Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

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Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:03 pm

Hi.

New to this forum and before about four days ago, never having heard about Westone guitars in my life!

A friend has been saying for years that 'We have a guitar in our garage, do you want it?'

I always responded: 'what kind of guitar is it? Either way, let me have a look at it...'

Thursday comes round and they present to me this Pearl Silver Thunder III, and with a little research I find myself here.

I am not a guitar officianado, but I can tell a Les Paul, from a Strat, from a Gretsch. I have a Voodoo Les Paul, a G-series Takamini electro-acoustic and my first guitar, a Hohner Special (strat copy) with Fender electrics.

Anyhoo, I cleaned up this guitar (boy, did it need it!), restrung it with Rotosound 10s and plugged it into my Line 6 FlextoneII and straight off was taken by the amped sound of the guitar, very warm and easy on the ears.

I am a fan of stuff that is a little out of the ordinary, and I reckon this guitar is certainly that!

My question to you, the experts, is:

What the hell do all of those switches do?

I have looked at westone.info and I think that the switch at the 'top' of the guitar above the strings is for pickup selection, but what position chooses what pickup?

The middle switch of the lower three switches is the only one that 'appears' to do anything when the guitar is plugged in, and might have something to do with the middle pickup (the humbucker) but it would be interesting to know what it is supposed to do.

The other two switches do not appear to have any effect on the sound, are they supposed to?

I have taken the covers off the back of the guitar to check the soldering and all appear to be as they might have come from the factory. Certainly no separation from the wires...

I know it is not active (from my research) because there are no places for batteries to be connected, and all the wiring diagrams on westone.info for Thunder guitars (opposed to basses) mention batteries...

Any and all info on this 'out of the ordinary' guitar would be great. It currently does not have the tremelo bar on it, and I probably will not place one there, as I am not a fan, but it would be interesting to hear tips on setup and things to check to get the best sounds from it. I love the warmth and possibility of different sounds from it...

Let me know!

Cheers
DreamRaven

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by corsair on Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:48 pm

Welcome to the world of Westone, D.R.; these are unappreciated instruments that are very quickly becoming appreciated!! First off, you absolutely MUST show us this piece of kit, my friend... we live for that in here, eh!!
Now, have you seen this....

http://www.westone.info/thunder3v1.html

... this is pretty much the bible for Westone owners.

The switches, depending on which version you have, will likely be
1) 3 way switch on the upper bout is indeed your p'up selector - uppermost position - neck, middle the 2 inside coils of the p'ups and down is the bridge.
2) the mini switches underneath the control knobs are coil tap, phase reverse and boost on/off, IF you have a Version 1 or 2...

Mate , Thunder III should be active, so what we have here is a mystery; showing us helps a whole lot - but it sounds like it is a V.III with the S/H/S setup, in which case the controls will be

1) p'up selector, 3 way for the 2 singles, ie neck, both, bridge

2) minis - top; on/off for the h/b, middle, coil split for the h/b; neck side/both sides/bridge side of h/b and phase reverse.

let us know how you get on with it, eh?!

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by Steve777 on Sun Sep 06, 2009 6:10 pm

Hi Dreamraven,

Welcome to Uncle Mats world of sonic fanatasy. From your description you have a post 1983 model that was NON active. This will not have a separate battery compartment. You should have a S/H/S pup configuration. right? Look at the serial number on the back of the headstock. Take the first three digits for example ... 306.... This reads 1983 (3) and June (06).

Do you have a trem ? All of the above will indicate version 3 of Thunder III series. If its any help, I have Thunders 1a / II / IIa .... and pearl white is a fanatstic colour. I guess I'll have wait for another TIII to come up.

Where are you based?

All the best

Steve

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:51 am

Thanks both Steve and Corsair for the warm welcome!

Yup, I have seen http://www.westone.info/thunder3v1.html. It was the page that brought me here! My guitar looks exactly the last images on that page and sounds like the text in green on that page.

My serial number (from memory, as I am not near it at the moment) does start 306, pointing to Jun 1983.

The bridge IS a tremolo unit, but the whammy bar is missing from when I received it. I have a black 'standard' whammy bar that I had spare for my Hohner. I could check whether it fits, but it certainly is an aftermarket item (from WH, if I remember correctly)

I am based near to Reigate, Surrey.

So, I have a single coil for the neck, a humbucker for the centre and single coil for the bridge p'up...

The top switch (above the strings) is a 3 position switch. Can I get clarification that this is a pickup selector JUST for the single coils? The switch is currently positioned so that it rocks front to back, rather than up and down. The switch all the way to the front sounds louder and fuller, and it reduces as it steps back... Does this suggest that it is not possible to have all three pickups on at once? Or indeed, does it suggest that the Humbucker is always on, and the 3-way just switches between neck, bridge or no single coil?

And what effect does 'Phase reverse' actually have? I have tried it on various amp settings from clean to 'really dirty' and it doesn't appear to make any difference...

I will take a photo of the guitar this evening and post it here. I will also put labels on it so that we can get a 'labelled schematic' to help me and any other viewers!

Cheers
DR

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by Barry on Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:49 am

Hello DreamRaven, and welcome to the forums!
Man, that's one gorgeous guitar you've received there. It's unbelievable that people mistreated these instruments so unmercifully--"out in the garage"!?

Fortunately, our beloved Uncle Mats really knew how to build guitars and basses and they're not only beautiful but tough as hell! Lucky for us, eh? Wink

Looking forward to seeing yer pix mate. Like Corsair says, we live for guitar porn in here!

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 07, 2009 12:11 pm

I know for a fact that mine is not in as good a state as the one on westone.info. Couple of dinks here and there, but certainly no pitying signs of abuse.

All I can say in defence of my mates who had it in the garage is that it is a very dry garage (more like a lower room in the house, rather than the worst garage you can think of) and it was placed 'in a safe place'. They just acquired it via family friends and was there as a 'maybe sometime I will learn to play this'... Maybe if they had got round to it it might have suffered more!

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by Barry on Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:25 pm

Well, thank heaven for that at least!

I was into my local music store recently and I looked over at the repair shop wall to see a black Ovation shallow bowl similar to mine (at least from a distance--up close, not so much!). When I asked about it the owner said that it was brought in by a lady who couldn't figure out why it wasn't playing right.

Turns out she had left it in the trunk of her car--all winter--without a case!!
There's just no end to the stupid things people do to good instruments.

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by hendrik on Mon Sep 07, 2009 3:20 pm

Hej,

welcome to the forum.
Have you asked your mate, if there are more of those guitars hiding in this house
or in the houses of other family members. Maybe you should check for yourself. Very Happy

Good luck with the restoring and then:

PICTURES in the MEMBER FORUM!

H.

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:51 pm

Pictures uploaded to:
http://forum.westoneguitars.net/members-westones-f6/1983-thunder-iii-not-active-silver-pearl-serial-number-3063637-t704.htm#5611

I have annotated one of the images to try and get to the bottom of exactly what each of the switches on the machine do... It will mean uploading an image here. Is that okay?

Regards
DR

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:39 pm



1. 3 way switch that works in the direction of the headstock, in line with the strings, rather than the 'standard' Les Paul pickup selection switch direction of perpendicular to the strings (AKA 'up & down').

2. 2-way switch.

3. 3-way switch.

4. 2-way switch.

I have no idea what any of these switches REALLY do... Any ideas?

Cheers
DR

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by Warrn on Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:21 pm

If I'm understanding the westone.info page correctly, switch #1 is a 3-way pickup selector affecting the single coils only, and the other 3-way controls the coil tap for the humbucker (I assume middle is humbucker and up or down selects which side the coil splits to?). The other two controls are supposed to be a "mix" switch for the humbucker (I would guess this means on/off, but I really have no idea) and a phase reverse switch, which will only work when more than one pickup is activated- this will distort the sound, and it seems to act differently on different instruments. On my Spectrum GT bass the phase reverse barely does anything, but on my Dimension it may as well be a fuzz switch.

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by corsair on Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:22 pm

God, that's pretty!! Look at that bridge; I don't think any Westone had a gold trem bridge... looks to be in pretty good nick!! Smile This was my personal El dorado until I realised that I just ain't gonna find one in NZ and a friend sent me an Electra Phoenix X195 - same pick up set up but a more minimal finish.
That's a stunner, mate... Twisted Evil

Right; switches... plug the guitar into an amp and get a screwdriver. With the selector in each position, tap the pol piece of the pups with the screwdriver - you'll hear a pop when you have the one that's live; the same goes for the coil split switch and maybe too for the "mix" switch...

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Tue Sep 08, 2009 5:11 am

Ah yes, the old screwdriver trick. Had completely forgotten it!

I will try it out this evening and report back.

Cheers
DR

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by Barry on Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:22 am

corsair wrote:God, that's pretty!!...That's a stunner, mate...
What he said!. That's giving me (Canada) goose bumps!! :heart:
...tap the pol piece of the pups with the screwdriver...
The 'ole screwdriver trick indeed! I was doing just that two nights ago with my newly acquired Spectrum GT trying to get the hang of all its combinations! Very Happy

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:01 pm

OK, a little slow to respond, but real life interferes!

I played this guitar with my band for the first time tonight. Lovely sound, especially with my Traynor YGL3 tube amp!

What I have found with the switches:
1. Backward is the bridge single coil, centre is both single coils, forward is the neck single coil
2. Humbucker on when back, Humbucker off when forward
3. Bridge coil of HB when back, both coils when centre, Neck coil of HB when forward.
4. I can only guess that this IS the phase inverter, but I could not tell which is 'on' or 'off', they are just 'different'!

My guitar teacher picked it up last Thursday and was also very impressed. The sounds HE made come out of it made me more jealous of his 35 years experience than I was already!

He raised the bridge single coil, bringing it nearer the strings and closer to the same level as the other two pickups. This made the switch variations much more pronounced and the sound better too...

I get a bit of a buzz (just slight) when my fingers come off the strings, but I may investigate the earthing...

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by diddydave on Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:33 pm

DreamRaven wrote:

And what effect does 'Phase reverse' actually have? I have tried it on various amp settings from clean to 'really dirty' and it doesn't appear to make any difference...

DR

Phase switches basically reverse the polarity of one of the pups making it pull when the other is pushing so to speak. in other words as the string vibrates, when it travels in one direction it induces a current in the coil of the pick up in one direction, on the return journey it induces a current in the opposite direction. 2 pickups selected would mean that the string would induce a current in both coils in the same direction simultaneously but with the neck pickup producing more harmonics than the bridge (more string movement and complex waves in the string, try playing close to the bridge and compare this to closer to the 12 fret and hear the difference). now a phase reverse switch will flip around one pickup to pull instead of push followed by pushing when it would normally pull, basically the exact opposite of what it should do. mix together a push and a pull and they both cancel out leaving no signal but for the difference in harmonics in the string (warmer sound by the 12th fret)

affectively what would be normally common between both pickups is reversed and one pickup takes away from the sound of the other leaving the difference between them behind. so in simple terms the middle position would mean neck + bridge pickups, with a phase reverse = neck - bridge pick up.

in practical terms, phased pickups sound more middley and thin (maybe even honky) than the full tone of both pickups working together.

i hope this answers you question, if not then let me know and i can try i different tack.

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

Post by DreamRaven on Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:49 pm

A superb explanation, for which, I thank you!

Now that the bridge pickup is nearer the strings there is a noticeable difference in the sound with the phase inversion on, not massive, but noticeable, in a quiet room!

I have found some lovely sounds on this guitar, now I just have to remember where they are when I need them!

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Re: Thunder III, 1983, as far as I know NOT active

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