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Hi, first time poster!  I have googled around and searched the forum to see if I could find some answers to this question but I've not been able to locate any.  Help very much appreciated!

I've just finished building my first guitar (Tele copy from premade neck and premade unfinished body) and it looks great and plays lovely!  However, I can't get any signal from the bridge pick up.  I've looked at several possible issued/solutions but can't figure it out.  I'd be very grateful for any advice, as I've not been able to identify any solutions anywhere online and I'm a bit stumped at this point.

I'll do it in bullet points for easier reading:

  • pickups are Fender Vintage Noiseless single coils, new out of the box;
  • neck pickup works absolutely fine and sounds great;
  • I raised the bridge pickup until almost touching the strings and it barely made a sound then;
  • if I touch the joint where bridge pickup wire joins the switch with a piece of metal it makes the same sound as if I do this for the neck pickup wire join;
  • if I tap the metal part of the bridge pickup with a metal object you hear this through the amp (possibly not as loud as if I do this with the neck pickup;
  • I have not added an additional ground wire from the pickup to the bridge or control panel.  There is a ground wire from the pickup, same as from the neck and I thought this would be sufficient.  I believe (and I could be wrong) that all this would do is reduce hum;
  • I also have not yet shielded the cavity, although again I believe this would only serve to reduce hum;
  • when I got a weak signal from the pickup (sounding very metallic / tinny) I looked again at the wiring and saw a point where I had burned the wire casing (although exposed wire inside looked fine).  In case this had damaged the wire I cut it back to this point and resoldered but then there was no signal coming through at all.

I think this has covered everything, I do have a couple of photos should you want to see them but it's a little chaotic! (First job, and soldering iron is probably a bit too big).  If the neck pickup works fine then I assume the problem has to be somewhere between the point in the switch it joins and the pickup itself.  Potentially a bad solder join, but I've redone the joint several times already without success.

Thanks in advance for your help, and I've enjoyed looking around at some of the guitars built in here!  I may post my first effort once I've got the pickups resolved (I'm waiting to get this done before I screw a few last things down).

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The first thing I would do is to check the DCR of the pickup; the resistance of the coil (or coils) to check for anything out of place. I've not worked with Fender noiseless pickups before, however the biggest suspect is the soldering iron slipup. That might have caused a short or break mid-coil. Testing the pickup in isolation is the best way to separate out any potential issues and identify whether it's the circuit or the pickup.

Welcome onboard by the way! I'm sure this will only be a temporary conundrum.

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Thanks Prostheta for your advice!  I assume I'll need some equipment to test that, I'll see if I can find anyone to borrow it from.  If I have caused a short or a break in the coil would I need to replace the pickup?

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A multimeter that measures resistance is good enough. It depends on how the damage was caused and how extensive it is. If there are say, 3-4 broken strands you might be able to carefully pick them out and unwind them one by one around the coil. The loose ones will come out and you should be left with the two remaining ends. They can be soldered and sealed with a bit of nail varnish, however it's worth checking the coil resistance from any breaks through to the pickup wires to ensure that you're not missing any other shorts or breaks. Delicate stuff, and not 100% guaranteed to revive the pickup. Still, you can't break it any more right? Just check that it is broken first before going down that road.

Got photos? It's difficult to advise anything when it is purely theoretical.

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I have not added an additional ground wire from the pickup to the bridge or control panel.  There is a ground wire from the pickup, same as from the neck and I thought this would be sufficient.  I believe (and I could be wrong) that all this would do is reduce hum;

Needs some more clarification here - are both ground wires from both pickups connected to ground or only the neck one?

If the ground wire from the bridge pickup is not connected the electrical circuit from that pickup is incomplete. No ground = no sound.

Pickup windings could be damaged, but unlikely if they're new out of the box. I assume that they came supplied with leads of their own and you didn't have to solder anything to the pickup frames themselves.

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Hey thank you for your help! I'll give new details here, sorry for not including, this is all uncharted territory for me so I'm not sure what is useful to include.

Ground wires from both pickups were connected to the volume pot as per the wiring diagrams I was following. I've seen some diagrams require an additional ground wire from the bridge pick up to be added. Not sure if this is something I need to do. (Bridge pickup plate appears to be plastic).

I did find that I'd got confused between ground wires at some point and soldered the ground wire from the bridge pickup to the tone pot and missed out a wire to properly connect the volume pot. Could this error have shorted something potentially?

I have now got a multimeter and have tested the pickup. There is no signal when I connect it to the ends of the live and ground wires. Testing each wire individually shows they are fine. If I test in the contact point of the pickups I'm also not getting anything. Would this show potential shorts in the pickup itself?

I can post photos of any part of the pickup or wiring as requested, just need to know what would be useful.

Thanks again for your help, it's been really useful!

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No signal....are you using the resistance setting  ( Ohms/Ω )? The coil is made of a long length of resistive wire, which over the course of several thousand turns has a resistance (measured in Ohms) of several kiloOhms. A sign of a fault in the coil is an especially low resistance in the coil (they're supposed to be about 9,8kOhms according to Google, "fender noiseless pickup resistance") or a complete open or short circuit. A short circuit will read as zero Ohms whilst an open circuit will top out the meter with no apparent reading being taken.

Does that help?

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Ground wires from both pickups were connected to the volume pot as per the wiring diagrams I was following. I've seen some diagrams require an additional ground wire from the bridge pick up to be added. Not sure if this is something I need to do. (Bridge pickup plate appears to be plastic).

The extra ground wire you mention is used to minimise any hums and buzzes. The wire attaches to the bridge and forms a conductive path to the strings via the saddles, so that when you touch the strings any residual noise is reduced. Sometimes this wire is direct from the bridge to the main ground location in the guitar (90% of the time, the back of the volume pot). Other times it is just to the nearest ground location, which in a Telecaster is usually the bridge pickup. For quiet operation the bridge should be grounded somehow, somewhere.

 

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I did find that I'd got confused between ground wires at some point and soldered the ground wire from the bridge pickup to the tone pot and missed out a wire to properly connect the volume pot. Could this error have shorted something potentially?

Not a short, but from your description it does sound like the bridge pickup has been grounded via the tone pot, which is fine in and of itself, but then the tone pot has not been grounded to anything else. The net effect is that the bridge pickup is still ungrounded (and the tone pot probably doesn't work either) and no sound from this pickup is possible.

I assume that the middle position on the switch just gives the neck pickup only? This would indicate that the problem is an open circuit (ie, disconnected) bridge pickup rather than a short circuit.

Post some pics of your setup - inside the control cavity, back of the pots, pickup wiring. As long as it's nice and clear it should help get things unravelled.

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Look over the shield to see if there are any breaks or kinks.  Something that I ran into when I was replacing pickups with vintage noiseless is that the wire that connects the two coils runs over the edge of the two coils and can become broken easily. 

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