Saturday, March 2, 2019

Guitar pickup wax potting

I've a telecaster copy by Tradition Guitars, it's a tobacco sunburst from 2005 and it sounds pretty good for the price.

Times ago i shift the default ceramic pickup with a set of Alnico 5 Vintage Plus TRT1 by ToneRider. Those pickups sounds very very good! Indeed, I want to mount those pickup on another Telecaster model I've, but I do not want to leave the Tradition TL without Alnico, so, I've buy a set of FLEOR Vintage Alnico 5 pickups from China for less than 20Eur with shipping.
The set it's composed of course by a neck and a bridge pickup for Tele syle guitar, they are wax potted, magnets are Alnico 5, and the resistance almost fits the specification, namely neck is 6k7 and bridge is 6k3.

I was skeptical about those pickups, the delivery was really fast just 2 weeks, when mounted I have to change my mind. The Fleor set sounds as vintage as the TonerRider, the bridge one it's a little bassy sounding in contrat to the ToneRider, but overall they have really a good "feeling".
BUT, there's a BUT here, cause we are speaking about guitar pickup potting on this post, the bridge one was microphonic, as soon as I plug the overdrive on it starts hissing.
I've read comments from other buyer of Fleor, no one has microphonic issues, so I think mine was just an oversight.
To me this is the opportunity to learn how to pot a pickup, in fact so i did, and with the wax potting I've solved all the issues.
I decide to disassemble this pickup and pot it.
Guitar pickup potting is a process whereby the pickup coil are encaplusated in a substance that inhibits the coil movement that may cause oscillations and so hissing. Many new pickups are potting using epoxy glue, but old and vintage pickups use wax.
When I remove the tape around the coils of the bridge pickup I've notice that it was potted, but the wax does not soaks coils under the tape, it seems to me that the employee that pot this pickup forgot to leave this enough time in wax or do pot with the tape on it.

Warning! Paraffin is flammable and fumes may be toxics. Do pot in open environment. Potting is made at high temperature, pay attention to your skin. Everything you do at your own risk.

Here is the recipe I've used:
  1. 80% paraffin + 20% beewax
  2. put this mixture in a pot, then the pot in waterbath till the wax liquefy
  3. check the temperature, it should be something around 60degree
  4. put the pickup in wax, try to prevent the pickup to touch the pot
  5. leave the pickup there for almost 20 minutes
  6. take the pickup out and clean with a rag, then wait till it cools down
While potting you should see small air bubbles that cames out from the pickup, that's normal it's the air between coils that leaves the space to the wax.
I've pot both the pickup, just in case.

Reassembling the bridge pickup I've put the tape back, then wrap a cord on the pickup just to give it a vintage look.
To my surprise when i mount the pickups back, they both still works, and microphonics issue was gone!
This is how I potted the pickup, of course I'm not an expert on this field, so if you have suggestions or tricks put comments below.

  • read risk disclaimer
  • excuse my bad english