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de waxing pickups


John G

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Here's one for the techies out there. Does anyone know how to de-wax pickups? In this case gibson humbuckers.

 

The story behind this is that I had a great sounding les paul - until I got the pickups waxed in an effort to reduce feedback. Result is feedback reduced but LP doesn't sound great anymore. i don't think the pickups are damaged - the waxing was done by a pro who definitely knows his stuff.

 

Being slightly better informed nowadays ? my conclusion is that the waxing cuts feedback by reducing the power of the pickup, trouble is much of the - don't know what you call it - attack maybe, has gone leaving the sound somewhat dead compared to pre waxing.

 

Any thoughts?

ta

John G

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Pickups are potted in wax to reduce the microphonic effects of the various parts vibrating inside the pickup. Wax _shouldn't_ have any effect on your tone except to eliminate those undesirable sounds. You don't want any moving parts inside your pickups.

 

The pickup covers have an effect on the tone. Were they just stuck back on or were they soldered back on? If they weren't soldered they may be influencing your tone by vibrating independently.

 

Yes, they can be "unpotted". You would have to remove the covers and heat them up (to about 160 degrees fahrenheit, I think) so that the wax can drain off. I don't know a safe way to heat them up except possibly in a crock pot (parafin fumes are quite flamable).

 

I'd read up on this. Lindy Fralin did a good write up for Stewart-McDonald about potting pickups. More information never hurts.

 

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

Born on the Bayou

 

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It's not too likely that the actual output-strength of your pickups has been reduced,

 

-BUT-

 

It is very possible that part of what you liked about the sound of these particular pickups was their microphonic sensitivity. The wax-potting dampens their sensitivity to physical vibrations, and in your particular case, throwing out some of the 'good' as well as the 'bad'. The old original '50s vintage Gibson P.A.F. humbuckers weren't potted, and exhibit varying degrees of microphonic sensitivity. This is good if you want very sensitive sounding pickups, but can (obviously) also lead to electronic squealing feedback, especially in a high-gain setting.

 

This would very easily account for a perceived difference in attack and other harder to describe tonal qualities as you've found. Your tech didn't do anything wrong, in actuality you might say that an excellent job was done; if you can detect a difference in the pickup that way, the wax is doing what you originally wanted it to! It's just that part of what you liked about these pickups before was also dependant on their microphonic properties as well as their normal magnetic-pickup function.

 

To be honest, I think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to fully remove the potting now that it's seeped in between the coil-winding and everything inside there. To do so to the point of appreciable restoration of the former microphonic sensitivity would probably require completely disassembling the pickup and even unwinding the coil and heating and cleaning everything; that wax is going to be very stubborn, much easier in than out, so to speak, and even if the coil-wire is not broken, rewinding it after all this may result in their not sounding quite exactly the same to you as before, given your ability to hear and discern the difference in them already. It would probably be a good idea to have this done (if at all) by someone like the tech who did the potting in the first place, as long as they'll guarantee their work.

 

It may actually be just as cost-effective and less risky for you to have some custom pickups wound to your liking, matching the characteristics of your original pickups minus the potting; not cheap, but if you're that particular and you know what you like and dislike, it may be the only route for you to be fully satisfied. If you go this route, do some research among people who tend to specialize in "vintage"-sounding humbuckers, and get some feedback and price-quotes from several of them on the idea first to compare and choose.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Originally posted by John G:

Here's one for the techies out there. Does anyone know how to de-wax pickups? In this case gibson humbuckers.

Yes, you take them to a guitar tech. :)

 

There's a few pages out there and they all pretty much point out that it's far from easy.

 

I'd take them to a tech and if anything goes wrong, at least it's not your problem.

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Appreciate the info guys especially James for taking the time to write in-depth. James you've sussed completely where I'm at with this - can you suggest modern equivalent pickups that would get the sound back?

 

thanks again to all

John g

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(By the way, it's Kevin, or "Caevan"; I'm usually known as "Caevan O'Shite" here, though currently reflecting the coming of Halloween, I've gone with "Dances With Werewolves" and changed my avatar-pic; a lot of the folks here do that kind of thing around holidays and such...)

 

Gibson and Seymour Duncan both make some of their humbucker models without any wax potting for these same reasons, and I'm sure that some others do, as well.

 

If I were going to have some wound to match the original pickups you have- OR HAVE THE EXISTING ONES RE-WOUND- minus the wax potting, I'd look into having it done by somebody like:

 

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/icons/icon2.gif James Wagner (LINK) of WCR (pickup rewinder and custom-builder, and maker of the famed "Fillmore" humbuckers, among others)

 

WCR

20672 Gaughen Ct.

Soulsbyville, CA 95372

 

Phone : 209-588-0621

 

Email: jim@crcoils.com

 

-or-

 

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/icons/icon2.gif TV Jones (makes killer vintage and hybrid vintage-style pickups, some high-end expensive Gretsch models have his pickups, and people like Brian Setzer use his pickups in their guitars)

 

TV JONES PICKUPS

P.O. Box 2802

Poulsbo, WA 98370

 

Phone: (360) 779-4002

 

Fax: (360) 779-1606

 

Email: info@tvjones.com

 

-or-

 

Seymour Duncan (SD does do custom-order work, too) (I'll let you search that one out!)

 

James Wagner at WCR and TV Jones may also make something like you'd want without the potting, I don't know off the top of my head; check out their 'sites, and contact them!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Hi guys

Thanks for the advice. Sounds like plug in replacements are the way forward. The Seymour Duncans sound interesting - I'll check out their site. If anyone has an opinion on 'the perfect PAF replacement pick up' I'd be keen to know - its a jungle out there!

John G

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Since no 2 original PAF's are totally identical, it's more of a conceptual Holy Grail you're after. EVH's striped Kramer had a PAF in the bridge that sounded fabulous. To duplicate that particular pickup would be wonderful. Billy Gibbons's "Pearly Gates" Les Paul is another PAF guitar that has spawned clones. Jeff Beck's revered '59 is a unique PAF, to my knowledge. Also, if you're obsessed with detail at the molecular level, so to speak, you need to realize that the elusive tone you seek has a lot to do with the type of guitar it's going into. The same pickups from a Les Paul to a 335 to a 175 to a Tele or Strat will vary considerably in tone.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Edit:

 

You DID mention that it's a Les Paul - sorry - Duncan, Fralin, Lawrence, and other prominent manufacturers can help you dial in the type of tone you're after. You may want to check out some soundclips.

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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