If shielding tape works so well, then why do noiseless pickup designs exist?

Jakedog

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A Furman is worth its weight in gold for these scenarios.
I’ve had varying experiences with them. They filter EFI/RFI, and the regulate voltage well. But they don’t make pickups and quieter. I’ve still found some places where 60 cycle is just a problem. Especially those joints where the old outlets aren’t grounded.
 

jrblue

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Who ever claimed that shielding (tape, paint) eliminates all hum? There are plenty of unshielded components (notably the tops of pickups if uncovered) as well as other sources for hum and noise, so shielding reduces some noise but not all.
 

northernguitar

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For live playing when I've had a noise issue I just kick the tuner on between songs to mute. While I'm playing the noise isn't noticeable at all because the music drowns it out. YMMV.
This is what I do. If it’s downright unbearable, I’ll switch from P90s to humbuckers.
 

northernguitar

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I’ve had varying experiences with them. They filter EFI/RFI, and the regulate voltage well. But they don’t make pickups and quieter. I’ve still found some places where 60 cycle is just a problem. Especially those joints where the old outlets aren’t grounded.
Yeah…some places are so bad it’s surprising they pass code.
 

11 Gauge

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Who ever claimed that shielding (tape, paint) eliminates all hum? There are plenty of unshielded components (notably the tops of pickups if uncovered) as well as other sources for hum and noise, so shielding reduces some noise but not all.
I semi-regularly see replies like this one, on this very forum: https://www.tdpri.com/threads/my-ta...rzio-and-lawrence-demo.1101704/#post-11411209

...And I quote:
"Aluminum HVAC tape for shielding($4 bucks a roll), takes away all the noise including 60 cycle hum."

It's hardly the first time I've seen someone post that claim, either. It's just the most recent.
 

11 Gauge

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I’m not sure that conservatism is the cause of guitarists not using humbuckers. I don’t avoid humbuckers out of retro adoration - I avoid humbuckers because I prefer the sound of a single coil better.
I'm not necessarily talking about not using humbuckers (meaning like Gibson PAFs). I'm talking about those (like yourself, and actually me, too) who prefer the sound of a single coil, but (if they are conservative) think that any technical variation of the original design, to reduce/eliminate the noise, somehow results in a sonic compromise from the original design. So something like a Strat pickup has got to be an actual single coil of wire on a fiber bobbin, with alnico polepieces.
 

ndcaster

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What did our musical heroes do? The noise must've been unbearable in some places. Humbuckers were invented pretty early for a good reason.

I prefer the single coil look and sound overall, but stacked coils and low-wind humbuckers can sound pretty damn good. And as others have said, the mains hum and RF noise can be overwhelming. It just all depends.

Audience can hear noise, btw. At a certain point, it's a definite negative.
 

Peegoo

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Eliminating all noise is really impossible because it travels on the same wires as the desirable signal.

The more gain you use, the greater the noise-to-signal ratio you'll perceive.

I tend to think about all this in a simple way: instead of eliminating noise, I manage it. There are plenty of ways to manage noise beyond shielding and using so-called 'noiseless' pickup designs.
 

11 Gauge

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For live playing when I've had a noise issue I just kick the tuner on between songs to mute. While I'm playing the noise isn't noticeable at all because the music drowns it out. YMMV.
Yeah, the music drowns out a bit of it, but the exceptions are stuff like intros/outros or when there's a lead and the rest of the band is laying back.

I'm thinking of stuff like the intro to Red House, or the lead in Limelight. When the wiring sucks and you're trying to hold a note and sustain it, it can sound pretty bad. The intro/interlude to Life's Been Good is another one that comes to mind. I play all of these with a Tele, regardless of what Jimi, Alex, or Joe used. Area T pickups make it so much better, when the wiring sucks!
 

loopfinding

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Interesting. I've only experienced the electrostatic noise issue once or twice, and I'm currently going through that with one of my Tele pickguards, when my fingers move around on the surface of the 'guard, and the neck pickup is on. And it's an Area T neck pickup, so you're right - it's not electromagnetic in nature.

...I don't ever think I can recall having issues with electrostatic noise with a bridge pickup though. I guess I've just been lucky.

But the way some folks talk about shielding, I really get the feeling that they're talking about getting rid of electromagnetic noise.

shielding is not about electrostatic, it's just for attenuating higher frequency noise in the audible range ("buzz," not hum). an HB or "noiseless" (stacked HB) pup will only have 50/60 cycle cancellation up to a point. almost everything in our environment is giving off higher frequency harmonics of the line voltage, aside from other nasties. the pickups are like big antennas. the shield is not a faraday cage, but another antenna which basically picks up audio range interference and dumps it straight to ground.
 

loopfinding

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question for the EEs though - why humbuckers (mostly) don't hum but they buzz? never really thought about it.

is it because the resonant freq of the HB is around 2-2.5kHz? considering the coils are never truly matched, i would imagine that the phase cancellation is working in tandem with how attenuated the signal would be down by 50/60Hz or 100/120Hz. whereas buzz is in the neighborhood of the resonant freq.
 

fender4life

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In my eperience the more hum you remove with shielding the more the top end suffers. Some don't notice it but i do big time and i always remove any shielding i find if i buy a guitar that has it. If it's shielding paint, i remove the wire screwed to a painted area then scrape away any paint that would contact the ground.
 

drmordo

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I think the “shielding is fine” argument comes from two camps-

People who mostly play at home and have modern and up to date wiring and electricity.

People who play clean and very low gain and plug straight into the amp.

Because to be fair, when I play in those scenarios, the hum isn’t bad enough to really bug me much. Some top shelf shielding could definitely handle it fine.

Now, if you’re like me, and live in a house built in 1942 that still has all its old knob and tube single conductor wiring, and you also play a LOT in bars that are in 80-150 year old buildings with crap electricity, and neon signs, video slots, and an ATM on the same circuit with the band, and use a pedalboard and some appreciable amounts of gain and compression, you need noiseless pickups. Or a Hum Debugger. Not a noise gate, a Hum Debugger.

If you play in those situations, like I do, all the shielding tape in the world is quite akin to pissing in the ocean and expecting to raise sea level.

How does your Silver Sky do in those situations?
 

schmee

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shielding is not about electrostatic, it's just for attenuating higher frequency noise in the audible range ("buzz," not hum). an HB or "noiseless" (stacked HB) pup will only have 50/60 cycle cancellation up to a point. almost everything in our environment is giving off higher frequency harmonics of the line voltage, aside from other nasties. the pickups are like big antennas. the shield is not a faraday cage, but another antenna which basically picks up audio range interference and dumps it straight to ground.
Actually, shielding DOES work great for stopping electrostatic pick guard crackle.
 

Area51

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The title pretty much says it all, but I would like to know why Lace/Barden/EMG/Lawrence/Zexcoil/Fralin/Mojotone/DiMarzio/Kinman/etc. have gone to the trouble to design and build something noiseless, if shielding tape would actually do the same thing, with identical results.

And I guess it's pretty much the same line of thinking for the Ilitch backplates and pickguards - seems like a lot of time and expense could be avoided.

IIRC, I've only ever had one guitar with the cavities shielded with tape. It was done by the previous owner. I don't seem to remember it completely removing all the hum like my noiseless pickups did. I actually ended up installing a Fast Track T in it for that very reason.

To be clear, I don't intend for this to be a discussion about noiseless pickups sounding different than or inferior to 'real' single coils. I'm talking about the elimination of as much of the hum as is possible.

Does anyone know what the actual science of this is, vs. their own personal experiences? It seems to me that it would be impossible to fully shield a pickup with tape, because you'd have to wrap the whole thing in in it. But that's admittedly just a non-scientific guess.

What I've found from personal experience is taping / painting the cavity doesn't make a huge difference with single coils. It's a faraday cage and does help.

OTOH, I live in a very dry climate and have had electrostatic problems even with HB's. This is caused from your hand rubbing the pickguard while strumming building up charge. I had one guitar with HBs that was so bad that I would bring dryer sheets and wipe the pickguard periodically. Eventually I got sick of the fresh scent (JK!) and took it apart and shielded it. Problem solved.

That guitar was the extreme. However, if I take apart a guitar and there's not shielding inside the cavity, I add it. Usually paint the cavity and tape the back of the pickguard. Paint vs tape.... another argument.
 

brookdalebill

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I cannot function with noisy, humming, buzzing guitars.
I own one guitar with single coil pickups.
I never gig with it.
I used to have all my guitars with single coil pickups fully shielded.
It was never quite enough.
They still hummed at gigs, so I became a devotee of noiseless/hum-cancelling pickups.
 




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