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Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

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Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby Elephone » Mon Dec 09, 2019 10:16 pm

Hi. I've heard some before-and-after demos of pickups with base plates installed, and I think there is a difference. However, it is possible the mod also altered the pickup height so it's difficult to know if it did anything... although it seemed to alter the tone in the way intended.

Anyway, it's easy enough to try, but these plates are for sale online for silly money, considering they're just steel or copper-coated ferrous material.

Surely, a strip of steel or copper, or copper wire wrapped around a strip of metal would do the same job...?

Thanks
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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby Wonks » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:07 pm

It needs to be a steel plate, not copper, as copper isn't magnetic (well not to any noticeable degree, unlike steel). Then that plate is either copper or zinc coated to stop the steel from going rusty. Rust is almost non-magnetic, so unless you want your pickup sound to get thinner over time as it oxidises, you need it coated with something conductive but non-magnetic. Both zinc and copper will oxidise slightly over time, but their oxides remain non-magnetic and so the sound doesn't change. Simply wrapping steel in copper isn't going go work.

You'll also want to be able to wax pot them along with the coil to get them to stick to the bottom of the pickup and stop the plate itself vibrating and being microphonic. Then you'll want to ground the base plate, in the same way a Tele base plate is grounded.

The base plates can be obtained pretty cheaply in the US, for less than £2.50 each. A look on eBay UK shows decent looking ones for £6 each, which isn't too bad for a fairly low sales volume item. Just supply and demand, with less demand in the UK.

Don't forget to add in the cost of some potting wax (normally a 90% candle wax, 10% beeswax mix).

There is a bit of a difference when they are used, but it's generally quite marginal, a bit like going up a string gauge.
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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby Music Wolf » Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:26 am

I would agree with Wonks, my perception is that the effect is marginal at best. I watched a video from Bare Knuckle Pickups (I have a HSS set of BKs on my Strat, with base plates). On an iPad I couldn't hear a difference. This wasn't helped by the way that the video was put together going through all pickup combinations first without plate then with. It would have been better if they'd cut it so that you switched from position one without to position one with plate.

As you say, taking the pickups out and refitting them may have an influence in itself if the heights are not exactly the same.

The way to check would be series of double blind tests including steps where the pickup was simply removed and replaced without changing the base plate condition - not that the guitar community is likely to embrace scientific testing any time soon. I mean, where would it end? NOS valves, Nitro finishes, Tonewoods - Heresy even to question these things.
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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby Wonks » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:13 am

Music Wolf wrote: This wasn't helped by the way that the video was put together going through all pickup combinations first without plate then with. It would have been better if they'd cut it so that you switched from position one without to position one with plate.

My thoughts exactly. The brain isn't that good at comparing sounds after a long delay, especially if you've got other sounds between the two you want to compare. Even a linked timeline of the different pickup settings would have helped That's why I gave the video a thumb's down. They also used a lot of amp drive, which would have hid any of the more subtle effects of adding the plate. Keep it clean, BK, at least to start with.
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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby ef37a » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:07 am

I knew nothing of these.

I can see Wonks that they need rust proofing for long term use but OP could surely find some steel stock (1/8"? 3mm?) and file some to shape to try? I have to confess I smell some snake oil here? Anything magnetic or even conducting is going to distort the field around a guitar pickup which, I have always though does not work as simple 'alternator' but that the string disturbs the 'reluctance' in the field? ("Field the Force Luke!)

And...A/B testing guitar and amp components? Go wash your mouth out!

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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby ef37a » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:20 am

Had a bit of a read on the Seymour Duncan forum and the plate's perfomance seems marginal and bit 'Marmite'? Some don't like the effect. The Copper plating also helps with soldering on a grounding wire but you CAN solder to plain steel, just need to get it really clean with wire wool. Quick de grease with meths/ISOA and then whack on a dab of flux. 50W iron should do it.

Not as thick as I thought. Around 1.2-1.3mm.

BTW Wonks? Not all 'rusts' are non-magnetic, they make tapes out of it!

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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby Wonks » Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:10 am

As you can buy a plate for £6, then unless you already have the raw materials and given the time and effort involved, then you might as well buy one that's been rust-protected , especially as you'll need to tap the holes for the pickup screws, wax pot it on and also be capable of soldering it up to the pickup ground wire. Yes, you could glue it on instead, but that's a permanent fixing method not really suitable for just a test.

Note that if you ever want to try polarity reversing the pickup, you'll need to add a separate ground wire for the base plate, Not doing that will either a) increase pickup noise when the plate is connected to the signal rather than ground or b) if you have copper shielded the underside of the scratchplate, you are almost certain to short the pickup output to ground in the reversed polarity condition.

I know of the latter because this is what happened with the Emicaster when I needed to swap one of the pickup connections over as the DiMarzio bridge and the BK Irish Tour neck pickup (with the plate) were polarity reversed with respect to one another. Luckily the DiMarzio True Velvet base plate had a separate ground lead, so I could reverse the connections on that pickup instead.

Yes, you could drill bigger holes in the baseplate so that the height adjustment screws don't touch it, but then you lose the effect of the pickup screws touching the baseplate, with a greatly reduced magnetic connection and affect on the overall sound.

Standard rust is ferrous oxide and is almost non-magnetic. You are very unlikely to get magnetic ferric oxide forming on steel without some other chemical process going on, and I doubt people will be dipping their guitars in the necessary chemicals. Hence the zinc or copper coating.
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Re: Base Plate (Inductance Plate) for Fender Pickups

Postby ef37a » Fri Dec 20, 2019 9:02 am

Missed the price of the infirm cephalopd Wonks.
No, not worth the bother hacking one out of strip.

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