Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wear your ply with pride pt. 8

So, in line with the general restoration I'm doing I resolved to tidy up the rather scruffy original single coil pickups. They sounded decent enough and look well made but they're grotty and lacking covers. I could just buy some new ones but that's not the point of this exercise. I positively enjoy turd polishing.

My friend Nick keeps bees, so I blagged some beeswax and added it to the paraffin wax I used last time to pot pickups. Pure paraffin wax was a little hard once set and is supposedly prone to flaking because of this. I've ended up with about one part beeswax to two parts paraffin wax.

Potting pickups isn't exactly rocket science, you basically melt the wax, dunk the pickup in, leave it to infiltrate the bobbins/cover then take it out and leave it to cool. The only thing you do have to be careful with is not to overheat the wax as it can 'flash over' and catch fire suddenly. The simple way to keep the risk of this low is to fill a pan with water then place another container inside it which you melt the wax in. Keep the heat gentle, don't rush and don't let it boil dry. This simple 'boiler' means the wax doesn't get stupidly hot. Just be careful and don't blame me if you ruin your vintage 50s PAFs. :-)

While the wax was melting (it takes a while) I put some new longer wires on the pickups, then gently brushed off the worst of the muck and fitted some new covers. I stuck some rubber bands round the covers to hold them on and once melted dunked them in the wax. I also stuck a plain cover on the Iron Gear humbucker I plan on using despite it being as new.

After leaving them to cool you rub off the excess wax. Be careful not to press on any exposed coil wire, especially on single coils where it's normally visible on the base plate. This hair thin wire is very easy to break DAMHIKIJKOK.

With most of the wax rubbed off the exposed areas I've got a tidy looking set of pickups ready to go into the guitar. The microswitches I've ordered have turned up and the finish is going quite nicely so I reckon I might be able to reassemble things over the weekend. The only bit I'm not so sure about now is the jackplate, it's tired and cracked but a non-standard size. I may have to fabricate a new one and my record on cutting small pieces of metal square and tidy isn't great. I did think about replacing it with a strat style angled inlet oval but don't fancy hacking the body about in that area.

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