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Problem with my Lifeson Axcess and Gibson's Warranty Repair System


zGrooveMeister

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Sorry for the blank post. I'm kinda frustrated with the pace of getting my Lifeson LP fixed and I kind of vented in the original posting, then had second thoughts about angrily blasting Gibson in a public forum before they fully had the chance to make good on my guitar, so I deleted its contents.

 

Long story short, AL154 has a nasty ground buzz issue that has so far alluded a correct diagnosis. The Gibson authorized repair tech I took it to was having problems getting assistance from Gibson's tech folks. That, coupled with the tech going on vacation before getting to my guitar, has resulted in the guitar being in the shop for a month without being repaired, and it is still there. When I spoke to the tech yesterday, she said that she was going to ship it to Gibson. Lord knows how long they're going to take to figure this out, fix it and ship it back, and I'm already a month into this thing. So basically, I paid $4000 for a defective guitar, and it's taking forever for Gibson to make good on it, and that is very frustrating.

 

Now for for ground issue. A very loud ground buzz will begin with use of the tremolo, and once it starts it does not go away. Sometimes, if the guitar sits for a long while and is then played again the buzz will not be present, but will return with moderate tremolo use. When you touch the strings, the buzz gets worse instead of better. The buzz is way louder when the neck pickup is selected, but it is present on all settings. This problem has stumped the repair tech.

 

I haven't seen any posts where someone else has had this issue, so I'm assuming it's not a design flaw like the infamous piezo bleed. AL154 had that modification already applied when I bought it (whether it came of the production line like that, or was retro-fitted, I don't know). Interestingly, Gibson suggested applying this fix to the repair tech to fix the ground buzz issue, who then suggested it to me. Neither the repair tech nor Gibson's people bothered to check if the piezo cut pull-pot was already present before suggesting this as a fix. Go figure.

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That's frustrating for sure. I'm assuming that this happens with more than just one amp and cable? Do you use any kind of power conditioner?

 

I get a bit of noise if I let my radio packs get too close to the guitar. I assume this is a result of radio interference with the circuit board, but I have no way of testing that. Of course, the good thing about radio packs is that a ground loop is impossible.

 

I'm fortunate that my luthier, who is an independent guy who literally works out of his garage, is also an authorized Gibson service center. And he always keeps in good contact with me to let me know what is going on. Anyway, good luck. I hope it comes back more quickly than you expect.

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The repair tech was able to reproduce the problem, so it's not an issue with my setup. The tech told me that there was no ground connection to the tremolo, nor do the schematics call for one, which she thought was odd. So she wired a ground connection to it and re-soldered the entire ground bus and after playing it for a bit said she thought that had fixed it. It didn't and I had to take it back after playing it for just a few minutes.

 

Anyway, thanks for the good luck wish. Guess I could have really used it when I was picking the guitar out. On the other hand, I really like the top on this one - it has a well-defined cross-grain that resembles a woman's body!

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The repair tech was able to reproduce the problem, so it's not an issue with my setup. The tech told me that there was no ground connection to the tremolo, nor do the schematics call for one, which she thought was odd. So she wired a ground connection to it and re-soldered the entire ground bus and after playing it for a bit said she thought that had fixed it. It didn't and I had to take it back after playing it for just a few minutes.

 

Anyway, thanks for the good luck wish. Guess I could have really used it when I was picking the guitar out. On the other hand, I really like the top on this one - it has a well-defined cross-grain that resembles a woman's body!

 

Interesting. I'd probably try suggesting that they swap the circuit board next (aka the AcoustiPhonic modular pre-amp) as both the mag and piezo pickups are wired into it. http://www.graphtech.com/products.html?SubCategoryID=14

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The Lifeson came back today, much sooner than expected, and the ground issue appears to have been fixed.

 

But now, there are other issues. When the low E, A or D string is plucked or strummed, there is a very noticeable ring that continues for about a second. This is more noticeable if you are muting the strings. This does not happen with the G, B or high E strings. The harder you pluck/strum the strings, the louder and longer the ring is. I took the cover off the FR housing and muted the springs so that they could not be the cause, and it still happens. The ring is loud enough to pretty much ruin the playability of the guitar.

 

Another thing that I noticed is that there is an intermittent popping/crackling noise that is present in the signal.

 

Has anyone experienced either of these two issues with their Lifeson LP?

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Sheesh. Do you know what they did to fix the first problem? The popping and cracking sounds like a loose connection. I'm not sure what you mean by "ring" though. It would be great if you could post a clip of it.

 

I really have no idea what they did. The tech who handled the shipping and receiving said she opened it up and it looked like they re-soldered the ground bus (again?), but beyond that she said they did not include a write-up or anything indicating exactly what they did.

 

As far as the ringing, it sounds like a small piece of metal vibrating somewhere inside the tremolo, almost like a semi-muted tuning fork. The funny thing is, when I very first received the guitar, I noticed a very soft after-strum ringing by holding my ear to the side of the guitar and strumming it before I even plugged it into an amp, just to hear the sweet sound of my new guitar ASAP. I was alarmed, but then I plugged it in and I could not hear the ring through the pickups, so I didn't think any more about it. Of course, it wasn't long after that that the ground issue started. Now after getting the guitar back from that repair, the ringing is louder and you can definitely hear it through the pickups. In fact, it's loud enough now to start a feedback loop just by strumming fully muted strings. Add the mysterious will-it or won't-it do it popping/crackling noise and that funky ground issue that may or may not really be fixed, and I'd say this particular guitar came off the assembly line as a lemon, for whatever reason.

 

I can tell you that this is definitely not the experience I imagined I would be having as the owner of a brand new $4000 Gibson Les Paul, especially one with Alex Lifeson's signature on it. I was totally psyched, and now I'm totally not.

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  • 2 weeks later...

AL154 was shipped back to Gibson yesterday on an eval/replace RMA. I'll update with how everything turns out.

 

Good luck. Your experience, along with the now fixed Piezo bleed issue, makes me glad that I bought one new from an authorized dealer also so I have the warranty. This guitar has some tech that is new to Gibson and is bound to have some glitches. I'm sure the Firebird X, if they ever release it, will have even more issues. I hope you get it fixed or replaced quickly.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Add the mysterious will-it or won't-it do it popping/crackling noise and that funky ground issue that may or may not really be fixed,

GrooveMeister,

 

My Lifeson Access arrived in mid June. I started hearing an occasional popping/crackling ground type noise. It was unpredictable and didn't continue for more than a few seconds but sometimes repeated often. At first I suspected a bad cable or tube amp issue, but after changing to another amp and cable(s) I isolated it back to the guitar. I could do nothing to reproduce it and sometimes it would start right away and other times it started an hour into playing. It would even continue even after I rolled all volumes off and bypassed the Peizo.

 

I took it into the shop and tried to reproduce it for the tech but no noise that day. He decided to check the wiring inside and he found some noise that he was able to address by moving some cables away from the peizo wires and re-soldering a couple of connections. There was also a blue wire that was unused but not capped. It was just long enough to hit the area where the two 1/4" cable jacks lie. He caped that cable too. I've been playing now for a couple of weeks without issue but I heard a ground noise the other day and instantly thought it was the guitar. After further investigation my wireless cable wasn't screwed into the transmitter tightly and since tightening that I haven't had any noise. I am a little concerned since I was never able to reproduce the noise, but I've been enjoying the guitar without issue for a couple of weeks now.

 

I was wondering if you had an update from Gibson about your issue specifically anything related to the mysterious popping/crackling noise?

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GrooveMeister,

 

My Lifeson Access arrived in mid June. I started hearing an occasional popping/crackling ground type noise. It was unpredictable and didn't continue for more than a few seconds but sometimes repeated often. At first I suspected a bad cable or tube amp issue, but after changing to another amp and cable(s) I isolated it back to the guitar. I could do nothing to reproduce it and sometimes it would start right away and other times it started an hour into playing. It would even continue even after I rolled all volumes off and bypassed the Peizo.

 

I took it into the shop and tried to reproduce it for the tech but no noise that day. He decided to check the wiring inside and he found some noise that he was able to address by moving some cables away from the peizo wires and re-soldering a couple of connections. There was also a blue wire that was unused but not capped. It was just long enough to hit the area where the two 1/4" cable jacks lie. He caped that cable too. I've been playing now for a couple of weeks without issue but I heard a ground noise the other day and instantly thought it was the guitar. After further investigation my wireless cable wasn't screwed into the transmitter tightly and since tightening that I haven't had any noise. I am a little concerned since I was never able to reproduce the noise, but I've been enjoying the guitar without issue for a couple of weeks now.

 

I was wondering if you had an update from Gibson about your issue specifically anything related to the mysterious popping/crackling noise?

 

 

The latest I heard is that Gibson is saying they can't find anything wrong with the guitar, which I don't understand. The people I bought it from said they are lobbying Gibson for a replacement anyway. That was last week.

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  • 1 month later...

Well it's been over a month since my last entry, and I still do not have a guitar.

 

I am beginning to contemplate legal action.

 

I really feel for you. My last Gibson was the Al-355 that had numerous problems. That was in 2008, I vowed

I would never buy another Gibson and have kept to my word. Some have had good experiences with customer service,

and I am not one of them. My guitar had the wrong trem arm, they said they knew nothing about it, then they were going

to replace when others complained, yet I had to send the whole guitar back for a $15.00 part? Really, I just bought the

part and tossed it on. They have a lifetime warranty that covers defects in manufaturing , yet only one year on electronics.

That is what worries me with the axcess. That is a guitar that almost made me break my word and buy another gibson.

After stopping by the forums here and there I am glad I stayed away. I have a $3800.00 guitar with binding falling off one side

of the neck , loose frets , along with other problems which could be covered under warranty , but the finish problems are not part of the warranty,it has barely been played and sits in the closet as I don't even want to be reminded of how poorly a company treated me.

The problem with the neck was being looked into ,after three months, just long enough to make it so you could not send it back

they said the neck was indeed correct and that it is the "way the artist approved" of it. I am glad some like the incorrectly constructed neck ,

I am not one of them. So some of the owners were "hey if it's good enough

for AL it's good enough for me", I say if it is wrong it is wrong , please just make it right,that's all I asked for ,I would not settle

for something that was incorrect.

They want people to send forms into the DEA to complain for them about the

raids in the factories from what is looking more and more like illegally outsourced woods. They have much more to worry about

then just someones guitar in my opinion, and that is unfortunate.

Sure there was a time when I was angry about the way they treated me and the issues with the guitar, but I am over it.

I don't buy Gibsons. I get great service and gear from other makers and real life luthiers.

I just feel for the ones who still buy the gibson name when there is poor quality control and even worse , poor customer support/service.

I had a real Luthier build me a guitar and have never been happier. If I even have a question they are there with an answer or

a solution. Yes, I am picky. Should'nt I be?

Gibson be real, treat others as you would want to be treated. Last I checked with the BBB gibon had a C- rating, that comes from

a variety of sources, not just a few people who put in complaints. How many musicians take the time to file a complaint with the BBB.

I do hope you get your guitar fixed correctly. I just cringed when I saw you are still hanging in there not knowing what

is going on, it brought me back to may of '08 , and I never want to go back there again.

Truely, Best to you .

/cheers

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I finally got my guitar! Seems that Gibson shipped it to the music store I first took it to back in June for repair instead of to me, and for whatever reason nobody bothered to contact me. So there it had been sitting for the last 4 weeks.

 

But it ain't no never mind now, 'cause I GOT IT!

 

Say hello to AL499:

 

DSCF0254.JPG

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Everything seems to be working fine with AL499. The final of diagnoses of AL154 was "Electronics Structural Defect", which probably means it had a defective Ghost tremolo, as that is where the ringing sound seemed to come from, and was also the source of the original ground issue that was "fixed" by soldering a ground to it, which was inconsistent with the schematic diagram.

 

I would like to note that Gibson did, in fact, turn this around quickly once I sent it back on the eval/replace RMA, but there was some confusion as to who to ship the replacement to. I place the blame for the 4 week delay squarely on the music store it was shipped to, who apparently just didn't give enough of a crap about their reputation to give me a call when it arrived. I think they kind of had a bad attitude from the get-go, because I brought in a guitar (actually 2 guitars) for warranty repair that I had purchased over the Internet instead of from their store. They really copped a bad attitude when all the problems started. They refused to handle the eval/replace RMA shipment, and told me they would have nothing more to do with my guitar after their repair tech failed to correctly diagnose the problem and either fix it or have it fixed by Gibson.

 

And as cool as the poster is, the movie is much better!

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One thing that I'm not too thrilled about with AL499 is the finger board. It is very light colored and grainy compared to AL154. You can clearly see this in the photo if you compare it to the other guitars in the background. Given the timing, I think it is possible that Gibson was forced to use finger board stock that was less desirable than what they would have normally used, as I believe this guitar came off the production line shortly after the Fed's raid.

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Ok, I've had AL499 for a few days now, and I can report that I am absolutely falling in love with it! Turns out it was totally worth all the frustration and delays that I went through with AL154. I used a little Fast-Fret on the finger board and it looks great! Can't wait to see what it looks like after a Dunlop deep treatment. I actually like the grain in it now.

 

AL499 sounds and plays like the $4000 wet dream I was looking forward to back in May. My faith in Gibson has been brought back from the dead, and I now feel a little more confident in my next planned acquisition:

 

DV016_Jpg_Large_H71161.001_heritage_cherry.jpg

 

http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/SG/Gibson-USA/50th-Anniversary-SG-12-String.aspx

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One final irk. Check out the finish flaw under the Floyd Rose tail:

 

DSCF0272.JPG

 

That's right - there is a spot where there is NO nitrocellulose! It doesn't really show under normal circumstances so I'm not sending it back for that, but how the hell does this pass a visual QA check? This kind of flaw should not be present on a $4000 guitar under any circumstances. Unfortunately, it seems this level of quality has pretty much become the norm for "Made In America". My Schecter was made in Korea, and it runs circles around this Les Paul in the quality department, at least finish-wise.

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One final irk. Check out the finish flaw under the Floyd Rose tail:

 

DSCF0272.JPG

 

That's right - there is a spot where there is NO nitrocellulose! It doesn't really show under normal circumstances so I'm not sending it back for that, but how the hell does this pass a visual QA check? This kind of flaw should not be present on a $4000 guitar under any circumstances. Unfortunately, it seems this level of quality has pretty much become the norm for "Made In America". My Schecter was made in Korea, and it runs circles around this Les Paul in the quality department, at least finish-wise.

 

Are you sure that's not buffing compound residue? I had some of that in the corners of the area routed out for the Floyd. A little solvent and a cue tip and it came right off and looked perfect.

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