650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

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650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (avalonpb) » Fri May 03, 2013 12:31 am

Posted on the Rickenbacker forum but seriously looking for answers so I wanted to try here.

Back in 2005 I bought a 650D brand new as a collector's piece. It has been played maybe 3-4 times over the years and has spent the rest of its short life in the factory case. Last week I pulled it out for a quick spin and the neck pickup was dead. I pulled the guard and the pickup to look for shorts, loose wires, whatever. After troubleshooting the entire circuit and jumpering the pickup output direct to the guitar cable feeding the amp (bypassing everything) it is clear that the pickup is dead. It has a very, very low output only. I've read quite a few posts on Ric pickups that seem to have died on the vine. Is there any hope for this short of "re-soldering pads" and hoping it'll come back to life?

I am utterly shocked that a guitar pickup could self-destruct while sitting in the case for years. I own 5 Rics and well over 100 guitars and I have never, ever had a pickup die -ever. Not after years of stage abuse and certainly not after sitting in a case for 8 years.

Does anybody know what causes this kind of failure? Is there anything I can do short of hoping to buy a new pickup if/when one gets wound?

Call me highly disappointed with Ric QC.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (admin) » Fri May 03, 2013 6:02 am

Dan I am moving this post to Sergio's pickup forum where he will be able to see it. He can fix most any pickup. It suspect it will live again. Keep the faith.
Life, as with music, often requires one to let go of the melody and listen to the rhythm

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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (avalonpb) » Sat May 04, 2013 2:29 pm

Just a followup on this issue for future reference.

Reflowing the solder did not fix the problem

Over on the Ric forum John Hall confirmed there was a bad batch of solder and they had dealt with several of these under warranty. He then blamed me for not playing the instrument enough to have realized it had a problem while it was covered under warranty. Thus, he implied it was in-fact a known manufacturing defect but they were under no obligation to fix it due to the time clock having run out. -which is technically true, and a testament to Ric's customer service ethic.

It's been awhile since I've interacted with John and I had forgotten how he deflects responsibility for his products. He's as surly and arrogant as ever.

I have ordered a new pickup from a dealer and that will be the last purchase I ever make from John Hall or Rickenbacker. I'm glad to own a few of these quirky instruments but John has made it quite clear that my patronage of his family business in not meaningful to him.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (electrofaro) » Sat May 04, 2013 5:01 pm

avalonpb wrote:It's been awhile since I've interacted with John and I had forgotten how he deflects responsibility for his products. He's as surly and arrogant as ever.

Maybe your big mouth and/or ego caused the issue? :idea:
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (Grey) » Sat May 04, 2013 5:54 pm

avalonpb wrote:He then blamed me for not playing the instrument enough to have realized it had a problem while it was covered under warranty.


Well, yeah, that is your fault. If you want to buy a guitar to stick it in a case thats your perogative, but if you don't realise there's a problem with it until 7 years later then obviously a warranty repair is going to be out of the question.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (cjj) » Sat May 04, 2013 6:17 pm

Exactly. Go out and pay $80k or so on a brand new Chevy Corvette, let it sit unused in your garage beyond the 5 year drivetrain warranty and try to get them to fix a blown engine caused due to improperly tightened connecting rod bolts. Even if you could prove it, the fact that you didn't use it and find the problem during the warranty period will leave you with a huge repair bill...
I have NO idea what to do with those skinny stringed things... I'm just a bass player...
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (eatswodo) » Sat May 04, 2013 8:37 pm

I read your post on the Rickenbacker forums. You have an 8-year-old guitar, out of warranty.

My 650D, purchased new in 2001, does not get played very often these days. The pickup selector switch is a bit glitchy. Is that Rickenbacker's problem, after all these years?

Do you really think Rickenbacker should have replaced the pickup for you, and if so, on what grounds?

I'm somewhat in awe that you own 105+ guitars, and this is the only one you've ever had a problem with.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (avalonpb) » Sun May 05, 2013 4:35 pm

Well no I didn't expect a new pickup. I didn't expect him to confirm it was a manufacturing defect and then make a rude personal assumption about my use of it either..

A pickup is not a car and has no moving parts to wear out except the magnet (which is fine) so the car analogy is meaningless.

Regardless, for the person who asked. I have 111 guitars to be exact. I've been playing and collecting for over 40 years. And NO I'VE NEVER HAD A SINGLE ONE OF THEM HAVE A PICKUP SELF DESTRUCT PRIOR TO THIS. NOT ONE! I've spilled beer in my 1962 telecaster and it sill works after 50 years.

why people always take the side side of the corporation in matter such a this I will never understand. of course Rickenbacker is in the right. :roll:

At least Some poor bugger in the future will search on google and find this post and know he needs a new pickup because Ric made defective ones for at least 2 years - and he won't have to endure the wrath of zealots to do so.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (Grey) » Sun May 05, 2013 7:07 pm

avalonpb wrote:why people always take the side side of the corporation in matter such a this I will never understand. of course Rickenbacker is in the right. :roll:


I'll be blunt. You come off as an obnoxious person with an axe to grind. Is the pickup failing your fault? No. Is it Rickenbackers fault? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it is. What I do know is that if you had bought the guitar and played it once in a while instead of letting it sit in the case, you probably would have found the problem while the instrument was still under warranty and Rickenbacker would have repaired or replaced your pickup.

When you buy a product you've got every right to complain when there's a problem that you feel could have been prevented. However, keep in mind you're on a forum dedicated to Rickenbacker fans. You're coming here with a clear distaste for a company we are all fans of so you'll have to excuse anyone who meets your criticism with less than open arms.

I had a Gibson USA instrument arrive with a dead neck pickup. Maybe it was the wiring, maybe it was the selector switch, I didn't take it apart to find out. I contacted Gibson and had it replaced through the dealer because I buy instruments to play them and that was the end of it. I don't go to the Gibson forum and tell people they need new pickups. :roll:
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (eatswodo) » Sun May 05, 2013 7:17 pm

Pickups fail.

If they didn't, there wouldn't be people in business to put them right.

I've read, and re-read, your original post on the Rickenbacker forum. I cannot for the life of me see how you could possibly have construed John Hall's response as 'rude'.

I still don't understand what you actually expected.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (soundmasterg) » Mon May 06, 2013 8:46 am

Those pickups are very similar to the HB2 that came in my 1989 RIC 230. When I had the pickups out while I refinished the guitar, one of the pickups failed due to a wire getting broken. I fixed the pickup last year thanks to a microscope and some careful soldering. Your pickup is the same basic design as the one from my 230, but they made some improvements over the years to these pickups. The main improvement is that they usually carry the epoxy all the up to the back of the board on the back of the pickup whereas on mine there was a gap where a wire could get nicked, which is what happened with mine. You may closely look at yours and see if there is a gap on the back of the pickup between the circuit board and the epoxy...if so the coil wire that comes up from the bottom may have gotten broken and it may be possible to fix it. That said, knowing these pickups a bit, it probably is not possible to fix it without destroying the pickup. If you are interested, I wouldn't mind messing around with the pickup if you wanted to part with it. If so, send me a pm.

I think that it was sort of rude for Mr. Hall to mention that there was a problem with some of these pickups and then to say that the customer was at fault because he didn't play his guitar and let it go out of warranty. I haven't read the original post over at the RIC site and I probably won't because I'm too busy these days, but the idea of mentioning anything even close to that would annoy me too. When my 230 pickup went out and I needed a replacement, I emailed Mr. Hall to ask if they had any replacements laying around since they weren't in production anymore. They did have one...but instead of letting me buy it directly, they stuck it on ebay so I had to bid for it and possibly not get a replacement pickup at all, since the HB2 is not made any more. I ended up winning and got the pickup, but it ended up being microphonic, and since it is epoxied, it can't be fixed without destroying the pickup. I'm still not all that pleased. Sure, I got a pickup that allowed me to use my guitar again, but I had to pay more for it than I should have, and it was defective and couldn't be used under high volume. If it was my business I would have helped someone in my position out by offering to sell the pickup directly at a set price instead of sticking it on an auction where someone else could win it, and I would have tested it first to make sure it wasn't malfunctioning. DC resistance isn't the only indicator for a pickup's function after all. So I can understand how the original poster feels under his situation, and I share some of the opinions about Mr. Hall and the way he runs his business sometimes. A lot of other businesses might have mentioned what Mr. Hall did, and then offered to sell a new pickup at a discount...it would certainly have gone a long way for the original poster in mitigating his loss and kept the reputation of the Rickenbacker company at its highest.

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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (cassius987) » Mon May 06, 2013 8:59 am

Grey wrote:I'll be blunt. You come off as an obnoxious person with an axe to grind. Is the pickup failing your fault? No. Is it Rickenbackers fault? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it is. What I do know is that if you had bought the guitar and played it once in a while instead of letting it sit in the case, you probably would have found the problem while the instrument was still under warranty and Rickenbacker would have repaired or replaced your pickup.

When you buy a product you've got every right to complain when there's a problem that you feel could have been prevented. However, keep in mind you're on a forum dedicated to Rickenbacker fans. You're coming here with a clear distaste for a company we are all fans of so you'll have to excuse anyone who meets your criticism with less than open arms.

I had a Gibson USA instrument arrive with a dead neck pickup. Maybe it was the wiring, maybe it was the selector switch, I didn't take it apart to find out. I contacted Gibson and had it replaced through the dealer because I buy instruments to play them and that was the end of it. I don't go to the Gibson forum and tell people they need new pickups. :roll:


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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (Grey) » Mon May 06, 2013 9:13 am

soundmasterg wrote:I think that it was sort of rude for Mr. Hall to mention that there was a problem with some of these pickups and then to say that the customer was at fault because he didn't play his guitar and let it go out of warranty. I haven't read the original post over at the RIC site and I probably won't because I'm too busy these days


I think it was sort of rude for you to write about what someone may or may not have said and then admit that you couldn't be bothered to read the actual post. :roll:

From the Corporate forum;

It's also unfortunate that you didn't check out your instrument from time to time, as your warranty would have covered it into 2010, assuming you registered it. Had you chosen to give it "stage abuse" like some of your other instruments, this problem likely would have been done and sorted.

The reason for the failure is likely corrosion as the earliest RoHS solder and fluxes we (and the rest of the industry) were forced to use were not so wonderful. But most of those failures we already took care of under warranty already. If you have other instruments of any make (that were made to legal lead-free standard) in the 2004-2006 time period, your odds are that you will encounter additional failures.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (ken_j) » Mon May 06, 2013 10:50 am

cjj wrote:Exactly. Go out and pay $80k or so on a brand new Chevy Corvette, let it sit unused in your garage beyond the 5 year drivetrain warranty and try to get them to fix a blown engine caused due to improperly tightened connecting rod bolts. Even if you could prove it, the fact that you didn't use it and find the problem during the warranty period will leave you with a huge repair bill...

I'm not sure about the New GM but the Old GM would have made a good will adjustment. I have seen this many times and have experienced it on my on vehicle once.
The thing with the pickup is that the cost of shipping the guitar round trip to the factory exceeds the cost of the pickup, so even if it were my guitar I think I would just buy a pickup, warranty or not. I did have a HB the was made with the magnet installed backwards so it was out of phase with the other pickup. I new I could reverse polarity of the wiring and fix it. The guitar was out of warranty because I was the second owner but was only a year old. I contacted RIC customer service and they sent directions on rewiring it. I only contacted them to see their reaction and to let them know there was a miss build. There could have been more than one of these to escape the plant. Quite frankly I was surprised that RIC didn't want to see this example unless they had seen in in the past. RIC customer service was very courteous at the time.
I guess my point is if there are known issues with a product during certain time periods or between certain serial numbers the factory should have an extended coverage period. I certainly don't know if that is the case here, only the factory does. I myself make no judgment.
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Re: 650D HB-1 pickup premature death.

Postby (deaconblues) » Mon May 06, 2013 12:48 pm

Would I be PO'd if an expensive guitar I'd bought had a broken pickup? Damn right I would.

Was John Hall's post rude? No, I don't think so.

Rickenbacker, of course, has every right to tell the OP to take a hike. I'm in agreement with Ken -- if it were my company I'd honor extended service on a part that was known to be especially defective. But then that's RIC management's call.

All of that being said, I don't think a lot of the outright vitriol on this thread is warranted. It's amazing how fast some otherwise very intelligent posters stoop to petty insults when Rickenbacker is criticized for any reason. That intolerance is also the reason that many don't post on the RRF anymore.
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