17 October 2020

"Fixing" a Broken Peavey Vypyr Input Jack - Updated

 I just bought a Peavey Vypyr VIP-1 (Fig. 1) with an "input that needs to be tightened or replaced" (per the listing) for a practice amp. Turns out the threads were stripped (I forgot to take a before pic, but you can kind of see them in Fig. 2) so it needed to be replaced. Fair play – I offered $10 less than the asking price and the seller accepted, so no complaints at all.

Fig. 1 Peavey Vypyr VIP-1 with stripped input jack and missing knob

Fig. 2 Stripped threads on the original input jack (pictured here after the 'fix')

When I removed the chassis, I saw that the jack is mounted to a PCB and connected to another PCB by a ribbon cable, which was pretty tightly coiled, presumably from the seller trying to tighten the nut onto the jack but just spinning the whole jack/PCB assembly inside. Past experience tells me that sometimes it's best to leave wires as is if they're not hurting anything (unbending wire can sometimes break it), so I uncoiled it a little bit, but not too much.

I found what I think is the right jack in a few places, all of which cost $8 to $10 or so with shipping. But I don't know much about these kind of jacks with the additional NC contact (that power down the amp when you remove the guitar cable). I didn't want to spend the $10 on what might be the wrong jack, or in a more likely and worse scenario, I didn't want to risk frying any of the tiny surface mounted components on the jack's PCB in the process of desoldering the five solder points.

Instead, I removed one end of a short effects pedal cable (Fig. 3), soldered that end to a new mono input jack and left the other end plugged into the original jack inside the chassis. I used a couple of zip ties to keep it from wiggling around and possibly touching something it shouldn't (Fig. 4). Update: Due to unwanted vibration and rattling on some notes, I had to open up the amp again and put foam tape under the input jack and metal part of the cable.

Fig. 3. Repurposed effects pedal cable with 1/4" mono jack

Like many of my hack jobs, it's not pretty, but it works. And with the amp back together, you can't tell the difference anyway, other than the input jack looking nicer than the original (Fig. 5).

Fig. 4 Original jack and cable zip-tied in place

Fig. 5. New input jack

12 April 2020

Replaced a Yamaha FS700 saddle with a Tusq Compensated Saddle

I'm only posting this because it took me a little while to be sure I was ordering the right saddle and nut. I found several forum posts for "Which Tusq saddle for Yamaha FS700?" but a lot of noise in the responses. I found my answer somewhere in an amazon review. Figured this might help somebody find a definitive answer a little sooner.

So the answer to the question "Which Tusq saddle for Yamaha FS700?" in this case is Tusq product number PO-9276-CO TUSQ 3" Compensated Acoustic. The numbers as they appear on the label in Fig. 1 are:
Length: 3.0204
Width: .1236
Height: .3669
Tusq PO-9276-CO 3" Compensated Acoustic Saddle Product Info
Fig. 1. Tusq Saddle Product Info
 I had to sand every dimension to make it fit. I only needed to sand the width and length a little. I can't remember exactly how much I sanded off the height, but it was easily 1/8" or so. Sanding, checking, sanding again, and checking again,etc., took 10 to 15 minutes total.

Tusq Saddle package
Fig. 2. Tusq package with original Yamaha plastic saddle

Fig. 2 shows the package with the original Yamaha saddle, which is much rounder along the top than the Tusq saddle. Not sure if you can tell from the rest of the photos, but the ridge along the top of the Tusq saddle is pretty defined.

Tusq saddle installed
Fig. 3. Tusq saddle installed

Once I installed the saddle and restrung the guitar, I realized the ends of the saddle are pretty pointy. Against my better judgment I rounded both ends with a small file. I should have removed it to do that, but I didn't scrape the bridge (which I was almost sure would happen), so no harm done. The ends don't look great, so next time I change the strings, I take the saddle out and round the edges better.

Tusq saddle - bass end after filing
Fig. 4. Bass end after filing

Tusq saddle - treble end after filing
Fig. 5. Treble end after filing
I also have the Tusq replacement nut for this guitar, but still haven't gotten around to replacing it. The product info for the nut is PQ-6116-00, but I haven't verified it yet. I think I also found that one in an amazon review.

26 February 2020

Stupid fix, but it works: How I keep from losing my 1/4"-to-1/8" adapter

My 20-year-old headphones came with a threaded 1/8"-to-1/4" adapter (Fig. 1). I have misplaced it several times in the past, despite my best efforts. I usually avoid losing it by putting it in only one spot when not in use: in my little box o' adapters. That doesn't always happen if the box o' adapters is not within easy reach or when I'm in a rush, so I occasionally cannot find it when I need it. 

Fig. 1. Threaded 1/8"-to1/4" adapter

To ensure I have a convenient and secure place to keep it when not in use, I taped an old input jack (an incredibly inferior one removed from a Silvertone bass) to the side of the head band (Fig. 2). Now I just plug the adapter into that when I'm not using it. 

Fig. 2. Adapter holder, sans adapter
I loosened the tension on the jack a little, so that it's secure enough to hold the adapter, but not so tight that I would need two hands to remove it.

Fig. 3. Adapter holder, with adapter
The only danger now is the glasses-on-my-head scenario—looking all over for my lost adapter when it's plugged into the jack on my headphones. Hasn't happened yet, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Fixed: Silvertone Bass Keeps Cutting Out

I have a really cheap Silvertone LB11 bass (Fig. 3) that plays fine and sounds good except for one issue: it kept cutting out. I could recreate the problem by wiggling the cable, so I thought it might be just a loose jack, or possibly a bad solder connection on the jack.

I opened it up (Fig. 1), expecting just to bend the jack so it holds the plug tighter. I did that, but the problem persisted when I wiggled the cable. Looking more closely, it appeared as though the ring part of the jack was too big for the plug. I tried another cable to be sure  the one I was using wasn't slightly small. Same issue.

Silvertone Bass stock wiring
Figure 1. A little too much space between the ring and the plug. And how about that top notch shielding?

So I just replaced the jack with a better one (Fig. 2). The plug fit perfectly, and no amount of wiggling made the noise cut out. I don't know what brand the jack is—I had a bunch on hand—but it was noticeably more solid and well-made than the stock jack. (If you're unsure, you can't go wrong with Switchcraft, sold pretty much everywhere.)

Stock jack and replacement jack
Figure 2. Crap jack on the left, and the newly installed and visibly much sturdier jack on the right.
Careful inspection of Fig. 2 might reveal that I learned a little lesson while installing the new jack. If you look closely, you can see that the lugs on the two jacks are the reverse of each other. For the cheap jack, the ground lug is on the far side in this photo, and the tip lug is on the near side. For the new jack, it's the opposite, which I did not realize until after I took this photo. So I rewired the new jack correctly and neglected to take a photo of the correct wiring before reinstalling the pickguard.

With such a cheap bass, I figured it's a good idea to check out everything else too, while I've got it apart. I cleaned the pots and checked all of the connections (looked good). You can always replace the electronics wholesale while you're at it, but this is a cheap bass that I use only occasionally, so it's good enough now.

Silvertone LB11 bass
Figure 3. Silvertone LB11 bass.

03 January 2020

A Drawing from Sid Couchey

Back in 2009, some facebook thing was going around where everyone was invited to share things about themselves that no one knows. One of the things I shared was that I had Richie Rich's autograph. When I was 10 or so, I had written to Harvey Comics to let them know how much I liked Richie Rich comics. The response I received was signed Richie Rich and Casper.

As it turned out, one of my facebook friends was friends with the daughter of one of the original Richie Rich artists, Sid Couchey (some of his artwork). I don't remember exactly how it all proceeded from there. My friend put us in contact, then I think Sid's daughter* asked if I would like a drawing from him (for which I am still very grateful). So I gave her my address, she talked to her dad, and a couple of weeks later I received the drawing you see below.

I was at the time 40-ish, and no longer a Richie Rich fan (although I still followed some of the artists). But Sid was at the time 90 or so, and I was glad that he was still drawing and very touched that he took the time to create this personalized drawing for an old fan.

Sid died a few years later, and ten years on, I'm still touched by his very kind gesture.

* I remember her name but am respecting her privacy