shielding - paint vs. copper tape?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by craigb, May 6, 2001.

  1. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Hey Y'all,

    Anybody have an opinion on which shielding method is better or easier? The paint looks "easier" but more expensive.

    A second shielding question - is it essential to do both the control cavity and the pickup routes or is the control cavity ususally enough?

    How do you attach a wire to the shielding paint? Paint over a wire end screwed down to the cavity?

    For reference I'm going to be shielding a G&L Climax (single pickup in the MM sweetspot) bass. It's black which may make verifying good paint coverage hard (black paint on a black body?). I also have to at least replace the bass control pot - it's hosed. I think I'll spring for the G&L-sourced replacement (what's a few bucks against the total cost of the axe, anyway).
  2. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    I asked the same question a few months ago, didn't get a lot of replies, maybe not a lot of folks do it. I found that the paint was much easier, as long as you keep stirring it prior to application each time (it settles fairly quickly). Stewart McDonald has all the supplies, and probably an instruction book as well. If you go to BP's website, there is a good article on shielding by Rick Turner in their archives. As far as where to connect everything, you could make a little tab out of copper foil, screw it inside the control cavity, and solder your leads to it.
  3. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    If I'm using paint, I go for the control cavity as well as the pickup route. Just as easy... As far as connecting wire to the shielding, I use a blade connector screwed directly to the painted surface, (you can also cover it with paint to be certain), then attach the ground wire to the female counterpart of the connector. That way, I have a detachable grounding wire... I wish I had the right terminology for this type of connector, but it is the kind commonly used with speakers.

  4. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I've used the copper tape on a couple of times and does require work. I picked up a 8x10 sheet of the copper foil with adhesive backing from a stained glass shop. I cut the pieces out myself and applied them to the control cavity and soldered the ground wire to it.

  5. craigb

    craigb Supporting Member

    Thanks for the input, particularly the pointer to the BP archives. I remembered the great shielding article on Lane Poor's now defunct site but didn't remember the other.

    A tab screwed down through the paint sounds pretty good. I think I may go the paint route. After my new pot arrives and I have a go at fixing the electronics.
  6. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    Roger Sadowsky taught me at a class to also run the shielding paint through the small channel running from the control cavity to the bridge ground. He also painted the underside of the pickguard but this was on a Strat with a swimming pool route.
  7. What I have recently learned on this issue is not to do both. If you use paint AND copper foil, what you are doing is actually creating a capacitor, which increases buzz!

    As far as attaching the ground to the painted cavity wall, I just soldered the ground wire to a small washer and screwed it in. That's enough.

    Shield the pickup cavities as well.

  8. I used aluminium foil, dirt cheap and it works too.
    (according to the guitarnuts site, copper tape works best)
    I did both the control and pickup cavities.
    When shielding the PU cavities, make sure the shielding is connected to the ground too. (if it's not connected, the shielding won't work)
    I connected the ground to the shielding with a wire soldered to a spacer, wich was then screwed onto the shielding.
  9. jwymore


    Jul 26, 2001
    Portland, OR
    One last small but important point. Don't assume you have good ground to your shielding. Check it with a meter to make sure. I have found it often takes a cuple coats of paint to get real good continuity.
  10. yes, and depending on the paint (nickle or copper) it can take 3 or 4 coats of paint to get consistent conductivity! (you are shooting for 'less than 10 ohms' point-to-point anywhere in your shielding job)

    foil is way harder to work with, but on the other hand its not nearly as toxic! BTW that nickle paint tends to flake off, if its not clear-coated after application...