Topic: Wierd - a strange tale about an acoustic/electric guitar
A few months ago I installed an LR Baggs acoustic under-saddle pickup in one of my guitars. (Recording King ROS-16) so I could use it at open mics and also play it through my Ibanez acoustic amp when the mood hit me. Starting about a month ago the G string stopped amplifying. The guitar was staying in perfect tune but no response from the G string when amplified. I'd never had this happen before on any of the pickups I've installed over the years. I thought maybe there was a dead spot in the pickup or maybe the saddle or bridge had warped, so I removed the saddle and checked the pickup by slowly running a knife edge along it while it was plugged into the amp. I couldn't find any dead spots so I re-sanded the bottom of the saddle and checked it with a straight edge to ensure it was applying pressure equally all along the pickup. Re-installed everything but still no response from the G string. Next I removed the saddle and pickup and tried to check the bottom of the slot in the bridge and even put a small piece of foil under the saddle in the area that wasn't amplifying, thinking there might be a low spot which was keeping the saddle from applying full string pressure to the pickup. When I put it back together and checked it, the G string still wasn't amplifying.
By now I was getting frustrated so I entirely removed the whole Baggs unit (pickup, end-pin jack, tone and volume knobs) and installed a Fishman Matrix Infinity system which I had laying around. I hooked everything back up, but still no G string when amplified. I pulled out the Fishman unit and re-installed the Baggs, all the time scratching my head and trying to figure out what was going on. Next I got the idea that for some reason my amp wasn't producing a sound at the frequency of an in-tune G string so I tried another amp - still no G string response. At that point I just gave up and decided that maybe the RK was trying to tell me that she didn't want to be amplified.
A few days later I had the RK down in the den so I could strum it occasionally during timeouts/breaks of the college football games I was watching. I took a break from the games and took the RK back upstairs to my music room. Later in the evening I was back down in the den when I spotted a small screw laying on the floor. I picked it up but couldn't identify it so I laid it on an end table and forgot about it. Two days later I was playing the RK in my music room when the tuning knob for the G string fell off. I examined it and saw the screw that held it on was missing - then it hit me that the screw I had put on the end table a couple days before must have fell out of the tuner while I was playing the RK in the den. I went down to the den looking for the screw when Jen said she had been cleaning, saw the screw, didn't think it was important, and might have put it in the trash. The next day I went out to the garage and sorted through old chicken bones, banana peels, etc but couldn't find the screw. I removed one from another tuner and although I didn't have a screw/thread gauge, it looked to be about a #3 size or since RK's are made in China I thought it could be 2.5 mm. I spent the next two days going to hardware stores in town but couldn't find anyone that had a screw smaller than a #4. My local music store didn't stock anything I could use either. I found I could buy a box of 1000 for about $30 on-line but I only needed one and wasn't absolutely sure about the size anyway.
I found I could keep the knob in my pocket and just put it on long enough to tune the G string when needed but it was a pain to do it. I finally found a complete set of new Grover stay-tites for a slot-head guitar on eBay for $29 shipped so I pulled the trigger. I received an email from the company thanking me for my order but since their company was based on Long Island and a storm named "Sandy" was expected to hit the next day, it might be while before they could ship them. By this time I'm beginning to wonder what could happen next? ........... Well, the next day my wife proudly hands me the missing screw - she apparently hadn't thrown it away but had dropped in a small cup that holds pens and pencils in the kitchen. I put on the knob for the G string tuner, installed the missing screw, tuned her up and was happily strumming when on a whim I decided to plug into the amp again. This time the G string worked!!
Apparently the screw had been loosening for some time before it fell out. Somehow it affected the pick-up, but how? The string was always in tune so the tension was correct, so how in the world could it have had an effect on the pickup at the other end of the guitar? I've been an I/C (instrumentation and control)Tech and Engineer for over 40 years and have ran into some weird and unexplainable events involving, transmitters, valves, sensors, amplifiers, switches etc in industrial settings but this situation takes the cake. The good news is the RK now works well again when amplified and I now have a complete set of extra tuners which arrived yesterday. The bad news is I haven't the foggiest idea of why a screw missing from a tuner knob on an acoustic/electric guitar would affect the pickup.
Any Ideas ................... anyone?????