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Alternative potting materials

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by shtuck, Sep 4, 2020.

  1. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Has anyone heard of using something other than wax to pot pickups? I'm thinking something soft but firm enough to allow microphonics without squealing. Maybe silicone. Or jello. . I started thinking about this because I like Roy Buchanan's bridge pickup sound and I had heard it was damaged and microphonic. I later read the damage had essentially tapped it somehow, allowing that wild thin brightness he could get with it.
     
  2. ponce

    ponce Tele-Afflicted

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    I think nitro lacquer has been used too.
     
  3. ponce

    ponce Tele-Afflicted

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    I misread the post. Soft? Could be anything. Boiled linseed oil?
     
  4. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't use linseed oil
     
  5. ponce

    ponce Tele-Afflicted

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    It hardens, but remains kind of sticky and jellylike.
     
  6. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    Light potting is a wax dip that doesn't saturate much below the surface of the coil. It can allow some microphonics, but that's dependent on the winding tension and other factors.

    I know we're relentless experimenters, but materials other than paraffin and beeswax have characteristics that aren't desirable.
     
    dogmeat likes this.
  7. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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  8. mojavedesert

    mojavedesert Tele-Meister

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    I use nitro lacquer, even lacquer sanding sealer works really well. Sanding sealer is easier to unwind if you need to unwind. Where I live, wax heats up and drains right out of the pickup if you leave your guitar in the car or the trunk. It's going to be 120 degrees this weekend maybe hotter! The air-conditioner is broken in my backroad pickup truck, that thing is like a torture chamber to drive, but I drive it anyway. My telecaster rides shotgun to the late night porch session down the road. (get drunk and leave that tele it the car and you could have a problem in the morning) Find the lacquer sounds the best to my ears. Dip that pickup in a quart can, twisting the cloth wires like a handle, and hang it on the clothes line to dry. Clean and fresh sounding.
     
  9. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Maybe polyester resin? The UV curing stuff they use on surfboards and more and more guitars.

    Or spray foam insulation. Or maybe that rubber stuff you can dip your worn out tool handles in...:D:eek:

    Just having fun guys...;)
     
  10. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've used candle wax. I found with only slightly microphonic mini buckers that it tamed the pickups just a bit and they still had some microphonics. These pickups would only squeal playing real loud outdoors. (Strat with 3 minis)

    I guess my point, in this instance anyway, is that the wax did do a ton of damping.
     
  11. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! I had not considered lacquer before so I learned something. Innarestin' ;)
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    the reason a blend of Bee's wax and paraffin have been the "go to" for pretty much the life of the guitar is. paraffin alone will eventually dry out and begin flaking off... Beeswax does not.. it remains in its normal state, that characteristic is carried over when blended with paraffin...

    typically the minimum blend is 20% Bee's wax/80% paraffin. However anything up to 100% bees wax is acceptable, though not necessary and results in no gains over the 20/80 blend..

    r
     
  13. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    some scented surf wax might get you there,,,;)

    wax.jpg
     
  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    If you want to get the RB Nancy Tele type of tone ... get a selection of capacitors and put them inline with the pickup hot lead. Start with 0.047uF and go lower and higher until you find what you are looking for. Include pickup height adjustments in your testing. The break in the RB pickup acted like an internal capacitor that cut the capacitance and got rid of muddiness, when measuring the Nancy pickup with a multimeter it read like an 'open' circuit (because it was broken) but the AC current of playing passes through a capacitor or such a break. A similar break happened in one coil of EVH's Frankenstrat humbucker he pulled from a Gibson 335, Fender found that when dissecting the guitar to make $20,000 replicas.

    Wax dipping will only coat the outer layers. Vacuum wax dipping will drive the wax deeper into the coil and clean up the most noise. Use a double boiler when melting wax (wax pan inside larger water bath pan) to avoid flash fires that could burn your house down.

    Using thicker/goop-like materials will not soak into the coils and just lay on the surface like binding tape.

    .
     
  15. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    That brings me to another question. You hear that if you break the coil wire (shoving in magnets etc.) You will have a dead pickup. But all the wires are touching each other in the coil...So is it that the electricity can still find a path to ground through adjacent wire and continue working? And if so why do the number of winds even matter if the current will simply take the shortest path to ground and could skip straight across through to the output? I know this is probably elementary for many but for the rest of us it might be instructive.
     
  16. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Why do coils even work if they're not isolated from each other?
     
  17. edvard

    edvard Tele-Afflicted

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    They ARE isolated. Pickup wire is coated in a thin insulator. Formerly something called Formvar, but nowadays is Poly or something like it.

    EDIT: Apparently, Formvar still is used, but it's now a generic name for any number of Polyvinyl-based coatings commonly used on magnet wire for pickups, transformers, motor windings, etc. Formvar as a brand name and specific formula was owned by Monsanto but has been sold and is now known as "Vinylec".
     
  18. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted

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    You could try no potting, see if there is a problem, and if there is try padding between the top of the coil(s) and the pickup cover with tape.

    This is demonstrated at about 14:45 in this video -



    If you're pickup doesn't use a cover, then this won't work.
     
  19. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    I did not know this. I believe GFS is always mentioning their use of formvar wire. I did not know pickup wire was coated. Crazy
     
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