrical contact, I have some fun exercises you try at home with your favorite wall outlet... Seriously, though... don't invent problems where there aren't any.
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Old 07-04-07, 09:19 AM   #11
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
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if the press fit is snug then there wouldn't be any problem. The problem with cold solder joints is sometimes the wire might be sort of swimming in solder and not actually make contact.
Not exactly... I can show you some cold solder joints that are paper-thin without the wire 'swimming' in solder, and I've also seen some perfectly good solder joints that aren't what anyone would consider cold joints that simply have 5 times more solder than needed... and they make great connection. In fact, I was just working on another forum member's guitar on this past Sunday which had the biggest factory solder blob I've seen to date - that wire (a pickup lead) WAS swimming in solder... but it wasn't a 'cold' joint. It made great electrical contact. 'plaintop60's' explanation is closest to explaining the problem.

But this isn't the Tech section of the forum, right? BACK TO '50s LES PAULS!
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Old 07-04-07, 09:47 AM   #12
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by bharat.k View Post
I've been wondering about Bigsby guitars for a while since I've seen so many variations of the ground wire. I've also seen a small long hole drilled into the control cavity from near the endpin but always wondered if it was factory. What do you think?
I've asked this question to knowledgeable people, and the consensus is this is not how they did them on the sunburst Les Pauls. The ground goes to the ABR-1 high E post. It is, however, how the ES-335s and SGs were done. Regardless if correct or not, a good ground to anything touching the strings will accomplish the same result, that is to make a ground and reduce hum.
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Old 07-04-07, 08:31 PM   #13
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
It's a good mechanical connection, much better than a high quality switch. The reason cold solder joints can produce noise is because there's a layer of oxidation in a cold solder joint that can cause the joint to act like a resistor or even a diode in some cases.
Thanks. That makes sense to me, but I still wonder about some humbucker Gibson guitars that I have played that have been noisier than others. After making sure the wiring and grounding was all proper, they were still a little noisier than they should be. All of these became more quiet when my hand rested on the stop tailpiece. I now am wondering if some of these are assembled such that the "mechanical connection" is not quite as good as others. Perhaps this could be due to imperfections in the wood that doesn't allow the bushing to make good enough contact? Have you ever seen this before?
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Old 07-04-07, 08:44 PM   #14
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by mofinco View Post
Mmm... under that thinking, that would make practically every stop-tail Gibson (and other manufacturer that does is the same way) defective and noisy, right? If you don't think simple physical contact is enough to make good working electrical contact, I have some fun exercises you try at home with your favorite wall outlet... Seriously, though... don't invent problems where there aren't any.
See my response to plaintop60. From my experience, I have experienced different variations in how quiet some Les Pauls have been. Some have had more of a touch of what I would consider 60 cycle hum but in those guitars, I was never able to find any problems with the wiring or soldering. Just wondering if that mechanical connection might not be as solid as needed due to wood shavings or an imperfection in the wood at the bottom of the bushing hole that keeps the bushing from making a good snug fit. Not trying to invent a problem, but I can certainly see where this could present problems in some cases and would tend to explain what I have experienced in the past. I would also think that there is a substantial difference between being able to transmit electricity across a connection and establishing a ground connection well enough to eliminate noise.
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Old 07-05-07, 02:49 PM   #15
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

DB, did you try several guitars to make sure it wasn't a noisy electrical source, or that flourescent lamps were not being used in the room, computers on,,etc...

Noisy power sources exascerbate the feared 60 cycle hum...
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Old 07-05-07, 05:38 PM   #16
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
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Thanks. That makes sense to me, but I still wonder about some humbucker Gibson guitars that I have played that have been noisier than others. After making sure the wiring and grounding was all proper, they were still a little noisier than they should be. All of these became more quiet when my hand rested on the stop tailpiece. I now am wondering if some of these are assembled such that the "mechanical connection" is not quite as good as others. Perhaps this could be due to imperfections in the wood that doesn't allow the bushing to make good enough contact? Have you ever seen this before?
I do actually recall a bad ground connection on one ES 335 that was caused by corrosion of the wire where it contacts the tailpiece insert. I have also seen the wired severed by an insert that was installed with the beveled edge facing out instead of in. These are very rare occurances though. It's certainly possible that some degree of oxidation may be causing a high resistance connection on any guitar. It should be fairly easy to check with an ohmeter by measure the DC resistance between the tailpiece and the ground wire inside the control cavity. The reading should be less than one ohm. Any reading higher than this is suspect. If you do find a high reading, you can partially pull the stud out and press it back in. Then recheck the resistance reading. If the resistance is caused by corrosion or a poor mechanical connection, moving the insert should give you a change in reading.....either you will now have an infinite resistance reading or closer to zero ohms than your first reading. Lets say your first reading was 15,000 ohms, due to corrosion. Sliding the insert out and back in should clean off some of the corrosion and result in a lower reading. If this is the case the insert should be pulled and inspected, cleaned and a new buss wire should be inserted into the hole drilled into the side of the stud hole and the insert pressed back in.
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Old 07-05-07, 06:40 PM   #17
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

There are some stop tail [no Bigsby] Bursts with the ground wire from the bridge pup cavity to the t-o-m post.



And Bainzy cannot [nor can anyone else] "make a Burst".
Maybe he can make a replica, or something similar.
If so, I hope he doesn't put "Gibson" on the headstock.
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Old 07-05-07, 11:04 PM   #18
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
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There are some stop tail [no Bigsby] Bursts with the ground wire from the bridge pup cavity to the t-o-m post.
Cool. That's good info for my own data bank.
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Old 07-06-07, 11:12 AM   #19
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

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...I still wonder about some humbucker Gibson guitars that I have played that have been noisier than others...
Where does the 03R6 fit in that range? One of the noisier ones? Quiet?
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Old 07-06-07, 03:43 PM   #20
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by plaintop60 View Post
I do actually recall a bad ground connection on one ES 335 that was caused by corrosion of the wire where it contacts the tailpiece insert. I have also seen the wired severed by an insert that was installed with the beveled edge facing out instead of in. These are very rare occurances though. It's certainly possible that some degree of oxidation may be causing a high resistance connection on any guitar. It should be fairly easy to check with an ohmeter by measure the DC resistance between the tailpiece and the ground wire inside the control cavity. The reading should be less than one ohm. Any reading higher than this is suspect. If you do find a high reading, you can partially pull the stud out and press it back in. Then recheck the resistance reading. If the resistance is caused by corrosion or a poor mechanical connection, moving the insert should give you a change in reading.....either you will now have an infinite resistance reading or closer to zero ohms than your first reading. Lets say your first reading was 15,000 ohms, due to corrosion. Sliding the insert out and back in should clean off some of the corrosion and result in a lower reading. If this is the case the insert should be pulled and inspected, cleaned and a new buss wire should be inserted into the hole drilled into the side of the stud hole and the insert pressed back in.
Thanks! That is an excellent piece of advice. The next time I run into something like this, I'll put a meter on it and see if that is the culprit.
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Old 07-06-07, 03:45 PM   #21
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

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And Bainzy cannot [nor can anyone else] "make a Burst".
Maybe he can make a replica, or something similar.
If so, I hope he doesn't put "Gibson" on the headstock.
Amen to that - hence why I decided to go with a Korina back instead, it's my creation and not an original burst. I'm definately not putting Gibson on the headstock as they didn't build it nor do they pay me to advertise their brand name, but I think I'll probably leave it blank as I didn't design it either.
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Old 07-06-07, 03:48 PM   #22
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotlight View Post
DB, did you try several guitars to make sure it wasn't a noisy electrical source, or that flourescent lamps were not being used in the room, computers on,,etc...

Noisy power sources exascerbate the feared 60 cycle hum...
In the case I referred to, I actually compared one humbucker equipped Les Paul to 4 other humbucker Les Pauls under the same conditions. The one in question was noticeably noisier than the others. As I think back on it, it was more prevalent when the flourescents were on in the room next door. The noise was much more noticeable with this guitar than the others and me and a friend could never figure it out by looking at the wiring. We never put a meter on it to check the ground wire connection at the tailpiece though so that could have possibly been it.
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Old 07-06-07, 03:52 PM   #23
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
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Where does the 03R6 fit in that range? One of the noisier ones? Quiet?
I really don't have much experience with P90 guitars Chuck. It is noisier than the Humbuckers and noticeably more sensitive to the flourescent lights (more Fender like) but I couldn't tell you whether it is noisier than other P90 equipped guitars or not. By the way, I just got back into town so I will be packing it up over the weekend.
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Old 07-06-07, 09:08 PM   #24
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Don't forget the dreaded dimmer switch. These things wreak havoc, and environmental bulbs do too. Also I've seen those stupid little diode disks that fit into the bottom of a light socket and are supposed to be energy saving cause problems with interference. I once had a hum problem that happened only with cetain guitars. I found the problem with an O-scope. It was a defective electric water heater element.
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Old 07-07-07, 11:04 AM   #25
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bainzy View Post
Amen to that - hence why I decided to go with a Korina back instead, it's my creation and not an original burst. I'm definately not putting Gibson on the headstock as they didn't build it nor do they pay me to advertise their brand name, but I think I'll probably leave it blank as I didn't design it either.
Maybe an design instead of a name?
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Old 08-07-07, 11:49 AM   #26
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Can you tell me how to set and use my multimeter so I can try this? I'm new to using them, and no electrician. I suspect that my ground wire from my PU cavity to my bridge post is broken too badly to give a good connection. It's still in tact, but the wires are all frayed.



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Old 08-07-07, 12:27 PM   #27
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Just put it on Ohms (resistance). One lead to the post and one lead to the output jack ground. You should see 0 Ohms, or something very close. Any significant resistance measurement and you could have a poor ground (make sure your leads and test locations are very clean and making good contacts).
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Old 08-07-07, 12:33 PM   #28
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Re: Tailpiece Bushing Grounding

Ok great! I'll check it out tonight.

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