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Thread: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

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    Default What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    I've seen this term over and over and I have no idea how I would know if a pickup is microphonic.

    When I play and stop I hear some ringing - is that microphonic tubes or a pickup?
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    Mojo's Minions Bludave's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Crap!

    Actually many people misinterpret a pick as being micro phonic. Microphone (to me anyhow) means the pickup is working more like a microphone. I have seen pickups that had become so micro phonic that even speaking over the pickup would produce your voice through the amp. But in essence and unwanted noise that is produced from the pickup can qualify as micro phonic. I had a Telecaster that was severely micro phonic. Any volume or gain would immediately cause the guitar to squeal out of control. I removed the pickups and wax dipped them. Wax dipping is common to eliminate air in between the coils of wire and the magnets. The way I do it(which is not necessarily correct but it works for me). Is I use a double pot boiler. This is a pot you fill with water and then a second pot with the wax sits above the boiling water. It takes a bit longer to melt the wax using a double boiler but it works well & you are less likely going to start a fire. The wax you should use is Gulf brand wax. This is used in canning fruits and jams so any store that would cater to this should have it.




    Once the wax is melted I wrap the leads around a pencil or a stick and rest the stick across the top of the pot so the pickup is floating in the wax but not touching the sides or the bottom. The pickup needs to be completely submerged under the melted wax. I leave the pickup in the wax until I no longer see any bubbles coming out of the pickup. Once this is done you can remove the pickup from the wax and place it on a paper plate to cool. Once the pickup has cooled down you can reinstall the pickups and you should be good to go. I did this with two Tele pickups and the guitar has been great ever since.
    Last edited by Bludave; 12-01-2011 at 01:25 PM.
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

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    Imperator of Indignation idsnowdog's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    A microphonic pickup sounds like crap. The first time I posted a tutorial on how to repott pickups people wanted to hang me for heresy. However it is more commonly accepted now.

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    Mojo's Minions lex666's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    I'd like to know what causes a pickup to become micro phonic and are there things you can do to prevent it?

    I beleive the majority of modern pickups are now wax potted to prevent microphonics, are they not?
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Yes, most modern pups are now potted.
    Some players (like myself sometimes) like a un potted pickup.
    The Gibson Tim Shaw pickups are not potted, the after market Burstbuckers are unpotted.
    However un potted is bad in a high gain and high volume situtation.

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    Mojo's Minions Bludave's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Many manufactures brush wax on. I don't feel that is as effective as dipping the pickup in the wax. There really isn't anything that you can do to prevent it from happening, aside from the obvious is to not let the guitar get overheated. Like leaving it in your trunk on a hot summer day. If you treat your guitars respectfully chances are you will never have a problem but any guitar as it gets older the potential is going to be there. Its not a hard thing to fix.
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    Slam Dunk da Funk Funkfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Neil Young's "Old Black" Gibson Les Paul.

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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    if you can talk into your pickup like a microphone and you hear it come through the amp,then it is microphonic.This is not a bad thing just different /Some sound great ,Seth lovers are microphonic cause they are exact replicas of 50's era humbuckers.the previous post is also true Neil's Old Black has a microphonic pickup. If you like the sound keep it,only your ears can be the judge

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    Jessie's ghost
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    It's a trade-off. I love my un-potted, un-balanced Burstbuckers, but they're pretty microphonic and will squeal like stuck pigs if I use them under high-volume, high-gain conditions. It's only under those conditions that they sound like "crap"; any other time they're the best-sounding humbuckers I've ever owned.

    On the other hand, when I want to play high-volume metal and hard rock, there are tons and tons of potted pickups that suit that scenario better.

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    Imperator of Indignation idsnowdog's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by lex666 View Post
    I'd like to know what causes a pickup to become micro phonic and are there things you can do to prevent it?

    I beleive the majority of modern pickups are now wax potted to prevent microphonics, are they not?
    Eventually the wax dries out and deteriorates which can cause microphonics. This is why some people use a mix of bees and paraffin wax. The bees wax tends to stay pliable longer.
    Last edited by idsnowdog; 12-31-2011 at 10:10 AM.

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    Jessie's ghost
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Is that because the oils in the wax evaporate over time?

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    Imperator of Indignation idsnowdog's Avatar
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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessie's ghost View Post
    Is that because the oils in the wax evaporate over time?
    That's possible. I know the wax in my Dimarzio PAF from 1979 was oxidized and chalky when I changed pole pieces.

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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    So, ttOP, it might be the tubes, or a spring reverb.

    I noticed an Ibanez w gargage Asian (garbasian?) humbucker had lots of singlecoil bite & picked up EVERY stupid little finger noise in a way that got fixed by a quality aftermarket hb. So thats another symptom for hbkrs.

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    Default Re: What does a microphonic pickup sound like?

    Some really brave souls pot pickups in resin, but that's a risky venture. A resin mixture builds up heat as it cures, enough heat to melt the thin varnish layer most coil wires are coated in for insulation. Of course, once the varnish melts, the coil shorts out, and you're stuck with a PAF paperweight.

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