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Author Topic: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery  (Read 3137 times)

Offline randyman

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the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« on: January 29, 2015, 12:54:03 PM »
Things are looking awfully quiet here on the MaxxFly forum. I’ve been thinking about sharing my experience for a while; what will otherwise be a long story can readily be condensed into this easy-to-absorb phrase:

Is your battery draining waaaay too fast? CHECK THE JACK.

I’ll say it once again: just CHECK THE FREAKING JACK to make sure it’s physically breaking the circuit once the guitar cord is removed.

At the end of February last year – 2014 – I received Fern, my beautiful custom Lime Gold DF824 MaxxFly. I don’t have to tell any of you how spectacular these Parkers are; most of you have been lucky enough to experience the feeling of getting to know one of these special instruments.

Less than three weeks later, I was surprised when the brand-new Energizer Advanced Lithium 9V battery I’d put in the guitar was dead. This didn’t make any sense to me; the batteries I put in my Steinberger seemed to last at least a year, and I knew from experience that these Lithium batteries were monsters, with the longest life of any 9V battery on the market. Of course, I always disconnected the cable when I was done practicing; my first thought – literally the first thing that came to mind – is that there was a physical problem with the jack, and that it wasn’t opening the circuit once the cable was unplugged.

I had kind of a funny feeling about it, but wanted to be absolutely sure – so I just replaced the battery (again, a new Energizer Lithium) and took note of the date. Sure enough, just a little over 2 1/2 weeks later, the new battery was dead.

Can I pause to say I love this guitar? I really don’t deserve it; I’m actually a keyboard player, and am pretty much in guitar kindergarten. But I love what trying to play the guitar does to my head; it really scrambles my synapses around, and gets me out of the ruts that 50 years (!) of playing keyboards have left. It’s so much fun. And this guitar is magnificent.

So this battery issue seemed like a small thing; frankly, I was perfectly willing to just replace the battery every few weeks forever, rather than send the guitar out for service. And Matt at Cascade Guitar Lab in Seattle had been such a huge help through the ordering and delivery process that I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to bother him with the issue. Still, I thought I’d best check in with him about what to do.

Again, off on a tangent; though I live in Rhode Island, I chose to order the guitar from Matt in Seattle for a few reasons. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and am very sentimental about what I’ve left behind. I first saw a Lime Gold Parker on Matt’s website, and knew that’s exactly what I wanted – and when I contacted Matt, we got along just great, and even though he’d never actually even see the guitar before it was delivered to me, it made perfect sense to order from him.

Matt’s such a stand-up guy that I honestly feel that the worst part of this entire saga – and you ain’t heard nothin’ yet – was that he went through more stress and suffering throughout this whole process than I did. As far as I’m concerned, it wasn’t his responsibility; remember, since the guitar was drop-shipped from USM, he’d never had any contact with the instrument at all. Yet every step of the way, he treated it as if it was his own personal problem, and it was clear he wouldn’t relax until it was resolved.

SO, back to our main time line. When I contacted Matt, he made a couple of solid points: first, if anything needed to be done, it made complete sense to do it while the guitar was under warranty. Second, even if I was willing to just change the batteries regularly, there was the chance that the preamp could eventually be harmed, and if the guitar was out of warranty at that point, I could be looking at a major expense.

I agreed with him, and contacted his rep Ryan at USM to find a certified Parker tech in my area where I could take the guitar. Ryan was very helpful, apologized for the difficulties I was having, and gave me two contacts in my area. They were both about an hour and a half away, but I like taking road trips, especially for a good cause.

I’m not going to identify the person I wound up going to, except to say that I was less than satisfied with the way things went. The biggest problem was that there was no communication; after I dropped off the guitar, a couple weeks went by with no news, and when I did get a response, I was told the electronics had been replaced and the battery was still draining. I emailed and received no response; waited and emailed again – no response.

Finally, at the one-month mark, I received an email saying I had to come pick up the guitar immediately to be shipped back to USM, as he was leaving for vacation in two days. I was, of course, less than pleased. When I got the guitar back, there were magnetized fret filings clustered around the pickups; just a mess.

When I expressed my dissatisfaction to Ryan at USM he was sympathetic, and I’d be very surprised if they ever sent anyone to this particular tech again. Ryan immediately covered the cost of FedEx shipping off to USM in Illinois, and Fern was on her way the same day.

Well, now I pretty much waited in limbo for another month. I’d write and ask how things were going, and hear that the guitar hadn’t quite made it to the workbench yet. Finally, at the one month mark (again) the guitar shipped back. The first thing I checked were the pickups, as I hadn’t been able to get rid of all those nasty fret filings before I sent it back. I was glad to see the guitar was as clean as a whistle.

But as I was checking things out, one of the control knobs came off in my hand. This was easy to fix – I just tightened it in place with an allen wrench – but it didn’t speak well for how thoroughly the guitar had been double-checked before leaving the bench. Again, I replaced the factory battery with a new Lithium cell, crossed my fingers and marked my calendar.

Have you guessed already? Just over two and a half weeks later, the battery was dead as a doornail. I was starting to freak – poor Matt was definitely freaked! – and I placed another call to Ryan. Now, I don’t want to get on his case, but I feel like mentioning this, because now was the second time it came up.

When I left the guitar with the first tech, I was astonished – and that’s not overstating it – to learn that he had never heard of a Lithium 9V battery. His first response was “Well, there’s your problem” – it gave me a bad feeling from the word go. In case there are those of you out there who are in the same boat, I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but just for emphasis: It’s a 9V battery. Just a standard 9V battery, like all the others, except more expensive because it has the best lifespan you can get. It’s nothing new; they’ve been around for a while, and you can use them anywhere you’d use an alkaline 9V battery. Period.

So when Ryan asked if I was still using a Lithium cell, I almost started to do a slow burn, because… I knew the battery was not the issue. At this point the tech had replaced the electronics, USM had replaced the electronics, and the problem had not been resolved. Ryan was helpful once again, and prepared another FedEx label (at USM’s expense) to send Fern back for the second time.

This time, even though I’m not a guitar tech by any means, I specifically asked Ryan to make absolutely sure that the guitar’s jack wasn’t failing to break the circuit. It just seemed like the most apparent suspect to me, and I wasn’t satisfied that it had ever actually been addressed.

I was relieved when on this round trip, it only took three weeks for the guitar to return. I strapped her up, went to plug her in… and paused. Something was completely different. This time, when I inserted the plug into the jack, it stopped, meeting solid resistance. I had to press harder at that midpoint before the plug clicked through the resistance, and snapped all the way in.

This had never happened before. It wasn’t my imagination; there had simply never been any resistance before when I inserted the plug. This really made me believe that there had indeed been a physical issue with the jack. Once again, I put in a new battery, and marked the calendar. That was November 21, 2014.

It’s been ten weeks now, and the battery is still going strong; everything’s working perfectly. I’m completely satisfied that the issue has in fact finally been addressed. Nearly a year ago, I started posting here that I was having a problem; I’m hoping that in the future, anyone who searches for the word “battery” will come across this post, and my contention that there was a simple physical issue with the jack all along. (Edit for emphasis – from the end of February to nearly the end of November is nearly 9 months, a third of which I was without the guitar – ouch!)

Despite my own lack of patience and (at times) frustration, I do want to thank Ryan at USM for all his help, and willingness to cover all the transportation costs twice. I realize that USM has many customers and a lot going on, and that I’m not the only one to have an issue and hope to be first in line for attention. The fact is, USM stuck with the problem until it was completely resolved, and I’m very grateful for that.

The unsung hero through the whole process has been Matt at Cascade Guitar Lab. I’m not kidding when I say he suffered with this, and much more than I did. The analogy I used when I was talking with him is that I loved the guitar like it was my kid; all I wanted was for it to be well, and I wasn’t going to get frustrated and blame the doctors, or feel that I got “the wrong guitar.” To anyone out there dreaming of a Parker, and going through this forum as part of the process, I urge you to talk with Matt. You’ll quickly understand why – even after this lengthy and less-than-pleasant experience – I’m eager to endorse him to anyone looking for an instrument.

If you’ve stuck with this nearly 2,000 word missive, thanks. Let me say it again – I love this guitar. I’d hope other buyers have less of a hassle, but I’d do it all over again. I like to think that everyone learned from the experience, and this sort of thing is less likely to happen again. Every time I pick up the guitar, I feel like it’s a privilege and a joy, and I know that many (or most!) guitarists – all far more accomplished than me – never get to have that same feeling. The right one is definitely worth waiting for.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2015, 02:11:48 PM by randyman »

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery

Offline sybersitizen

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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2015, 01:42:56 PM »
Good to know!
'01 Fly Deluxe|'69 SG Standard|'69 EB-3|Pignose Strat|Savannah SGO-16CE|Glen Burton GE47|Dean Vendetta 7-String|Loog 3-String|Fishman Aura Spectrum|Roland Amplifiers

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery

Offline Bill

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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2015, 09:02:57 PM »
Sorry you had to go threw that. Glad it ended well.
A few Flys in my soup

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery

Offline guitarmanuk

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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2015, 06:53:50 AM »
Thanks for the heads up.  And can I just say, that colour is gorgeous  8)

1997 Parker Fly Classic transparent Teal Green
1997 Parker Fly Concert Butterscotch

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery

Offline danjazzny

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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2015, 10:50:50 AM »
You have a lot of patience. At least it all had a happy ending!   8)
'99 Simonized Artist 4lbs13oz; '97 TransRed Artist 4lbs9oz; '00 TransCherry Classic w/SD's 5lbs3oz; Line 6 Vetta II

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery

Offline edwebb

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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2015, 01:22:07 AM »
I'm glad I found this. I have a PDF105 that is draining brand new batteries awfully quickly. It had a problem with the bridge, so it's been to USM once. Came back working beautifully in every respect except for the battery drain. I guess I need to refer them to this post when I talk to them about it.

Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery


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Re: the saga of a DF 824, and its draining battery
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2015, 03:58:51 PM »
Why wouldn't you just solder a new Switchcraft 1/4 " Stereo Plug into it for a few bucks & see if the trouble is cured..
I've had several basses & guitars that needed the output jack replaced..

Welcome to the forum..

Great write up by the OP about his quest for the fix..

I too use the Lithium Ion 9 Volt batteries in all my guitars & basses..

EMG 81/85 Equipped Parker aka "White Water"
« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 04:01:41 PM by HEADKNOCKER »