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Muzz

Pottering With Pauls

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A friend saw my project guitars and wanted to know if I could help him make a guitar for the other guitarist in his band. I let him know how slow I am at building :D and said a kit might be a good way for him to get a taste for working on guitars and had a good chance that his band mate had a reasonably decent guitar. He agreed and a few weeks later came over with a big cardboard box with a Les Paul copy kit in it. But he had tried to stain it with tea that had had steel wool soaking in it. And the kit was finished in a hard two pack, so it was a real mess. I cleaned up the top with 1500 grit wet and dry. I spoke to the guy the guitar was for and he said he wanted the guitar to look real natural. I immediately thought of Marc Bolan's Les Paul.

BolanLesPaul1.jpg

This meant all the guitar needed was a decal, finish over that and the headstock, buffed up and constructed, which we did.

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I plugged it in, and played it, great action, the glued in neck was dead straight, the pick ups sounded fantastic, they are Wilkinson humbuckers, the friend was stoked that for $300 he got this cool, retro looking guitar that plays and sounds so good. I couldn't believe it, I thought it would come out OK, but this exceeded my expectations.

Put me in the mood to do a little bit of simple maintenance on my Les Paul copies.

The one on the left is an old Ibanez from the 70's I bought second hand and the one on the right is a Fibson, a gift from a friend of mine.

2ltkgfs.jpg

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So I checked out my guitar, nice straight neck also.

P5070118.jpg

Looks OK.

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Good join.

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I thought the pickups will sound like crap, so I plugged it in to my modelling practice amp and the pickups sounded great. I thought wow lightening strikes twice until I plugged it into my Marshall JVM410.

P5070136.jpg

This amp is cool, it has four channels each with knobs, not preset controls, I love it. The two OD channels have so much gain and it takes a really good quality pickup to handle that. The ones in my new guitar howled uncontrollably when the guitar was plugged into this amp. I had a go at potting them with wax, it's already happened but I will post pics of the potting process tomoz or later.

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A couple of weeks back I had a try at potting the pickups on my Fibson, I followed the tute at http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/dip.htm

I took the bridge pup out

P4090105.jpg

Hmmm, a "Gibson" guitar with "Epiphone" pickups :D

Got the wax runny

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Rubber banded the pup and popped it in for 20 minutes, watched the little bubbles come out,

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as the wax worked its way right into the coils.

Took it out and let it cool, then gave it a few quick dips

P4090108.jpg

Put it back in the guitar, it made a big difference, but not enough for the Marshall in high gain mode, pickups went in the spares box and I looked around for some replacements.

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That's the first time i've ever seen anyone literally dip their pickups in wax. I always heard horror stories of people frying the pickups, and them never working again.

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That's the first time i've ever seen anyone literally dip their pickups in wax. I always heard horror stories of people frying the pickups, and them never working again.

Yes, I think the tricks are,



  1. make sure you don't put a break the delicate copper wire
  2. keep the temperature of the wax low, under 150 degrees? Either with a thermometer or just do what I did, turn off the heat as soon as the wax fully melts, it stays liquid for ages after that

To keep the kerrang :D

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That's the first time i've ever seen anyone literally dip their pickups in wax.I always heard horror stories of people frying the pickups, and them never working again.

do you mean instead of a wax/paraffin mix?

here is fralin's tips on using a chip pan for the same job

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Electronics/Pickup_building/a-lindyfralin.html

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I've just never seen the process. No one up here has actually ever requested it. I'm pretty interested in it. Its a shame you couldn't get a recording of before and after potting.

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That's the first time i've ever seen anyone literally dip their pickups in wax.I always heard horror stories of people frying the pickups, and them never working again.

do you mean instead of a wax/paraffin mix?

I'm guessing not because that would be kind of like saying a fruit/apple mix B) and there are about a gazillion molecules of paraffin in that goop on my stove. Hey did you know that when you fart a species of paraffin comes out of your butt? (I'm speaking in the second person, not your butt specifically :D )

here is fralin's tips on using a chip pan for the same job

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/Electronics/Pickup_building/a-lindyfralin.html

Hey that is a great info page, if I was going to pot a lot of pickups a thermostat controlled cooker is definitely the way to go. While I was at that site I had a look around at some of the technical tips pages at the Stew Mac site, there is some great stuff there, I especially liked the page on how to do Gibson style bound fret ends :D

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I've just never seen the process. No one up here has actually ever requested it. I'm pretty interested in it. Its a shame you couldn't get a recording of before and after potting.

Yes, I am guessing that it would be the kind of process that people with really old pickups might wan't done as a re-potting thing. The potting didn't make any difference to the tone of the pickup whatsoever but it did allow the amp to be turned up a lot louder before the squealing feedback started. But sadly it wasn't enough, I like to crank the amp and I hate extraneous noise, and the potting didn't completely solve the problem for a high gain amp. So I went for a pickup transplant instead. I'll post a pic soon.

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I put an Ibanez pick up in the neck position

P4090111.jpg

I love pickups with a shielded cable

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and for the bridge I bought a new pick up from an Aussie company Pure Tone, the pup is the Scorpion model, they have pick ups named after :D animals like wombat, huntsman, redback and croc

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And strung it up

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I am guessing that black paint in the cavity is a carbon paint to shield the electronics, while I have the plastic cover off I'll shield that too.

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Earth soldered to the back of the pot, other wire to the bottom lug of the volume pot, too easy

P5070137-1.jpg

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If you need to change a pickup cover you can learn from my mistake, do not try and desolder it off, the cover heats up and does strange things to the coating colour. This is the neck pick up on my new guitar.

P7090157.jpg

Second time around I used a one edge razor blade and rocked it back and forward on the solder clips, this broke the join quickly and easily.

P7090162-Copy.jpg

I used the pole screws from the Epiphone pickup and put them in the Ibanez pup.

P7090163-Copy.jpg

And bought some Allparts covers.

P7090159-Copy.jpg

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Got to replace the pickup bolts on the bridge pup, only had chrome when I put it in, got some spares for the box

P7090161.jpg

I love the binding on this Paul

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Newly covered Ibanez Super 70 vintage pickup in the neck posi

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That makes all the gold hardware uniform colour

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Now I have to take pics of my Iceman carved top so Dave B can get his project happening. I'm looking forward to seeing that get going :D

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