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Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

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Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:19 pm

Got an old Dimarzio SUper DIstortion humbucker v cheap. Installed it in Yamaha strat copy--outrageous squealing microphonics. Unusable at anything near high gain. So melted down a candle, potted the pickup for about ten mins, reinstalled. Still just as bad. Questions: is the microphony being caused by somehting other than the lack of potting or did I not leave it in the liquid wax for long enough?

It's a lovely sounding pickup but unusable at the mo. Solutions, thought? Cheers!
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby zenguitar » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:34 pm

If it is as bad as it appears from your description I would expect it to take longer.

Here's the latest Tech Tip from StewMac with info from Lindy Fralin on potting with paraffin wax. That should help you out Huge.

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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:05 pm

Hmmm, maybe I'll give it another dip. The bit at the end of the article about the cover contributing to squealing is very interesting and potentially another clue. Thanks for that, Zen!
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:01 pm

Gave it another twenty minutes in the wax, then sat it upside down to make sure the wax seeped right through to the pole pieces etc properly. Then let it dry for a looooong time. Reinstalled and Bingo! no more squealing. This is such a lovely-sounding pickup now! Thanks again!
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby zenguitar » Sun Mar 03, 2013 9:54 pm

Job well done Huge :)

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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Folderol » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:15 pm

Job's a good 'un :)

A good old wax potting is a most under-rated silencer of squeaks, buzzes and general microphony.

It also has the benefit of being removable and non-destructive.

For the ultimate result, mix in some beeswax. It takes out some of the brittleness of the paraffin wax - sorry can't remember the proportions. It's been very many years since I wound my own coils etc.
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:08 am

Yes, read about this. 80/20 Paraffin to Bees was the general concensus, but it seems that others including SD are discrediting this idea now! I just used an old blue candle that was knocking about in our pantry! You can see some pics on my facebook music page if you're interested:

Huge's facebook page
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby ef37a » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:36 pm

I came across an old Demarzio humbucker in the loft a month or so ago and decided to make a "silent guitar load" with it, i.e. something to plug into amps that "looked" like a guitar with a pup and pots but would not make a noise or feedback.
How wrong I was! In a diecast box it was incredible microphonic. Mind, the box did not help.
So I bought some candles and armed with a heatgun, potted the thing. I then found out that molten wax is like Helium2! It ran out of the minute clearance round the pickup screws.

Anyoos I did it and cleaned up and now with a 3mtr lead I can crank a 100watter to full max and only get a bit of a boing, but if anyone touches that box... ALL HELL!!!

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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Folderol » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:26 pm

Had a look at that tech-tips article with interest until they said something about the type of wax affecting the sound quality. Well sorry, I just don't buy that at all. The only reason I added beeswax was because paraffin wax gets brittle at low temperatures and is inclined to crack and flake.

P.S.
I still can't remember how much I used, but I don't think it was anywhere near 20%.
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby zenguitar » Tue Mar 05, 2013 2:41 am

Folderol wrote:Had a look at that tech-tips article with interest until they said something about the type of wax affecting the sound quality. Well sorry, I just don't buy that at all. The only reason I added beeswax was because paraffin wax gets brittle at low temperatures and is inclined to crack and flake.

P.S.
I still can't remember how much I used, but I don't think it was anywhere near 20%.

Yep, that's when my antenna started waggling too. The beeswax was always for the reasons you described. However, to be fair, I do think that there is a tiny nugget of sense trapped inside a thick coating of Mystic Voodoo Sh!t.

And that is that microphony isn't all or nothing. From a fully potted coil at one extreme to a howling monster at the other, there's quite a difference. Somewhere between the two there is a point where a pick-up doesn't exhibit any of the squeals and howls, but is still technically microphonic. Seymour Duncan makes a point of producing some unpotted models, and Neil Young's Black Les Paul has an unpotted pick-up pick-up that he shouts into at times. Experienced, and critical, pick-up makers do hear a real difference between unpotted, lightly potted, and fully potted pick-ups and that could well be due to a degree of microphony that contributes to the sound without becoming dominant and causing problems.

But I don't buy the idea of a tonal difference between paraffin and beeswax. To me that reeks of someone with no idea or conceptual model grabbing for a difference and holding on to it for dear life.

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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:55 am

Surely you'd get more buzz using beeswax? 8-)
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:56 pm

And what a rich, sweet tone! 8-)


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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:00 pm

The Hives swear by it!
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby Jay Menon » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:55 am

I have a Mojotone noise cancelling P90 on which I want to change the polepiece fillister screws from nickel to gold (To match the rest of the hardware on my guitar).

Mojotone tells me however that this will void my warranty - i’m not too fussed about that, but will this damage the pick up? How would I ensure that the new screws are nicely immobilised with wax please?
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Re: Wax potting pickups and microphonic squeals

Postby ef37a » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:37 am

Jay Menon wrote:I have a Mojotone noise cancelling P90 on which I want to change the polepiece fillister screws from nickel to gold (To match the rest of the hardware on my guitar).

Mojotone tells me however that this will void my warranty - i’m not too fussed about that, but will this damage the pick up? How would I ensure that the new screws are nicely immobilised with wax please?

First of all, IF it ever went wrong, you would surely be smart enough to retain the original screws and fit them before returning the pup? Some companies talk out of the opposite orrifice and think we are all stupid!

I would not use wax, get a very weak grade of Loctite or use Copydex which drys clear and is in effect a thin layer of latex.

BTW get a good quality screwdriver and a stone and lap the tip for a PERFECT fit to those screwheads. SO easily buggered and look horrible.

Weird to see my old post! 'Nother life.

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