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Thinking Of Potting My Pups


L_Z_Nut
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I've been reading up on potting pups and I have a few questions about it.

First question, I have an Epiphone vintage sg400, could I benefit from potting my stock pups, could it effect my sound that much, or should I just spring for some new ones?

Second question, I've read that pups with the chrome covers can be submerged with the covers on them. That sounds a bit weird to me, does that mean my pup covers will have a layer of wax on them, and should I remove that wax after its done or leave it on.

Last question, I don't have any experience soldering or doing any type of electrical work on guitar. Is it fairly easy to take everything a part and put it back together? My dad is a very experienced welder and an amateur electrician, should I get him to do all the soldering, or is it pretty straight forward.

Thanks for the help.

Edited by L_Z_Nut
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You're probably better off springing for new pickups unless you're really dissatisfied with the sound of the stock Epi pickups. Hughes is right--potting will do nothing but reduce microphonic feedback.

But if you can get good tones out of the stockers, which are probably decent sounding Alnico V humbuckers anyway, throwing $130 at a set of Duncans probably won't be worth it to you. Most of the time, it's the fingers, not the pickups, that count.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I've been reading up on potting pups and I have a few questions about it.

First question, I have an Epiphone vintage sg400, could I benefit from potting my stock pups, could it effect my sound that much, or should I just spring for some new ones?

Second question, I've read that pups with the chrome covers can be submerged with the covers on them. That sounds a bit weird to me, does that mean my pup covers will have a layer of wax on them, and should I remove that wax after its done or leave it on.

Last question, I don't have any experience soldering or doing any type of electrical work on guitar. Is it fairly easy to take everything a part and put it back together? My dad is a very experienced welder and an amateur electrician, should I get him to do all the soldering, or is it pretty straight forward.

Thanks for the help.

BE CAREFUL!!!! Make sure the wax is not above 150 degrees, 20% parafin 80% beeswax mix, submerge them face down until you see no bubbles, then take them out and put them face down on a paper towel, some wax will come out, but after a couple minutes it will cool some stopping it for coming out, when they are cool to the touch but not cold, pick them up and wipe them off with a towel or something you dont want to keep, the wax will ruin anything you get it on, the pickup itself will still be warm enough to wipe off the wax from the cover with ease, then let it cool completely and polish the remaining residue/film off, oh and screw the pole pieces almost flat with the surface of the cover, makes it easier to wipe off the wax without hitting the poles. Benbo :D

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I don't know a lot about potting pickups so I shan't comment on that..

The wiring, on the other hand, I feel you should give a shot.. Since your dad would know about solder, you should actually try and learn it from him.. The actual soldering itself not that difficult and it'll be a good skill to learn in the long run.. The rest of it is just learning to read and understand those wiring schematics..

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Soldering is a handy skill to have. Buy yourself a cheap little electronic kit from a electronics shop and have your dad give you a hand building it . You'll then know the basics to doing your own wiring. See if you can find a LM386 based amplifier kit. Then you've got a 1/2 watt practice amp, and soldering skills.

Re: potting, don't do it if you aren't getting microphonic feedback, there is mojo in unpotted pups.

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Make sure the wax is not above 150 degrees, 20% parafin 80% beeswax mix
:D I've used straight canning paraffin (Gulfwax), and even bayberry scented candles in the past without issues - why is beeswax important? Some beeswax won't even melt below 150ºF! Don't you think it's a lot more important to mention that one should never heat wax over an open flame than to recommend a specific blend of wax?
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Make sure the wax is not above 150 degrees, 20% parafin 80% beeswax mix
:D I've used straight canning paraffin (Gulfwax), and even bayberry scented candles in the past without issues - why is beeswax important? Some beeswax won't even melt below 150ºF! Don't you think it's a lot more important to mention that one should never heat wax over an open flame than to recommend a specific blend of wax?

I think the idea of the beeswax is to crank up the melting temp. I have used just paraffin and the guitar sat in a shop window for an afternoon. The paraffin melted in the sunlight and ran down the front of the guitar. Ever since I have used a 70-30 blend of beeswax paraffin blend respectively. Then again I haven't put a guitar in that situation again either, but I think that is the idea behind it.

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Make sure the wax is not above 150 degrees, 20% parafin 80% beeswax mix
:D I've used straight canning paraffin (Gulfwax), and even bayberry scented candles in the past without issues - why is beeswax important? Some beeswax won't even melt below 150ºF! Don't you think it's a lot more important to mention that one should never heat wax over an open flame than to recommend a specific blend of wax?

I think the idea of the beeswax is to crank up the melting temp. I have used just paraffin and the guitar sat in a shop window for an afternoon. The paraffin melted in the sunlight and ran down the front of the guitar. Ever since I have used a 70-30 blend of beeswax paraffin blend respectively. Then again I haven't put a guitar in that situation again either, but I think that is the idea behind it.

Nope, the idea is that the two different materials move (expand) different when heated (warmed) by body heat. The beeswax is softer and will compress slightly when the paraffin expand. Haven't tested it sientificaly, but is sounds right.

BTW, and this is IMPORTANT, it should be 80% PARAFFIN and 20% BEESWAX, not the other way arround

Peter

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With all the different responses. It would appear to me that it does not matter what you pot them with. Everyone seems to have a different answer for the same problem and epoxy encased is still out there as well. All you are trying to do is stop the coils from moving.

Just my 02.

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Lotsa beeswax seems a bad idea to me, and it's probably a typo up top. I mean, y'know pure beeswax? Ain't that hard at room temperature. You know candles? Pure paraffin wax, some of them.

I'm assuming everyone knows this is out there, but in case anyone missed it:

Lindy Farlin on potting pickups, courtesy of StewMac.

http://www.stewmac.com/freeinfo/A-LINDYFRALIN.html

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I've potted a pickup before, and it was mainly parrafin with a touch of beeswax in it. I didn't measure out the proportions "exactly"... I mean, it's wax. Use mainly parrafin and add some beeswax. It shouldn't be rocket surgery!

Yes, you will get wax all over the metal cover, but it will just scrape off (using plastic or wood, not another hunk of metal!!) and then you just "polish" (as already mentioned) the residue away with whatever method you feel comfortable using. I just used a cloth and some elbow grease.

Greg

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:D Call me old-fashioned, but unless you've got a vacuum system of some kind to ensure saturation, potting pickups without removing the covers strikes me as being akin to showering in a wetsuit. Back in ancient times (the 70s), one simply removed the covers, covered up the pole pieces, etc, with masking tape, and dipped the whole thing into some melted wax (off the heat - no sense in tempting fate), wiped off the excess, let it solidify, pulled the tape and put the cover back on. I had no idea the procedure had become so complicated.
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Make sure the wax is not above 150 degrees, 20% parafin 80% beeswax mix
:D I've used straight canning paraffin (Gulfwax), and even bayberry scented candles in the past without issues - why is beeswax important? Some beeswax won't even melt below 150ºF! Don't you think it's a lot more important to mention that one should never heat wax over an open flame than to recommend a specific blend of wax?

lovekraft, a mix of paraffin and beeswax as been used for ages for potting pickups. I think it's basically because the resulting melting point will be a bit higher (thus, the pickup will withstand higher temperatures, something to consider if you live in very hot areas) and also because paraffin alone tends to become kind of "flaky" over time, and tends to shrink a little bit, both problems that you can avoid with mixing it with beeswax.

But I agree not all manufacturers use that (probably none today, except for the small shops), and it's probably not worth the added trouble.

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lovekraft, a mix of paraffin and beeswax as been used for ages for potting pickups.
I'm not disputing that, I have no idea what the few manufacturers who actually wax pot their pickups use, or have used over the years. The difference between the melting point of paraffin (130-135ºF) and beeswax (140-150ºF) doesn't seem (to me) to justify the added expense, and as somebody who lives in a climate that routinely sees triple digit heat in the summer, I can testify that even expensive, imported pure beeswax tapers are completely destroyed after a few days in an unvented attic, so I don't see any real advantage.

Use whatever you like - I was only stating that

  1. I have personally used straight paraffin wax from the grocery store melted in a coffee can over a hot plate with good results, and
  2. Nobody had even bothered to mention that heating wax over an open flame is very likely to cause an explosion (which is important, at least from where I'm sitting)!
I personally think that if you're going to leave your axe in the car all afternoon in July, you're probably are going to want to pot with epoxy anyhow. But I'm no expert, so as always, YMMV. :D

BTW, didn't Eddie Van Halen use surfboard wax? Maybe that's the key to the "brown sound"! :D

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OK, here's a couple of (different) reasons for adding beeswax to your potting paraffin - both make some sense, and they aren't mutually exclusive, so judge for yourself:

Mix canning paraffin and 20% beeswax by heating them in a pot. Paraffin expands and contracts with temperature changes, and the beeswax nullifies most of that.

Wax - I have always used readily available canning wax (parafin) available at grocery stores.  Recently, I've heard that some manufacturers add a little beeswax to keep the wax soft and prevent it from becoming brittle and flaking or cracking with age.

Note that neither mention using a blend of mostly beeswax, certainly not 80%. As for the expansion/comtraction issues Lindy brings up, they've got to be minimal, since paraffin has been used for eons to seal glass jars, and even with the temperature cycling from cupboard to refrigerator, I've never seen a seal that was broken. Use your own judgement - I don't think there's a definitive answer available, so it's a personal choice. :D

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OK, here's a couple of (different) reasons for adding beeswax to your potting paraffin - both make some sense, and they aren't mutually exclusive, so judge for yourself:

Mix canning paraffin and 20% beeswax by heating them in a pot. Paraffin expands and contracts with temperature changes, and the beeswax nullifies most of that.

Wax - I have always used readily available canning wax (parafin) available at grocery stores.  Recently, I've heard that some manufacturers add a little beeswax to keep the wax soft and prevent it from becoming brittle and flaking or cracking with age.

Note that neither mention using a blend of mostly beeswax, certainly not 80%. As for the expansion/comtraction issues Lindy brings up, they've got to be minimal, since paraffin has been used for eons to seal glass jars, and even with the temperature cycling from cupboard to refrigerator, I've never seen a seal that was broken. Use your own judgement - I don't think there's a definitive answer available, so it's a personal choice. :D

We could assume that everything comes down to personal choice. Well... Ok... that's it for discussion forums.

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BTW, didn't Eddie Van Halen use surfboard wax? Maybe that's the key to the "brown sound"!

Nah, he used some sort of unknown wax. Probably one of his freebasing candles. Anyway, he overheated whatever it was and it melted the first couple of pickups he tried. That's why it's important to keep the wax under 150--the bobbins are still quite fragile.

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As for the expansion/comtraction issues Lindy brings up, they've got to be minimal, since paraffin has been used for eons to seal glass jars, and even with the temperature cycling from cupboard to refrigerator, I've never seen a seal that was broken.

Actually I've seen quite a lot of sels that where leaking. And those were of cause done with only canning paraffin. Don't know for sure that it was caused by differenses in teperature. Better safe than sorry, I figure.

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