Waldo buffer and battery levels

Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby playingdead » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:56 am

My Tiger guitar has been giving me trouble lately -- fortunately, I have a Scott Walker guitar as a backup -- twice now it's cut out on me onstage with that characteristic dead battery sound, getting very distorted with low output. I just took it to my local guy to go through it as we had changed a pickup on the guitar and I was having feedback issues, so we put foam behind the pickups and replaced the pickup springs with surgical tubing, and I swear he told me he changed the battery on it. Next gig, I got through two tunes and it cut out again. I pulled the battery last night and put a meter on it and it read 6.3 volts. So ...

1) At what battery level does the buffer start to act up? I have gone as long as a year without changing with no ill effects. Hard to believe it's going to die at 6.3 volts.

2) It's possible that this was just a bad battery he put in there, but I'm wondering if there is some kind of draw happening on it even when the guitar is not plugged in. I'm a total novice with a multimeter, but how would one measure if there is a draw with the guitar unplugged?

3) Other than the recent pickup change, which should not have messed with the buffer, the guitar was wired by Gary Brawer, so I don't think it's been miswired, and it's never done anything like this before.

Any thoughts/ideas?
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby hippieguy1954 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 4:37 am

If there is any question, at all, about weather or not the battery he put in was a fresh one, I'd start there with a new and measured 9v and see if it happens again.
If there was a voltage drain without the cord plugged into the guitar (very unlikely), you would find 9V at the buffer between where the battery connects and ground for sure.
I can't think of anything involving changing a pickup that could have changed anything else. You would have to short the connections on the input jack to have the battery always on. So, if he didn't inadvertently short those same two wires somewhere else in there, it should be fine.
If I remember correctly, didn't you have a problem with that guitar a while ago concerning sonics or feedback that also occurred suddenly?
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby tatittle » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:04 am

So you had no problems in the previous year of regular use and it just started acting up now? Or did you not use it much in the previous year? I am assuming you have already changed to a known fresh battery yourself, if not that is a nec'y step. The only thing I can add (Ill leave the rest to others with more technical expertise) is I have had problems with things shorting out against my shielding. If you are using wire with braided shield (like LP's) they can easily cause short circuits as well.
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby NSP » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:00 am

For what it's worth, in my experience right around the 6v range like you mention is where the signal begins to degrade. So, that part makes sense.
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby TI4-1009 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:45 am

I would think that at 6.3V you would be having problems. I know with battery-powered pedals you can't drop too much below the full 9V without getting into sound issues. I'm sure Waldo can tell us how low his buffer can go without power problems.
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby Jon S. » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:03 am

I just use my ears. The degradation from a low battery is hard to miss. This being said, I once changed the battery while at my tech's for other work and for kicks, he checked the voltage at the time. It was just above 6 and the buffer was working still. This was, though, a CAE buffer, not one of Mike's (I've since swapped out the CAE for a Wald).
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby playingdead » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:05 am

I've read a few posts where people say they've used it as low as 3.5 volts .... other say it starts to sound better at 6 volts ... woo, man, not in my case.

I do have a fresh battery here (reads 9.5 on the multimeter) but I'm leery of taking the guitar to another gig because it seemed fine for the first two tunes and then the bastard cut out right in the middle of I Know You Rider. :shock:
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby milobender » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:54 am

Since you weren't having problems previous to this, I'd suspect the battery first. Second choice would be a short, but my bet would be on the battery. Is there any way the jack is shorting against a wire or the shielding?

It's totally possible to get two questionable batteries in a row, I've seen way stranger things happen with 'new' stuff. I worked in a truck shop once where we put 4 new blowers in a truck and every one of them was bad... of course the guy thought it was our fault, but it was a bad batch at the factory and we just happened to keep getting the 'right' ones... Batteries are also age sensitive, if they sit in the store, or in a drawer, too long they won't be up to par. Measuring them without a load really doesn't tell you enough about their health.

That said, that's why I like to put the bypass switch in my electronics, pull it up and keep on playing "o) Everything breaks eventually.
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby James-T » Tue Apr 29, 2014 8:48 am

"everything breaks eventually".

Well said. I rarely experience every piece of gear working perfectly. I've just got to much shit. Funny all that talk about how long does a battery last on the forum last month and low and behold my Wald buffer battery went for the first time. It took a while to trouble shoot it, but I could see on my Fractal that there was no output signal from the guitar. Then within a few weeks my other PRS with a Wald buffer went. That buffer was installed months later and used far less. Go figure.

Vic if it's at 6.5 volts it has to be the battery. That's my uneducated guess. Don't sweat it.

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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby myoung6923 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:29 am

Weird that its a recent problem. Maybe something in the buffer has gone south on you? JK told me that one of his Waldo buffers died on him - I don't know what the symptoms were though.

I have had the same low battery happen at a gig. Since then I just change the thing about every 3rd gig- - I don't what the voltage is.

But, if it won't even make it for one gig - other than the buffer, I don't know... You know the wiring is right because it always has worked. I can't imagine that something has gone bad in the wiring - I mean, I know it's possible but with it being done by Gary I just can't imagine...
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby mgbills » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:10 pm

I typically test mine when they die, and they're always around 6-6.5 volts. Usually a thick & distorted tone will be the clue. The battery will typically hold out for an entire practice session for me (1-2 hours).

I've tested at least 5 batteries as they've left my guitar, so I'm pretty confident on these numbers.
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby milobender » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:28 pm

An unloaded battery will read higher than the actual voltage under load, although I'm not sure how much in this instance since the load is very small....
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby TI4-1009 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:56 pm

mgbills wrote: Usually a thick & distorted tone will be the clue.


Cool! Another point on the tonal palette! Maybe we could get Waldo to offer a variable voltage reduction option- like the "tweed" "variac" switch on a Boogie? Yet another knob for my Wolfie.....
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Re: Waldo buffer and battery levels

Postby playingdead » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:12 pm

Thanks, guys ... I changed the battery. Will see if I can test the draw with the guitar unplugged.
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