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Metal Pickguards - tone killers?


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11/30/2005 4:35 PM
Kenton Metal Pickguards - tone killers?
I have a Strat with a chromed metal pickguard and whatever pickups I install, they sound bland. If I put them in one of my other Strats with a plastic pickguard they come to life - bright, biting & gutsy....  
 
Could the metal pickguard be messing with the operation of the pickups - I seem to remember reading something about some Telecaster bridges interfering with pickups (on the "Harmonic Design" website if I remember correctly).  
 
Any insights?  
Thanks chaps.
 
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11/30/2005 6:14 PM
Suhr

Yes Yes Yes  
Metal guards change the tone, Also the Metal Fender bodies kill pickups, You can watch the inductance change as you lower the pickup into the Aluminum cavity.
 
12/3/2005 5:00 AM
BD

I just took off the metal humbucker rings on my parts telecaster. I had wood ones I got from someone on ebay and they sound great but I had to epoxy them, they brake to easy. I also ended up having to dip them in tung oil to harden them. So I figured let me use thes unbreakable chrome rings, they look cool. WOW...did I lose sound, or what. Not only tone but output and highend too. Just a big tonesuck. These pups had covers, they are custom wound P-90 hum mounts. I don't have the same problem with open humbuckers in my gotoh tele bridges. I guess there is a lot of factors involved. I read if the metal is not grounded it will cause all kinds of problems but the rings were, I checked with my VOM. I don't mean a little loss, I mean a "LOT". Maybe they work better with an open humbucker and act a little like a cover. I guess a whole pickguard is just too much metal.
 
12/3/2005 6:57 AM
Jesse Greenawalt
What's interesting is that many tele nuts say it's the big metal bridge that causes much of the "great tele twang" on the bridge pickup.
 
12/4/2005 3:22 AM
Dave Stephens
Yeah this is true and I'm not a tele nut. I had a nashville fender tele and the bridge was total crap, the allen height adjustment screws would fall out while you were playing, so I got an allparts brass bridge with individual saddles, all brass. Well the tone changed dramatically, more solid, less twang, more sustain, but something was missing. Later I got a steel bridge with compensating Wilkinson saddles and the good stuff came back. Its not BS, its true, teles sound the way they do for alot of reasons and steel bridge plates are one.....
 
12/3/2005 8:20 AM
Joe Gwinn

On 12/3/2005 12:00 PM, BD said:  
quote:
"I just took off the metal humbucker rings on my parts telecaster. I had wood ones I got from someone on ebay and they sound great but I had to epoxy them, they break too easy. I also ended up having to dip them in tung oil to harden them. So I figured let me use thes unbreakable chrome rings, they look cool. WOW...did I lose sound, or what. Not only tone but output and highend too. Just a big tonesuck. These pups had covers, they are custom wound P-90 hum mounts. I don't have the same problem with open humbuckers in my gotoh tele bridges. I guess there is a lot of factors involved. "
If you don't mind hacking the chrome humbucker ring up, try cutting a radial slit in the ring, breaking the ring into a letter C with the tips almost touching. An Xacto razor saw would work to cut the slit. A hacksaw with 32 teeth per inch can work, but the teeth may tend to catch on the sheet metal of the ring, forcing one to saw at a very slight angle, almost parallel to the sheet. Anyway, a slit will interrupt the eddy currents in the HB ring, and should restore the sound, if currents in the ring are in fact the cause.  

 
quote:
"I read if the metal is not grounded it will cause all kinds of problems but the rings were [grounded], I checked with my VOM. I don't mean a little loss, I mean a "LOT". Maybe they work better with an open humbucker and act a little like a cover. "
Grounding has no effect on eddy currents. The reason to ground things is to reduce electrostatic and conducted hum and noise induced by the musician's body and hand.  

 
quote:
"I guess a whole pickguard is just too much metal."
Lots of pickguards have a piece of aluminium foil glued to the back, to act as an electrostatic shield. Not that the foil usually extends to surround the pickups. If it did, the slit trick would be in order.

 
12/27/2005 2:36 PM
jaysg resurrected thread...
quote:
"Lots of pickguards have a piece of aluminium foil glued to the back, to act as an electrostatic shield. Not that the foil usually extends to surround the pickups."
I'm trying to make sense of this thread relative to shielding the cavity of a strat. For instance, I have an old Fender pickguard that was 100% foiled. Was that killing the tone while I used it? If I cover the inside cavity with grounded conductive foil, is that killing tone also?
 

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