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Saransk

Issue with Masterbuilt Zenith pickup

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The piezo element of the Shadow pickup in the bridge of my Masterbuilt Zenith archtop has failed.

Didn't expect it to be a warrantee repair but when I tried to find out how to order a replacement, and the part number (I've had to have a local dealer actually order a part before), I was told the parts are only available for warantee repairs.  And that is only good for 5 years.  I was told "You may be able to have a different comparable system installed by a tech in your area."

Shadow USA wasn't helpful - and the website did not have a pre-amp that matched the Zenith's and the only piezo that looked like mine wasn't a Nanoflex, it was a SH-099 piezo element.  

Has anyone else had to repair/replace their pickup and/or preamp?  If so, what did you do.

Right now I've got a L. R. Baggs T-Bridge installed - sounds nice - but I would have like to just gotten a replacement for the original.

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My Zenith’s pickup stopped working about three months  into having the guitar.  The external nut holding the pickup in kept getting loose from vibration and I kept turning the but, which kept slightly kept slightly moving the pickup mechanism inside the guitar because a small piece of the plastic casing holding the pickup in place had broken off, causing the pickup to move whenever the but loosened and was retightened, which eventually broke one of the pickup’s soldered connections.  I took the cover holding the pickup off and saw the broken wire connection and simply resoldered the connection, and carefully Gorilla glued the pickup back to its base. (at risk of voiding the pickup’s warrantee) and  retightened the external nut.  But, then I realized the nut would probably eventually vibrate loose again, so I took the nut back off and put crazy glue on the back of the nut before I retightened it, so the nut wouldn’t vibrate loose.  (Knowing that would also make the nut harder to ever take off if I needed to again, nut figured I could hand break its seal with a wrench turn if ever I really needed to do so.  Three years later, the pickup is still working fine and the nut never loosens.

Just my experience.

QM aka “ Jazzman” Jeff

 

 

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I didn't have any issue with the pre-amp/battery section, it was the piezo that had an issue.  There was a loss in constant signal, like a dead spot.

The pickup is not the standard Nanoflex pickup, which has a long flexible sensing section, it is closer to the Shadow SH 980 Archtop Bridge with integral pickup which has a more traditional hard undersaddle element with a lead out -  See photo.

While I was able to make sure the original preamp worked - I had a Shadow SH980 bridge - It didn't like it as well as the original Epiphone bridge.  A traditional undersaddle piezo won't work as the saddle slot is shorter than the usual acoustic saddle.  An actual Nanoflex won't work as it has to have a very specific mounting setup without the hard bend out of the bridge.

My biggest issue is that Gibson/Epiphone won't sell the replacement part for the guitar - I would have bought the whole bridge if needed.  I've had a 1960's Martin worked on by Martin who matched a broken piece of binding.  Fender may not have a lot of vintage parts, but they will send information and their custom shop will help with vintage and older instruments.  Yet Gibson/Epiphone is quite willing to abandon owners, especially those who have purchased Epiphone products.  I can understand a limited warrantee (5 years) on the electronics, but to refuse to sell replacement parts, or provide an equivalent from Shadow, is about as bad as customer support/relations can get.

The T-Bridge, like a "Ghost" tune-omatic, or Fishman TOM bridge has individual string pickups.  While summed right now, this allows connection to a hex system with the usual 13-pin output or the use of individual output adjustments per string like high-end Ovation guitars have had.  Unfortunately, L.R. Baggs stopped selling a version of this pickup that was made to replace the bridge saddle in an acoustic bridge - that would have been perfect, but the TOM still sounds great on the Zenith.

B001J70L8O.jpg

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Modern day Epiphones are outsourced to overseas and are Gibson’s budget line.  They can’t really be compared to Martins in terms of service and quality the same way Gibson’s can be.  When Epiphone’s were made in Gibson’s handmade US facilities circa 1957-1969, they were on par with one another and also cost similar, although Epiphones was usually a few dollars less just for the sake of Gibsons bring the lead product of the company.  That all changed in 1970 when Epis became economy models or starter guitars made overseas without comparable quality or service ir craftsmanship or full warrantees...all measures that kept prices down.  But, none the less for the money, they are still pretty good guitars.   To make them better, many buy aftermarket parts to improve them although many stick to original parts provided they are still functioning.

I can understand you’re being upset though,  But, the saying that one gets what they pay for is unfortunately still alive and well.  Martins and Gibson’s get better hands on service and quality than their budget line models to hold down costs.  I suspect the same occurred on Martin’s budget line, outsourced brand Sigma when it existed.  And, I suspect the same holds true for Fender’s budget line, Squier.   Although, all in all Epiphone quality and models far exceeds either Martin’s old budget line, Sigma or Fender’s budget line, Squier.   

Budget lines are budget lines for a reason to keep costs low and sadly limitations on warrantees specifics sometimes is how companies keep budget lines in business so the masses can still get a pretty good instrument in their hands, but without all the perks of a higher priced professional level brand.

Figure this will trigger some discussion, but it kinda is what it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I very much like some modern day Epiphones,  including the EL-00 that I own (one of my favorite guitars and the Olympic because of its pure joy of being an acoustic archtop like the original N.Y. Epiphone Company made.  But, the original NY Epiphone Company’s acoustic archtops were all handmade in the US wile the modern ones are mass made overseas with cost cutting features to make them affordable to the masses.  A custom shop acoustic archtop handmade in Gibson’s US plant would likely cost at least 10 times the price of the mass made Epiphone overseas model.  Of course, those would come with full warrantees I would think, and old school high level craftsmanship and parts.   Course, hardly anyone would buy one as there is a very limited market for such a costly archtop.  

 

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

 

 

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Sorry about the delay in responding but I thought your response not only missed the point but was more than a little condescending.

I wasn't saying that I expected an Epiphone to have the same quality (although Gibson's quality is still not what it once was) as a Gibson or Martin, but to simply abandon a product after a waranty period is over is unconscionable, especially if it was still in production.  If you want to compare closer apples to apples, even out of waranty I can get a PRS SE model guitar serviced, get replacement parts, and such from PRS without any problem.  PRS is a company that respects the musicians who purchase their guitars, whether a custom PRS for 5 figures or your basic SE model.

What I am most upset about is that I can't even buy, for my own money, replacement parts for Epiphone guitars.  I had to have my local guitar shop order a replacement pickguard for my Joe Pass Emperor, and Gibson wouldn't even tell me the price.  To not even have the option of ordering a correct replacement pickup, even if I had to order the whole bridge assembly, for a guitar that is still in production, then refuse to tell me what Shadow part would be equivalent, and then basically tell me "not to let the door hit your backside on the way out" shows the contempt that Gibson/Epiphone has towards its buyers.  The mark of a great company is not how well it treats those who purchase its most expensive or limited edition products, but how it treats those who purchase its entry level products.  And Gibson/Epiphone treats those entry-level customers with contempt.  They know, no matter who poor their customer service is, they will still sell several hundred Les Paul guitars, for inflated prices, totally based upon the level of workmanship of 60 years ago.

The bottom line is that I made a simple request - to purchase a replacement pickup for my Epiphone guitar.  I was prepared to have to order it through a dealer and I certainly was prepared to pay for it.  I suspect I would have paid to have it installed (unplug from the preamp, cable fished out through the top, reverse steps, restring) if necessary.  But to be told that I can't even purchase the part, or get it repaired for cost, is ridiculous and insulting.  I suspect that if I was a "featured" artist and my signature guitar broke, I could get the part I needed.

Michael Baker - Saransk

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Sounds like you’re barking up the wrong tree.  I simply responded to your posts as a fellow Epiphone owner.  I suggest you consider writing a letter directly to Epiphone’s Customer Service or to their management with your concerns about their product or service.  Just a suggestion.  Or, be working through an authorized Epiphone factory repairperson.   They are the ones who repair their products in coordination with their original equipment specs or comparable replacement parts.  Epiphone Customer Service should be able to steer you to an authorized Epiphone repairperson in your area or, if not, where to send it to for an authorized factory repair.  Just a suggestion.  That’s what I’d do.  Hope this helps.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by QuestionMark

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