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Shielding advice

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Awesome Sauce, Jan 13, 2012.


  1. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    Never done it before, checked out the sticky above. My question is this: should I go foil or paint? Either way I'll be going through StewMac, so I'll be using quality products; and if I go foil, I'll get the large kit w/ all the fixin's.
     
  2. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    The foil is much more effective and the Stew-Mac tape is very good with the conductive adhesive. You need only the large size - you can cut it smaller if you need to.

    Be sure that you ground the cavities together and be aware that you will cut your fingers on the tape edges, so be careful. Use the eraser of a pencil to push the foil into corners. Also - make sure that there is a foil "tab" that allows the cavity foil to connect to the pick guard foil. I put it over a screw hole so the screw holds it tight for a good connection.
     
  3. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    You can just use the AC Duct Aluminum tape too. Like $5 at HD.
    Just be sure to get good contact between the cavities. I made sure to overlap plenty and check everything out with a meter as you go.
    And, yeah, like Bassamatic says - make a good sized tab.
     
  4. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    This is a rear-rout bass bass, so I'm assuming the cavity cover replaces the pickguard in your descriptions and that I would put foil on that as well? Thanks guys!
     
  5. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Yes. You're welcome. Don't forget to verify with a a meter that everything is connected. Cheers.
    Oh yeah, and the ground wire the bridge as well. Make sure that gets shielded too.
     
  6. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Try using some 40 gauge copper foil. Nasty cuts! I had one on my right index finger and had a gig that weekend. Not fun!

    I really need to get some kevlar gloves.

    The pencil eraser trick is good advice.
     
  7. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I'm going to go against the theme here: I'd use the paint. Many high end luthiers use the paint (think Sadowsky, amongst others). It works just as well as others, is significantly easier to apply, and won't cause problems with tight routs on exposed bridge pickups like foil. You will have to use foil on the pick guard, but that's significantly easier than foiling the cavities.
     
  8. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    See, I would prefer to use the paint actually. From what I've been able to gather, it seems that more coats= better protection, to a point. So if I do 4 coats, let's say, then I should be shielded just as well as if I used the foil. I'd love to hear from more people who've used the paint or, better yet, both methods and which they prefer. Again, thanks for all the info so far everyone!
     
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I have done both. The paint shields just as well, and is significantly easier to use.
     
  10. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    OK, cool. Thanks!:bassist:
     
  11. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Yes, you need at least three coats.
     
  12. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Paint: $32.82 plus shipping, plus waiting
    STEWMAC.COM : Conductive Shielding Paint

    Tape: $7.58 plus tax
    Nashua Tape322 1-57/64 in. x 150 ft. Aluminum Foil Tape-3220020500 at The Home Depot
    (And an excuse to go to Home Depot)

    Shielding is shielding. ease of application depends on the bass. They both will shield.

    Good luck!

    Edit: Crap, now that I think about it.... PM me your address and I'll mail you a few feet. I've got a couple hundred feet left.
     
  13. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    That type of tape is too thick and can cause problems with tight routs.
     
  14. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    Edit: Don't agree it is too thick. But application ease depends on the bass, and so stated previously.
    YMDV
    :)
     
  15. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    Both can work equally well, but I've had occasional problems with paint not shielding properly (could be related to paint bottle being old) Paint is easier for a factory to apply, but I had to copper shield my Fender because the paint while working was not shielding ALL the hum! Hence multiple coats is excellent advice. In the Fender case I opted for copper rather than another coat of paint because copper always works.

    Remember paint needs to be grounded too! Usual way is a wood screw into bass with a lockwasher that "bites" into the paint. A wire lug on the screw leads to ground on jack.

    And if you go with conductive adhesive copper foil, I'd advise "tacking" all multiple pieces together with solder. Yes, the conductive glue works great, BUT it does dry out. So a quick tack job between pieces means you won't have to deal with it years later when the glue can start to have problems. You don't need great seams or anything just a quick tack between pieces to make a positive connection if the glue fails.
     
  16. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    alpha-music.com
    i think that stuff also has a layer of plastic over the aluminum, so it won't connect to itself without significant work.

    the stew-mac copper tape at least is made for the job, with exposed copper and conductive adhesive.

    i'd rather use the paint myself; brush it on thick, spreading any corner puddles out, hit it with a hair dryer, done.
     
  17. Awesome Sauce

    Awesome Sauce Already tired tomorrow

    Dec 21, 2011
    NW Chicago 'burbs
    As far as the aluminum goes, I know it's not as conductive as copper, so will that make a difference in how well it shields? I don't know what I want to measure when shielding.
     
  18. Has anyone ever tried Cupra-Cote (Cupro-Cote?) copper infused shielding paint? It's supposed to be as good a shield as the copper tape with the ease of appication of the graphite paint.
     
  19. I have used all the methods mentioned and they all work well if done right.

    The aluminum tape will not solder and is the most difficult to connect piece to piece. You need a Solid mechanical connection. The stuff in the cavity needs to go up and out of the cavity and have a lip in the face of the body so it makes contact with the foil on the pickguard. The pots and jack on the pickguard need to. E temporarily removed so you can lay the foil across the holes so the foil will be clamped to the pot and jack ground when you tighten the nut.

    Copper foil solders nicely. It is easy to solder a tab here and there to verify you have a good electrical connection from piece to piece. Copper is also nice because you can solder a wire to it. That makes interconnects and solid grounding easy. Don't worry about 100% coverage with copper. You don't need to cover every corner and crevice. In many other applications shielding is done with coarse screen. EMI is pretty well repelled by just having a ground plane in the vicinity. It doesn't sneak the gaps, it needs a big uncovered area to inject into your signal.

    Conductive paints need to be fresh an well mixed. Continue mixing occasionally while you are applying. This is the easiest stuff to get good coverage with. Staple or glue a long strip of wire along the longest run of cavity before painting. This will give you a solderable connection point. I have even used a strip of copper tape for this and soldered a stranded wire to it to attach to the output jack.


    There are all kinds of methods that work fine. Just make sure all shielding has a solid electrical connection to the ground of the output jack, and that the bridge wire is still intact after you are done flopping the pickguard around.
     
  20. Means2nEnd

    Means2nEnd Supporting Member

    Stew Mac's tape is the right product for the job plus even the sticky side is conductive as well. I do believe there is also a common misconception that all surfaces must be covered like a sealed tight copper box to protect it from alien gamma rays.
    If your goal is to have no noise and all grounding complete I learned from looking at jobs done by who I consider to know a little about the subject. I had a Zon Vinnie and Joe’s work inside and out am impeccable IMO. He only copper foils the bottom of the cavity so all pots are grounded together then bridge ground is connected to main ground on jack as well as one ground from pots. He also covers the inside of the control plate that get screwed back down and has one thin strip of the copper to go up the side and into one of the screw holes to connect the control cover. This was with a Bartolini NTMB and they usually come prewired aftermarket with that pain in the ass bare wire connecting all pots because they need to be grounded well so there is no buzzzz. I personally paint inside the pickup routs because it’s hard to get foil in there and then do as Joe Zon does I NEVER have a problem and I have done about 20 preamps. Just my 2 cents…
     

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