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Adventures in sheilding!

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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
Topic starter  

I had set myself out to sheild my 2005 wine red Mexican Strat this weekend.

My sheilding tape came from Stew Mac on Friday afternoon, I had my soldering iron, spray glue, and tin foil. I prepared a good work surface, I followed the instructions on Guitar Nuts, and I sheilded the thing. I took great time and care in applying the tape, cutting it to fit. Snugly applying it to every inch of the jack plate cavity, and even going so far as to put tape in the hole between it and the control cavity.

I was pretty confident I was doing the right thing, so I went head and finished up. Things were pretty mundane untill I go to plug in my guitar for the first time after sheilding. I was impressed, because there was absolutely no noise, at all. That is, no hum AND no signal. I took the guard back off and poked around at all the parts. I kept running through my mind about what could have gone wrong.

"Did I overheat and fry out the pots when I was desoldering those ground wires?"
"Did I bump the pickups and kill them off?"
"Maybe I should have taken this to a tech..."

In my desperation I thought, "What would McGyver do?" So I rigged up some spare wire, a AAA battery, electrical tape, and a christmas light bulb as a circuit tester to see if anything wasn't going through. I really had no idea what I was doing as far as that went, but it at least felt smart. You know, like I was actually doing something. I had the guard off, and the jack plate loose and pulled out of the cavity. I plugged it into my amp and started poking around the parts again when I heard something. My eye popped and I tapped the pole peices on the pickups with my screwdriver. "HEY! It works! I dunno what the crap I did, but it works!" I turned off my amp and put my guitar back together. I got one of the strings I had just removed it an put it on, put in a few screws to secure the hardware to the body, and plugged in. No signal. AGH! I was heartbroken and wondered why my guitar was toying with me.

I opened it up again, and was messing with the jack plate when I noticed that the jack actually extends into the cavity. "I wonder if it's touching the sheild?" So I stick in some electrical tape to insulate the copper from the jack plug. I went back to the amp and it worked, signal, less hum, and all my pots worked! Overall it turned out great.

Here's some before and after audio samples. This is just the guitar sitting on my bed with a TV and computer/monitor powered up within a 5 foot radius. The microphone is right next to the speaker. The volume and tone are set at 10, and I've even got a compressor effect on my amp turned up, and the settings weren't touched between recordings. I'm switching the guitar from the neck pup, n/m, m, m/b, b in both samples.

http://www.alienaa.com/members/202/beforesheilding.mp3
http://www.alienaa.com/members/202/aftersheilding.mp3

And here's a picture:

-Metaellihead


   
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(@demoetc)
Noble Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 2167
 

Hey, great going on not just giving up! Sometimes it's just a 'tiny' little piece of something touching something else, or, like one strand of wire sticking off in the wrong direction and touching something - usually when you have everything screwed back together and the strings on!

It's sorta satisfying, isn't it - getting in there and soldering and wiring stuff up? Even if you don't change a thing and it's basically wired the same way and everything, it makes the instrument feel more 'personal' somehow.

Best regards.


   
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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

Nice work.

I'm curious - did your guitar have shielding paint in the cavities beforehand, and is shielding tape more effective than shielding paint?

I believe my '51 has shielding paint, but it sounds like your first sound clip (worse actually) when I get it near my computer to record.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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 Nils
(@nils)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2849
 

DUPLICATE in error

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other Stuff
DMusic Samples


   
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 Nils
(@nils)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 2849
 

Nice job Metaellihead. Also glad you stuck with it and used your ingenuity to figure out the problem.

Shielding paint has a high effectiveness but not as high as the foil does. Also check because sometimes they shield the cavity but not the pick guard which can also make a big difference.

Nils' Page - Guitar Information and other Stuff
DMusic Samples


   
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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

http://www.guitarnuts.com/wiring/shielding/shield3.php

for those that didn't have the link


   
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(@slejhamer)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

Shielding paint has a high effectiveness but not as high as the foil does. Also check because sometimes they shield the cavity but not the pick guard which can also make a big difference.
Excellent info Nils. My pg is definitely not shielded. Project for txgiving weekend!

Nick: that's a great website. Very helpful, especially the "how to" pictures.

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@metaellihead)
Honorable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 653
Topic starter  

Nice work.

I'm curious - did your guitar have shielding paint in the cavities beforehand, and is shielding tape more effective than shielding paint?

I believe my '51 has shielding paint, but it sounds like your first sound clip (worse actually) when I get it near my computer to record.

Mine didn't. To see if you do you'll have to open it up and see. If your regular finish just continues into the cavities chances are you don't. Considering that your guitar hums worse than mine when I had a compressor effect cranked up I would imagine it could benefit from sheilding.

As mentioned above, using foil is easier to use and provides a more effective method of sheilding, so go with it. Plus, you don't have to wait around for it to dry, it's just there.

-Metaellihead


   
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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

As mentioned above, using foil is easier to use and provides a more effective method of sheilding, so go with it. Plus, you don't have to wait around for it to dry, it's just there.
Thanks for the reply. I took the pickguard and control plate off, and the cavities are painted black but it's anyone's guess as to whether or not it's shielding paint. So I will go with the foil method for both the cavities and the pg.

Interestingly, my Artcore has no shielding paint in the cavities nor foil on the pg, yet it hums less than the '51 when near the computer. I guess that's the humbuckers doing their thing. 8) But I'll probably go ahead and shield that guitar too.

Thanks for starting this thread!

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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(@cmoewes)
Estimable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 111
 

I have been thinking about doing this same thing with my Turser Telecaster. I recently replaced my LCD monitor in my office/music room with a 21inch crt monitor and my guitar started making the worst hum. It wasn't for a week or so that I realized that the CRT monitor was causing the problem and so now I have to remember to turn it off before I play. Which sucks since I'm used to pulling up tab and stuff when I am playing to try and learn new songs.


   
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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 3221
 

Hey thanks again Metaellihead. I shielded my '51 with household aluminum foil and it definitely made an improvement. I'm also glad you posted the info about the jack touching the shield - I had a similar problem, when a little corner of the foil lifted up and touched the jack. Fortunately I caught it before putting everything back together.

Cheers!

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


   
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