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Stew Mac Conductive Copper Tape Ain't Conductive

snouter

Senior Member
Messages
2,152
Just did the backside of my new pickguard and double checked continuity. Generally speaking, the tape has really weak conductivity. Some overlapped pieces do not conduct at all. Looks like Guitar Electronics still sells the real stuff. Was gonna use that guitar at an open mic tonight.
 

Clorenzo

Member
Messages
1,923
Did you make solder connections to connect the overlapped pieces?
Well, the point of copper tape with a conductive backing is that you're not supposed to have to do this.

OP, did you just check continuity or actual resistance value? Bear in mind that a guitar circuit is quite high impedance and a ground resistance of a few tens of ohms is no problem at all, but most multimeters will only "beep" in the continuity setting if the resistance is less than 20-30 ohms or so.
 

snouter

Senior Member
Messages
2,152
CD, no because the Stew Mac decription says, "The self-adhesive backing is also conductive." The Stew Mac stuff is definitely NOT conductive. But I did have some left over conductive 3M copper tape, so I can use little strips of that instead of soldering. Clorenzo, the pickguard does not even give a beep (although there is a sporadic beep with no reading on some pieces) on any piece other that a source piece. ALL of my other shielding with the 3M gives an instant beep and within a second or two 00.0 reading.

Update: The little 3M strips have real conductive backing so after I put one of every single overlap, the pickguard is functional. Definitely not the way to do this though. It is a Warmoth Strat so I have to remove the neck to switch pickguards. Other than that no big deal, just got to order some of the 3M stuff next time.
 
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Kyle B

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,115
In my experience, ANYTHING that's sticky & comes on a roll, insist on ONLY 3-M stuff and you'll never be disappointed. 3-M definitely makes the best of ALL types of tape.
 

SamBooka

Member
Messages
2,222
Thanks for the headsup. I always solder anyway but I guess conductive backing is neater.
 

Drak

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
I would have called them first and let them know and see what they have to say about it, SM is generally very customer conscious and easy to work with, maybe they got a bad batch, I think you should call them and see what they have to say.

I've been using that tape for 15 years on so many guitars I've lost count, and I ALWAYS check for conductivity all throughout the guitar when done, and always get it, no problems, ever, not once, and all very quiet guitars, the stuff works and does what it's supposed to do.

Have you ever used it before?

Just sayin'...I would have called them before I openly slammed them and their products on a thread, especially since I can vouch for their conductive tape being an excellent product many times over, and I have never once soldered two pieces of tape together, ever, and never needed to.

I can pull apart multiple guitars right now years later after installing it and show you excellent conductivity throughout the entire guitar, repeatedly, with never a problem one.
 

Sweetfinger

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,186
Yeah, not all copper tape has conductive adhesive. Also, some copper tapes may have a top coating that is also not conductive. I use copper tape for pickguards but for cavities I use paint.
 

Dr. Jimmy

Member
Messages
4,126
I would have called them first and let them know and see what they have to say about it, SM is generally very customer conscious and easy to work with, maybe they got a bad batch, I think you should call them and see what they have to say.

I've been using that tape for 15 years on so many guitars I've lost count, and I ALWAYS check for conductivity all throughout the guitar when done, and always get it, no problems, ever, not once, and all very quiet guitars, the stuff works and does what it's supposed to do.

Have you ever used it before?

Just sayin'...I would have called them before I openly slammed them and their products on a thread, especially since I can vouch for their conductive tape being an excellent product many times over, and I have never once soldered two pieces of tape together, ever, and never needed to.

I can pull apart multiple guitars right now years later after installing it and show you excellent conductivity throughout the entire guitar, repeatedly, with never a problem one.

I agree with this, I've done a bunch of my Strats using this tape and have never had an issue. Maybe you got a bad batch? Give them a call, they will take care of it.
 

Chrome Dinette

Senior Member
Messages
14,369
I was not aware that they made tape with conductive backing. I tried to shield a guitar with tape many years ago, but I am just too klutzy to do a neat job, so anytime I needed to do it afterward, I used paint.
 

Kendrick68

Member
Messages
59
The conductive paint is really better to shield a guitars control cavity because it is much easier to apply and get complete coverage. I have used both and I find the paint, while expensive, to be the better product.
 

Drak

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
The conductive paint is really better to shield a guitars control cavity because it is much easier to apply and get complete coverage. I have used both and I find the paint, while expensive, to be the better product.
It is not superior in any way, it's just different.
They both work, they both have upsides and downsides.
It's normal to have a personal preference, but that doesn't arbitrarily make your preference 'superior', it's just the one you prefer for personal reasons.

They both work, they both do an excellent job if you understand proper application, and everyone is free to make a choice and have a preference, that does not make one better than the other.
I use both, like both, both give great results, and each has it's place.
 

Chrome Dinette

Senior Member
Messages
14,369
The tape would definitely have an advantage if one was just shielding a pickguard or control cavity cover, though one could just as easily use non adhesive foil and spray adhesive.
 

SamBooka

Member
Messages
2,222
I have used the Stew-mac tape for 10 years and I have never had an issue with conductivity. Not only have I never had a problem, I count on it to complete the circuit. 6 years and counting and no issues

http://members.toast.net/dwyss/pics/Assembledguard1.jpg
http://members.toast.net/dwyss/pics/Assembledguard2.jpg
http://members.toast.net/dwyss/pics/bodyshield1.jpg
http://members.toast.net/dwyss/pics/bodyshield1.jpg
Nice work but I think you missed a spot in the bodyshield.
 

Structo

Member
Messages
9,555
I have used the Stew Mac copper tape quite a bit over the years.

I usually check the continuity before buttoning things up.

For whatever reason I was getting a bit more resistance than 0 so what I do
is make some tiny solder bridges in several places where the tape overlaps.
You don't want to use much heat or you will melt the tape.

But after doing this there is zero resistance from any point on the pickguard or cavity.

For example

 

Drak

Senior Member
Messages
5,055
What makes you choose one over the other?
Tape is fast, I can tape an entire guitar in an hour or so, complete it, and just keep on putting it together, no need to stop. I generally defer to tape most of the time.

Paint you have to let it sit and dry completely, as well as to do effective paint, it usually takes several coats to equal the shielding of just one layer of copper tape, and you have to let it dry between coats, so it's a time eater, and a single application of paint doesn't give you the same shielding effect as a single application of tape.

Paint is nice if you're doing the bottoms and/or sides of pickup cavities that will be 'open' (no covers or rings to hide shiny tape), and the flat black also helps the 'look' of open pickup cavities, like in a strat using no pickguard application.

Paint is easy to put around the output jack region too, where you have to be very careful with tape not to touch the jack or wires which are always very closeby, at least on my builds they are.

There is no loss with tape, all of it gets used somewhere, and it never goes bad, where with paint, it can dry out in the can, you lose some on the brush, if you're not careful with the brush you can be messy with it.

But I can understand people who don't like the tape too, some people just find it a PITA to apply, and I can respect that, for them, painting the whole thing would be far easier for them, that's cool too.
 
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