Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

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GraemeC
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Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:36 pm

Yamaha LLX36c.png
I am the lucky owner of one of the very few of these beautiful Japanese hand-built guitars. In fact it's the one Steve Lukather played in-store in a YouTube Video.

Having not played it for a few months, I plugged it in a couple of days ago as I was getting ready for a gig I intended to use it for. But instead of the pretty, full, rich, detailed sound I am used to, I got a disgusting, very loud growl. Just touching the saddle produced this same ugly noise.

I changed the battery with a few others I have, all of which tested fine and worked fine in my Faith Saturn. No change.

Suggestions as to what it could be? Is the undersaddle pup failing? Or the preamp?

Thanks!
Yamaha LLX36C Acoustic, Yamaha RGX520FZ, Yamaha Silent Guitar Nylon, Yamaha FG730S Acoustic, various Fender Strats and strat partscasters, PRS Santana, Ibanez Art420 Ham, Squier JB Bass, Ibanez Peter Iwers 5 str Bass, Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth, Faith Saturn Acoustic, Cubase Pro + NI Komplete...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by Saul » Sat Jul 28, 2018 5:28 pm

I take it you checked the contacts in the battery holder for corrosion? Could be the full voltage is not getting through.

Could also be the preamp or more precisely leaking caps in there somewhere. It's all a process of elimination.
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:02 pm

Thanks Saul, I shall check those two things out today. I might have a spare pre-amp of a different brand to cross test that with too.
Yamaha LLX36C Acoustic, Yamaha RGX520FZ, Yamaha Silent Guitar Nylon, Yamaha FG730S Acoustic, various Fender Strats and strat partscasters, PRS Santana, Ibanez Art420 Ham, Squier JB Bass, Ibanez Peter Iwers 5 str Bass, Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth, Faith Saturn Acoustic, Cubase Pro + NI Komplete...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Sun Jul 29, 2018 9:46 pm

Hi Saul. Checked out the battery connections. All good. Can't see how to get the preamp/control module out - its the system 60 unit. Couldn't find much info online on that unit. Probably best if I get it to the service centre wouldn't you say?

I did find that if I turn the mids to 0 its quiet - completely. If I turn the bass and treble to 0 its as bad as ever. It responds to the volume control too.

I'm in Hemel so I could probably drive up to Milton Keynes if there is a service centre there. Suggestions?
Yamaha LLX36C Acoustic, Yamaha RGX520FZ, Yamaha Silent Guitar Nylon, Yamaha FG730S Acoustic, various Fender Strats and strat partscasters, PRS Santana, Ibanez Art420 Ham, Squier JB Bass, Ibanez Peter Iwers 5 str Bass, Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth, Faith Saturn Acoustic, Cubase Pro + NI Komplete...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:21 pm

Update: Managed to remove the preamp unit from the guitar. Tested it with alternative pickups which confirmed that the fault is onboard.

Got in touch with the "right person" at Yamaha UK which took some doing, who then gave me Sontec's number. They are the UK providers of spares it would seem. I finally established through them that I can get a main board for the preamp via them, from Japan. But it will take about 8 weeks and cost me £124! Or was that for the whole preamp? I'm waiting to find that out.

Looking at the board itself, with the possibility of repairing it in mind, it is all surface mount components and there is no obvious burning or indications of failure. So I would have no idea of how to fix it. My experience is with more traditional electronic components.

I have a service manual from Yamaha but it does not include circuit diagrams.

Frustrating. The guitar is only 5 or so years old. Just out of warranty.
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by Mimasu » Thu Aug 23, 2018 9:08 pm

GraemeC wrote:
Thu Aug 23, 2018 6:21 pm
Got in touch with the "right person" at Yamaha UK which took some doing, who then gave me Sontec's number. They are the UK providers of spares it would seem.
I know, Yamaha customer service is considered far from good. I lot of people on the EU mainland contact Yamaha UK if they have an issue. Yamaha UK seems on of the better on the service thing.

I sometimes get emails from people thinking I'm a part of Yamaha or so (must be becourse of the name of my website). Mostly they complain on getting no answers at all on their attemps to get in touch with Yamaha :? .

Anyway, I hope your repair works out.

Leon
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Fri Aug 24, 2018 1:55 pm

Thanks Mimasu. I shall update when there is news...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:23 pm

Update:Sontec advise that each of the preamp boards will cost me £124. A complete preamp assembly is not available and they have ceased manufacturing them. There appears to be no updated substitute. Plus, the repair process of the boards is simply to replace them. Added to a £48 cost to diagnose which board is faulty. On a guitar that is only 5 years old. The warranty was 2 years. Replacement boards will take 6 - 8 weeks to get hold of. And they can't get me a schematic and circuit diagram.

Either I fork up the cash for this, and risk it going faulty in another 4 years time, or I try to work out an alternative...

Other brand's electrics seem to last two decades or more...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by Mimasu » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:02 pm

That sucks!

Spare parts, Yamaha, and Europe, is a very bad combination. You could try to find a "Japanese entry". Just contact a few Japanese high end Yamaha dealers and perhaps they can help you better.

They were offering these system 60's on much cheaper guitars like the LLX16. I can't imagine a new complete system would have cost more then a few hundered pounds. Perhaps you can find a complete new system.

Or just be very, very patient. I had a problem with the preamp of my APX8D. Waited for about a year but then one came by on ebay.

When you lost confidence in the Yamaha electronis you could consider building in a new system. If you don't want to slaugher your LLX36 you could think of a K&K mini with outboard preamp (or even no preamp). Don't know if the K&K sounds as good as the system 60. If you want I could compare the two, as you know I have a LLS26, and I have a K&K equipped 1981 L15A. Will take me a week or two though, I'm almost off on vacation.

Leon
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by GraemeC » Thu Sep 06, 2018 9:36 am

Hi Leon. Thanks for your input and empathy! What do you think of the Fishman Ellipse Aura? Been looking at the possibility of using one of them. I see Don Alder has a LLX36C but he has a soundhole pup in it. Hmmm. Wonder why?

It would mean that the existing knobs become useless decorations. But I cant see something that would use the existing holes. Other than a custom made preamp...
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Re: Yamaha LLX36C pickup issue

Unread post by Mimasu » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:58 pm

Put something in that you can take out again, and keep watching for a replacement system 60.

Don't know if you have an audio electronic nerd in the neighbourhood but building a custom preamp perhaps isn't a bad idea. The 3 middle knobs only pan the 3 pu's in or out. Only issue there is to have the right input impedance (I think very high impedance but I'm not completely sure). The other knob is only a master volume. The right nerd perhaps manages to use the pots that are in the present preamp. Used to do these things when I was young but the skills are gone I'm afraid.

Don't know the eclipse aura, I think it uses a under saddle PU that would mean you have to ruin the present saddle (not a big issue though).

As I'm writing this another idea comes to mind. Not completely sure and can't check with my own LSX26 (i'm on holidays in Barcelona :D ) but I think the 3 pu's are connected to the preamp with 3 simple mini jack plugs. Just make a mini 9 V powered 3 channel mixer with these mini jacks as input, one master volume,
using preset pot's, dail in your prefered settings once, and set to go.

Leon
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