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novumlucis

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About novumlucis

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  1. My guess is the buyout of Line 6 by Yamaha is the biggest contributing factor as to why nobody has really dissected this problem. I used to repair electronic test equipment and from 100 technicians, only 2 or 3 really knew what they were doing. The rest were just board swappers. They could find the issue down to a module or a section, but never the discrete component. The industry is like this, because it is cheaper to replace a board, than to diagnose down to a component, as time is money. I have more time than money, so I don't mind digging in.
  2. I noticed 2 seconds after I sent the message...my apologies. I am seriously thinking about ordering a second 89F as a donor, but would be more interested in finding a defective one that I could try to fix. Having one that doesn't plink, and one that does would make troubleshooting the issue much easier. I did get my new Rigol Oscilloscope with 4 channel inputs and digital logic analyzer built in, which should help a lot in isolating the fault.
  3. I can’t... it’s been a year since I bought it from another country... I’m stuck with it for good... i made peace with it, it is what it is.. Which model do you have? Where are you located? I wouldn't mind buying a second 89F model, even with the plink, just to experiment with fixing it. But the price should be right. ;-) Currently I can buy a refurbished model for about $839 that supposedly works fine; which I am considering just so I use the parts as a donor for another project. LOL
  4. Good to know they are still being serviced. I noticed those shims seem to work their way back out from under the saddles. I also noticed on some folks guitars, the shims overlap each other in some cases; this overlapping can't be desired nor the shims walking themselves back out. To me the shims seem like a quick fix for bridge post screws that just need to be longer, or saddles that need to be physically taller in the first place. Wouldn't it have been easier to shim the neck where it mounts to the guitar body? The radius of the neck is fairly common, and nothing extreme. BTW, where can I buy the internal electronics for this guitar? I'm interested in creating a Frankenstein Variax. "Actually they are thin metal shims. Isolation from secondary vibrations may be a fringe benefit." I would think metal shims might be the source of a plink sound if there are sudden movements or rocking of the saddles, depending on how the shims are shift around over time from playing, replacing strings, etc. My O-scope does FFT, so I should be able to see harmonics. Another thing I noticed is the electrical connection from the Piezos to the DSP board do not make very good electrical connections. That style of connector works well for temporary push button connections, like a reset button on a motherboard of a computer, but I think a more reliable connector should have been used. I noticed on the low E piezo which was replaced, the connection was loose and sloppily connected. It isn't the fault of the guitar tech, but the Electrical Engineer. I completely agree, these aren't your grandfather's archtop and there is nothing analog about the Variax guitar, once the magnetic pickups are no longer in play. I've seen the schematics of the older 500 series, and just looking at the newer models, one can see a lot of high tech wizardry in there. BTW, where can one get the circuit schematics for the newer Variax models? I want to be able to accurately trace the signals back to the DSP and see if I can detect any signal clipping.
  5. After I received my guitar, I didn't have any issues that I could discern, but I don't use high volume and maxed tone when I play. I did notice one thing that was interesting, Line 6 replaced the low E piezo. I also noticed that under each saddle piezo pickup, there appear to be plastic vinyl spacers, or maybee a thin metallic spacer. I can't figure out why they are there, as each saddle has its own adjustments for setting string height, and I doubt they were maxed out. Maybe they act as an electrical isolater?
  6. Does the "plinking" occur through a Variax cable into a Helix, or does it only occur through the analog TS cable from the 1/4" jack?
  7. No worries, it is hard to rain on my parade...unless you talk about my BMW...now that car's electronics get me down! LOL... Anyway, I find that most experienced luthiers aren't experienced in the repair of complex SMT type PCBs. Also, I doubt they have the equipment to diagnose the highly complex circuitry found on those boards. However, I'm sure there are a few out there, with a BS/MS in electrical engineering, but I'm also sure they are far and few between. And it is less likely that they've had one of these Variax guitars in their hands, and were willing to take on a possible electronics problem without schematics, if they did. You would be surprised how much stuff gets manufactured in China, where corners have been cut in QA/QC to underbid the next guy. One of those corners cut is washing the PCBs after soldering. So yes, a solder iron and rubbing alcohol can go a long way to fixing quirky bugs in electronics. The problem with Surface Mount Technology (SMT) components, is what you don't see...a cold solder joint between a pin (or multiple pins) that are positioned under the component where it meets the landing pads on the PCB. You can't even inspect these visually; you can only test them electrically by using a highly complex automated test station which injects various signals at one end of the circuit, while measuring the outputs at the other end. These systems use a matrixing process and compare measurements against known good values for the PCB under test. This isn't typically done for every PCB manufactured (unless it is MILSPEC manufacturing), but done on a random sampling basis using statistical analysis in a QA/QC approach. But again, the lowest bidder who probably manufactured these Line 6 components, isn't doing this type of testing. Think about this...the open Low E has a much lower frequency than the other stings. It could be possible that this low frequency, relative high energy wave is vibrating the PCB in the body of the guitar and causing an unseen cold solder joint to respond to it. Or maybe it is just how the piezos are responding to this low frequency energy, or a harmonic thereof. E = 82.41 Hz, A = 110.0 Hz, D = 146.8 Hz, G = 196.0 Hz, B = 246.9 Hz, E = 329.6 Hz Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any experience with the Ghost bridge products from GraphTech; specifically their Rose Floyd bridge? If yes, have you ever experienced the "plinking" sound this thread is talking about, in a guitar that has been outfitted with such a Ghost bridge? What about the JTV-x9 US models, is there issues with those as well? I know I would be highly upset if I bought a "boutique" guitar with this problem out of the case! I can only hope that Line 6 discovered the problem and then had newer higher quality parts manufactured to use as replacements in their warranty repair department. I doubt it though...and my refurbished JTV-89F will probably have this same issue everyone is talking about. If it does, then I will need to decide within 90 days to keep it, or send it back. Either way, I will definitely take a peak inside. ;-) Final thoughts...If Line 6 discovered this problem "long ago", now that the company has changed hands and is owned by Yamaha, do you "REALLY" think they have a vested interest in bringing it out and publicly acknowledging it? Doing so would be catastrophic for their retailers and the brand's image, not to mention it would open them up to class action lawsuits, and heavy devaluation of their inventories. No, I'm sure they would just perform a silent fix of those covered under warranty, and all others they would just let the consumer suck up the loss. Or maybe it is like you say, an imperfect 10 year old technology that Yamaha is still pedaling, despite its flaws.
  8. Can you provide links to the old gen Variax schematics? It sounds like the piezos go to regular op-amp ICs. The resistors and caps are probably just filtering circuits prior to going into the op-amps. If they are incorrectly spec'd, they could potentially cut off certain frequencies; they are less likely to cut out altogether unless a cap is bad and shunting the signal to ground. With an oscilloscope, one could take a look at the signal after the op-amps, and then strum the associated strings to see if the op-amps are clipping the signal at a certain amplitude. Does the plinking sound occur more readily if you hard pick or strum the strings with more energy versus a softer fingerpicking style of playing? The problem with most modern PCBs is they use surface mount technology and micro components that are nearly impossible to replace by your average Joe. You will need a low temperature solder rework station to remove the ICs that might be causing the problem ($3K-$5K). It could be that during manufacturing, they used too high of a temperature to mount the ICs and in the process they damaged the op-amp circuits that the piezos feed into. But if that is the case, it might be a relatively easy fix for an experienced repair technician, provided the op-amps they used are commonly available; a circuit schematic would help determine if they could be substituted with something else. The last thing Line 6 wants is a recall action; something a class action lawsuit could only enforce. I think the first step is to find an electronics engineer with QA experience in the manufacturing of PCBs and have them take a closer look at what is going here, they might discover the root cause through a visual inspection and give justification to pursuing it legally. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a part number for the main brain of the Variax guitars. I would imagine that the central PCB is common across all models, and if it is the culprit, it would explain why the issue isn't with just one guitar model. Did the previous versions suffer this phenomenon too? (i.e. 300, 600, 700 series)
  9. Thanks for the responses. That certainly clarifies things a bit. If it is across all lineups, and swapping the E and A wires moves the problem to the A wire, then it is probably an electrical issue. My guess is the summoning circuitry has a bad transistor, and it is clipping. I'll know more when my guitar finally shows up. Having worked electronics for many years, the most common problem with cheaper electronics that have been outsourced to China for their production is cold solder joints on the PCB. Many times the root cause is in the post production, where they don't clean the printed circuit boards with a cleaning solvent. The fluxes used in the soldering process are acidic and with time they degrade the solder connections. If you look at the solder joints they should be shinny; if they have a dull look to them, they are at least suspect. I like to use alcohol and a toothbrush to go over the solder contacts to see if they cleanup. And then with a high power magnifying glass I look very carefully at the connections I suspect. If I see a bad joint, I use a low power needle soldering iron and re-heat the junction, then clean again with alcohol. This trick fixes most issues 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time you will need to de-solder the component and re-affix with fresh solder. I'll post back here what I find in my guitar.
  10. @dukeofdream, good point. But consider this...if the problem stays on the E string and it isn't really a problem with the piezo, you won't know. But if you physically swap the low E saddle with a replacement one, or swap the low E saddle with the high E saddle the next time you change strings, then you can truly eliminate the piezo as being the issue. If the problem moves to the high E, then it is either the piezo in the saddle (probable), or a physical issue with the saddle (doubtful). If the problem stays on the low E, then we can assume a physical problem along the path where vibration travels is causing the issue (probable); or worse yet, an issue in the electronics (unlikely). I'm curious which models of the guitars have this low E issue. Is it only the models which share the same bridge and piezos, or is across the entire JTV lineup. If the latter, my guess is electronics, since not all models share the same bridge. Also, is the plinking sound heard only when the Variax mode is enabled, or in magnetic pickup mode only, or in both modes? I did do some more research and discovered that the Floyd Rose bridge in the JTV-89F is built by Graph Tech, and the piezos in the saddles are supposedly built by L. R. Baggs (Radiance Hex). To me this seems unlikely that Line 6 would choose two separate vendors for the bridge and saddles, especially when Graph Tech builds their own piezo enabled saddles for the Floyd Rose bridge they sourced to Line 6. https://graphtech.com/collections/ghost-pickup-systems-guitar-saddle/products/ghost-floyd-rose-saddles-black-6-string?variant=29500005449751 I think the L. R. Baggs piezos are in the JTV-59 model. https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/250726-line-6-50-04-0069-bridge-assembly-for-jtv-59 These are the piezos in the bridge above. https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/234088-line-6-11-00-0010-piezo-pickup-for-jtv Furthermore, looking at the Graph Tech installation guide for their piezo enabled saddles, you can see why the E-E, B-A, and D-G saddles share the same part numbers, respectively, in the Line 6 parts catalog. Again, my bet is that their are Graph Tech Ghost piezos in the JTV-89F, and the description on Line 6's website is wrong. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/2372/8913/files/string-saver-floyd-rose-saddle-installation-instructions_1.pdf https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/284906-line-6-30-51-0689-piezo-low-e-hi-e-saddle-for-jtv89f https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/284907-line-6-30-51-0690-piezo-aandb-string-saddle-for-jtv89f https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/284908-line-6-30-51-0691-piezo-dandg-string-saddle-for-jtv89f https://shop.line6.com/hardware/line 6 jtv-89f blood red guitar w/ ebony fretboard.html Looking forward to feedback... ;-)
  11. So I just picked up a JTV-89F, factory refurbished from Line 6, with the intent of gutting the electronics to put into a custom built guitar, or changing out the neck on (not sure which yet). I have monster hands (like 5XL), so I have the hardest time fretting clean (bratwurst fingers). I wish I would have seen this multi-year year problem before buying this refurbished guitar. One thing I noticed on a replacement parts website is that the guitar (89F) has three different part numbers for the piezo pickups. E-E, uses one part number, A-B another, and D-G yet another. My guess is the piezos are tuned/designed/engineered for specific frequencies. And it might just be a problem in how the low E resonates within the piezo, causing damage to it, or maybe it is a result of an aggressive shredding style that causes them to fail, or maybe they are just mis-engineered. My suggestion would be to swap the two E piezos and see if the problem is reproduced in the high E, while the problem in the low E goes away. If this happens, I would suggest replacing the low E piezo to see if you can remedy your problem. Part found here: https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/284906-line-6-30-51-0689-piezo-low-e-hi-e-saddle-for-jtv89f For other models, you might not have the option to replace individual piezos. I did find this part number for what appears to go in the JTV-59 bridge, but not sure which strings its for, or if they are universal. https://www.fullcompass.com/prod/234088-line-6-11-00-0010-piezo-pickup-for-jtv Good Luck!
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