Pickups

Un-Potted Filtertrons vs Wax Potted Filtertrons

1

(A continuation from my question on this thread, but I wanted to start a new thread dedicated to my wax potting question)

I know this has been discussed on these pages before but with the crash I'm finding a lot of empty threads so I figured it couldn't hurt to get a new thread going again. That, and I'm also wondering more specifically about the Setzer Signature pickups.

In my 6120RHH I have a TVJ Classic in the bridge and a T'Armond in the neck. I've wanted to get a Setzer sig for the bridge since they were announced and now I'm ready to order one this week but I'm wondering if I should order it un-potted.

I've have read a few opinions (Tavo, Don Butler) about un-potted filtertrons, including the Setzer sigs, and how they sound more vintage correct, and that they are cleaner and have more string separation on the lower wound strings than the classics and are also smoother on the unwound strings, or that they just sound better in general.

I've also read that the differences to some people are so inaudible that it's not worth the price of feedback/squealing resistance that wax potting provides.

The music I play is at the very least mildly overdriven and on a few songs I'm hitting the fuzz pedal or getting into that Horton Heat psychobilly freakout high overdrive almost distortion territory hard. I don't really play clean at all. I play through a 67 Bassman 2x10 combo. With my current set-up I don't really experience any feedback or squealing issues. Every now and then when holding out an A it starts to run away from me and feedback. I play at stage volume usually not mic'd.

Do you think ordering the Setzer sig in a very light wax potting is the best option for me?

WB replied to my question in the other thread;

"Mac, I think TV Jones pickups come with light potting stock, I don't think he triple-vacuum dunks them.

Filtertrons are not very microphonic pickups even unpotted, because of the way they're constructed and wound.

That said, if you play with overdrive/distortion pedals a lot, and you play loud, a pickup that's been potted is handy, and not as evil or toneless as some people make them out to be."

2

Well. I posed this question to TV himself and not even an hour later he got back to me.

"I personally think squealing is a terrible sound, kind of embarrassing. With modern music, lightly saturating (not Vacuum Potting - too much wax to the core of the bobbins) is necessary for limited squealing at higher volumes, or with gain pedals. Many of our customers use our pickups for metal music with very high gain (Filter'Tron's coils are closer together than humbucker coils - tighter bass response). Our favorite recording artists have tone to die for - Brian Setzer, Rev Horton Heat, Billy Gibbons, Chris Cheney.... Their pickups are saturated in wax. I think you should order them without wax and see if they work for you. If you can't take the squeal, ship it back and we will saturate it at no charge (you just cover shipping). We can lightly saturate (like stock TV Jones), or we can double dip (like Billy Gibbons, Elliott Easton, metal music...). What do you think?

Thank you, TV Jones

Sent from my TV Jones iPhone"

So it looks like I might have my cake and eat it too. Or send it back to get some frosting put on it.

3

I personally believe that wax potting kills the "bloom" to the sound of a pickup.

What's going on here is that when you pluck a string, the string vibrates....but also the pickup itself vibrates because it's attached to the body of the guitar. Not much...but a little and mostly on the high end.

Now the signal is generated by the relative movement of the string in relation to the coils....but if the coils are moving as well due to their vibration....the signal will cancel out some frequencies.

Wax potting deadens the movement of the coils and basically kills off coil motion. So basically all you get as a signal is the string movement alone. The pickup loses some high end. It inhibits feedback squeel....but the price is that you lose fidelity.

A $1000 microphone is more sensitive and has better fidelity than a cheap microphone....but of course it's more prone to feedback because of this. Stuffing a pillow in front of it reduces feedback....but you also lose sound quality.

In my opinion the reason vintage pickups are sought after is because old pickups often weren't wax potted. Seymour Duncan makes his Antiquity and Seth Lover humbuckers without wax potting for the same reason.

I've ordered TV Jones pickups without wax potting and they sound a lot like vintage Filtertrons. I don't play metal and never have feedback problems. They sound better to me that way.

BTW you can remove wax potting from a pickup by using a hair dryer on the pickup and heating it up. The wax just pours out like water and improves the pickup tone a lot. If you do have pickup squeel from all this....it's easy to dunk the pickups in hot wax and repot them.

It's pretty easy to tell if a pickup is wax potted by tapping on it. If the pickup is wax potted, you hear a thud instead of a bright tap through the amp.

4

All my favorite pickups have been un-potted. When I tap on the body with my pick and it comes out the amp, I know I'm on the right track. I'm not a high gain player, but I play good-sized rooms and crank a tweed Deluxe or Pro up pretty loud without squealing. My belief is that a microphonic pickup actually hears the wood...the acoustic qualities of the guitar...not just the vibrating string; and that makes for a more musical tone.

5

Fender pickups were all waxed until CBS took over the company and some bean counter thought they could save a few cents and up production.

If you want to get rid of your crummy toneless FEI pickups, you can send them my way. I think I might be able to scrounge up a late 60's pickup in trade for you.

6

Well, I just ordered a bridge Setzer Signature withought wax per TV Jones advice to try out. If it squeals like a little piggy then he'll saturate it in wax at for me at no cost.

7

Mac, did you get in ok with unpotted pickups? I'm struggling with t armonds that need re potting..or heating up...or do I leave them microphonic? At the mo, she squeals when I go near her with a fuzz box or moderate gain

8

Vince, try to immobilise the pole elevator spring assemblies under the pickup- caulk with silicon sealer or tie rubber bands/ pony tail hair bands tightly for a less intrusive temporary solution.

I recently unpotted my Didier Signature pickups (Les Surf Quatre-Vingt-Dix). Quite surprised at the noticeable positive effect.

Fully aware that you are sipping a fizzing flute of Armand De Brignac Dynastie while I'm swigging some Thunderbird that's been effervesced through a Sodastream but cheers anyway.

9

Didier Signature pickups! I just spit coffee everywhere.

Where is our Gallic Member these days?

10

Wax doesn't kill the tone and the squealing is just not worth it to me.

I'd be curious to hear an update Mac

11

I was wondering about going waxless but the lack of overdrive and good grief, those highs can get so shrill

12

I was wondering about going waxless but the lack of overdrive and good grief, those highs can get so shrill

13

Well, I just ordered a bridge Setzer Signature withought wax per TV Jones advice to try out. If it squeals like a little piggy then he'll saturate it in wax at for me at no cost.

– MacStevenXIII

my Brazilian waxless Setzer Sigs have no squealzz wit da fuzz. How bow dah?

15

is a light waxing more like a landing strip than a Brazilian then? Good to know your pickups don't squeal. Thanks for that. Here I am in my castle in my suit of microphonic armour being howled at by an ill tempered maiden every time I strum my lute. Born In The U of K with no reply from Tom

16

Great service from TVJ! Cant wait to hear your review MacStevenXIII

17

Vince, have you stopped-up the springs in the elevator yet? That is a suspicious source for Dynasonic feedback.

18

Good idea Ade, I will check the springs and rubber idea out. I think we've found that it is a waxing problem though so I'll want to make sure it's sealed. The prob seems to be the case.

Looking forward to hearing how Mac gets on with his waxless beauties and overdrive pedal

19

Sounds like you have done a thorough investigation and are zeroing in on the culprit. All we want is for you to enjoy that fuzz pedal with your T-Armonds.

Best wishes.

20

is a light waxing more like a landing strip than a Brazilian then? Good to know your pickups don't squeal. Thanks for that. Here I am in my castle in my suit of microphonic armour being howled at by an ill tempered maiden every time I strum my lute. Born In The U of K with no reply from Tom

– Vince_Ray

sounds like you need a bequeathing of the double brazillian?

22

I didn't get any squeal with the no wax on the Setzer Sig pickup. I did end up sending it back to be lightly saturated with wax though. I thought it was causing a problem with the amp.

When I was hitting my amp with a lot of gain and then kicking on a boost pedal my signal was compressing and almost folding in on itself, drops in volume and loses all picking dynamics. At lower gain settings it sounded fine. This didn't happen with my regular TV Jones Classic so I only assumed that not wax saturating was the problem. Turns out it's something to do with my preamp tubes or preamp section of my Bassman. It just can't handle my RAWK . I tried switching out the V3 12ax7 and the few NOS tubes I had couldn't handle it, a Tung Sol RI, Mullard RI, Ruby Tube, handled it better but it still couldn't quite do it.

When I switched over to the Dr. Z Z-Lux amp, no more guitar signal compressing like crazy and folding in on itself.

I've been really diggin the middle position with the BS Signature volume backed off just a hair, so the T'Armond low twang takes over a little more.


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