New Thunder 1A (new to me)

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New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:15 am

Sad story:

25 years ago when I was nowt but a lad, I saved up all my pennies to buy a Westone Spectrum GT that I saw in a local music shop. Took me months and the guys in the shop even kept it aside for me. Three days after I bought it, my parent's home was burgled and the guitar was gone.


Good news:

Next week I should be getting my hands on my new Westone! Not the same one and not even a Spectrum (my tastes have changed) but a Thunder 1A. I've swithered on the appearance (it's not as nice as some) but I got it for a good price and it is all original and only lightly played. It needs a proper clean and (as discussed in another post) I'm considering a strip and refinish. But for now, this is how it looks:



















So, a wee bit grubby and not the nicest wood grain I've seen but still a nice guitar.

I guess I just need to decide on whether I renovate or restore/refinish. Will be easier to decide once I have it in the flesh.

Cheers,

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:30 am

Looks in good nick.

Early active circuit with active gain, the best one.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:47 am

Excellent!
Flip the gain circuit, and these things are guaranteed to scatter neighbourhood pets and frighten little children! Hairy & Wooly

Looks like all this needs is a light cleaning. If you want to brighten it up a little and restore a nice lustre to it, try a good quality fine rubbing compound, followed by a waxing if desired. I always recommend Meguiars Ultimate Compound

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:10 am

Rubbing compound, now that is a nice idea. If I could brighten up (and slightly de-yellow) the finish I think it would look much better.

Any brand of wax you'd recommend? I've used a few on my natural finish acoustic but with mixed success.

I guess an alternative might be to use the rubbing compound than then one or two coats of carefully applied tru-oil.

Westbone, I wasn't sure whether it would have the early active circuit or not. But, being an 81 model, I was hopeful. What is it about this version of the circuit that is so appealing?

Cheers,

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Barry on Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:24 am

Don't expect a major colour change. The "yellowish" tinge is more a function of light refraction through hard finish. The rubbing compound will, however, help to remove any surface grime hence brightening the look a bit.

Be sure you are using a fine grain finishing compound, not the rough stuff. That's why I recommend Meguiars.

If you've got really dirty or worn areas under the high E string, as Sgt Vimes has pointed out in the other thread, try a little naptha first to lift out the dirt. If you're down to raw wood you could use Tru Oil or something similar to reseal it.

Over the factory finish, I normally use simple Turtle Wax after the rubbing compound. Not really necessary but I find it helps a bit.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by gittarasaurus on Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:56 pm

Barry wrote:Don't expect a major colour change. The "yellowish" tinge is more a function of light refraction through hard finish. The rubbing compound will, however, help to remove any surface grime hence brightening the look a bit.

the original finish from the factory is called 'matt light oak', so, not shiny
many wood finishing products called 'oak' have a golden yellow hue.
raw ash wood, untreated, is, basically white. so is maple. the finish where the color is.

i would suggest you first just clean and polish the guitar and see if it is more appealing after you have had it a while.
once you begin playing it, you may not want to give it up for the time it takes to do a full refinish.

if it really calls you to do a refinish, then you can take the time to think it through and then make it real.

for me it would come down to; can i do better than what is there now? in my case, the answer is mostly - no. (definitely not for the one you just got)

best of luck with it

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Sgt. Vimes on Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:06 pm

iep wrote: What is it about this version of the circuit that is so appealing?


This is the active gain circuit, the later models had an active EQ and that was identifiable by the <B--0--T> etched into the brass knobs.

I envy you, you get to flick that LOUD switch for the first time, I'll never have a first time again...that was a good day Smile


Like the others have said, get it, play it lots then decide about a laborious refinish, personally I'd keep that as is because it looks superb.




good luck!

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:34 pm

The first version active has a active gain also an active EQ.
Volume, passive tone with centre detent. When in passive mode with the tone set on the detent it is at full treble. Switch on the active and at the centre detent it's set as 'normal' turn up the tone and a treble boost comes into play, opposite for bass boost.
The third knob is active gain only and only works with the active on.

The first knob volume is a master control.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:06 am

Thanks Chaps. Having made the decision to definitely purchase, I am now pretty excited about trying it out.

I've got some naphtha and neutral wax so am ready to clean the hell out of it when it turns up. I've also got a tiny wee bottle of tru-oil in case the odd spot needs a re-seal. Hopefully a really good clean will remove some grime from the grain and reduce it's appearance.

Out of curiosity (and I know this is totally subjective) how do people rate these guitars against the usual benchmarks (American Tele, Gibson SG......)? I know the Tele is a very different guitar (maybe the SG less so) but I guess I'm just talking about general quality/tone/playability.

Ta,

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Meadows on Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:56 am

If this is your first Westone, I think you will be very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the fit, finish and playability of your new Thunder. With a little patience you can dial in some very usable tones and having the separate variable volume on your active boost circuit, and pre adjusting the tone control even at a low level you can flip from rhythm to lead breaks with total ease for live work.

I have always maintained that each guitar has individual characteristics, no two are the same and as such, you need to get to know your instrument simply by just playing her. Personally I prefer Matsumoku built guitars over most Fender and other so called high end brands, but once again that is only from my experience and budget to date.

Good luck with her, I hope she hits the spot for you Smile

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Barry on Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:27 am

Thanks Chaps. Having made the decision to definitely purchase, I am now pretty excited about trying it out...how do people rate these guitars against the usual benchmarks...
Congratulations on the purchase. I have a feeling you won't be disappointed.

The Thunder IA is a very versatile instrument with plenty of tonal variation to suit just about any kind of music. You can get as "bluesy" or as "ballsy" as you want with everything in between.

As for playability, it's a G-scale so it feels and plays a bit like a Lester, about as heavy too, and I find the neck very comfortable. I'm more a fan of the Spectrum necks but nuthin' wrong wif the Thunder's neither! The body is very comfy too, much more so than a Les Paul, kinda Straty in that regard.

The controls take a bit of getting used to though. Once you do, it can do a decent imitation of the Fender sound, but without smacking yer pick into a middle pickup! That said, it won't fool anyone that it's a Strat!

I often joke that if I had had my Thunders "back in the day" I might have been heard over the Fender boys in the band, or at least been able to wake up the drummer!

Just a great guitar.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:25 am

iep wrote:Thanks Chaps. Having made the decision to definitely purchase, 
 So you finally bought it then.

Saw it on gumtree untill very recently, gone now...Smile

Could have sold you a much better grained one but thought you had already purchased it??

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by The Chad on Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:47 pm

Looks great the way it is. 

I've owned high end and low end guitars.  Westone's can be very, very good!

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:12 pm

So I finally picked it up yesterday. First impression are pretty good.

Previous owner had the action set very high and the relief in the neck was nearly a full 1mm. Tweaked the truss rod to get the relief back to 0.25mm and lowered the saddles so the string height is about 2mm at the 12th fret. Plays very nicely now.

I also gave it a proper clean, removed and de-gunked the bridge (it was full of dust and congealed brasso). Cleaned with naphtha and added a touch of tru-oil to the heavily pitted areas of grain between the pickups (thanks for the tips).  Now it looks pretty good too.

The good stuff. It plays great and sounds fantastic. Active circuit works as it should and (best of all) the neck is sweeeeeeet. Barely any fret wear and still as smooth as when the frets left the factory. Bit of lemon oil and it has come up beautiful.

Only gripes:

1. It is very 'orange'. Was apparently left in the sun for a long time so the lacquer has aged a lot. Beneath the bridge it is a much paler shade. Would be nice to restore the original colour but that would be a shame since it is currently 100% original and in amazing condition given the age.

2. The phase switch is a bit intermittent and drops in/out a lot when switched on (reverse). Does anyone know where an equivalent switch can be sourced?

Cheers,

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by gittarasaurus on Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:19 pm

try some contact cleaner

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:48 pm

If a new switch is needed send me a pm.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Barry on Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:12 pm

What gittarasaurus said.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Sgt. Vimes on Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:59 pm

Servisol super 10, couple of squirts and some back n forth toggling should sort that.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Sun Feb 07, 2016 5:54 am

Ta again. Yes, reached for my old can of cleaner but to find the propellant had all escaped. New can on order. Hopefully that will do the trick.

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:18 am

Curses! Nothing is ever so simple. What appeared to be a dodgy phase switch seems to be more complex.

I sprayed a bit of switch cleaner through it yesterday (warmed my old dead can to get a wee bit of propellant to work) and tried it again. Things seemed to be working initially until it suddenly got worse.

Now, I cannot get any output at all from the bridge pickup irrespective of phase switch position unless I flick the single coil switch, then everything works fine!? So, fault condition is that in humbucker mode, bridge pickup not working but in single coil mode all is fine.

This last detail tells me that the pickup selector is fine and by removing the back panel and continuity testing all the mini switches, I can say that they all work too.

I also tested the impedance of the pickups measured at the switch terminals and am getting about 6k per winding which seems to be about right (so no issues with wiring between the pickups and the switch).

The problem is the same whether in active or passive mode (makes sense since all switching is 'upstream' of the pre-amp).

I am using the incredibly handy schematic below:

http://www.westoneguitars.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thunder-IIA-wiring-version-1.jpg

At this point I'm a bit baffled. I guess it might be an intermittent issue (brilliant) and the action of removing the back panel might have adequately 'shoogled' the offending dodgy wire. I'll check it again later today.

In the meantime, has anyone else seen an issue like this before?

ip

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Adey on Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:14 am

If the mini switch seems to have had an intermittant fault before cleaning, and now things have got worse, even though you have checked it with a meter and it seems to be OK, I'd still suspect the switch, and change it anyway. They are cheap and readily available from places like Maplins (not just guitar specialists).

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:38 am

Maplins don't do the original flat lever type switch, only the round toggle type.

This is the type you need.


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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:56 am

If the phase switch is knackered it will affect the bridge pup.
Don't ever use WD40.

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:16 am

Indeed, the phase switch acts on the bridge pickup but I'm surprised that it appears fine when continuity tested. Also, the interaction with the position of the single coil switch does not obviously tally with any typical failure within the phase switch.

Further complication is the use of a little PCB on the back of the phase switch. It looks fine but I'll re-flow just in case of a dry joint.

Simplest test might be to short one side of the phase switch to see if I can re-instate some humbucker function.

And, yes, WD40 is not a good switch cleaner unless it's this version:

http://www.screwfix.com/p/wd-40-specialist-contact-cleaner-400ml/92716?_requestid=213518

Irritatingly my local branch has none in stock.

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:50 am

simple thing would be to just test the pickup
making sure the 3 way is set to bridge only

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:27 pm

If you mean test the pickup impedance when in the bridge position. I did this by checking the impedance between the centre contact of the pickup selector and GND and measured 12k in humbucker and 6k in single coil. Of course, the very act of opening up the back and removing the cover will have dislodged many wires so potentially fixing any minor shorts that could have existed. 

I'll try to find a bit more time to tinker this evening.

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:32 pm

measure on the white wire on the phase switch, full h/bucker
red on coil tap switch

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:06 pm

Got 30 mins to play again this evening only to find that it now works perfectly. All I can imagine is that the general disruption of taking the back off and putting it back together has somehow helped.

That said, I'll be buying a switch from Westbone as this type of fix seldom stays fixed for long.

On the upside, the phase reverse switch yields some nice tones.

Cheers,

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:37 pm

Good!

Maybe the old cleaner worked slowly and with all the twiddling.

What amp are you using?

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Mon Feb 08, 2016 4:48 pm

I have two amps both of which have been described as 'shan' but I love them.

Peavey Classic VT 212
Yamaha G50 mkii

Both have solid state preamps which are have great clean tones. I use a couple of pedals to warm them up (Joyo American and MXR 78 distortion).

Fair to say I'm into finding relatively cheap kit that sounds better than its price. I reckon the Thunder is a good example.

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by Westbone on Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:10 pm

Good solid amps that sound pretty good.

Big fan of those old Peaveys, have a Bravo and it's big brother the Triumph 120. Also a Yamaha G100 112 MkI among others.

+one of these..Smile

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

Post by iep on Tue Feb 09, 2016 4:50 am

That pedal is a total winner. Got mine for £24 on eBay and it is a keeper.

iep

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Re: New Thunder 1A (new to me)

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