How Many Of You Put Foam Under Your Pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by izzwardo, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Laars

    Laars Senior Member

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    Remember guys, Seymour Duncan is the one working on Slashes guitar. Looks like the foam is only on the front pickup. I'd guess it was to only level it, but I guess we would have to ask Seymour.

    Go to 3:24 and you can see the foam sitting on top of the guitar. I'm sure Seymour is doing it for a reason, but I'm not one to question why Seymour is doing something. The guy knows what he is doing.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l4xzGA11po]Slash's Appetite for Destruction Guitar visits Seymour Duncan - YouTube[/ame]
     
  2. The Archer

    The Archer Senior Member

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    If a pickup doesnt sit level I will use foam to make it sit properly.
     
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  3. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Senior Member

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    I use foam in the pickup cavities to:

    #1. Level the pups
    #2. Help control mircrophonic humbuckers (where the owner is too cheap to replace the pickups).
    #3. Under all P90's.

    It does help the "squeal" on microphonic HB's and it does tend to tame noisy P90's - but I can't imagine that it would help the "tone" per se.

    And I use a very dense foam that is used in packaging/shipping sensitive materials instead of any old foam.
     
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  4. 180gROC

    180gROC Senior Member

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    If your humbucker isn't level your tone will be different than if it is level, so using foam to level it can and will change your tone, indirectly.

    I use foam under humbuckers when they don't level on their own. In a pinch I've used cardboard. It's not the magical tone properties of the foam that's doing the trick, it's where exactly the two coils sit in space.
     
  5. mmcquain

    mmcquain V.I.P. Member

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    Foam added under the P90 pickups in my Les Paul but I've never added anything for humbuckers (the P90 just seemed too loose even after adjusting the screws and internal springs).
     
  6. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Senior Member

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    If you buy pickups from TV Jones - he sends you foam to use with each one.

    And after buying and installing many, many pickups from Tom - I'll never argue with his logic!!
     
  7. Lampens

    Lampens Senior Member

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    Gretsch uses foamshims to adjust the pickup height on their hollowbody. At least my 6120 has it and tv jones pups ship with foam shims. Don't know if there are added benefits to the foam as apposed to wood shims.
     
  8. NYC LP player

    NYC LP player Premium Member

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    No NO NOOOOO......you have to get vintage spec TONE FOAM.
     
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  9. The Archer

    The Archer Senior Member

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    I read an article by Ben Franklin that he posted way back in the day and he said that they used sheep wool back in the days of the Roman Empire.

    that is probably true
     
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  10. NCStratDude

    NCStratDude Senior Member

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    90% of that vintage tone comes from that vintage foam.
     
  11. SLewis

    SLewis Senior Member

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    I use memory foam under my pickups. That way I don't need to buy a loop pedal.

    .
     
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  12. NYC LP player

    NYC LP player Premium Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  13. C.J.

    C.J. Senior Member

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    Necro'ing this to add my recent experience: after many years of pickup swaps the holes in my LP were worn out from relentlessly screwing in the machine screws to mount the Gibson P90's. I got 'the shakes'. I had some foam left over from some CISCO router packaging (big 1.5" blocks, nice stuff!) so I cut a block the shape of the rout and then cut a section of the middle to let the screws through.

    Wasn't expecting this to do anything but kill my tone ..

    Wrong!

    Massive, immediate and very noticeable increase in clarity (presumably isolating the pickup in insulating material kills all your sympathetic vibration/microphonics) from the now 'steady' magnetic field and the sustain went to 11. I literally have to mute the bottom E now or it just rings indefinitely once struck.

    Surreal and massive improvement in tone. It really opened my eyes to some misconceptions I've always had about how it's necessarily a 'good' thing to mount a pickup in a way that encourages the guitar body to influence the magnetic field. I am now firmly of the belief that in electric guitars that is a bad thing in many guitar pickup/transducer applications - subjectively obviously. You want to detect the strings vibrating as cleanly as possible within the active area between the nut and bridge. You don't want, as I now believe, the mounting application/method to directly or indirectly make the magnetic field 'wobble' too much beyond that which is unavoidable.

    That kinda explains, in my mind, why 'direct mounting' is so popular - screwing a pickup firmly into a slab of wood has the same dampening effect as the foam I am guessing.

    If you think about it the physics of this are pretty obvious. Bit like the tone-wood debate. It's not what you add, its what you remove. Got to say I'm still a die hard 'direct mount' purist at heart but I absolutely cannot deny that two blocks of dense foam drastically improves the clarity, harmonic cohesion and sustain of my P90's in this context. Humbuckers, obviously, are much better mounted in a way that compliments the above presumption.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  14. kiko

    kiko Senior Member

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    More voodoo.

    It is use to level or in some cases push/lift the pickup like the way the spring/screw does.
     
  15. SlyStrat

    SlyStrat Senior Member

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    I usually have success leveling a pickup by just twisting the springs to a different position. They are always "bent" one way or another and this moves the pickup within the ring.
     
  16. mgenet

    mgenet Earth = Cheese Burger Silver Supporter Premium Member

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    So...
    :shock:

    is there VOS foam?

    :naughty:
    And where to be get it?

    --------------------
    btw, I love necro threads...they're the balls...
     
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  17. garybaldy

    garybaldy Senior Member

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    Foam came with my Irongear Platinum 90 P90s instead of springs.
     
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  18. C.J.

    C.J. Senior Member

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    Respectfully disagree. I am using the foam to pack out the cavity to secure the pickup as it had worked loose on its threads over the years. I couldn't be bothered to glue and re-drill since I had some packing foam lying around:

    [​IMG]

    I have been testing magnets recently and so have installed/removed the P90's on this guitar:

    [​IMG]

    20 or so times in the last few days.

    Its important to understand how Gibson soapbar P90's mount (I'm sure you do, this is just for the sake of clarity): Two screws pass through the pickup body (centrally usually) through two springs that (if you use the stock Gibson ones) lose their tension over time. Without the 'push back' from the springs and having worn out the screw bores through constant installation/removal, you soon get a wobbly or 'zittery' P90.

    To solve this I would normally just fix the problem (replace the springs and fill/re-drill the holes) but I thought I'd try the foam since I had some laying around.

    In this application the foam is intended to add resistance to the pickup and enhance that offered by the weakened springs. It does this wonderfully. Assuming it is sufficiently dense foam (a lot of the foam I have seen other people use isn't dense enough).

    However, what I wasn't expecting to happen was that the tone of the instrument would 'clean up' and become more crisp and hold sustain better with the pickup pressed in to the foam.

    As per my rambling/gushing post above .. it did. I was surprised. I was impressed. I recommend.

    What I believe is happening, as stated previously, is that far from there being some magic ratio of compression:density or TONEFOAM(tm), the foam is simply securing the P90's *completely* and therefore it is not moving (physically) at all when the guitar is played. I suspect even slight oscillation causes the tone to be affected in the electric guitar/transducer setup. If the pickup moves, the magnetic field moves, that changes what is transduced and sent to the amp. In practical terms I believe that is going to be perceived as a lack of 'crispness' for want of a better word. It will also cause the amplified signal to sustain less consistently.

    That is all.

    Its not magic. You could easily reproduce this by not knackering your springs/screw bores in the first place or surface mounting in a slab guitar, which incidentally, I do not own. However I have always found slab guitar bodies with P90's to sound light years better and the security of the pickup (dog ears being good examples) probably plays a huge part in that .. but that is of course entirely subjective.

    PS: Naturally, being a capitalist, I am willing to consider any sensible offers (over $400) for my remaining stock of TONEFOAM(tm) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
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  19. Hedcrash

    Hedcrash Senior Member

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    This. I have done this on the bridge pickup on my SG STD just to make both coils of the pickup parallel to the strings. Without it the screw-side coil is significantly further away than the slug side coil. Ultimately I took it out because, to me, it sounded better uneven. Having the trebly side of the pickup further away from the strings made the stock 498T work in that guitar, and warmed it up a little.
     
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  20. Leña_Costoso

    Leña_Costoso Senior Member

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    Does the "level" of the pickup matter so much?
    What happens to the string/pickup gradient when you play at different parts of the neck?
    Do you reverse the pickup ring on ES 135's, 137's etc?
     

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