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eSonic2 problem on AJ-500RE

#1 User is offline   thepicnicband 

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 03:05 PM

I've had an Epiphone AJ-500RE for almost a month now and have had it well set up in that time. I'm impressed with the build quality of the guitar itself as well as with the tone. It's a lovely guitar. There seems to be a problem with the eSonic2 pick-up system though. Like many on the forum, I'm getting a mains type grounding buzz at times... it seems to happen when I'm playing the bass strings very heavily and the buzz just cuts in. Sometimes it just goes away quickly and at other times it stays. When it stays it goes away temporarily when I touch the strings so it would seem to be some kind of grounding problem. So far I've just used the middle end-pin jack that should be providing the blended signal. Even when there is no buzz, there is such a low signal from the Mag pick-up and it's hard to blend the two together successfully. If I slide the blend right over to the Mag pick-up there is very little signal then I only have to slide it over towards the other side a little and the bridge pick-up comes in very loudly and I can hardly hear the Mag pick-up.

I've read quite a few posts from people with similar eSonic2 issues on here but have still not found anyone who has posted a definitive course of action that has resolved the issue. Do I have a faulty pre-amp? Should I be getting in contact with Gibson/Epiphone or should I go straight to Shadow? I know that several people have resolved the issue by fitting another pick-up system but should I really be fitting a new pick-up system to a brand new guitar that should be working out of the box?

It's a frustrating problem. I'm in the UK and bought the guitar from an on-line company in Germany. I wouldn't want to send it back to them now especially after spending £90 on a set-up that I'm very happy with. I expected more of a "Masterbilt" guitar and am pretty disappointed that the pick-up system could be so bad. It sounded like a great system when I read the glossy brochure but it just doesn't seem to work properly. Any help or suggestions appreciated. Thanks.
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#2 User is offline   Mixeasy 

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 08:17 AM

Wish I could help but, I must have the only "working" Esonic2 in existence (according to the reviews I've read here & elsewhere) on my AJ500RE. It works perfectly and sounds lovely. Posted Image
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#3 User is offline   thepicnicband 

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 01:03 AM

OK... here is what I discovered about my particular problem with the pick-up.

Someone told me to look out for the UST because that was probably where the problem was. I pressed gently down on the saddle while the guitar was plugged in and the blend slider on the pre-am was set to 100% UST. I was able to invoke bad crackle and mains-type hum just by pressing lightly on the saddle. It was no wonder that this hum occurred when I was playing the guitar hard. I had 13s on and the mechanical pressure on the saddle made by the strings was producing the same kind of pressure on the saddle. After I was alerted to the fact that the source of problem might be a badly installed UST I took off the strings and lifted the saddle up to look at the positioning of the UST. It came up through a hole in the saddle slot as usual and this hole was wide enough to make sure it was not restricted (ie a lose fit) which was good. However the hole was drilled straight down through the saddle slot at 90 degrees to the saddle instead of at a 45 degree angle. Furthermore the edge of the hole through which it came was left as a hard edge and not filed to a rounded shape where the UST lay. This meant that the UST was bent at right angles and the bend was lying on a hard edge. The combination of the UST bent at a right angle and the hard unfinished edge of the hole meant that unnecessary strain was being put on the UST.

I've made the edge smooth and re-seated the UST. It's too late to fix the right-angle of the hole to a 45 degree angle but with the edge of the hole smoothed the UST has a better chance of performing. I've not had a chance to see what the effect of this is yet (I can't test it without waking people up!) and I have to go to work soon. If the crackle and hum persists it may mean that the UST has been damaged and may need replacing.
What I've discovered however does not say a lot for the build quality of this "Masterbilt" guitar however. The two obvious build problems I found; the right angle instead of a 45 degree hole plus the fact that the edge of the hole was a hard edge are problems that could have been fixed for little or no extra cost on the part of Epiphone. Why sink the ship for a ha'peth worth of tar?
There is a further possible problem. There is a shim underneath the bone saddle which is quite unnecessary. The saddle would do better to rest on the wood of the bridge rather than on a shim because the transference of vibration from the strings to the rosewood would be cleaner.
I may need to take the guitar to a luthier and the shim taken out as well as another saddle carved - this in addition to any remaining hum problem with the pick-up.
That's all for now. I'll post any progress at a later date so that others might learn from my own experience.
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#4 User is offline   thepicnicband 

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 12:43 PM

View Postthepicnicband, on 24 November 2011 - 01:03 AM, said:

OK... here is what I discovered about my particular problem with the pick-up.

Someone told me to look out for the UST because that was probably where the problem was. I pressed gently down on the saddle while the guitar was plugged in and the blend slider on the pre-am was set to 100% UST. I was able to invoke bad crackle and mains-type hum just by pressing lightly on the saddle. It was no wonder that this hum occurred when I was playing the guitar hard. I had 13s on and the mechanical pressure on the saddle made by the strings was producing the same kind of pressure on the saddle. After I was alerted to the fact that the source of problem might be a badly installed UST I took off the strings and lifted the saddle up to look at the positioning of the UST. It came up through a hole in the saddle slot as usual and this hole was wide enough to make sure it was not restricted (ie a lose fit) which was good. However the hole was drilled straight down through the saddle slot at 90 degrees to the saddle instead of at a 45 degree angle. Furthermore the edge of the hole through which it came was left as a hard edge and not filed to a rounded shape where the UST lay. This meant that the UST was bent at right angles and the bend was lying on a hard edge. The combination of the UST bent at a right angle and the hard unfinished edge of the hole meant that unnecessary strain was being put on the UST.

I've made the edge smooth and re-seated the UST. It's too late to fix the right-angle of the hole to a 45 degree angle but with the edge of the hole smoothed the UST has a better chance of performing. I've not had a chance to see what the effect of this is yet (I can't test it without waking people up!) and I have to go to work soon. If the crackle and hum persists it may mean that the UST has been damaged and may need replacing.
What I've discovered however does not say a lot for the build quality of this "Masterbilt" guitar however. The two obvious build problems I found; the right angle instead of a 45 degree hole plus the fact that the edge of the hole was a hard edge are problems that could have been fixed for little or no extra cost on the part of Epiphone. Why sink the ship for a ha'peth worth of tar?
There is a further possible problem. There is a shim underneath the bone saddle which is quite unnecessary. The saddle would do better to rest on the wood of the bridge rather than on a shim because the transference of vibration from the strings to the rosewood would be cleaner.
I may need to take the guitar to a luthier and the shim taken out as well as another saddle carved - this in addition to any remaining hum problem with the pick-up.
That's all for now. I'll post any progress at a later date so that others might learn from my own experience.

Sorry to "hog" the thread but hopefully my experience will help others.
The result is that there is now no discernible crackle but if you listen very carefully there is an "electrical" (not mechanical) unwanted high frequency buzz on the top string. I will try re-seating the UST tomorrow making sure that the tip of it goes right into the far side of the saddle slot (the side furthest away from the saddle slot hole). I noticed that the bend at the opposite end took the tip of the UST to 1mm from the end of the UST "tunnel". I figured that the top string would get enough "coverage" but may be I was wrong and I'll move the UST to full coverage of the "tunnel" by sliding it up a bit..
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#5 User is offline   charlie brown 

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 06:20 PM

Good luck, with that. I have a good friend, that was so frustrated, by similar problems,
with his, that he finally, after 2 replacements, ripped the whole system out, and put in
an LR Baggs, sound hole pickup. No problem(s), since! He liked the sound, of the E-sonic,
but it was WAY too much trouble, for him. [unsure]

CB
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#6 User is offline   brannon67 

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 06:23 PM

Hmmmm, another bad Esonic. I rest my case.Good luck.
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#7 User is offline   dchristo 

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 02:41 PM

View Postthepicnicband, on 24 November 2011 - 12:43 PM, said:

Sorry to "hog" the thread but hopefully my experience will help others.
The result is that there is now no discernible crackle but if you listen very carefully there is an "electrical" (not mechanical) unwanted high frequency buzz on the top string. I will try re-seating the UST tomorrow making sure that the tip of it goes right into the far side of the saddle slot (the side furthest away from the saddle slot hole). I noticed that the bend at the opposite end took the tip of the UST to 1mm from the end of the UST "tunnel". I figured that the top string would get enough "coverage" but may be I was wrong and I'll move the UST to full coverage of the "tunnel" by sliding it up a bit..



do you have an update ???? is the problem fixed ???
I have a AJ 500 ME and it also has a loud ground hum
In GOD we trust

Dave
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#8 User is offline   brannon67 

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 06:14 PM

Looks like by now Epiphone would take notice of how many of us have had problems with the Esonic2 and Nano crap PU. Looks like they would either correct the problem, or stop putting that crap in their guitars.
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#9 User is offline   diverden 

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 05:32 PM

View Postbrannon67, on 09 December 2011 - 06:14 PM, said:

Looks like by now Epiphone would take notice of how many of us have had problems with the Esonic2 and Nano crap PU. Looks like they would either correct the problem, or stop putting that crap in their guitars.



They should return to the Baggs Element.

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2004 Epiphone Elitist Les Paul
2005 Fender 72 Telecaster Custom
2005 G&L ASAT Special
2006 Epiphone Masterbuilt AJ-500 ME VS
2006 Epiphone Custom Shop Ltd. Ed. 1963 J-45/VS
2009 Epiphone Lenon EJ-160
2010 Fender "Highway One" Stratocaster
2010 Fender Deluxe P Bass Special 4-String Bass
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#10 User is offline   brannon67 

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 03:42 PM

Amen, I dont have to worry about it, because I bought both my Masterbilts AJ models without electronics,and had a Baggs Element installed in both. I just feel sorry for the people who bought Masterbits with the Esonic2 and Nano, and have had trouble with it all.
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#11 User is offline   boo 

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 11:42 AM

I am very happy to share a solution to the ground hum problem the esonic2 p/u system. My AJ500ME was working fine until I stuck my hands in it to give the input jack more threads sticking out to accomodate the strap button. While I had the strings loose I removed the shim under the bridge to lower the action which was required after I eased the truss rod to correct a dip in the neck at the first five frets. With the strings back on I had a new best friend.
Then the ground hum demon appeared. Just like some have posted the hum was not there until the strings were tensioned almost to full pressure, pointing to a short in the under bridge pu. I filed the sharp bend of the entry hole, as mentioned earlier in the thread, to lessen the potential pressure on the pu wire and it seemed better but was just a different type of hum. It also was affected by touching the input jack, the bridge,touching an amp screw, and even standing or sitting on a stool. This was now a full scale war now that I had a mistress to save from true evil.
In my many mirror searches I had noticed the half twist(only overlapped once)in the wires held by the notched pegs just above the sound hole. This reminded me of twisted phone wires to prevent electromagnetic interference and I was encouraged by a friend in the marine aftermarket who just had a meeting about this very situation. I carefully removed the two wires from the pegs, just inside and above the sound hole, and twisted the braided wire gently around the larger black wire as much as allowed. Only the large black wire had to be put back in the notched peg as the wire braided line was held by the tension of the wrap. My baby is now singing without unwanted accompanyment, the hum is gone.
Sorry for the long story but surely you guys understand the need to share true bliss. I'll be calling the 8004gibson help line back to hopefully get this solution to the assembly line. The guy I talked to earlier in the week is waiting to see if replacing the shim I had removed solved the hum. I'll be happy to return the good deed they did in sending me the strap button that missed the bus. The strap button came connected to a complete input jack assembly. Gibson customer service seems more than alive and well to me.
The blended pickups do give this guitar a unique voice and I hope this fix gets out to all who are thinking they have a lemon.

Shine the light,
boo
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#12 User is offline   wildkat1 

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 01:00 PM

Dear Boo.....7 years later from your post and I have the same howl and hum on the nanoflex pup. I tried your suggestion of wrapping the wires around each other and had no change in status. I can play the guitar with the nanomag pup but surely would like to hear what this system is supposed to sound like. I emailed Shadow and they responded that the nanoflex pup is probably faulty and provided a link to purchase a new one. I contacted Epiphone as well (twice) but they never responded.....Wished I had a Baggs Element!!!
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#13 User is offline   wildkat1 

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 11:02 AM

I thought I would let you know that I fixed my hum by replacing the nanoflex pup. It sounds amazing now!!! I would still prefer a simple LR Baggs element though.....Good luck with yours!!
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#14 User is offline   Seagull 

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 01:11 PM

I just pickup a used AJ-500M with the blended system. Mine is working fine a present, being able to blend the two pickups really is a great advantage. Love the system so far, and the built in turner is nice also.

I saw a new guitar with what looks like the same setup so I guess they still offer this system?
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#15 User is offline   Leonard McCoy 

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 01:47 PM

The Shadow pickups are the pits. Sooner or later they'll just stop working properly. In my case, it was rather sooner.
2009 Gibson Les Paul Standard Ebony (Left-handed)
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"Believe me when I say that some of the most amazing music in history
was made on equipment that's not as good as what you own right now."óJol Dantzig, founder of Hamer Guitars
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