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Concerns about my Syn Custom S

Millie Imber

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Nov 11, 2019
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Hi all,
Yesterday, I purchased a Syn Gates Custom-S, the black and gold glossy model. This was second-hand, and for a fairly reasonable price. The seller had owned it for a fair while, but hadn't played it properly for a bit since he had others, hence why he sold it.

At first I thought it sounded fine, I didn't entirely know what I was listening for with the Sustainiac as this was my first experience with one. The seller acknowledged it needed new strings, which I've gone ahead and ordered. It was run through quite a big set-up, so it probably sounded a lot better.

So I took it home, and hooked it up to my amp. I experimented with all my different settings and began working out what the different switches on the guitar do, but something didn't sound right.
  • The sustainiac barely holds at all, no matter what setting it's on, but I know it's working somewhat because it holds a very quiet and high-pitch note. The bridge pickup appears fine. Additionally, I've noticed that the pickup selector makes almost no difference when selecting both and bridge (Though when the sustainiac is turned off and the neck is selected, no noise is heard at all, which is how I figured out how to turn the thing on and off. I'm assuming this is supposed to happen, so I'm not worried about that part. I know some parts of the selector may not work properly as I had this issue previously on another guitar.
  • The tone knob doesn't work at all. It makes absolutely no difference no matter what setting the guitar or the amp is on, and I've tried everything.
  • The main volume knob is where I realised I had a problem regarding the sustainiac - It was extremely finicky. The slightest adjustment caused the whole thing to go pretty much silent. It only works in one tiny region somewhere in the middle, and even then, the sustainiac barely holds. Compared to what it should sound like according to online videos and tests, etc. it's pretty much non-existent.
Should I be worried about all of this? is there something I need to do? I've put in a new battery, I've put some switch cleaner in the back of the actual switches, and I need to wait a few days for my strings to arrive, but otherwise I've tried everything I can think of. I'm worried I've not been told the full story and that the guitar is not in the full-working condition it was listed as. I can include pictures if needed.

Thank you all.
 
Last edited:

Ed Seith

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    The Sustainiac uses a 9v battery, in a compartment on the back. Replace that, and see if it makes a difference, then re-evaluate the rest. You may need to either pull the back cover and see if someone tweaked the wiring or have a competent tech take a look at it.

    Even if the wiring needs to be completely redone, it shouldn't be much more than $50US, but that may be a choice you have to make. Either way, it will all start with that 9v battery for the Sustainiac.
     

    Millie Imber

    Active Member
    Nov 11, 2019
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    The Sustainiac uses a 9v battery, in a compartment on the back. Replace that, and see if it makes a difference, then re-evaluate the rest. You may need to either pull the back cover and see if someone tweaked the wiring or have a competent tech take a look at it.

    Even if the wiring needs to be completely redone, it shouldn't be much more than $50US, but that may be a choice you have to make. Either way, it will all start with that 9v battery for the Sustainiac.
    I've just gotten my dad to look at it (He knows wayyyy more than I do about the tech side of things), he's tried two different brand new 9V batteries with no difference, and the wiring looks to be okay. The switch cleaner made a small difference where the volume knob no longer screeches when changed, but otherwise no difference. It's still possible that it needs to be redone though.
     

    Daniel Verde

    Active Member
    Nov 11, 2019
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    You might need to raise the sustainiac closer to the strings. It is an electromagnet, but if it is not close enough to the strings it will not take the desired effect. There are screws on each side of the sustainiac that should allow you to raise and lower it. Let me know if this helps!
     

    Millie Imber

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    You might need to raise the sustainiac closer to the strings. It is an electromagnet, but if it is not close enough to the strings it will not take the desired effect. There are screws on each side of the sustainiac that should allow you to raise and lower it. Let me know if this helps!
    I'll give it a try and see how that goes!
     
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Millie Imber

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    As Daniel said sustainiac near the strings and tone knob needs to be at maximum otherwise the sustainiac barely works. What cable you using? I had a problem with one of my guitar cables I changed for another one and sustainiac started working xD
    Ahh, gotcha. My worry with the tone is it doesn't seem to affect the bridge pickup. Is this normal? I'll dig out another cable and see if that helps!
    where did you buy it from? I know it was 2nd hand but was it ebay, facebook etc?
    It was Facebook Marketplace. Listing said it had been used a fair bit, but everything worked as intended.
     

    Ethan Keeling

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    Ahh, gotcha. My worry with the tone is it doesn't seem to affect the bridge pickup. Is this normal? I'll dig out another cable and see if that helps!

    It was Facebook Marketplace. Listing said it had been used a fair bit, but everything worked as intended.
    if your not happy with the product maybe give facebook a email saying that what you recieved was faulty and was falsesly advertised?
     

    Millie Imber

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    if your not happy with the product maybe give facebook a email saying that what you recieved was faulty and was falsesly advertised?
    We're certainly considering it if we can't get it working, or at least sending the guy a message. I was a bit worried when I took the whammy bar off to put it in the case and part of it that held it in place fell into the body, so we had to pull it out from the back.
     

    carlosmqr

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    Ahh, gotcha. My worry with the tone is it doesn't seem to affect the bridge pickup. Is this normal? I'll dig out another cable and see if that helps!

    I dont think thats normal, but I cant really remember when I had problems with mine if the tone knob was really working. Because with the other cable I just had my bridge pick up working as soon as I changed it it started working just fine...just give it a try you never know.
     

    Ed Seith

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    We're certainly considering it if we can't get it working, or at least sending the guy a message. I was a bit worried when I took the whammy bar off to put it in the case and part of it that held it in place fell into the body, so we had to pull it out from the back.

    It's sounding like this is the abused puppy. It could certainly wind up being amazing, but it's gonna take a lot of love and patience to get it there.
     
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Haydguitar

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    It sounds to me like it is shorting in the circuit! The sustainiac should function as an active neck pick up when the sustainiac switch is off. It doesn’t function as a neck pick up when the sustainiac switch is on, as it is functioning as a magnetic driver, which is amplifying the note and string vibration. I personally would not delve too deep into this yourself and would take it to an experienced guitar tech..., and I say this as a full time guitar tech as I know how tricky it can be trying to find the route of the problem as it can be a multitude of things, which sounds the case with your tone and volume too! :) save yourself the time and headache and let someone else do it! Don’t worry though, it should be an easy fix!
     
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    Millie Imber

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    It's sounding like this is the abused puppy. It could certainly wind up being amazing, but it's gonna take a lot of love and patience to get it there.
    Possibly. I've just had another crack at it, and there was a moment where it did seem to work, but then it pretty much just died again. Then it started making horrible feedback-like noises, and even when we switched it all off it kept doing it. Is that normal? The height of the pickup was adjusted, but even when we took it back down, it kept doing so.
     

    carlosmqr

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    It can do feedback like noises if the harmonic mode is on, the bottom switch have three positions, normal, mix and harmonic if its in the harmonic mode will for sure make some feedback like noises...but I dont really know if that was the case.
     

    Nocturne

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    The weird knobes seems to me like a failed attempt of rewiring. This isn't something I often say, I'm more of a "do it yourself" kind of guy, but as the Sustainiac wiring is very complex and sensitive, I think you should see a luthier.
     

    Millie Imber

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    Alright, here's an update. So I've given it a bit more of a play about to see what I could do and if things would improve. More batteries were tried, the sustaniac height has been adjusted, we took the back off and put some switch cleaner in the switches and pots to see if there'd be anything, had another look at the wiring, tried new cables, different amps, etc. At first, there was a small bit of hope as the volume pot tried coming to life, but after that it just died again. Still nothing from the tone pot at all. A lot of the time, there can be a lot of feedback from all three positions on the harmonic switch if the sustaniac is on, no matter where the sustaniac height is or how far away I am from the amp (strings can just start aggressively vibrating without even being touched at all)

    I've tried getting in contact with the previous owner Monday morning, but heard nothing as of yet. I'm not going to attempt to re-wire it, and I thought about getting someone to look at it, but given the circumstances, I'm likely going to try and return it and scrape together a bit more cash for a newer one in better condition, since I'm needing it fairly urgent for a lot of college work (Music tech and performance, lots of recording, etc).

    Thank you everyone for all your advice on trying to solve the issues, I really appreciate it! \m/
     

    Steven Bellah

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    Alright, here's an update. So I've given it a bit more of a play about to see what I could do and if things would improve. More batteries were tried, the sustaniac height has been adjusted, we took the back off and put some switch cleaner in the switches and pots to see if there'd be anything, had another look at the wiring, tried new cables, different amps, etc. At first, there was a small bit of hope as the volume pot tried coming to life, but after that it just died again. Still nothing from the tone pot at all. A lot of the time, there can be a lot of feedback from all three positions on the harmonic switch if the sustaniac is on, no matter where the sustaniac height is or how far away I am from the amp (strings can just start aggressively vibrating without even being touched at all)

    I've tried getting in contact with the previous owner Monday morning, but heard nothing as of yet. I'm not going to attempt to re-wire it, and I thought about getting someone to look at it, but given the circumstances, I'm likely going to try and return it and scrape together a bit more cash for a newer one in better condition, since I'm needing it fairly urgent for a lot of college work (Music tech and performance, lots of recording, etc).

    Thank you everyone for all your advice on trying to solve the issues, I really appreciate it! \m/
    Did you try adjusting the pots on the sustaniac board, underneath the rear cover. 2 little blue knobs that are easy to miss. You'll need a small Philips head to adjust them.
     
    Synner Endless Summer Collection

    Millie Imber

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    Did you try adjusting the pots on the sustaniac board, underneath the rear cover. 2 little blue knobs that are easy to miss. You'll need a small Philips head to adjust them.
    Yeah, we did have a bit of a look at them, but it didn't do anything unfortunately and we didn't wanna mess with them too much just in case.
     

    Daniel Verde

    Active Member
    Nov 11, 2019
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    Alright, here's an update. So I've given it a bit more of a play about to see what I could do and if things would improve. More batteries were tried, the sustaniac height has been adjusted, we took the back off and put some switch cleaner in the switches and pots to see if there'd be anything, had another look at the wiring, tried new cables, different amps, etc. At first, there was a small bit of hope as the volume pot tried coming to life, but after that it just died again. Still nothing from the tone pot at all. A lot of the time, there can be a lot of feedback from all three positions on the harmonic switch if the sustaniac is on, no matter where the sustaniac height is or how far away I am from the amp (strings can just start aggressively vibrating without even being touched at all)

    I've tried getting in contact with the previous owner Monday morning, but heard nothing as of yet. I'm not going to attempt to re-wire it, and I thought about getting someone to look at it, but given the circumstances, I'm likely going to try and return it and scrape together a bit more cash for a newer one in better condition, since I'm needing it fairly urgent for a lot of college work (Music tech and performance, lots of recording, etc).

    Thank you everyone for all your advice on trying to solve the issues, I really appreciate it! \m/
    That is really unfortunate. Tough luck. All I'll say is that the sustainiac is extremely fun but not necessarily a perfect system. I find that you sometimes need to mute strings that you aren't using while it is on. For me it works great, it just required a little getting used to. I really hoped you could get it working. But it sounds like you know what you are talking about. And it very well may be defective. Of course it's difficult to diagnose over the internet. But I have one last suggestion for you...

    Take your guitar to a music store that also has a Syn Gates Custom S. I want you to familiarize yourself with a brand new model in the store and see exactly how your model compares to the one in the store. Between that and consulting with the staff(preferably a guitar tech) you can determine what your best course of action will be.