Noisy Pole Pieces after Pickup Swap, normal?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Right_Butterscotch64, May 21, 2017.

  1. Right_Butterscotch64


    Oct 18, 2012
    I recently had a Split J pickup put in my PJ to get it noise free when using the bridge or a combination of both pickups. When I got it back initially to try it, there was extreme phase cancellation when using both PUs so I had the shop reverse the leads on the P-Pickup. This fixed it completely, and it is virtually noise free to boot.

    However :smug:

    I noticed that now one of my P pickup coils (the one closest to me) emits a super loud buzz when I come into contact with the pole pieces. The J doesn't do this, and neither does the other coil half of the P pickup. I'm guessing this is due to them having to swap the hot and ground leads to combat the phase issues? Before the swap I could touch the pole pieces all I wanted and it wouldn't do this.

    It doesn't bother me a bunch since I don't play over the pickups. But if it shouldn't be doing this and they managed to mess up one of the grounds I'd definitely take it back.
  2. Firstly mate, don't go back to that tech. How could he/she not notice the pickups were out of phase before it was returned to you?!

    Anyway, the answer to this is sort of complicated. Be sure to do your "touch test" without touching the strings. (Although, if you use tapewounds or elixirs, this won't make a difference.) If one side of the P is silent, and the other side buzzes when you touch the pole pieces, then this is fine. If you reverse the phase of that p, both will buzz, but one will be louder than the other. Fenders often come like this from the factory for some reason, so if you have one silent coil and one that buzzes a little, that's actually preferable and there's three things you can do.

    The simplest is to remove the pickup and swap the coils positions when you reinstall. This moves the noisey coil to the other side, where you are less likely to touch it. For most players that is the G/D side as your thumb will often touch the E/A pole pieces if you play finger style. Normally, you are touching the strings (which are earthed by the bridge) and this buzzing is not an issue. But if, like me, you use elixirs, then the strings are electrically isolated from earth by the coating, and the buzzing occurs.

    The other fix is to connect the magnets from the P pickup to earth. (This has probably been done with your split J, and that's why it doesn't do this. Most decent after market pickups will have earthed magnets/formers). Most will say simply use some copper tape that has conductive adhesive and lay a strip of this across the underside of the bobbin, then solder an earth wire to this. IME, this only works temporarily. The adhesive will fail down the track. The best solution is really to use conductive paint and copper tape together. Paint the magnets and overlap this paint onto a piece of copper tape that you can solder to. If your pickup is a vintage fender, there's a chance that this will cut the coil output, but this kind of means it's time for a rewind anyway.

    A third option is simply to replace the pickup covers with ones that don't have holes. (You'll need some timber or plastic shims on the top of the bobbins so the magnets don't distort the covers.)
  3. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I use a piece of scotch tape across the pole pieces.
    I tried a few layers of clear nail polish but it doesn't really work.
    I hate the fact that if I touch the pole piece on any of my P basses, there is noise( if I'm not touching the strings.)
    I tried the adhesive tape thingy but it didn't work.
    My G&L's don't make any noise.
    I thought P's ( humbuckers) were supposed to be quiet
  4. Right_Butterscotch64


    Oct 18, 2012
    Thanks. Yes its pretty much exactly as you describe, it occurs when I'm not touching the strings. I was just concerned that a ground was maybe disconnected somewhere when they were fiddling with the guts, since I've never had a P-Pickup do this before. The noise isn't a problem since I play behind the pickup and not on it.