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Wood pickups

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by DaveAceofBass, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    Hey all you builders, I have a question for you.

    I have a gorgeous Linc Luthier Impression 5-string bass that was completed about a year ago. http://photos.yahoo.com/davevergato

    The pickups are Villex--he installed the electronics into wooden shells made by Linc, epoxied them and sent them back to be wired in. I'm on my second set due to loud noise from the first set. This was Villex's first time doing this with Linc, and in no way do I fault him, the pickups sound great. The mistake on the first set was that there was no lining or shielding in the wooden shells before the electronics were installed. On my current set, they were lined with copper foil before installing the electronics and epoxy.

    The current set is very quiet...however, it's not as quiet as Bartolini pickups, and after just having returned from NYC, I found that Ritter's pickups are quieter as well, in their wood shells. Buzz is usually only present on a tube amp, or in a poorly grounded room. Nonetheless, in comparisons, I found that the buzz is there, but it's improved significantly since the first set was made.

    My question is--what are the tricks of the trade to remember when building pickups into wooden covers? How can wooden pickups be as quiet as plastic? Is there anything I should know? Is another set necessary? What could be the causes?

    Villex suspects condensation/moisture as a factor. But, the wooden pickups seem rather dry to me.

    I would be interested to hear what you all have to say. Thanks for your help.
  2. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I would figure that the copper inside the cover is not solidly grounded. Without a good ground, it isn't performing as it should. I shielded one of my basses and made sure to run a ground wire from the shielding in the pickup cavities to the main ground in the bass. I run star ground layouts to keep noise down to a minimum.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    BTW, how much did those pickup covers run you? Those look spectacular.
  4. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    I know several luthiers who make thier own pickups mold the black plastic and glue a 1/16" veneer right to it!
    Or Chris B sanded the divot off of my MEC twinjazz pickup and glued a veneer right to it for my cernunnos divinity bass.
    east and effective.
    Trev is right the hum is from a bad or loose ground wood wont do that!
  5. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Also, humcancelling pickups are definitely going to be more quiet than regular single coilds. I know that my DiMarzios with the dual coils (side by side jazz setup) is much quieter than singles.
  6. DaveAceofBass

    DaveAceofBass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    Charlotte, NC
    I think that the pickups have a ground wire...I had my pro luthier wire it all up, he said everything was brought to ground. The pickup covers were designed and made by Linc, and they were part of the overall price of the instrument. Linc is a great guy, and a great but unique builder. Cool bass by the way.
  7. Check for a ground loop - that's where a component is grounded at 2 different locations. This could be a wire, pot, or jack.

    I'm betting that it's simply the pickups. No matter what you've got in hand, you'll likely find something quieter. But if you've grounded correctly, then any more noise will only be the pups themselves.
  8. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Wood and plastic have the same magnetic and electric behaiour. The difference, and in your case the noice, is definitely not due to the pickup shell.

    Actually, if you have a copper lined casing, properly grounded, you have taken away all possible distubance except internal noice factors in the pup.
    If not properly grounded, you're in for some fun, anyway:help: