Like you, I want my guitar to sound true, and for each note to be savored. Interference can rob you of sound! This weekend, quiet the 60-cycle beast – try Shielding a Guitar w/ Step-by-step Instructions!
WHY SHIELD A GUITAR?
There are two different schools of thought in approaching a guitar.
- The guitar straight from the factory is good enough
- The guitar from the factory needs some help…
I would subscribe to the latter, with the exception of some high-end guitars ala G&L, Gibson, Fender etc. One thing that plagued most single coil guitars, with the exception of those Z-coil/noiseless pickups, that arguably are not traditional single coil pickups…
In order to keep the single coil guitar hallowed for all that has made it famous, there is something that we can do in order to limit RF interference…we can create a faraday cage.
Stopping the stray frequencies allows the tone that we really want heard to be amplified. To do this, we are going to encase a majority of the pickup in a cage made out of conductive paint, aluminum foil or copper foil. After the surfaces are covered, then we will connect each piece of the mini cage to ground.
For the Copper Tape itself, I chose the Buzz Kill Copper Tape kit. Worked like a charm…
I had to choose which to use, and as you might have guessed, I chose copper foil with a conductive adhesive for the sake of overlapping for a sealed cage. Really, creating this faraday cage is more commonly known as shielding a guitar.
I started on the Telecaster, shielding the cavities as best as I could with a few tabs that overlapped onto the surface of the guitar to create a continuous circuit with the shielded pickguard. I tapped the copper foil into place with the eraser end of a pencil. The Stratocaster presented more challenges with more nooks and crannies.
After the foil was installed, I soldered a small ground wire to each foil cavity and connected it to the ground in at least two different grounding locations.
All in all, the copper foil worked great. I didn’t have to paint anything, nor wait for drying for multiple layers. Although the crinkliness of the foil looks like it didn’t really connect with the wood. On the contrary, the foil connected incredibly well, should be there for a good 20 years…
Because of the grounding, and the dramatic decrease in hum, I was able to crank my amp higher. The tone was changed in a way, it was rounder, fuller, but that may be the solder fumes talking…
To my ears, the increase of true tone of the guitar makes this a debatable and desirable upgrade for any guitar…especially if shielding from the factory is not available.
This was an easy weekend project for even beginners. With an investment of about $15 this mod, I’d recommend at least trying it and letting your ears tell the truth.
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For a more definitive explanation of shielding, learn as I did by visiting guitarnuts.com!
Get the Buzz Kill Copper Tape kit today to shield your own Stratocaster!