View Full Version : What To Do With Super-Microphonic P-90s?
01-14-2011, 09:49 AM
Thing is, they sound fantastic and are original to the guitar, so I don't want to replace them. What are my other options? I absolutely love this guitar and the way it plays, so getting another guitar is also out of the question. (This is a one-of-a-kind as well.)
The effect is noticeable hum and some feedback at higher (gigging) volumes, and, when I'm around a lot of fluorescent and neon signs, it's even worse.
Wax-pot the pickups, 80% parafin/20% beeswax (there's YouTube videos on this), then shield the pickup cavities and underneath the plastic covers with either carbon paint or copper tape, make sure you connect the shielding inside the cover to the shielding in the cavity, make sure you connect the shielding in the cavity to ground, and make sure the shielding doesn't touch the pickup pole pieces.
01-14-2011, 10:02 AM
Dip them in wax, and you're good to go. Nothing you can do about the effect of fluorescent lights on any kind of single coil pickup, that's just physics at work.
Nothing you can do about the effect of fluorescent lights on any kind of single coil pickup, that's just physics at work.
Grounded shielding surrounding the coil effectively reduces noise from external electric fieldsOne of the promoted features taken directly from Pete Biltoft's website regarding his SC pickups.
I do it whenever and wherever possible.
It definitely does make a difference. ;)
01-14-2011, 03:08 PM
What To Do With Super-Microphonic P-90s? "
Sing into 'em!!
01-14-2011, 03:37 PM
When similar issues affected me, I was like, f- this, I ain't burning down the house heating paraffin and beeswax to exactly 145% but no more. So I sent my PUPs to Lindy Fralin and he did 'em right for something like $10 each.
By the way, do you know the source of the expressions:
- Mind your beeswax?
- Don't crack a smile?
In colonial times, smallpox was rampant. Those lucky enough to survive it often had severely disfigured complexions afterwards, i.e., pockmarked faces. For the cosmetic benefits, they would fill in the pocks with beeswax. It's not that strange really, we have cosmetics today to do essentially the same thing for acne sufferers, it's just that they used natural products then.
In hot summer days, the applied beeswax might melt and run. If so, your neighbor might lean over to you and whisper, "Mind your beeswax."
In cold winter days, the beeswax might freeze. Then your neighbor might warn you, "Don't crack a smile."
I learned this at an Annapolis Historical Society presentation last summer.
01-15-2011, 01:09 AM
Jon, I know what you mean about being afraid of burning down the house. I'm always extremely nervous about having that much hot, liquid wax around. I keep thinking the fumes are going to explode.
Thanks, everyone, for the ideas. I think I'm going to go with trying to shield the pickup cavities first. If that doesn't do it, then it's hot wax time. And if that doesn't work, it's pickup replacement time.
The guitar itself plays great, so I'm willing to put the effort into making it work.
01-15-2011, 03:51 AM
If you use a double boiler (suspend your was post in a pot of warm - not boiling - water), you won't start any fires. If you can cook pasta, you can pot pickups, it's really not hard at all.
I'm not exactly very handy, and have potted a lot of pickups.
Shielding might help noise a little, but it's not going to stop a microphonic pickup from squealing.
01-15-2011, 04:56 AM
From your posts, I'm not sure you realise you have two separate problems - the hum and the feedback.
The feedback is caused by the microphony. Yes, you can pot the pickups, but as an Ibanez collector (nice collection, BTW!), I urge you not to. Yes, they're a problem when playing with a lot of gain in a loud band, but someday you'll be too old for spandex and find yourself playing blues with a bunch of guys wearing earplugs. Then, the extra sensitivity and woody tone will be a godsend. (I have 3 guitars, and two of them sport old, microphonic Ibanez pickups. They're magic!)
As to the hum, P-90s have big, wide coils with lots of wire. They make really good antennae. Gibson tried putting metal covers on them in the early '60s, but quickly gave up. It killed the tone. With shielded wire and pots, you won't get the sort of hum reduction from shielding cavities that a Fender player would, but I suppose it's worth a try. Most P-90 players just live with it, and a lot of people simply can't handle the noise. Again, high gain and compressors simply make things worse.
My advice is take the pickups out, put them carefully aside, and try some of the newer 'noiseless' P-90s, or mini-hums which should also fit in the routes.
01-15-2011, 08:20 AM
If you have a bunch of PUPs to wax, that's a horse of a different color, but if it's just one or two, why you'd want to invest in a double boiler, wax, and the time to do it yourself when you can ship the PUPs to one of the best in the world who'll do it promptly for you (mine was back in my guitar in 2 weeks) and get it perfect the first time. I guess I'm just not a do-it-yourself-er as much as some others are (I commend those who are)!
For ~$10.00/pickup, that does seem like a no-brainer, no doubt.
As far as not potting, I agree, some of the best tones recorded were made with highly microphonic pickups, Roy Buchanan (a personal favorite) being one.
But for my own personal usage, I always considered a quiet, relatively (hopefully totally) hum-free instrument to be one of the signs of a well-built, quality guitar and I always shoot for that.
I know some guys live in the whole 'vintage package' and everything that comes with vintage equipment, and that's perfectly fine, but I'm not one of them, and to have a quiet, well operating guitar is a fine thing as well.
01-15-2011, 10:32 AM
I wouldn't wax pot them, especially if you think they really have something special going on. I have been in the same position, and when I waxed them, that special something disappeared. Just my 2 cents.....
01-15-2011, 11:43 AM
I have tried shielding on 2 different P90 guitars. Very anal about it being done really well. It did absolutely nothing. The areas that shielding can make a difference (pretty much everything except the pickup coils) contribute almost nothing compared to the big fat loop antenna that the pickup is. It is just a matter of the ratio of pickup vs everything else in a p90 is so tilted towards the pickup that the rest of the circuit5s contribution is pretty much swamped out. Cavity shielding can make an audible difference when the pickup vs wiring/pots radio is more balanced. Think of all those humbucker based guitars out there with no c!city shielding that are quiet. If the cavity made a significant contribution all those would hum like crazy too.
Take the pickups out, save them and buy some hum-cancelling p90s. Wax pitting will change the tone of a pickup like you described, and will do nothing for the hum.
I agree that the design of a P-90 lends itself to being an antennae for noise.
I agree that shielding the rest of the guitar w/o shielding the coil on a P-90 may make little difference, because most of the noise is being pickup up by the coil. (I would still shield everything properly tho)
I agree that the old metal P-90 covers -can- dampen the tone.
Shielding the inside of the plastic cover:
Is not the same as using a metal cover
Can be very effective
Is what I would consider to be the primary area (along with the pkp cavities) that needs shielding the most (on a P90 guitar).
01-15-2011, 01:30 PM
I have potted lots of P-90s and other single coils. Really not difficult. As others have suggested, there is lots of resources out there that will walk you through it.
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