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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » Strings and things
Potting pickups
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject:  Potting pickups Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I intend to pot my GK-3 pickup and my acoustic guitar pickup. I've read some how-tos on the net, and the potting process seem unproblematic. The question is what kind of wax to use. Will some of this stuff do:

Panduro, candle wax
Panduro, bees wax

Would be handy if I can shop there since that chain has an outlet nearby...

The plan is to use 20% beeswax (said to keep the wax from drying out(?))and 80% of ???-wax. I've seen 'canning wax' mentioned, but I don't know how/if that differs from the candle wax and stearine/paraffin mix. Also, can natural beeswax be used as is, or must it be refined in any way?

I really want to get this right the first time; a wax-on, wax-off routine is not an option Smile

DJ
Edit: cleaned up URLs
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Last edited by DrJustice on Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I actually didn't pot my new bass pickup. Is that really bad? I just wrapped around the coil with some masking tape, laid down the hookup wire leads, and wrapped more masking tape around again. After widing them by hand (4000+ winds per coil) sealing them in anything (to possibly find later that something had gone wrong) just felt too scary.Shocked Laughing
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BobTheDog



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don't know if it is a good idea to pot the GK3 pickup, may be worth you checking this with Roland.

Also why do you want to do this?

Cheers

Andy
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Blue Hell
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:33 am    Post subject: Re: Potting pickups Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DrJustice wrote:
(sorry about the ugly URLs [...])


What, where Rolling Eyes

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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

BobTheDog wrote:
I don't know if it is a good idea to pot the GK3 pickup, may be worth you checking this with Roland.

Also why do you want to do this?

It has been reported that it is strongly microphonic. On the VG-99 forums, one of the gurus potted his and the problem was solved (link).

When I crank up the volume just a bit (nothing like a guitar rig, just normal living room volume) there is indeed a lot of feedback on some sounds. This effect may be compunded by the fact that I had to adjust the radius to it's maximum, which is still too small. At this setting the threads on the adjustment screw doesn't even engage and the polepieces can be wiggled almost just by looking at them (they are wiggly with the thread engaged too).

@ Uncle Krunkus : Wow - That is hardcore! If the pickup works fine it should be safe to pot it, no?

DJ
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
What, where Rolling Eyes

Thanks Jan! Smile
So aterisks in URLs works with HTML, but not with BBCode... Noted!

DJ
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BobTheDog



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ah Ok I see.

I have never had any problems with feedback with the GK3, one of the problems I have with them is that it is harder to get feedback than with regular pickups. Weird!

Andy
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Perhaps it depends on how it is mounted? I use the Gibson bridge adapter thingy. BTW I've also read that the bridge bracket is the summit of all vibrations... But then again that should only affect crosstalk(?). Maybe it's better to mount it directly on the body or the pickguard.

DJ
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DJ, I have little experience in this subject matter so take it with a grain of salt, but I think you will be fine whatever choices you make regarding wax content and the like. After all, potting is simply to prevent coil vibrations due to mechanical or electro-mechanical effects, and forces are small but significant enough to be heard. Being small forces, a dose of wax or as Uncle did, masking tape, should do the trick.

I feel that you are doing the same thing that I always do, which is over-thinking the project, getting into subtleties and what-if's that end up paralyzing your primary motivation which is to pot the coil. so I'd say gather up your notes, make a decision, and plunge forward in Krunkus-style of act first and ask questions later, haha!

But then, what do I know? Just tossing in an observation is all. Cheers and best wishes DJ,

Les

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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
So I'd say gather up your notes, make a decision, and plunge forward in Krunkus-style of act first and ask questions later, haha! Les


Keep in mind though Les, that I always confer with my inner metaphysical genius and bounce around some virtual engineering conundrums on my way to the "plunge forward" phase! Laughing
In fact, for something to go perfectly, like my new bass pickup, I recommend first slotting it into an obsessive train of thought for about 6 months. Well, okay, maybe a few days would do. Wink
Bottom line is, don't let fear stop you from acting, but make sure you think about it first.
So many people these days act before thinking through what the effects will be. Which is seen as being proof of their "leadership", "confidence", and "pro-active" attitude. And I think I'll stop this rant before it even gets started. Laughing

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, I stand Krunkifully corrected: First think, then move forward! But of course we know our thoughtful DJ has done the thinking ahead in this case, right? So I say, get your double-boiler ready and plunge that pickup, DJ!

Rant? What rant? Oh, i could see a hum-dinger of a rant on the way, good thing you stopped short!

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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Uncle, Inventor, you're both right. In this case I've done enough research and had a good thinking about it. There is always the danger of being too careful. But I shall fret no more (uhm.. at least not in this particular area... <coat>) - I'm ready for the potting! Smile

Since I've not found any special 'guitar pickup wax', straight up candle wax with a helping of beeswax, as per the links in the OP will have to do. Before subjecting the actual pickups to the process, I'll try it on a suitable dummy object. You can expect a report on the results in this thread.

DJ
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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm sure it will work out just fine. Very Happy
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Oskar



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A curious side story: I have a copy of the old American Magazine "Musician, Player And Listener" that features an interview with Robbie Roertsin (The Band, Bob Dylan and others) where he claims that he got asked by a young Seymour Duncan how he got his guitar sound, and being bored and more than slightly mischievous, he told Mr Duncan that he dipped hi pickups in wax. He didn't of course, but apparently that's how the idea that pickups benefit from being dipped in wax startded. It was all a typical Robbie Robertson lie, folks! Cool
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
It was all a typical Robbie Robertson lie, folks! Cool

So you mean it's all going to be for nothing? And all those people reporting feedback reduction due to potting are lying? Shocked

The idea is theoretically sound, and all sorts of coils are being potted, not only guitar pickups. E.g. transformer coils; keeps em quiet. I imagine that all sorts of assemblies using induction and AC (that are supposed to be stationary) can benefit... I don't expect anything to happen to the sound, just a reduction of the feedback...

DJ
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Oskar



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DrJustice wrote:
Oskar wrote:
It was all a typical Robbie Robertson lie, folks! Cool

So you mean it's all going to be for nothing? And all those people reporting feedback reduction due to potting are lying? Shocked
--


I really wouldn't know, all I'm saying is that although the idea might be sound, the impetus stems from an attempted hoax by Robbie Robertson. Apparently, he wasn't aware that waxing pickups is actually a good idea! Shocked Laughing

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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oskar wrote:
Apparently, he wasn't aware that waxing pickups is actually a good idea! Shocked Laughing

He wouldn't be the first one to make a mistake like that Laughing
The potting will commence - I have to get to the bottom of this.

DJ
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Isn't the roland GK-3 a piezo pickup? And if so, doesn't it *require* having mechanical vibration to work? Maybe the wax doesn't completely remove vibrations, only the HF stuff, so the fundamental still gets through, which is what that roland midifier is looking for. So maybe this works if the guitar body the pickup is mounted to is exceptionally resonant.

Anyway, very old radio gear can sometimes have coils dipped in wax, or glue, or other. It keeps the copper from oxidizing, but it can reduce mechanical hum (can be induced from imperfections in the coil itself), which then reduces electro-mechanical noise & buzzing.
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

jk, the GK-3 is a magnetic hexaphonic pickup. Here's a closeup showing the pole pieces:

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

It may look rigid, but the pole pieces wiggle at the lightest touch. There is an adjustable radius mechanism, so the individual pickups are mounted on a flexible beam.

DJ
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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Those strings aren't actually touching the pickup,... are they?
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Not touching the strings, no, but very close. The recommended distance is 1mm. Mine vary between ca. 0.8mm for the middle strings and 1.2mm for the outer strings. They're so close to the bridge that there isn't any buzzing or anything.

DJ
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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I actually intalled one of these in a friend's guitar. (Only remembered when I saw that picture) They definitely shouldn't be touching the strings, that would cause a resonating, rattling kind of sound (same as any other magnetic pickup)

BTW Potting coils is actually a very mechanically sound idea. The same friend had an Alesis monitor amp that hummed like a VW sized bumble bee, until I got in there and found that the power transformer was mechanically "free" to do it's own thing! Laughing In a steel case, this meant trouble, so I packed the coils with some silicone and locked it down, and it went completely silent. It's great when someone you've known for 20 years looks at you with a "Man! Are you from another planet or something?" kind of look. Laughing He'd been putting up with that hum for months.
That reminds me, silicone windscreen sealer (it must be non-acid cure type (black)) is the other great potting compound. It's heaps easier to work with than wax as well. Wink

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Uncle Krunkus
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

DrJustice wrote:
Not touching the strings, no, but very close. The recommended distance is 1mm. Mine vary between ca. 0.8mm for the middle strings and 1.2mm for the outer strings. They're so close to the bridge that there isn't any buzzing or anything.

DJ
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Cool. Cool

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Keep in mind that if you do want to remove wax, you can do it with a hairdryer and some tissue paper. The same can't be said for silicone. Smile
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DrJustice



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The potting is done! A pictorial report of the process follows.

Here are the supplies:
- candle wax and beeswax, using a 4:1 mix
- thermometer, goes to 200 deg C
- cognac, keeps the potting operator calm and collected



The pickups to be potted: GK-3 and soundhole pickup of unknown origin.



An improvised double boiler. A small pot inside a bigger one... secured with bits of wire.



Is it anything edible in there?



The potting proper! Wax kept at between 85 and 90 deg C for 20 minutes. A bit of light tapping on the pickups with a chopstick to release stubborn air bubbles, as well as turning them over a few times:



Cleaning the pickups of exessive wax - et voila!
Nicely potted pickups with a pleasent smell of honey Smile



The rest of the beeswax is put to good use:



And so is the molten wax:




Tomorrow I'll be testing the pickups to see if they still work...

DJ
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