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Fender P Bass Copper Plate

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by bassvirtuoso, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. bassvirtuoso

    bassvirtuoso My God, it's full of chrome! Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Hey everyone,

    When running a passive P bass pickup, do you need to have that copper grounding plate below the pickup?

    I'm putting together a parts P and would like to know if I need to buy one or if that's just the old way of doing things since you don't see them anymore.
  2. Cadfael


    Jan 4, 2013
    Germany, EU
    No, don't "essentially" need this copper plate.
    Modern P-Basses don't have this plate. It was used from 1957 to the 1980s - and now in Retro-Ps.

    It would surely not be wrong - but better is "modern copper foil" for the whole PU cavity (something which wasn't available in Leo's time - ot much too expensive).

    If you want to shield your bass, use copper foil in the PU cavity and electronic cavity. Look for the "snail thread" some days ago. There are some hints where to find copper foil much cheaper ...

    But you NEEDN'T buy the plate or foil!
    A P-PU cancels most of the humming. Maybe you have a bigger problem with the 60Hz humming than in Europe with the 50Hz???
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    No, you don't need them they are redundant if you do a proper shielding job, especially since they don't do spit for shielding in my experience.

    You can source copper foil tape locally from stained glass supply shops for much less than stew mac wants (I posted that in the snail thread as well).

    I also shield the pickup covers and ground them to control/pickup cavity shielding as well. Don't forget to do the pickguard and up over the screw holes for the cavities so it makes a connection when you screw it on.
  4. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    There's zero (0) advantage to using copper foil or copper anything for ESI shielding over anything easier or cheaper that's conductive and with which you can achieve continuity.

    Enda story.

  5. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Anyone have experience with shielding paint?
  6. Keep in mind that this can influence the flow of Eddy currents and change the tone.
  7. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    The ground plate in a Tele has a great effect on the bridge pickup. I took two sheets of clear plastic, put a tablespoon of fine iron filings between them and taped the edges.

    I placed a guitar on it's back, and slid the sheets between the strings and pickups. I was curious how a ferrous or non ferrous bridge plate affected the bridge pickup pattern, and the effect the copper PLATED steel plate had.

    I went to the nearest Fender dealer and checked several Teles. The plate alone, in a non ferrous bridge, extended the pickup pattern about an inch toward the neck pickup and to the saddles. Without the plate, the pickup pattern was quite narrow and focused...like a Strat.

    A ferrous bridge extended the pickup pattern further, up to the neck pickup actually and past the saddles, albeit quite weakly the further from the pickup you go.

    Now, that's with a STEEL plate. (the copper is just plating to aid in soldering a ground wire to it, and to help prevent rust.)

    The copper plate of the P pickup is copper, not steel, so it's effect on the pickup pattern won't be what steel would have. Since a P pickup is humbucking, the shielding of the plate would have minimal effect on that. A steel plate under the pickup would be interesting, but I'd expect some weird problems with the A and D string pickup pattern, due to the polarity differences between the two coils.

    BUT in a Jazz bass with single coils, a steel plate would be very interesting...

    BTW, a steel plate is not recommended for stacked single coil sized humbuckers or side by side coils.

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