Westone Spectrum SX

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Westone Spectrum SX

Post by rt_Westone on Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:02 pm

First of all,greetings to all forum members!
Some time ago, i did a lot of research about great quality mij guitars, and decided to try and buy a Westone. Since here in my country this brand is a complete stranger, so very hard to find a second one, i went to Ebay and found a Spectrum SX, it was in good overall shape,with some dings of normal use,completely original (at least it is what the previous owner told me) and after some negociations, i buy it and have arrive 2 days ago.
So, i have some questions to the more experience owners of this models.
My first impressions... it is good quality instrument, and for the price, nobody can go wrong on this one. When i plugged in for the first time, i try everything to see if it was ok.
First doubt: the neck pickup (single coil) and the bridge (humbucker) i think they are ok , but the middle pickup (single coil) seems to me more weaker, and muddy, with less output. Is this normal on this models? Is the middle a lower output pickup or should it have more output and not so muddy?
I try to research but didn't find more information about this, so i do not know if this is normal or if the pickup have to be replaced. It plays, but with lower output,the tone is more muddy than i was expecting when compared to other guitars with S-S-S-H combination.I saw selling one with the output is around 4.5, another with 5.7 and another one 6.8, so i really don't know what is real! I dont have a way to measure this,so i guess i have to go with her to a professional luthier. 
Second doubt: the push-pull pot that place the pickup out of phase, is only for the middle pickup and when it plays combined with the neck or the bridge pickup? I almost don't ear any modification on the sound,at least not very significant,but it does something,i maybe have to turn up more the volume :-)  Is this also normal? Or also have to check this?
Third doubt: what kind of wood grade was used by Westone on this guitar? Most of them say it's maple,but i also read somewhere about other woods. How and where can i find out this?
Four doubt / opinion: if i really need to replace the middle pickup, the original one is Magnaflux (at least on the specs says that). But they are very rare to find any information about these and hard to find a second hand sale,i want to know your opinion also about a possible brand/model pickup for replacing if needed without any loss of the original tone that this one should have. In an extreme case, i will replace them all and keep the originals if i want to go back.
I want to ear from SX owners their opinion about this doubts. I like the guitar, i really love the neck, and i think that have great quality in this price range. Beside this doubts ,this one surelly will be a keeper on my personal collection of guitars.
I will take her to a professional luthier to do a check up and a setup, as soon as i can but want to ear first the opinions of others players and owners.
Thanks in advance for all the help!

rt_Westone
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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Westbone on Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:17 pm

How far from the strings is the pickup?

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Barry on Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:56 pm

Hi rt and welcome.
Have a look HERE for information on the SX.

Pickups (mostly the humbuckers) were subjected to change over the production of this and other Westone models. Mine is the trans blue model on the above page and it came with a UBC (low DC resistance around 6 KΩ) which I swapped out for something meatier.

I don't know of anyone who has replaced the single coils and to my old ears they sound fine. They tested out as N=5.73 and C=5.63. If your centre pup is sounding low it may be as Westbone is suggesting, the pickup may be positioned too low. Some rhythm players do that in order to get it out of the way as they are strumming more than playing lead.

I dont have a way to measure this
Read THIS POST for a method to use.

If you read the above website information you'll see that not all SX's had phase reversal. After '86 it is a coil split on the 'bucker which is a more common configuration on a 'fat Strat' style guitar. Mine is a split.

As for changing the pickups that's very much a personal thing. Any good quality pick up will sound just fine. That said you might want to consider the effect of the Maple on the tone (bright).

The Mats made Spectrum series is all Maple, body and neck. After '87 there may have been other woods used in the Korean production.
And you are right to love the Spectrum. It has one of the best designed necks around, even now, and is my personal favourite Mat. Very comfortable to play. You will not regret getting it.



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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by rt_Westone on Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:24 pm

Hi,
Thank to both of you for the informations.
I already tried to place it more close to the strings, it sounds a little more louder,and also with more noise and feedback. The quality of the sound didnt improve either, it sounds so far and not articulated, it seems that is missing something on the sound, cant really explain,but looks like im playing far away, sometimes sound like playing inside a can,with more metallic sound, very weird. I also try adjusting the bass and treble side, and yes, the neck pickup is more lower than the middle.
Also, one detail that had grab my attention, maybe its nothing but the plastic of the pickup is more brigther than the other single and humbucker pickups, giving me the impression that either it have been exchanged for a newer but damaged one,or are not an original one.Could not be anything,could be only dirt, i didnt cleanup the pickups,only the fretboard,the body and the chromes,but for a 30 year old guitar,its expected to be dirty :-) This one is from July 1986, judging by the serial on the plate.
I also have two other single coils guitars,even my Hagstrom II from 1965 that have the originals pickups sounds a lot better than this middle one.Oh and by the way,this Hag have the fastest and smoth neck i ever played and it still is my personal favorite on this kind of guitar.The neck of the Spectrum is almost a twin of the one that the Hag have,also very good to play fast and smooth.On the LP style neck,i love the one that my Electra X340 have (also from Mats),its more fatter but also a joy to play,cant explain that,only by playing and feeling it :-)
Ive already have read almost every information on the website that Barry posted. Before i decided to buy this Westone,i did a lot of research,including that site. And this forum also :-)
This one have two push-pull pots,one on the volume split the humbucker and the other on the tone neck pot place out of phase the middle pickup.At least it was the information that i gather in several websites.And it does that,only maybe because of this problem on the pickup or electronics, it do not appear to my ears to have any tone change,if it happen its very weak. For me,maybe it was better to have it to place both single coils in parallel / series, it can be a future modification that i can do, replacing the out of phase or putting another push pull pot on the bridge tone pot. 
And thanks for the normal output measures of the pickups, that will help me to see if the pickup is damaged. Or, maybe have something also to do with the other parts, like the electronics, like pots,bad wiring,condensators,etc.
Im considering to go a luthier for a general inspection and to do a setup, since i d not have enough knowledge to see if there are other things damaged.The humbucker is ok, its also a UBC one and i like his sound. Maybe one day i replaced it for another one and keep it if i decided to go back :-)
Yes, i noticed that this one have a brighter sound,so i supposed that it have both body and neck in maple.Regarding if i have to replace the pickup,i will try to find another original one,if not i will have to think on another alternative.
I prefer not to change the pickups, and be completely original. Until now, i like the neck and bridge pickups, only the middle one have this problem.
Once again, thanks to both for your help, and im open to more ideas,opinions or suggestions.

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Barry on Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:38 pm

Pictures and pickup readings would be helpful now, it's difficult to diagnose problems over the internet. We're only guessing and it's very time consuming.

Have you done the simple things like clean the pots with electrical contact cleaner? That solves 80% of volume and tone problems.

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GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by rt_Westone on Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:08 am

Yes,Barry, you're right, this is very time consuming without more details,like measures and other things.
And that was not the objective of my post but only to understand if anyone have a SX had problems with the middle pickup and if it was with so low output comparing to the neck one.
After some time playing and experimenting several different heights, i realize that that was not the problem,and have to be something to do with electronics,pots,wiring or the pickup himself. I bought the guitar two days ago,so still didn't have the time to do all the cleaning that i want.
I've have arranged a visit today to a professional luthier to have a general checkup,cleaning, setup and measure the pickups on the guitar and then i will post here more news.
I do not regret buying the guitar (i usually do not buy second hand guitars at distance), its well balanced,with a great neck,and great playability. 
Comparing it with the money that i spent on other guitars,this one together with the Electra were my best buys on a price-quality equation.

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by Barry on Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:42 pm

rt_Westone wrote:...Comparing it with the money that i spent on other guitars,this one together with the Electra were my best buys on a price-quality equation.
Thumb Up
Pickups are easily changed.

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"A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants." -Chuckles the Clown


GUITARS : http://legend.barryeames.com/guitars.html
MUSIC/PIX/VIDEOS: http://getback.barryeames.com (including Spectrum ST)

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by gittarasaurus on Tue Mar 29, 2016 2:45 pm

a small investment in a simple meter to measure ohms, and a can of contact cleaner will take you a long way with second hand guitars. give them a try before you take it to a shop. you may save a lot of money. it is easy to learn how to use a solder iron too.

my SX guitars came with these pickups as original stock. here you can see the bridge and the middle pickups. the neck looks the same as the middle, but has a red wire.

check the solder joint on the bottom of the pickup. the wire is stranded and some strands may have broken loose. just unsolder, cut/strip/resolder and good to go. 5 minutes and done.

you may have issues trying after-market replacement pickups because the Westone body has a straight slot cut-out for the pickup, but the modern single coil requires a more triangle shape cut-out.

this is actually an MX (single magnet pup) but the body is the same as the SX. you can see the shape of the cut-out.

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

Post by rt_Westone on Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:45 pm

Gittarasaurus,a great post!
Yes,i have the contact spray,and in all the second hand guitars that i have bought,its one of the things that i usually do.I do not have at home a meter,but i have it on the work and also the iron. But since this is a good friend of mine,also my guitar teacher (he was and is a great blues nd rock player) and also my luthier, i dont have to pay for his work,only for the parts. I do the same to him as an IT technician, so as we say it here, one hand washes the other one.
So, i went with the SX to him, and we have tested and arrived to the conclusion that the pickup is weak. I have to replace it, but once again, that is the only thing, the rest is almost brand new and in a great shape,even the painting / finish. No rust or oxidation at all on the chromes,the tremolo system,tuners,etc.
About the pickup replacement,i will now contact a "boutique" maker of pickups,a german man (LeoSounds), that ive already bought a set to another guitar and also a very nice price-quality,with great materials and excellent sound.I will send him the measures and specs of pickups and the guitar wood,etc, so he can advise me on this and im positive that it will be as always a great choice for that blues / rock sound that i want on this guitar.
I agree with Barry,the choice and sound of pickups are always a personal taste. 
Thanks for the help that you all have given to me!
Cheers

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Re: Westone Spectrum SX

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