Other Guitars

Why is my guitar doing this?


Fender 1952 AVRI telecaster bridge pickup fades out and won't come back until I open up the controls and pole around then it works again for ~15 minutes until it fades out again. Neck pickup works fine.

  • I've resoldered the pickup connections to the pots and switch 3 times so I don't think it's a loose connection.

  • I've measured the bridge pickup on a multimeter and it reads a nice steady 6.91 so I don't think it is a broken wire.

  • The pots work for the neck pickup so I am guessing it isn't the pots.

  • Cap between vol and tone pots seems ok.

If a wire was pinched or something I would think the bridge pickup wouldn't work at all. But it does for about 15 min and then 15 seconds of fading out then nothing but a very faint trebly rasp when at full volume and tone all the way open.

I'm stumped. I'd just redo the whole thing, but I really love the sound of this guitar when it is working and hate to change anything I don't have to.

It's been more than 2 years now of thinking I finally fixed it only to have it happen again and it sits for a few months and I try it again with same result.

Any suggestions appreciated.


It seems like you've checked all the common problems with the guitar. I'd start looking at your signal cable and/or the amplifier.


I think when you are getting the faint trebly rasp, you are sort of hearing the sound of the pickup through the ground path, or the pickup isn't connected to ground, it isn't a complete circuit, it's open at one end.

And the fading is like something is loading up, which has to be a capacitor, or possibly a coil. Or maybe a resistance slowly getting very high.

Could you try bypassing everything? If the pickup was directly connected to the output, and it still did that, then you would know it was the pickup.

Let me see if I can find a schematic, or have you got something custom going on?

It has to be the switch?


Thanks, hammerheads, it makes sense that I could be hearing the ground path. The fade from the normal signal to the ground signal is puzzling. If that's what it is.

I'm using "modern", or current, wiring. I could try to bypass and go straight to the jack with the bridge--its just weird that the multimeter says the pickup is ok.

Thanks, Otter, I've used diff cables and amps and it still happens, even just with a battery powered tuner--but only on the bridge pickup.


The only thing in there that could fade after some use could be the cap...but I've never heard of this. I could be wrong (again!) but really...what else could it be? Weird one! Costs less than a buck to find out. Any day you can learn something for under a buck is a good day.


Perhaps far-fetched, but is it possibly a bad tube in your amp? I have had this problem before when it was a tube issue.


Dirty pots, dirty output connector, or a bad cable could also be issues. Cold solder joint on a pickup switch plagued me for awhile. Intermittently worked, but looked fine, until I started moving wires about. Took longer to heat the iron up than it did to fix it.


I thought it was a cold solder so redid them several times to no avail. It sounds to me just like a tube problem, but the amp works fine if I flick over to the neck pickup and it happens on all my amps and even tuners.

Changing the cap makes sense to me and is easy. I ordered an orange drop .022 cap today (and a 0.047 just to try it out). I hope that could be it.


Pickup magnet.


Did you check the oil?


I would guess that either one of the pickup wires is broken (this will ne hidden under the insulation), or the switch is dirty, worn out, corroded or shorted. Neither the cap or the pots or the amp have anything to do with this.


Pretty much agree with GG. Replace the switch. It's a really weird problem though!


That little capacitor is too small and in the wrong spot to supply energy to the circuit for any amount of time.

You can bypass the switch to test that, and keep the bridge pickup on all the time, or connect the bridge pickup to where the neck is, and the neck where the bridge is.


Did you check the oil?

– Otter

Could also be the fetzer valve.


Could also be the fetzer valve.

– Afire

It's all ball bearings nowadays


Since you have a multimeter, one other to check would be continuity between the hot lead and each of the magnet slugs on the bridge pickup. It's possible that there's an intermittent short to ground between the pickup coil and magnets. Check it when it's working normally and when it's passing a weak signal, there shouldn't be continuity between the coil and ground there in either case. Depending on how the pickup was made, the ground lead on the pickup may or may not show continuity to the magnets.


The cap is not between the pickup and output. You need to follow the signal path, which is simple. Aaron has a good idea.

I still suggest replacing the switch. If the problem persists it may be time for a new bridge pickup.


Jack, did you finally solved that problem. Just curious to know how it ended up.


The suspense is electrifying.


The suspense is electrifying.

– crowbone

But it fades after about 15 minutes.


The more I think about this problem, I wonder if it has to do with heat. Hear me out on this, I'm a scientist:

When you first pickup the guitar, it's cold and everything's fine. But you rest your hand on the bridge while playing, so over time the bridge (and bridge pickup) heats up. The metal (some metal, somewhere, maybe the pickup windings or solder joint or something) expands, shorting the circuit. Then you stop playing, poke around a bit, measure it with the meter, and everything's back to normal. Because it's now cooled off and contracted a bit, unshorting the circuit.

I certainly wouldn't stake any money on this theory, but it's a possibility. Even the tiniest expansion could be enough to make or break an electrical connection.

As much as I think it's a silly practice, testing this theory may be one valid reason to take a hair dryer to your guitar pickups.


I got the cap from StewMac in the mail. Figured I'd redo all the wiring again, switch too, when I installed it.

But I had left the controls opened up from a week or so ago when it last faded out on me and when I plugged it in to test it before I got started the bridge pickup was working again. So I took some additional multimeter readings and noticed that when I touched one of the leads to the cloth covered part of one of the bridge pickup wires (the lighter colored one) it gave a reading. Hmmm. I carefully (more carefully than usual) pushed the wires back into the cavity, trying to be sure the wires were as far from the one that gave a reading as possible.

That fixed it.

I don't know why.

I have played it for 3-4 hours and can't get it to fade out again after it doing the fade thing every time for 2+ years.

Juju cured?

As I was beginning to think this--just to keep the universe balanced--my Weber attenuator blew its treble compensator cap in a pop and smoke as I was playing the tele through my dimmed Marshall SLP 1959HW.

Juju transference?


Wow! What did you do to anger the spirits?


You need a crash course on spiritism!

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