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copper shield affect tone

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Progbusters, Nov 26, 2010.

  1. Progbusters

    Progbusters Tele-Meister

    474
    Nov 1, 2010
    Northern California
    After reading some posts here I decided to try shielding the pickup cavity of my humbucker. Its now quieter.

    But is it affecting the tone? I am not sure - maybe I should have recorded the before and after sounds to make a better comparison. I'm afraid the sound changed slightly. It seems duller and not as crisp. Or am I imagining things?
     

  2. fenderaddict

    fenderaddict Former Member

    222
    Jan 23, 2009
    los angeles
    IMO, yes, it does. This is why i never shield my guitars. In fact, my CV is shielded with paint and i'm thinking it may have something to do with the neck P/U's darkness, at least to some degree. Now heres the thing....you're probably going to get most everyone else telling you the opposite because every time i have mentioned this everyone that replies always says the opposite. All i know is that i have shielded strats in the past and always ended up removing it because it dulled the tone. You seemed to have heard it too, so you know i'm not just imagining it. Maybe some or most don't notice it but i sure do.
     

  3. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Ad Free Member

    Age:
    72
    Nov 28, 2004
    Mint Hill, NC
    What he said.
     

  4. Bud Veazey

    Bud Veazey Tele-Holic

    741
    Aug 3, 2010
    Lawrenceville, GA
    I don't see how shielding, properly installed and grounded, could affect tone. However, if you hear a difference, it's real. It really doesn't matter what the "experts" say. I suspect one of the more scientific minds on the forum will explain why shielding might or might not affect tone.
     

  5. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

    It can dull up a perfectly good guitar. None of mine are shielded.
     

  6. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I don't shield my guitars either because the first one I did lost tone after I shielded it.
     

  7. RockerDuck

    RockerDuck Friend of Leo's

    Jan 29, 2010
    Marietta,GA
    I only shield my amp.
     

  8. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

    Apr 25, 2003
    NC-USA
    What do you all think about just shielding the control cavity?

    Affect on tone of paint vs. tape? I'm guessing the paint would have a lot less capacitance than the foil.
     

  9. fenderaddict

    fenderaddict Former Member

    222
    Jan 23, 2009
    los angeles
    Wow, thats odd. Any time i've said this in the past at other forums i nearly get flogged for suggesting shielding affects tone. Glad to see here it seems to be the opposite.
     

  10. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Vermont
    Funny thing is, there are times when losing a little bit of the highs is not such a bad thing. Lets not always assume that shielding is necessarily a bad thing.
     
    TeleTucson likes this.

  11. redstringuitar

    redstringuitar Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 6, 2009
    Wales
    Yes it does, I stopped doing it for that reason...trust your ears, theories and multimeters don't do tone.
     

  12. David Collins

    David Collins Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2009
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Shielding a pickup cavity, where it is within the range of magnetic field of the pickups, it certainly has potential to affect the way the field moves and therefore affect the tone.

    Shielding the control cavity is well outside this range however, and will not have any effect on the tone.

    As Telenator said, of course change does not always equal a negative effect. If this were the case, no one would leave covers on their humbuckers or Tele neck pickups, and everyone would be removing the base plates from their Tele bridge pickups, and replacing their Tele bridge plates with a Strat style bridge and mounting the pickup to a pickguard. Change is change. Better or worse is subjective.
     

  13. telekazamm

    telekazamm Tele-Meister

    362
    Nov 4, 2010
    Kansas
    I like the noise, Its an electric, it should be noisy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     

  14. red57strat

    red57strat Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 4, 2003
    Massachusetts

    I agree with both statements. Yes, it can dullen tone. Sometimes that can be good (the stock neck pickup on a Tele, for example).

    Other than the cover on the neck pickup on my Tele, my guitars are not shielded. I play a Tele and keep a Guitar with humbucking pickups as a backup if I run into a noise issue.
     

  15. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

    948
    Oct 13, 2009
    Johnson City, TN
    Any conductor within a magnetic field can alter the behavior of the field. The magnitude of the effect is related to the specific conductivity of the material and the mass of the material. The typical materials used for shielding tend to be very low mass, but of high conductivity.

    Compared to the nickel silver cover of a humbucker the amount of copper used to shield the entire cavity and pickguard of a strat is very small, while conductivity is similar. Humbucker covers also have the added issue of having their large mass close to, and completely surrounding magnets of the pickup. So the effects of metal covers are much more easily observed. But even with thin foil shielding there is still the possibility for some observed effect.

    Realistically speaking though this effect, when noticed, can easily be compensated for by increasing the value of the tone pot and/or using a slightly smaller value tone capacitor. Increasing a strat's tone pot from 250k to 500k should give you more treble than you might ever want.

    Personally I think most of what people are hearing when they shield their guitar is loss of noise. It is well recognized that even very small amounts of distortion can be perceived as a form of 'sweetness', and since most of what shielding tends to reduce is high frequency noise this lost noise is can be perceived as lost tone.
     

  16. Frontier9

    Frontier9 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    58
    Dec 10, 2007
    Greetings from Sunny New Jersey
    If there is a slight loss of upper frequencies, there's usually at least one way to recover them... I never really understood this argument...
     
    hemingway and RLee77 like this.

  17. porknblue

    porknblue Tele-Holic

    624
    Dec 27, 2007
    South Bend, IN
    Interesting. Another piece of the puzzle has fallen into place.

    My 2009 standard is paint shielded and is darker than my others. There are some variables here though, pup type, bridge construction, saddle composition but the trend seems to be that my shielded guitars are darker.

    Didn't know this and I didn't identify this characteristic on my own. Thanks.
     

  18. Steely_Ken

    Steely_Ken Tele-Meister

    388
    May 28, 2010
    Austin Texas
    Depends if you are running a cleaner tone or over driven...
    I shielded my USA Tele cavitys with copper tape from Stew mack
    Works good for me as far as killing the hum aprox 80%.
    I noticed no major change in tone..
    A heavily over driven or effected sound can cause the tone knob to be less effective and
    increase hum to intolerable levels with a Telecaster.
    I like using a Tele for cleaner sounds because of the way the tone and vol controls work. Some hum comes in this territory.
    I do not care for the Tele anti-hum PUs
    Most Teles sound different from each other but still sound like a a Tele...
    Single coil vs Humbucker, for me always wins with the Single coil because I can do more with it and prefer that sound.
     

  19. David Collins

    David Collins Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 28, 2009
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Be very careful in being too quick to credit causation based solely on correlation. Pickup type, bridge construction, saddles, different pieces of wood in the bodies and necks - there are a lot of major variables here, and the shielding I would argue as likely far less influence than almost any of the others.

    If someone wanted to do a fairly reasonable test, it would be nice to find two or three identical guitars which sound as close as possible to one another, enough so that if a player were to play them behind a screen, listeners wouldn't consistently be able to identify which they were hearing at any time. Take one of the guitars, and shield the pickup cavities as heavily as you're ever likely to find in shielding. Then repeat the test and see if listeners would be able to reliably pick out the guitar that had been shielded.

    Of course this would have to be first carried out in a low noise environment if you were interested in effect on tone. It would be interesting to introduce some noise after the initial survey was done however, to see how reliably the shielded guitar could be identified based on it's efficacy in reducing noise.

    Not the simplest test, nor the most infallible. Really want at least some fairly honest appraisal of the effects of shielding pickup cavities though, and this seems a reasonable approach for comparison.
     

  20. drf64

    drf64 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    54
    Jul 24, 2009
    Ada, MI
    Yes. Shielding affects it for the better in most cases. I've never been disappointed.

    However you need to observe strict star grounding rules and make sure all of your foil/paint is in contact with the ground.

    dan
     

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