Harness diagnostics page of www.kinman.com

Total of 10 pages

11-Sept-2017 Rev-17

Every Harness is thoroughly tested before shipping by 2 staff cross checking each other. You can see the signature of the person who performed the test inscribed on the back of the Red shipping panel. Most problems happen during install.

It is helpful to possess a multimeter because resistance checks can reveal a multitude of problems and confirm good connections.

These pages deal with both Strat and Tele harness. Telecaster harness are different so are occasionally mentioned specifically. Pay attention to the sections that fit your issue the best.

There are 4 sections in this document:-

Section 1. Noise (hum and buzz).
Section 2. No sound from harness
Section 3. Abnormal sound
Section 4. Control function issues
Section 5. Mechanical issues

Section 1. Noise (hum and buzz).


Sound: the musical sounds made by the strings.

Noise: any undesirable interference which is not part of the musical spectrum (as generated by the strings) which radiates from an exterior source such as lighting dimmers, motors etc.

Hum: a low pitched main hum of 50 Hz or 60 Hz. Kinman pickups are hum cancelling.

Buzz: a high pitched‘buzz’ that sounds more like an annoying insect than a hum, it is a harmonic of 50/60 Hz hum but behaves differently to hum. Buzz can not be cancelled like hum, it has to be shielded out of vulnerable wiring in your guitar as well as the pickups. That’s why you might need shielding installed in your guitar if it’s not already present.

Shielding:Any conductive medium acting as a barrier to ‘buzz’, ineffective against ‘hum’. There are several types; can be metal foil lining a cavity in a guitar, it can also be a Black or Silver conductive paint applied to the walls and floor of a cavity and often embedded under the finish. It can also be strands of wires or metal foil wrapped around a cable. The strings are the prime source of shielding for pickups and the human player also. To be effective shielding media must be grounded. Ungrounded shielding actually results in more Buzz than if it was not there at all.

You hear a buzz:

Don’t jump to conclusions yet because it is likely you had a buzz all along but didn’t notice it amid the hum and noise coming from your previous set of non-noiseless pickups. Now that you have Zero-Hum pickups the buzz stands alone and becomes more noticeable. But read on anyway to find out if you really have a problem and if so how you can solve it.

The pickups/harness are not yet installed: This is not a fairtest because the harness is operating without any of the shielding provided by the guitar. Only make judgments about noise after the harness and pickups are installed in the guitar and strings have been put on (strings provide some shielding and prevent buzz)

The pickups/harness are installed but no strings on: This is not a fairtest because the pickups are operating without any of the shielding provided by the strings. Strings provide some shielding and prevent buzz.

The harness is installed in the guitar: If you hear a buzz after installing a Kinman NoSoldering Harness it is most likely a shielding issue. The following will help you pin point the cause and offera solution.

1). A common occurrence is the ground wire to the string or bridge is not connected or has a faulty connection. Don't reply on a meter to assess a good connection, if the buzzing is not reduced when you touch the strings while you have the guitar strapped on in a playing position it is a sure sign the strings are not grounded. Solution: Solder the ground wire from the bridge or spring claw (in the case a vibrato bridge is fitted) to the cover of the volume pot or other ground point. When this ground wire is working correctly the buzzing will subside when you touch the strings.

Your guitar has shielding: (see also next bullet point 2 for No Shielding)

To test for connection of embedded shielding paint one has to use a sharp, pointed object like a large sewing needle to pierce through the finish coating into the shielding paint and wood lying beneath. Contacting the probes of a multimeter onto the needles will cause a reading if the shielding has connection between the needles. This method can be used to check for connection between tabs and shielding as well as between different sections of shielding in different cavities or shielding within one cavity. If no reading on the meter it probably indicates bad tab connection or bad paint or bad connection between sections of shielding, depending on where the needles are positioned.

Since it is extremely difficult and expensive to repair bad embedded shielding paint or bad tab connections an economical solution is to apply metal foil shielding over the top of the finish. This and a lot of the other points mentioned in this section are discussed in detail in the shielding section on the Perfect Guitar page of kinman.com

2). Your guitar DOES NOT have shielding:
You will hear a buzz when you are NOT in contact with a piece of hardware that is grounded. When you touch the strings, bridge and some of the metal objects that are effectively grounded you become the shield and prevent buzz from entering the electrical system. Some guitar players are satisfied with this because they seldom let go of the strings, or they always turn the volume pot to zero when not playing. If not you may want to consider shielding your guitar and refer to >Tech Support >Perfect Guitar >Shielding.

3). Also your guitar is a Telecaster (bridge pickup):
First discover if there is a difference in the buzz when you are touching the strings (but not touching the control panel or metal knobs) and when you are NOT. If there is no difference it indicates the strings are not grounded. They get their ground connection via the 3 mounting screws of the bridge pickup.

4). Also your guitar is a Telecaster (neck pickup):
Even though our Tele covers are moulded plastic there is a thin coating of metal over them to give them the same appearance as a regular Tele neck pickup. This metal coating is extremely thin (1 micron: a human hair is 75 microns) and difficult to ground. Normally when it is touched nothing happens because it is almost impossible to not touch the strings at the same time, the strings being grounded therefore prevent any buzzing. If in some rare occasion you touch the cover without being in contact with the ground of the guitar (strings or bridge) you will notice a small buzz or hum which shouldn't be a problem under normal playing conditions.

NOTE: April-2017 our Gen-2 Tele neck pickups are fitted with a grounded metal cover and there is no problem with contact buzz. Buy a replacement cover on the Website.

Section 2. -a) No sound from a pickup or -b) no sound from the harness.


Conductor: Any part made of metal. Includes wires, terminals, screws, shielding foil, pot covers, control plates, control knobs made of metal, strings, metal hardware of the guitar and the player himself.

Short circuit: Is where a signal in a conductor is shorted due to that conductor coming into accidental contact with another conductor. If a short exists from a signal part to ground there is no output. Another kind of short is between different signal carrying conductors and that may cause a control or part of the control circuit to not function.

Open circuit: Is where the signal pathway is interrupted when a conductor is broken or disconnected from it’s destination or source.

A variety of situations can mean you get no sound from your harness, usually these things happen during install and can be fixed easily.

a) No sound from one pickup.

1)  If it’s a Tele bridge pickup(next 3 points

2)  Another connection issue can be the pins on the miniature plugs for the pickups can be inadvertently bent out of alignment or just simply don’t sit properly within the socket. This is a rare occurrence but should be checked regardless.

3)  You have done the above with no result. Next measure the resistance of the pickup with a multimeter. Remove the pickup plug from the harness socket and then touch the probes of the multimeter onto the pins of the plug, you should get a reading of between 6Kand 9K ohms, if so skip to 3). If no reading it could mean there is an open circuit caused by a bad solder point or a broken wire in the pickup. Close to Zero ohms means a short circuit, most likely in the cable. This can be caused if too much heat was applied during soldering and the Red sheath has become melted by the shield wires causing the inner wire to contact the outer shield conductor. Close inspect the end of the cable where it connects to the pickup and look for signs of the Red sheath being melted.

4)  If the direct resistance checks out OK insert the plug into the harness socket and select a single pickup alone, other then the subject pickup on the selector switch. Then measure the resistance of the pickup again only this time touch the probes onto the metal pins emanating from the back of the socket. A significantly different result from 2) above might be indicating a problem with connection within the socket or a problem on the circuit board.

5)  If a K9 harness and the bridge pickup has no sound in the series mode then remove any shielding foil covering the area where the pickups mount. This foil is causing a short of the bridge pickup to ground via the mounting screws of the middle pickup.

6)  Still no result: Test the magnet charges of the pickup as follows. The strength of the magnet can be tested by comparing with other magnets using a small wand made from a cut-off from a wound E string (like in the diagram below). Holding the wand at one end in your fingers put the other end onto the top of the magnet and flick it away from the magnet. In this way you can get a good idea of how strong the magnets are just by feeling how much force is required to make the string depart from the top of the magnet. Compare various magnets and see if the suspect one is less strong than any others that are behaving satisfactorily.

b) No sound from harness.

1)  The most common cause with Strat harness is accidental disconnection:

2)  The output cable has been incorrectly connected.

3)  The next most common problem is incorrect connections.

4)  Another common problem concerns a short circuit of the output cable or jack socket. A simple test is to take the little plugs for the output cable out of the Connector Block, connect a guitar cable to the output socket and into a live amplifier. With the amp volume turned down to 1 or 2 touch the tip of the plug on the end of the Red inner of the output cable. If no noise then you have a short circuit in that system. A short circuit on the output system is caused by one of two things:

5)  Occasionally the Red wire gets broken at the jack socket and is hidden under the heat shrink. Test resistance between the hot terminal of the socket and the Red wire or ferrule on the opposite end of the cable with a multimeter. If more than 1 or 2 ohms the solder join or wire may be compromised.

6)  Short circuits between conductors is another possibility.

Section 3. Abnormal sounds:


Out of phase:According to the Kinman glossary, Technical .... When 2 pickups or pickup coils are connected in such a way that the current flows are in opposite directions and tend to cancel one another they are said to be out of phase. A simply analogy is when 2 batteries are connected end to end the wrong way, there is no current. Position 2 and 4 of a Strat switch is not out of phase, in fact quite the opposite...they are in-phase. Out of phase sounds consist of very little bass, dominate mids and highs with a characteristic 'nasal, honky' sound and have a much lower level than normal in-phase sounds.

Output level:The term applied to the amount of electrical or sonic energy outputted from a pickup or amplifier.

1) One pickup has less output than the others.

2) Certain position of the selector switch you hear a honky sound with lower output. This is out-of-phase sound caused by a reversed pickup connection.

3) A pickup has dark sound and very low output. This is probably a partial short circuit caused by melted Red insulation around the inner wire of the shielded cable.

4) A pickup has a thin, nasal, low output sound. This is indicative of an open circuit pickup caused by a broken strand of the copper coil winding.

  1. Solution: the pickup should be returned to us for repair.

5) When using overdrive/distortion (via amp or a pedal) I get a shrill-like sound.

6) One string is dull or dead. This indicates one of the following:-

Test for magnet strength:The strength of the magnet can be tested by comparing with other magnets using a small wand made from a cut-off from a wound E string.

Holding the wand at one end in your fingers put the other end onto the top of the magnet and flick it away from the magnet. In this way you can get a good idea of how strong the magnets are just by feeling how much force is required to make the string depart from the top of the magnet. Compare various magnets and see if the suspect one is less strong than any others that are behaving satisfactorily.

2. Solution: Fit a new string or contact us to arrange re-magnetization as the case may be.

7) The overall sound is muffled, lacks sparkle and has weak output.
Possible fault: The jack socket is mis-aligned in the body cavity causing the hot terminal (the one that pokes out from the socket and contacts the tip of the plug) to come into contact with the cavity wall, causing a partial short circuit with the shielding medium (or wood) resulting in dull sound.

8) In a K9 system there are random crackling noises in position 2 of the selector switch (and the sound can also have low output)

9) Microphonic squeal (feedback)Please refer to Pickup Diagnostic page.

10) Touching any (grounded) hardware such as bridge, strings or metal knobs causes a loud buzz. Cause: the output cable has a reversed connection i.e. the Red (hot) is incorrectly connected to ground.

11) In a K9 harness position 2 (Knob ‘OUT’ in SERIES mode) only the middle pickup works, the bridge does not. The metal foil on the back of the pickguard is covering the entire back surface and contacts the mounting screws for the middle pickup and the middle pickup does not have 3 conductor hook-up cable therefore the bridge hot is connected to ground and is shorted out.

Section 4. Control function issues:

1) The K9 control doesn’t work in all positions.

2) The K9 is popped out in switch position 2 but the sound does not get louder.

3) The K9 control wont stay 'IN".

4) The Tone control doesn't work.

5) Position 2 of selector switch is barely audible in a K9 Harness.

Section 5. Mechanical issues

1) One of my pickup leans or tilts slightly towards the neck.

All pickups should sit at right angles to the pickguard. Leaning can be caused by excessively long mounting screws, cables bunching under the pickup, pickguard screw holes that are off the centerline of the pickups, old pickguards that have shrunk or replacement pickguards whose slots don't align well with the body cavities.

2) I noticed a loose/broken wire at the coil termination point in the baseplate of a pickup (the one where the Red output cable is connected), is this anything to be concerned about?

There are 2 loops of wire from the coil that pass through that termination point in the base plate where the cable connects. The primary connection is achieved in the first pass. Often the end of the second loop will come adrift but it's nothing to worry about. That secondary loop is only there to ensure that the first loop doesn't come adrift.

3) The K9 control will not stay ‘IN’.

The most likely cause is there are too many star washers fitted to the bushing of the control (behind the pickguard), preventing the bushing from poking through the pickguard enough to allow the knob to ‘bottom’ and the clutch to engage. Removing 1 or 2 Star washers should fix this. Continued next page .....

Occasionally the clutch in the switch fails due to the knob being pulled off when set to the 'IN' position. A replacement must be fitted so Contact Kinman.

The knob on the K9 control is loose.

4) The knobs should be an easy but firm slide fit on the Pot shafts. Open the split shaft with extreme care only if the knob is loose. If excessive force is used one half of the split shaft will break off.Also if the knob fits too tightly it will damage the switch when pulling the knob off. CAUTION: The knob on the push/push switch should only be removed with the switch in the ‘OUT’ position. Damage caused by pulling the knob off the shaft with the switch in the ‘IN’ position is not covered by warranty.