Back to maintenance… An old guitar is like an old car, unless you take care of them, they will fall apart. This particular guitar, my old Ibanez RG550, is from 1991. It’s pretty much all original, except for the pickups. The switch has been problematic for quiet some time now, but I’ve managed to postpone this little restoration project for while now.
In this little miniguide (3 parts) I’ll be showing you how to successfully replace the switch. If you purchased an YM-50 switch it should be pretty straight forward. Just take lots of photos of everything before you start working. Some problems that might arise are the old solder connections. They have a tendency to be really hard to melt. You should never hold your soldering iron too long on the connections, since that might damage the pots.
I’ll be uploading a new part every day.
When should you replace parts like this? In this case, I should have done it a long time ago. But what if its not that big of a problem, and if its not a constant issue?
My advice is, just do it. Just replace it or at least try to figure out what what the problem is. You will save yourself so much frustration and the problem usually gets worse if you ignore it. Then one day you’re standing on stage and your input jack is completely dead. And of course, do it yourself! You will learn so much more about your instrument and save A LOT of money. This particular thing would probably have cost be at least $100 if I went to my closest music store.
Tools I used:
- Soldering Station
- Allen wrench
- Safety goggles (important)
- Tin (for soldering)
- Wire cutters
If you read my previous guide you already know the most basic things, like removing your strings and setting up the bridge. If you don’t, please follow this link. I won’t cover things like that in this guide.
Taking care of your Floyd Rose guitar Part 1: Overview
Set up your guitar so it’s easy to work with. Have your tools nearby and make sure everything is correctly set up. Don’t turn on your soldering station until it’s time to use it etc.
Remove the screw from the pick guard. Make sure you don’t remove the wrong screws (pickup, switch etc). Remember to take it easy and be careful. Especially if you’re working with an older instrument. Things easily snap, and wires easy break if they are old. If you’re a newbie it can be very frustrating to identify where wires are suppose to go.
Identifying the issue
Lift up the pick guard carefully, do not pull or twist anything. Try to figure out how to lift it in the most gentle way, then just lay it down up side down, like in the picture. Identify the switch and take several picture of the current soldering scheme. Do it from several angels as the numbers may differ on the switches.
Check out the next part where I’ll be covering the soldering!
This post was written when I had the flu and has not been edited yet… 🙁
Time to solder!
Like I always say, there’s no perfect way to do it. This is the second switch replacement I’ve done and I’ve done it the same way both of the times. It’s very straight forward and should not take more than 30 min.
If you’re new to soldering, look up a specific guide for that. You’re dealing with extreme heat and should be extremely careful. Wear safety goggles to save yourself from any splashes and make sure you place your soldering iron on a non-flammable surface (or in the sheath) every time you put it down.
Getting in to it
So basically what you do is; take several pictures in case anything breaks, like a backup. Unscrew the old switch, but don’t remove the tin yet.
Take your new switch and just screw it in place, with your old switch just hanging in the air (see picture below this one if it’s unclear). This makes it super easy to see where each connection should go. Remember to double check everything the switch is facing the correct way etc.
With your new switch in place, simply unsolder the connections one at a time on the old switch, and put the wire on the new switch.
Repeat this until all the connections have been transferred. Make sure to not rush it and avoid making poor connections. If you feel a connection is just barely up to par, warm it up and re-attach it. There’s nothing worse than a wire breaking after a week.
Once you’re done, plug in an instrument cabel and test the switch. You can simply tap the pickups with your finger to ensure there’s sound.
Enjoy your new switch!