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Pick guard static
I recently got a '72 Telecaster Custom in November. It played great for
about a month, until late December (winter in Chicago) when the
pickguard was picking up sound when my fingers rubbed across it. I took
it in for a repair assuming it was perhaps a loose wire under the pick
guard. The repair guy told me that he had no problems with it and that
the noise was probably from static for which there is no cure. If I
moisten my fingers and rub them along the pick guard there is no static
until my fingers dry out then the static begins.
My question comes back to the comment from the repair guy who said there is no cure. I can't
believe that in 2004 there is no remedy for this such as maybe a product
like Static Guard that I could lightly spray on the pick guard to
nuetralize it to eliminate the static. How do I remedy this?
Well, actually it is not static interference. At least to my knowledge I
don't think so. I studied EMI (electro magnetic interference) for many
years. That is the principal the pickups work on anyway. Plastic can
retain a slight static charge, yes, but it should not be audible. I think the
water was simply allowing your fingers to slide without gripping the plastic. I
think when it is dry the fingers start getting a tiny bit of grip to the
plastic surface therefore the pickups have a slight microphonic effect
picking up that noise. This is typical on cheap guitars.
Most people like Fender guitars. They look cool, and sound great but the high end quality
is not there. Leo Fender was one of the greatest in the business but even he
would tell you that his guitars was designed to sell cheap for market
reasons and he would also tell you they were not designed to meet the high
end requirements. The Germans made a car cheap enough for almost anyone to
afford, the Volkswagen. Great car but economy was the intent. Leo did that
same with guitars thus came the Fender. Better quality guitars do not have
this problem. Ther is a solution though and this idea would be a good test
of my theory. Take the screws out of the pickups that mount them to the
plastic guard. You will have to take the guard off to do this. Get a roll
of the old white adhesive tape that is made of cloth. On the under side of
the guard tape the pickups on each end with the tape sticking to the end of
the pickup and the other end of the tape sticking to the guard under side
leaving enough slck to let the pickup swing loosely and be sure the pickup
is not touchiong the guard anywhere. This will break the resonation of the
plastic to the pickup. Now you will probably not hear that nopise anymore
whenyou rub your fingers across the guard.
Of course this is not a good way to mount pickups. The guitars I hand build I do not mount the pickups with
the screws and springs. I use pickups without the mounting ears, I trim them off. The body is cut out for
the fit of the pickup body without the mopunting ears. I leave a slight open space around the pickup so it does
not touch the wood anywhere around the edge of the pickup. I mount the pickup with velcroe. It will stay in
place very well but has a cushion effect between the wood and pickups and it sort of floats there. It takes a
strong pull to pull it out so it stays well but will come out if needed. This helps tremendously especially
in studio applications. Now keep in mind that you have no pickup height adjustment that way but I mount each
individual pickup at its very best height to start with so any adjustment would hender the sound not help it.
To me it is all in building a guitar right in the first
place so there is no need to adjust pickup height if it is carefully built
to its best height to start with. I don't like the idea of a plastic guard
myself anyway. The intent in the design was to mount everything on the
guard and then drop the one piece in place and attach with screws and it is
It is a volume factory assembly cheaper and quicker thing. These are
things Leo did to keep the cost as ow as possible which is OK but again it cannot
be in the high end catagory. The expensive high end guitars are done with
more quality in mind which is what makes them more expensive. Volkswagens
are not going to drive and ride like a Rolls Royce. One thing to consider
though is that the way Leo designed these cheaper guitars had a lucky
bonus with it. They had some very sweet sounds and tone effects that really set
them apart from even the more expensive guitars. You can, however, achieve
those sounds in the expensive high end guitars too.
My vote is for the best sounds and tones possible with the high end quality in a guitar,
the best of both worlds, especially for the professional player.Leo fender was one of
the best and probably sold more guitars than anyone ever but it was mostly
becuase his design was weith the intent of making an affordable guitar
anyone could manage to own. People didn't worry too much about them
getting beat up on the road. People still look at those points today. Beat up
Fenders are still in popular demand and probably the most demand but you
have to live with the cheap guitar characteristics. Personally I like the
best quality tools I can get for whatever the job is, whether it is a
hammer for building a house, or a socket set for a mechanic, fishing rods and
reels, or a guitar to play professionally.
Back to your initial problem though, that experiment will likely prove where the sound is coming from.
Fenders also have the cheaper pickups installed as part of the low price
volume manufacturing. There also are some pickups of high end quality that
stop the microphonic effect. They are carefully shielded for that very
reason but they are expensive some ranging over a hundred buckaroos each.
All these things have been on my mind for a long time. Most people will
not buy an expensive guitar. I have been over thelast few months designing a
guitar that will be very rustic look with cutaways similar to strats but
it will be built with bacote wood, body, neck, and fret board all the same
wood. Neck through body design. The finish will be rubbed on tung oil (2
coats) so that maintenance will be very easy to care for. Dents and
scratches will almost not show. A new coat of tung oil can be added by the
owner at most any time he chooses. You can never put too much on it. It
soaks into the wood and will not build up too much on the surface. It is
better than guitar polish. One wipe on thin coat is a new finish on the
guitar. Once a year will keep it looking like new.
Special frets of stainless steel to last for life never needing replacing, a playing action
like never felt before, modern double cutaway design (similar to strat but
still different not to copy Fender), and quick and easy to build which
will keep the cost fairly low. That guitar will be of high end quality but
still be cheaper in price. It has been a real chalenge to do but I am almost
there. Now there is a guitar that will do supper well on the market. I am
not intending this to be an advertisement for my guitars at all. I do my
marketing through proper and ethical methods. It is only to help people
understand why they have to balltle with problems with cheap guitars. Many
players purchase the cheap guitars and then they spend a lot of money at
different times down the road customizing them to overcome the problems.
Eventually they may have as much invested as they would have had they
bought a high end guitar in the first place to bring it up to a descent level. I
have noticed that almost everyone who has had a Fender who plays
professionly has had some level of custom work done to it and most several
times. They usually end up with expensive pickup replacements, wired and
switched differently for other type sounds, better hardware, new pick
guards, oversized wood scews holding the neck on, etc.
If I personally wanted to stay with a fender guitar, which ain't nothing wrong with that,
I would probably install the well shielded high end pickups to stop the
unwanted microphonics. Keep one other point in mind. You do get dome
really good neck tones with those microphomics of cheaper pickups. You stop those
microphonics and you kill some of the juicy neck wood tones also. There
are ways to have the best of all these things but that6 leads us to high end
guitars that are more expensive. I hope this has helped you and others who
read it. I welcome any questions from the players. It is all in the
playing better and sounding better.
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