Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

shielding is bad

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by adjason, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2010
    I noticed that many of my single coil guitars have the hum that goes with them. I figured I would give shielding a try, I painted the cavaties with shielding paint and copper taped this to the pickguard metal foil. The good news is that the hum in almost gone and it makes no difference if I touch the strings or not. The bad news is that it does suck some of the tone away. I pulled the pickguards away from the shielding tape and the tone was better-brighter but with more clarity. I just did this with two strat like builds and will never shield another guitar. I'm hoping that if I just sever this ground connection I can keep the cavaties painted and it will sound like it did before. Just my take on the debate.

  2. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    So, you used copper tape to connect the cavity shielding to the pick guard shielding? The sound is brighter when you removed that copper tape? I wouldn't think the copper tape would affect the pick guard shielding ground, because it should be grounded through the pot housings, right? Perhaps the proximity of the copper tape near the pickups causes some slight high end loss? I'm interested if removing that copper tape connection solves the problem. The more I hear of things like this, the less I'd be inclined to shield pickup cavities, but I still like how the thick Aluminum pick guard shielding softens the upper mids of my pickups.

  3. Dr. Pants

    Dr. Pants Banned

    Jun 27, 2011
    What about the Bill Lawrence idea of using
    a thin piece of aluminum foil in the cavity?
    And according to him, a little goes a long way.

  4. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

    Jan 9, 2010
    Well I used the copper tape to link the shielding painted cavities to the small foil on the pickguard-thus grounding the cavities and the pots etc together. Then to test it out I tried it out then removed a couple of pickguard screws and stuck a guitar pick over the tape so the connection was lost. I did not like the tone on the 54 reissue strat pickups or the 57/62 pickups- the exception was the 57/62 neck pickup which dulled down a bit and became more useful. The other pickups it kind of dulled out -that magic biting but not harsh sound seemed to be gone. I am thinking that the full pickguard shield may already give you the same sound I was getting. I do think it might work well on American standard pickups which usually sound a bit bright to me. My advice- if you try it out use the tape-I used the paint and would remove it if it was easy to do. I don't like really bright strats and teles but I like clarity.

  5. rdeeno

    rdeeno TDPRI Member

    Dec 5, 2012
    East Texas
    I have only used the thin aluminum shields like Callaham makes, but never noticed any tone change when I installed the shields.

  6. redstringuitar

    redstringuitar Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 6, 2009
    Tried it once in my strat and couldn't get it out of there quick enough...left the shield under the guard for a while but ended up ditching that also.

    I suppose it all boils down to what you're prepared to put up with noise wise vs what you're prepared to lose tone wise. If I was still gigging those pubs and halls with all manner of mains mayhem happening, I'd probably compromise in favour of noiseless pups over shielding tbh.

  7. Tonetele

    Tonetele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    Just finished helping a novice who had actually discarded the shielding. I freaked, but grounded everything. Used a set of Lace Sensors BTW. No or /little buzz that I could hear. My belief is if everythings grounded, pots, p/ups, bridge output jack, she'll be right.But that is JMHO.

  8. Tele-phone man

    Tele-phone man Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2006
    Asheville, NC
    Noiseless operation is crucial to me, so I always opt for both. I've never noticed a loss in clarity using shielding, but I sure have noticed the loss of noise. Once I had a cap connecting all shielding (including strings) to the volume pot housing (per guitarnuts instructions). That contact became intermittent. I could make it come and go by pressing on a certain spot on the pickguard. The only change I could hear was in the noise level, which was dramatic. I couldn't hear the treble content of the tone change. At the time I was using Lace Sensors that didn't have the treble clarity of my current Wilde L280s.

    I find your experience astonishing, as I have never heard a loss of tone with shielding. If it's there on my guitars and I'm just not hearing it, it has to be VERY subtle; certainly small enough to compensate with a minute change in amp setting.
    Steve Holt likes this.

  9. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    From our talks and his writings, you won't notice anything with one layer of 0.003" foil, but the tone will be affected differently with 0.015-0.025" of Al foil depending on its orientation to a pickup. Generally, I think you'd loose some highs if it is mounted vertically in the pickup cavity walls, and I know it subtly softens the upper mids when mounted horizontally under the pick guard. You probably wouldn't notice it with a very high inductance pickup without much highs to begin with. I think it's not recommended to use under the pickup. I actually talked with him for a while today and was going to ask him about all this, but I forgot. Maybe next time.

  10. Donelson

    Donelson Tele-Afflicted

    May 31, 2011
    Nashville TN
    How do these bogus notions get out there? -- these internet forums. This is the umpteenth time I've seen this canard.

    There is no validity to the notion that shielding your guitar alters its "tone". If done correctly, that is. User error is a possibility, as with just about everything. Yet, shielding a guitar correctly is quite easy.

    If you disagree, then why not go ahead and remove ALL shielding. Amp, cables, anywhere you find it. See what that sounds like.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

  11. GigsbyBoyUK

    GigsbyBoyUK Friend of Leo's

    Apr 30, 2008
    Peterborough, UK
    FWIW my shielded guitars sound fine to me and whether the tone was harmed compared to before the shielding I can't say... if loss of tone means loss of some treble, there's a little knob on the amp that can fix that.

  12. dadder

    dadder Tele-Meister

    Sep 10, 2011
    Northern Ireland
    Some people can "tell" your future by looking at your palm.

    I wonder why those people don't always win the lottery.

    If you shield a guitars control cavity i.e. to include ALL wiring and ground ALL the shielding, it will greatly reduce hum and will not affect the guitars tone one bit.
    But, you know the old saying?..

  13. Mightyaxeman

    Mightyaxeman Tele-Afflicted

    May 12, 2007
    Unless you've experienced it yourself and can vouch for the fact that it does. It does.

  14. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    Any metal in proximity to the coils can potentially alter the field through eddy currents. How much affect it has depends on it's mass and orientation. This is a not a myth. Here's a little video showing the phenomena:

    Take a brass cover over the coils as an example. They reduce the highs significantly. Some pickups use brass shields around the sides, which affect the response in other ways. I don't think 0.003" foil of any type would have any affect. There can be other issues with it acting as an antenna in certain cases, or simply shorting on the bottom pickup lugs. I haven't found any benefit using it in the pickup cavities.

  15. Tele-phone man

    Tele-phone man Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2006
    Asheville, NC
    The amount of electrical capacitance of a capacitor is determined by the size of the plates, the distance between the plates, and the material of the dielectric (matter between the plates). What I'm hearing people saying is that they are willing to accept the significant capacitive effects of a metal cover on their Tele neck pickup (the degree of which is determined by the metal chosen), but are absolutely unwilling to accept any coloration whatsoever in high-frequency response of their guitar from graphite paint in the pickup or control cavities? Even if such minor loss is the trade-off of the benefit of dramatically reducing noise?

    If you are experiencing noticeable treble loss from shielding, I submit that you did something wrong. I can't say what that might be, but it just doesn't make sense from an electrical veiwpoint. The distance from the shielding material and your actual pickups is very large; a significant fraction of an inch. And in no case is that shielding between the top of the pickup and the string, such as with a Tele cover. Further, every electronic device (including amps and pedals, as well as cell phones, radios, stereos, etc.) relies on shielding to achieve a reasonable signal to noise ratio. Why are electric guitars the only exception to this practice?

    IF you lose some highs with shielding (and I'm not saying you don't; I just never have), just turn up the treble on your amp a tad. You will STILL be better off than before. You're overall signal to noise ratio has improved. You care about noise; you wouldn't have tried shielding in the first place if you didn't. If you have to increase the treble on your amp significantly to restore your tone, take your guitar to a good tech; you did something wrong with that shielding job.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012

  16. HOBBSTER01

    HOBBSTER01 Friend of Leo's

    Nov 23, 2007
    Ringgold, Ga.
    I've shielded every single coil I've ever owned and never noticed any loss of tone.

  17. ClassicalSmash

    ClassicalSmash TDPRI Member

    Sep 7, 2011
    E Tx
    I've used Stew mac's shielding paint on quite a few guitars. The only problem I've had with loss of tone is when a hot lead ,either from the jack, pot, or switch, was touching the shielding. Otherwise, I have never experienced a loss of brilliance or clarity.

  18. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Dec 29, 2010
    I'm a little puzzled by this. Do you mean you removed the screws from the pickguard and raised it away from the body, and the guitar got clearer? Are you sure the new calrity isn't because the pickups are closer to the strings, and not because of a shielding problem?

    I guess what I'm wondering is if you just need to raise your pickups...

  19. GCKelloch

    GCKelloch Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 10, 2011
    MA USA
    My main question is whether Copper, Graphite, or Aluminum shielding is better in the control cavities. I don't know. I guess shielding the pickup cavities is useful, if the pickups aren't already shielded. I'm going to ask BL about all this at some point.

  20. Donelson

    Donelson Tele-Afflicted

    May 31, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I like the 3M copper tape. It is thin & pliable but strong & has conductive adhesive. You can get a roll, "lifetime supply", for $30-40, but I just get it by the foot from some e-bay seller. Doing this makes the string ground almost unnecessary, but I still connect it anyway.

    Zero difference in "tone".

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