Upgrading the De Gruchy

I have decided to upgrade to old McIntyre pickup in my De Gruchy Resonator to use the latest Fishman Aura technology.

Reasons to replace the McIntyre pickup:

Reasons to change to Fishman Aura technology:

Now the move is not inexpensive, but the benefits outweigh the issues.

The first step was to find a vendor that would be able to source the technology and be able to fit it professionally. I went to most of the major and not so major shops in Melbourne to find a suitable vendor, but only came up with one shop: Guitar Gallery in Johnston Street, Fitzroy.

Reasons:

This all looked very positive, so I commissioned them to to the job. I first worked out the sourcing of the Fishman Aura technology. This comprised two parts: A special guitar pickup and the offboard processor box. The pickup is special in that it is split in two. One pickup looks after the bottom three strings and the other the top three strings. This is so because there needs to be a way to reach to screw that adjusts the cone tension which is located on the spider in the bridge slot.
I confirmed that they had the pickup. They didn't have the box and would have to order that in. No problems.
I happened to be down for a slide guitar session at the shop and dropped off the De Gruchy and expected things to move reasonably quickly. This is where things started to fall apart.

Firstly there seemed to be a disconnect between the owner and the salesperson. The salesperson and I had determined that they had the pickup in the store, which I physically saw. I was of the view that they would fit the pickup as soon as they could. Several weeks later I again happened to be close by so I dropped in and asked how things were going. The owner informed me that he didn't have a pickup! Huh!? I informed him that he did have a pickup and we located it. Several more weeks go by and I drop in again, since I haven't heard anything from them. The owner informed me that he wouldn't start fitting the pickup until he had the box. Really! OK, I'll just have to wait. Finally the box shows up and it's determined that the pickup is too wide for the slot in the spider, the slot will have to be widened. Somewhere around here the Luthier seems to be really offsite and is unavailable.

Many more weeks go by and the slot is widened and I finally receive the call that the guitar is ready to be picked up. I drive down and the guitar sounds good through the amplifier. I pay the bill, but am informed by the owner that since it wasn't a standard pickup fitting, he would have to charge more. I agreed and I paid the amount owing.

I played the guitar at a house warming gig and it sounded great. I did have a hum issue that disappeared when i touched the cover of the guitar cable. OK, I just need to run a wire from the female socket to the cover plate. I can handle this and proceeded to loosen the strings. This is where I discovered how incompetent a job was done on my guitar. Lets go through the list shall we. Remember, this is a professional job from a reputable company:

  1. After I loosened the strings I discovered that I couldn't remove the stings. The pickup was so high that it was nearly touching the top of the cover plate.
    I couldn't remove the strings towards the middle as the distance between the hole in the cover plate that gives access to the cone tension screw was too small to fit any string past it. I couldn't remove the string to the outsides of the pickup as they were also to close to the cover plate. The only solution was to remove the cover plate.


    Fishnman1


  2. The pickups weren't horizontal. They were lower in the middle, higher on the outside.

    Fishman2Fishman3

    Fishman4
    This is an engineering issue that was never communicated to me. The problem is that the wire leaving the pickup comprises two parts: A short, stiff section that is best left unbended so as to not damage the pickup, and, a flexible section. The stiff section is about the length of the height of the pickup. The problem is that this stiff part is constrained by the spider arms. What needed to be done was for a modification to be done to the spider arms, a filing, to make room for the stiff section of wire, then the pickups would be flat and horizontal.

  3. The base of the pickups were not flat. Whoever did the job marked with a pencil the desired height of the pickup I'm assuming based on the height of the original bridge. This height was never achieved and in fact the effort was abandoned.

  4. The wire running from the pickup was strapped to one of the spider arms with cable ties. In principle just fine, but the wire was strapped to the top of the arm resulting in contact with the cover plate. Not good at all.

How can a professional shop have any credibility at all when the job was clearly abandoned by whoever did the job and not inform the client of the situation? Now keep in mind this job lasted two months from start to finish!

The only thing they got right was to widen the slot in the spider to accomodate the pickups.

The Solution

What I did was to take the guitar to a nearly local luthier who has done good work for me in the past, and have him rectify the issues.