Potting the pickups in my old Apollo (Kawai) hollowbody. Any tips?

teleguido

Member
Messages
447
I bought this guitar from a pawn shop about a year ago for $60. Had one string, and no nut. I figured if I couldn't make it playable, it would at least look pretty cool hanging on the wall. :)

Turns out the thing actually sounds awesome, and I've pretty much determined that it can be made playable. Not perfect, but certainly playable. I'm finally getting around to potting the pickups in this thing. While they have a truly awesome sound, they are unbearably microphonic. Can't handle ANY gain before feedback sets in.

Before I actually take the plunge and dunk the pickups in wax, does anyone have any tips for a first-timer? Anything I should know before I do this?



 

tartanphantom

Member
Messages
743
Cover the face of the pickups with a couple of overlapping layers of masking tape. Make sure that there is overhang on all sides, and then wrap several layers lengthwise around the circumference of the pickup over the overhanging edges of the face-tape. What this does is two things-- basically it makes the pickup retain more wax when you remove it to cool, and it also makes cleaning off excess wax a bit easier. Basically, you've created a tape "wax retainer". When dunking/soaking the pickups, I usually place mine in face down, which allows wax to seep in and air to escape from the back side of the pickup. Also, make sure that your wax temperature remains between 130 and 150 degrees. Any cooler and the wax may not penetrate the coil adequately, any hotter and you run the risk of damaging any plastic parts in the pickup. I use a chef's thermometer, you can pickup one up pretty cheaply at places like Bed Bath & Beyond, or even the cooking section of Target or Walmart.

Last, be sure to give it a good long soak. It's important that the pickup coil reaches temperature equilibrium with the wax. If you don't let it soak long enough, the coil won't reach the adequate temperature, and the end results will not be very satisfactory. I usually let mine soak for 30 minutes-- jiggling the submerged pickup occasionally to release additional air as the wax penetrates the coil. Again, the key here is constantly monitoring and maintaining correct wax temperature.
 

DT7

Member
Messages
2,796
Use parafin with a melting point of less than 140 degrees, and add in about 30% beeswax. The beeswax is more expensive, but adding a little keeps the wax from becomming too brittle over time. If the parafin has too high a melting point, you run the risk of melting the insulation on the wire, which will cause shorting in the pickup.
 

tartanphantom

Member
Messages
743
Use parafin with a melting point of less than 140 degrees, and add in about 30% beeswax. The beeswax is more expensive, but adding a little keeps the wax from becomming too brittle over time. If the parafin has too high a melting point, you run the risk of melting the insulation on the wire, which will cause shorting in the pickup.
Good advice. I use an 80/20 mix of canning wax (paraffin) and beeswax. The beeswax may be difficult to find depending on your location, but the best places I've found were health-food stores and old-timey mom & pop hardware stores.
 




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