Conductance from Wooden Pickups--please help me!!!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by DaveAceofBass, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Okay all you pros, luthiers, and players alike. Many threads have been started about wooden pickup covers, but I've not heard of anyone mentioning some important issues. I need some help resolving some issues. I've got a custom made Linc Luthier bass with Villex pickups. The Villex pickups are wound into custom made Macassar Ebony shells made by Linc. They look great, but there is a problem with buzzing in the pickups.... I'm already on my second set. Villex pickups are known to be dead quiet, so that's not the culprit. BTW, Villex's pickups sound fantastic. As for my bass, the first set was lacking shielding, so it buzzed terribly. The second set, Villex lined the shells/covers Linc made with copper foil. It's much quieter, but the buzz the first set had comes and goes sporatically. Villex thinks it's a problem with conductance cause by the wooden pickups and moisture in the air. He thinks that this newer set is shielded well and that the problem is not from that.... He thinks that new pickup covers should be dipped in some sort plastic material to isolate the pickups....or to have the pickups finished with a plastic-stlye finish (a poly). Mind you, these are bar magnets, not poles like Nordstrands or Aeros, and the poles are under the covers themselves, and there are no plastic covers underneath the wood. Has anyone experienced that problem? Kent Armstrong makes wooden covers, does anyone know how he isolates the wood? I need some help!!!! :eyebrow:
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    To my knowledge, wood is a poor conductor unless it's wet. On the other hand, my dad was able to use wood divining rods to locate water veins to dig wells so there's something in the wood that made that possible - and there where certain woods he preferred. He could also do it with copper rod but preferred wood. He could tell you within 50 feet how deep you'd have to go. The well on this property he located that way and got it within 25 feet at 275.

    I have a set of Jim Cairnes pups with wood covers but they're singles and so I get some hum. Never heard such a complaint previously but it's interesting Villex would state as much so it's not out of realm there may not be something to it. The moisture content in the pups should be negligable but different woods have different content and different properties. It's an organic material so a lot of potential variables.

    If the covers are easily removed - get rid of them and jeri-rig the pups to stay in place and see what you get. If you get the same thing - that pretty much eliminates the covers.

    Either Kent or Dan Armstrong (the one reached through DW) is real good about response so I'd contact him.
  3. Audere

    Audere Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 7, 2005
    South Beach, OR
    Owner: Audere Audio
    I would be surprised if this is the problem but

    Sometimes exotic woods have minerals in them which could conduct

    You could coat the insides of the wood pickup cover with one of the silicon liquid coats found at most electronics shops. It has very high resistance especially at these voltages.

    A little lower resistance would be a super glue coating which normally would have a resistance about a 10,000 times larger than the input resistance of your amp.
  4. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Would your dad like a million dollars?
  5. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Where are you and what do you face when you are playing? i had a similiar problem, but it turned out to be that i was facind a source of electromagnetic radiation, like a TV, or a radio. Maybe there is something nearby you that is inducing a current in your pickups.

  6. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    The old man died about 10 years ago. I never acutally saw him do it but there are still a few of his divining rods laying about and plenty of testimony similar to what he produced on this property from people he located wells for, here and in Kansas. A neighbor just mentioned it the other day in fact. Really more something I was aware of and heard about after the fact because I grew up in L.A. (not a lot of private wells in Southern Cal) and it wasn't till I'd left home the folks moved into the country.

    But there were a lot of things I thought were pretty crazy about the old man that the older I got the more I realized, he was right on the money. The old man was basically a skeptic at heart though and not one to believe in much of anything that didn't work.

    If nothing else, his wells apparently produced water and gave people an accurate estimate of what it was going to cost them before drilling started. One thing's for sure, drilling isn't cheap and doesn't always produce - and our's is the most shallow well in the neighborhood.
  7. There isn't much chance that the mositure content of the wooden cover is making your pickups hum. Are they single coils? Any true single coil will pick up 60 cycle hum to some degree. I would go over the shielding on the bass. Make sure the ground wire is making good contact with the bridge. Check to see that the control cavity is well shielded and so on.

    Oh, and never never NEVER put any product containing silicon on your bass. If it ever needs to be refinished the silicon will make it nearly impossable for a finish to stick. Never!
  8. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    The pickups on my bass are made in wooden covers - flame maple.


    No hum or buzz problems. Mine are dual coils though, and I run them either in series or parallel (depends on what mood I'm in).

    I actually contacted Villex about pickups for my bass, but he wouldn't do them in wood covers, so I went with BassCulture instead. I really hoped that I could have Villex pickups, because I'd heard so much good about them; but the black plastic covers would utterly ruin the look I was going for, so I decided to compromise. The BassCulture pickups sound great, though! No regrets.
  9. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Well, Villex doesn't make wood covers, but Linc did, and so have others.... Then you send them to Villex. I think my problem is that the wood wasn't coated before the electronics went in. This should be our final attempt, I believe it will be a success.