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Wax potting a microphonic pickup G&L! Pic Heavy!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by benthughes, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. benthughes

    benthughes Supporting Member

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    Long story short I had a microphonic bridge pickup in my '85 G&L El-Toro bass. It would squeal at moderate volumes and would pickup all noise when I tapped on it... fingers, a pick, whatever; way worse with the treble boost. Bad news. Anyhoo, I found the best solution would be to wax pot the pickup. I decided to do both the offending bridge and neck pickup. This is how I went about it with great results!

    I purchased parafin wax from the baking section, 1 pound did the trick. I also bought a pound of beeswax which was kinda spendy and not absolutely necessary but will lend to the durability of the wax when setup. I went with 1/4 pound of beeswax in 1 pound of paraffin. I melted the wax in an old double boiler to achieve a temp. of about 150 degrees F.

    After removing the pickups I found that the magnet on the bottom of the bridge pickup could move a bit when manipulated which was the likely culprit of the microphonics. I removed the wires from the circuit board and labeled them so I wouldn't mix them up

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    Once the wax was melted and at right around 150 degrees I submerged the pickups and let them sit for 15 minutes to let the wax really get in there.

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    I removed them, put them on a paper towel on a plastic cutting board and wiped the surfaces down so I only had wax where I wanted it.

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    I let it set up and cooked my dinner! I proceeded to eat the Hell out of said dinner.

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    As I did this I applied lemon oil to the fretboard and let this sit for a bit. I then re-installed the pickups . I used a bit of beeswax on each of the screws for a bit more purchase. I re-installed the neck, new strings and a slight micro tilt adjustment. I'm not sure what gauge was on the bass before so I'll let the bass sit for a day at tension before I decide if I want to adjust the truss rod.

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    Plug and play. No more squeal! No more noise when I tap on the pickup. When the wax set up there was more wiggle on the bridge pickup magnet. Success! what a mean sounding bass.
  2. mmbongo

    mmbongo Supporting Member

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    dude you forgot to cook your STEAK!
  3. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

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    It's cooked on the outside, just like it's supposed to be! :D

    Geeze, now I'm hungry!

    Good tutorial.

    It's important to stress to people to use a double boiler or some other way to control the temperature. Never just melt the wax in a pan on the stove, and not over an open flame, like a gas range.

    You can set the wax on fire that way, and possibly your house!
  4. eots

    eots

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    How do you clean the pots of wax afterwards so they can be used for food again?
    Just regular dishwashing soap?
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

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    I would use something just for the wax. You can pour it out when it's hot and wipe it down, and that should get most of it out. It's not toxic, but it probably leaves a film behind.
  6. benthughes

    benthughes Supporting Member

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    I used a throwaway set of pots from the thrift store. Like SGD said, you can wipe away most of the wax while it's still hot but there'll still be a film on there. I will save the wax and store it for other projects or if my girl wants to make candles.
  7. tonymcbony

    tonymcbony

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    Pictures of dinner cracked me up!
    Cool thread though. Does the wax have to be at 150 degrees exactly?
  8. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

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    No, just melted. You don't want to go over 150. The wax won't burn yet, but you might warp plastic pickup parts. In the case of pickups using finer bobbins you don't have to worry about melting.
  9. bassbenj

    bassbenj

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    Another important point is to notice the added beeswax. Pure paraffin in summer heat can get rather soft, so it's always a great idea to add beeswax to raise the melting point of the wax and make it stronger at higher temperatures. No, you really don't want your bass left in a hot car or van in summer, but it happens. And if it does, you don't want paraffin running out of the pickups.
  10. T-Bird

    T-Bird

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    Hi.

    ^This, times 10000.

    Especially if one does the usual, pour/spray water onto the flames in panic.

    Wax products aren't nearly as bad as oil in that regard, but they'll get You there, no question about it.

    Regards
    Sam
  11. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

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    That's a good point. The melting point for paraffin is between 115 to 154°F. Beeswax is 144 to 147°F.

    I don't use any beeswax at all. Some winders do because it's softer.
  12. DanRJBrasil

    DanRJBrasil

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    I find beeswax harder, I a have a kilo here and a microphonic jb bridge pup, that would squeal near the speakers, now I know what to do , thanks for this instructive thread
  13. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member

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    Great tutorial! I would not have thought to dunk the pickups "covers on" but I know they also don't come OFF a G&L pickup easily... ruined an L2000 pickup myself trying to get the cover off.

    Also, the dinner pics, very funny!
  14. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Supporting Member

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    The covers will come off if you are very careful.

    You have to be careful if you are going to pot with the covers on that the wax is not too hot. Otherwise you will warp the cover!

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