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Pickups acting as mic

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by gvickn1, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. gvickn1

    gvickn1

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    Having a problem with my Gibson SG short scale picking up the snare drum when recording band rehearsals. I know pickups will act as microphones to a certain extent (SG standard bass pickups), but this is an annoying tick on each snare hit that can't be hidden with a simple high filter. Sounds almost like a cowbell. The snare is within 8' or so from where the bassist is located in a small room. Any obvious or creative ways to remedy this beyond recording separately or increasing the distance between instruments?
  2. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz

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    Potting the pickup might help. I experienced this once... using a high gain guitar rig with my highschool band. I had a delay pedal running, and every snare hit came back (tat tat tat tat tat) out my amp.

    Your pickup sounds badly microphonic. Wax potting can be done at home, if you take the necessary precautions.
  3. gvickn1

    gvickn1

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    Thanks kohntarkosz. That would probably do it. Problem is, I'm nervous about ruining the tone of the pickup. Do you think it would be a mistake to pot the SG's pickups, since thats such a big part of their sound? How much affect did you notice on tone?
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    If you pot them tighter, they will sound tighter. If you like the sound of the pickups as is, then leave it. Wouldn't be a big deal to me if I liked the bass otherwise.
  5. MR PC

    MR PC

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    I agree, if you like the sound of the pickup the way it is, leave it alone. Just isolate the guitar from sonic bleed-over. For reference..Neil Young's famous black les paul has a very microphonic bridge pu that he uses to great effect. He's recorded vocals with that..;)
  6. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz

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    Cork sniffers, especially Les Paul fans, get really wound up about potting pickups. To me it is the most cost-effective way of overcoming the design flaws within a pickup. Using Neil Young's electric guitar tone as an example should make anybody want to pot their pickups! His tone is that offensive.

    A pickup is microphonic if some of the enamelled copper wire wound within is allowed to move relative to the other winds in the pickup. This movement induces a current in the coil. At high volume and/or gain settings you get unusuable, unmanageable feedback. Pickups with loose metal covers can also suffer this problem. Telecaster guitars are the absolute worst for that; the whole bridge plate can feedback.

    To me it is undesirable. There is a reason Bill Lawrence, The Alembic crew and Dimarzio started burying pickup coils in epoxy in the '70s. The original Gibson PAF pickups were gloriously unpotted. This is no doubt one of the reasons players like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Paul Kossof are constantly working the volume controls on their guitars in historic concert footage; using them as noise gates as well as to influence the timbre of their instrument. I think the problem is that the Les Paul cork sniffers automatically assume any potted pickup is going to sound like a Dimarzio Superdistortion... or that the wax 'contrains' the tone somehow. I've potted close to a dozen guitar and bass pickups and never noticed a change in tone that was undesirable or even noticeable. What I did notice was that the pickups were no longer screaming at bedroom volume.

    With a guitar, the effects would be difficult to notice. With a bass, usually played clean, and with the treble content being eaten up quickly in a band contect, I don't imagine there is any effect on tone you could reliably measure and draw a conclusion on because it would be so small. I consider it a worthy mod to overcome sloppy tolerances within pickups. Some Les Paul fans will be, right now, cracking open their PAF clones and melting the wax out with a hairdryer. A lot of OEM pickups that claim to be wax potted are given the briefest of dunks in hot wax, so only the outermost coils ever get to see the wax... all opinions are equally valid...
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Well just to present a different side of that, I had the pickups in my Realistic violin bass repotted and there was a significant change in tone. In this case it was for the better as they were super microphonic and I didn't dig them that way.

    And Neil Young sounds awesome, microphonic pickups and all.
  8. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz

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    I guess if the pickup is massively microphonic then it is an issue. I played an old junker Tiesco type bass that had pickups that were as loud tapped with a pick as the notes they produced. The body resonance, as picked up by the microphonic aspect of the pickups, probably made up a good deal of the sum of the tone. I would consider this a rare and extreme case though.


    On Acoustic guitar, yes. In the studio on electric, yes.... live electric??? Eeek! That tone on Live Rust.....
  9. dropbass

    dropbass

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    Id use it to record a record
  10. MR PC

    MR PC

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    Absolutely!

    Yeah, I play a Teisco Bass VI quite a bit, the pickups are that way sometimes depending on the settings, and that's a good thing, for my situation. And you know, I've heard Mark Knopfler say that his favorite recoding bass is a Teisco.

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