Potted vs. Unpotted: Harmonic content, Swirl, Openness, Pinch Harmonics

edgewound

Member
Messages
5,644
Wolfe told me to shave some wax off an unscented candle, soften them up with a heat gun and put them around the base of the pickup and cover. Heat again until the wax seeps into the pickup.
With plastic bobbin pickups you need to be extremely conscious of the temperature or your melt the plastic. The temp of the wax needs to be between 140-160 degrees f. A heat gun can get away from you very quickly.

When I did mine, I fashioned a double boiler out of coffee cans and used a candy thermometer to monitor the temp of the paraffin wax...and dipped.
 

Sirloin

Member
Messages
15,510
I have used unpotted and potted and like both for different reasons. If you can't get great pinch harmonics with a potted humbucker, an unpotted one isn't going to make a difference.
 

metropolis_4

Member
Messages
4,749
So just out of curiosity, are there any arguments out there about certain types of wax providing better tone?
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,791
So just out of curiosity, are there any arguments out there about certain types of wax providing better tone?
not so far, but i'm sure that some waxes prove more efficient than others.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,791
no high gain with unpotted pickups? hmmm.

here are 2 examples of high-gain, playing w/direct-mounted unpotted pickups;
all live tracks of solo guitar:

high gain:





_______________________________


definitely not high gain, below, buuuut:
just a very different amp, but playing the very same unpotted pickups in the very same guitar with no additional fuzz-pedal:

[SOUNDCLOUD]https://soundcloud.com/jayapala/unwry-respect-for-mssr-rc[/SOUNDCLOUD]
 

Seth L

Member
Messages
24,380
Astoundingly beautiful playing, as always. I can't wait to see what madness this elicits.:mob
 

Gary_

Member
Messages
272
It's not that you 'can't play high gain with unpotted'.

It's 'if you are on a small stage and have to stand right in front of your speaker cab then an unpotted pickup is more likely to give you issues than a potted one.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,791
It's not that you 'can't play high gain with unpotted'.

It's 'if you are on a small stage and have to stand right in front of your speaker cab then an unpotted pickup is more likely to give you issues than a potted one.
well, yes..... as i know.;
there was some intimation, here, that unpotted pickups are simply a bad idea, re: squealish feedback;
i was responding, broadly, to that.

i pointed-out, earlier, that i've learned how to deal-with-the-squeal.... which wasn't and isn't all that difficult for me, though i often play & record with high-gain, with gainy fuzzes, or (occasionally) with both.

as well, ScottB --- the ZexCoil pickups dude, increasingly known for the value & uniqueness of his knowledgeable & original approach to pickups --- also chimed-in, here, with a generally similar view of ignoring the potting process..... which, apparently, is how (& what) he prefers to build.
 

metropolis_4

Member
Messages
4,749
not so far, but i'm sure that some waxes prove more efficient than others.
I'm kind of surprised. I mean, guitarists seem to obsess over every other minutia in their rigs, even down to batteries. Seems like someone would have spent time A/B'ing different compounds for the ultimate 'brown sound' by now :)
 

claudel

Supporting Member
Messages
6,518
Mine are microphonic enough so that I can talk thru them yet they still don't squeal unless I hold a pickup right in front of the speaker at volume.

Wade must be doing something right.

I can get controlled feedback into cans from a modeler with that guitar...
 

jiml

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,562
Ok. The amp in the rehearsal studio had a bad preamp tube, it was whistling with my other Les Paul with potted Fralins last night. I played a gig Friday night and had no issues with either....
 

Seth L

Member
Messages
24,380
Ok. The amp in the rehearsal studio had a bad preamp tube, it was whistling with my other Les Paul with potted Fralins last night. I played a gig Friday night and had no issues with either....
Glad to know it wasn't the Legends.
 

Gibson 1964

Member
Messages
1,286
I played my marshallhead yesterday in a small space about 5 feet from a large, high gain amp approaching pant leg flapping volume. It would squeal if you turned towards the speaker only, which is IMO perfectly livable. It was far more volume than I could get away with out and about as well. Some of my potted pickups feedback easier.

That said, my rio grande tallboy tele bridge pickup would have been squealing like a stuck pig at that volume and gain. I would say not all unpotted pickups are created equal in how easy they squeal. Uncovered marshallheads might be the least feedback prone unpotted pickups I have used. A SD lil' 59 wins for me as the most feedback prone I have ever used.

For clean and moderate gain I prefer unpotted. For high gain, I prefer potted.
 

aman74

Member
Messages
8,709
I'm kind of surprised. I mean, guitarists seem to obsess over every other minutia in their rigs, even down to batteries. Seems like someone would have spent time A/B'ing different compounds for the ultimate 'brown sound' by now :)
Yeah, but hopefully, though clearly not always around here, focus on things that can actually impact the sound. The wax simply cannot.
 

dcooper830

Member
Messages
762
I'm interested in this topic because I just got a set of Parsons Street PAFs from Stewmac and I'm gonna install them in a nice old (2000) Epiphone DOT .... along with all new wiring, pots, jack, and switch.

I'm worried they might squeal on gigs since they're unpotted.... but if they do... I'll either pot them.. or just not use it on gigs.. they're very inexpensive and have good reviews as far as I've seen.

I'm gonna do that install sometime this coming week and I'll post my findings.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
21,204
Unpotted for me as well.. The Zhangbuckers I use are that way and they're quite unbelievable tone wise...
 

HayekFan

Member
Messages
1,527
So does an unpotted pickup have to be microphonic enough to squeal in order to have a tone advantage over a potted pickup? In other words, are the squealers the good ones?

If microphony is what distinguishes unpotted pickups from potted pickups, then it seems like this might be the case.

OTOH, maybe it's possible to be microphonic AND non-squealy.
 

Zexcoil

Vendor
Messages
5,678
So does an unpotted pickup have to be microphonic enough to squeal in order to have a tone advantage over a potted pickup? In other words, are the squealers the good ones?

If microphony is what distinguishes unpotted pickups from potted pickups, then it seems like this might be the case.

OTOH, maybe it's possible to be microphonic AND non-squealy.
I don't know about the strictly mechanical versus the electronic/electro-mechanical aspects.

I tend to think that microphony is an artifact and the real (primary?) driver is the fact that wax potting displaces the air between the windings with wax, a higher dielectric constant material, causing an increase in distributed capacitance. But, I can't discount the mechanical aspect out of hand.

Certainly I don't think there's any real tonal benefit to something like a cover flapping around. Windings vibrating sympathetically, maybe...

I think the idea behind partial potting is to lock things down somewhat mechanically while not totally displacing the air, kind of splitting the difference.
 




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