Sweat and Tone Knobs

whitebison66

Senior member
Messages
777
I hope someone here can help me with this!

I got an email from a good friend I used to tech for, Warner Hodges. He's having a problem, and needs help. I am not sure about the solution, so I am offering his description verbatim:

I have a perplexing problem that I have started having occur on these long-ass Dan Baird shows and Jason & the Scorchers shows. Every guitar , ie ALL of  my teles including the Warmoth one with the Seymour Duncan Phat cat P90's, are having the same problem. In Europe I only have 2 guitars out with Dan so it is a HUGE problem. Here it is in a nutshell. I get really sweaty about 30-40 minutes in and all of a sudden it sounds like I have cut my treble pot all the way off. It is all the way open, but sounds all bassy. This happens on all of my guitars, not just one of them. Also , all of the teles are set back up correctly [ed. note - Warner used to use 1 volume and a Gibson 3-way switch] ie Tele 3 way switch, functioning Volume knob, and Functioning tone knob. I am at the point of getting ready to have someone disconnect the 3 way switch and the tone knob on one I have with me on this trip just to see if maybe I have a problem with one of those 2 things. That would disconnect the rhythm pickup, The 3 way switch, and the tone knob. 3 less things to go wrong. I also don't know if its a pick-up thing, but it does it on the 4 guitars, that I use all the time, equally. I also put a new lead position Phat cat P 90 in the Warmoth tele I use with Dan, because the same thing happened last year. I don't know if the guitars just get so wet inside, and never get a chance to dry out. After the show they go back in a gig bag. We take them to the hotel. Pull them back out. Let them dry over night. Try to find a blow dryer and use it on them, including opening up cavities, then go do it all again. Incidentally this is happening to Dan also. He only brings the 1 guitar. Dan Baird shows are roughly 1-  90 minute show contractually. They end up being 1 hour or so, break, and then 90 minutes to 2 hours for the 2nd set. I spend the last hour struggling to reach the finish line. I don't know. I've done all I know to do. Also this still happens even with a cord, so its not a wireless thing. I would appreciate input. Maybe I need some different pick-ups. I don't know. I'm baffled.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''
Warner does sweat a lot. Is it possible that the sweat is getting into the tone pot and grounding it out, hence cutting the highs?

Any ideas? Suggestions? Solutions?

Thanks in advance!

If anyone in Europe has the chance to see Dan Baird and/or Jason and the Scorchers, GO. You will not be disappointed.
 

blue313

Senior member
Messages
2,824
When this happens does the pickup selector and volume knobs still work properly?  It definitely sounds like the sweat is getting into the pot, but from the top or bottom is the question.  Easy fix is to try to short across or eliminate it from the circuit.  Just make sure they're cleaned (to get that sweaty salt residue) and lubed with spray electronics lube/wd40 first.  And a disposable desiccant pack in the gig bag (http://silicagelpackets.com/) would help dry them out overnight for storage.

If that doesn't get it, you need to think along the lines of waterproofing the controls like the guys who go 4-Wheeling waterproof their rigs.  If you suspect the top is the culprit, you could try putting something (rubber tubing, O-ring, electrical tape, wheel bearing grease, etc) down over the pot that'll encourage the water to go elsewhere, but wont interfere with the knob turning.  If it's from the bottom then a little plastic wrap or electrical tape might be another quick fix.

Hope that helps a little
 

ByteFrenzy

Senior member
Messages
1,177
Are you sure this is happening at the guitars themselves and not at the mixing console or the DI boxes or something? The same thing happening to two guys and a bunch of different guitars sounds pretty suspicious to me. What gear are they moving with them from show to show? And what crew (could be the FOH engineer who starts spilling his drink over the console once the show is well under way)...?
 

mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,168
ByteFrenzy said:
Are you sure this is happening at the guitars themselves and not at the mixing console or the DI boxes or something? The same thing happening to two guys and a bunch of different guitars sounds pretty suspicious to me. What gear are they moving with them from show to show? And what crew (could be the FOH engineer who starts spilling his drink over the console once the show is well under way)...?

I agree - I'm not convinced it's the guitar.  There's another common element in the chain that's dying instead.  DI? Amp?  Petal?  Cable?  maybe oxidization on the jacks?  There's something else going on here.
 

whitebison66

Senior member
Messages
777
I talked with Warner last night, and he finally found the problem.

Cloth-covered wire.

The cloth would get wet with sweat and draw off the high end. I told him to put some silica gel packs in the bridge pickup cavity. Any other suggestions? He'd probably even caulk around the pickup hole if it would help. He's using Warmoths and leaves the vintage stuff at home, so he's not afraid to modify them to suit his needs.
 

dbw

Senior member
Messages
4,531
Absolutely, throw out the cloth-covered wire.  Vintage-style stuff is fine if it works, but when it's causing a problem and you can't see it anyway because it's behind the pickguard, why keep it?

By the way if this dude sweats so much he soaks his cloth-covered wire, he might have a larger problem.  Possibly glandular.  Has he considered keeping a towel on stage to wipe his hands?
 

tfarny

Senior member
Messages
4,481
Huh? Can you explain how wet cloth wire wrapping can 'draw off the high end'? And how much sweat inside of a cavity are we talking about here, anyhow?
 
G

guitlouie

Guest
Might be time for some of these!  Fashion and function in one very cheap package!

 
R

RLW

Guest
Seriously, should I ever get to the point where I'm sweating enough to short out a guitar, my first stop will be a doctor's office rather than a guitar tech.
 
Messages
8,318
This whole story is a new one for me.  I'll have to remeber that.  I don't see how sweat (salt water) on the insulation of the wire would do that.  Stranger things have happened I guess.
 

DocNrock

Senior member
Messages
4,295
Try spraying the wiring and the exterior of the electronics with Corrosion X:  http://www.corrosionx.com/marine.html

I use this stuff on my offshore fishing reels and roller rods.  Dries to a film and nearly impenetrable to salt water.
 

mullyman

Senior member
Messages
1,857
For what it's worth, Jason Newsted, ex-Metallica bassist, has waterproof sealing around all the openings in his guitars because he sweats so much. You may want to look into that story because I know he did it because he was having problems with the guitars.
MULLY
 

stubhead

Senior member
Messages
4,669
When I was trying to figure out who was going to build my basses for this tour, I told the builders they had to make them waterproof. So they were waterproof--but not saltwater proof. To test each bass, I'd fill up a big tub with super hot water, dump in some salt, and submerge the bass. Then, I'd take it out of the tub and put it in front of a coil heater for a few minutes. I'd repeat this same process three times with each bass. [Ed. Note: We don't recommend you try this at home. You might damage your tub.] Then I'd beat the crap out of it for a while in my studio, and finally I'd let it sit on a stand for a couple of days. Usually, the bass corrodes and doesn't play anymore. None of the basses passed that test and kept working except for the Sadowsky.

http://www.metallicaworld.co.uk/Interviews/1996_jason_bassplayer.htm
 

mullyman

Senior member
Messages
1,857
stubhead said:
When I was trying to figure out who was going to build my basses for this tour, I told the builders they had to make them waterproof. So they were waterproof--but not saltwater proof. To test each bass, I'd fill up a big tub with super hot water, dump in some salt, and submerge the bass. Then, I'd take it out of the tub and put it in front of a coil heater for a few minutes. I'd repeat this same process three times with each bass. [Ed. Note: We don't recommend you try this at home. You might damage your tub.] Then I'd beat the crap out of it for a while in my studio, and finally I'd let it sit on a stand for a couple of days. Usually, the bass corrodes and doesn't play anymore. None of the basses passed that test and kept working except for the Sadowsky.

http://www.metallicaworld.co.uk/Interviews/1996_jason_bassplayer.htm

Nice find. Stubhead. The text in the quote box is quite small though. I actually missed that part the first time I looked at it. Here it is again in standard sized text.



So the Sadowsky is now your main bass?

Yes. I've had a lot of trouble with sweat getting inside my basses; the Spectors were built really well, played well, and sounded excellent, but the sweat problem was ugly. We did an outside show on the last tour, and by the end of the gig, there was one functioning bass out of six--bad news. And when a bass going through 250,000 watts of PA all of a sudden goes [mimics loud, shorted-out feedback sound], people are not happy! [Laughs.] When I was trying to figure out who was going to build my basses for this tour, I told the builders they had to make them waterproof. So they were waterproof--but not saltwater proof. To test each bass, I'd fill up a big tub with super hot water, dump in some salt, and submerge the bass.

Talk about an acid test!

[Laughs.] Then, I'd take it out of the tub and put it in front of a coil heater for a few minutes. I'd repeat this same process three times with each bass. [Ed. Note: We don't recommend you try this at home. You might damage your tub.] Then I'd beat the crap out of it for a while in my studio, and finally I'd let it sit on a stand for a couple of days. Usually, the bass corrodes and doesn't play anymore. None of the basses passed that test and kept working except for the Sadowsky. We still have to change the bridge screws on the Sadowskys every week, though, because no matter how much they're anodized, the plating comes off. But I've had really good luck with them.



Thanks for pulling that up, man.
MULLY
 

upnorthbacon

Active member
Messages
91
I just read something somewhere regarding the sweat issue.  The person (Pro don't remember who) took a ziplock baggy and basically surrounded the electronics with the baggy somehow, it didn't say exactly how?  I guess you'd have to get creative but putting everything in a ziplock and then poking the pot stems up through them and maybe some tape or something?  Anyway just something I heard regarding this.
 

hannaugh

Senior member
Messages
4,230
He should try this stuff on his arms the night before a show.  It is amazing, it totally stops sweat, and you can get it over the counter in the deoderant section.  Soldiers in the Middle East use it on their feet so they won't get trench foot. 

http://www.certaindri.com/Pages/CD_Home
 
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