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"Fixing" microphonic pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by lossfizzle, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. lossfizzle


    Jul 8, 2013
    I was recently gifted an early-90s "Fender Squier Series" MIK bass (the big F gets center stage on the headstock, but it's still SOME kind of a Squier). Word has it that Fender outfitted these particular kinds of Squiers with "Fender accoutrements" although Cort et al were building them on their behalf.

    The bass came to me defretted and with mystery pickups from a known not-so-great era in mystery pickups. The PUs were microphonic as all get-out. Turn a knob gently, or even move the strap around a bit on your shoulder... rustle-rustle-tap-rustle through the amp.

    I have absolutely zero use for fretless solidbody basses and/or any musical style that makes use of them, so yesterday I slapped a fretted P-bass neck onto the body just to see how the bass would play with a setup I can actually use.

    I was shocked to find that this thing is an absolute rock-meat machine easily on par with any bass I've ever had for classic indie-rawk grind when amplified. Unfortunately, with that great punchy / clear / ballsy tone still comes those aforementioned microphonics. The sheer amount of handling noise is really killing my buzz.

    I'd like to keep the tone and lose the noise. I'm guessing repotting may help but I also know I'll lose a bit of tone that way. Are there other possible solutions?

    For instance, totally naive question: I know many import Js, at least, have foam under the pickups in lieu of springs - is this something worth looking at and/or replacing as a possible solution?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Honestly, I'd just try to live with it because repotting does change the tone, and that's the only way you'll get rid of it. The foam...eh...might get rid of a little of it at best.
  3. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I would repot the pickup, it might change the tone slightly but it will be worth not dealing with a microphonic pickup. I bought a $12 rice cooker to melt paraffin wax. The rice cooker has a cook and warm setting, so the wax won't get hot enough to combust, and its alot easier than dealing with a double boiler.
  4. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    To "repot" the pickup it has to be already potted! SInce it seems so noisy I wonder if it's potted at all. If it's already potted repotting won't change the tone because the wax is already in there. If it's not potted potting may change the tone but it won't be a lot and what choice do you have?

    As for springs under the pickups. I'd get rid of those. They are typically a problem causing a microphonic "boing boing" spring-like noise when you tap on the pickups. There are two solutions. One is foam under the pickups and toss the springs. I'd recommend REAL black rubber fairly stiff foam weatherstripping. The up side is that real rubber will not self-destruct the way polyurethane foam will in a couple of years. But downside is that rubber foam isn't very compressible so you have trim the layer to near the right thickness for the pickup spacing you are using. It won't give you the up-down adjustment range of springs.

    If you want to keep the springs on the other hand so as to have the adjustment range, you need to damp the springs. I often stuff them or surround them with polyethylene foam. Some people stuff them with foam ear plugs and that works pretty well but again you have the self-destruct problem. That's why I use strips of the longer life polyethylene foam. Don't know where you get it, as mine came as packing material for some small parts.
  5. lossfizzle


    Jul 8, 2013
    As it turns out, this is exactly what is glued onto / behind the pickups. I pulled 'em out today thinking (hoping?) I'd find completely disintegrated cell foam or something. Nope, it's pretty much this super-stiff poly-rubber stuff with no obvious signs of deterioration after 20-ought years.

    It seems to me that this stuff isn't going to have much of a dampening effect, which wouldn't matter much if the pickups weren't inadequately potted or whatever to begin with.
  6. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland

    Repotting is fairly easy once you know how, and the results are worth it.
  7. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Pot it.
  8. lossfizzle


    Jul 8, 2013
    Will give 'er a go. Might be a good opportunity for a before-and-after sort of experiment, although I've already destrung / denecked the sucker (edit: and am famously lazy).

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