Do Butyrate Bobbins Really Smell?

Guitar Rod

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Okay, rookie question. I've never had a pickup with butyrate bobbins, but have heard people here describe how bad it can smell. I do remember as a kid opening my dad's ancient toolbox looking for something and a waft came up like somebody dropped their guts in it. It was unbearable. I thought the dog puked in it. But everything was clean. It was the screwdriver. Now I know why that was.

Do they smell bad from the get go? Or get worse over time? Make your case smell? I'm very traditional and for authenticity and do believe they are another small ingredient in the PAF tone recipe, but is it worth it if that's the case?

 

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cooljuk

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When I open a box of several thousand bobbins from the plant, they do definitely smell. By the time they make it to players in pickups, not really. Only if you scratch them with a razor like you can do with some woods to bring the smell back.

The only time I consciously smell them is when I have a huge fresh box full around or if I'm threading them fast. That can actually stink the room up a bit for a while, but it dies down pretty quickly.
 

morbidalex666

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Yeah they do.
After a while it felt weird to me, if a pickup didn't smell like that.
It's like an organic-like smell, rather than a chemical smell. Though, it is very chemical in nature I suppose.
Anyway, I've never experienced something that strong.
 

freefrog

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FWIW, touching a butyrate bobbin with a soldering iron is quite an unpleasant olfactive experience : it actually smells like vomit... but from a baby rather than a dog, IMHO. :)
 

cooljuk

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Maybe I've become accustomed to it, then? I only smell the butyrate when the stuff is new and in quantity or when I machine it and it warms up. I definitely don't smell it when I pick up a pickup and handle it casually.

Now, on the other hand, I have an old screwdriver with a hollow handle and screwdriver tips in it. Whenever I unscrew that handle cap, it definitely smells like puke in there. It's a butyrate handle.

Occasionally, I'll have an old Jazz Bass or some other old guitar with a celluloid pickguard come in and, when I open those cases, yes, they stinks of the same stuff.
 

CheopisIV

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Maybe I've become accustomed to it, then? I only smell the butyrate when the stuff is new and in quantity or when I machine it and it warms up. I definitely don't smell it when I pick up a pickup and handle it casually.

Now, on the other hand, I have an old screwdriver with a hollow handle and screwdriver tips in it. Whenever I unscrew that handle cap, it definitely smells like puke in there. It's a butyrate handle.

Occasionally, I'll have an old Jazz Bass or some other old guitar with a celluloid pickguard come in and, when I open those cases, yes, they stinks of the same stuff.
Yeah, you've just gotten used to it but they do fade some. My cats used to pee in my office (not on my pickups) right under my bench if I left some out or my box open. I put them up on a high shelf now and the cats no longer mess things up. Opening a fresh package they definitely have that stomach churning smell but in the air a few days they smell a lot less until they see some heat while being used.
 
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cooljuk

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I just got three massive bags full. Should be about 5000 bobbins, in total. Like I said, when new, stinky stuff! ....but I never notice the smell on an already built pickup that's been sitting around for a while. ...which could just be me. Next time I have a client over, I'm gonna make them smell a bagful and watch the reaction. ;)
 

AJK1

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Okay, rookie question. I've never had a pickup with butyrate bobbins, but have heard people here describe how bad it can smell. I do remember as a kid opening my dad's ancient toolbox looking for something and a waft came up like somebody dropped their guts in it. It was unbearable. I thought the dog puked in it. But everything was clean. It was the screwdriver. Now I know why that was.

Do they smell bad from the get go? Or get worse over time? Make your case smell? I'm very traditional and for authenticity and do believe they are another small ingredient in the PAF tone recipe, but is it worth it if that's the case?
Sometimes when i get lonely i sleep with my guitars, but i've never smelt anything like what you describe.....
 

Kris Ford

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I have always thought puke smell too..

SAME with old Gibson knobs...;)
 

CheopisIV

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I did up a Beano set yesterday (Double Black Bridge / Double Cream Neck) and the Black ones smell worse out of the bag, or at least mine do. They do fade pretty quick though.
 

penguinchit

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Don't know if it's been mentioned, but the old tools that smell could be Xcelite tools. The plastic they use contains butric acid, which is what gives off that nasty stench. I have a ton of Xcelite tools here at work, but I never use them. They stink of my tool bag, drawers and hands. They only way to get rid of the smell is to get rid of the tool because it's the stuff that it's made from that stinks. I assume the bobbins will be the same way.
 

Kris Ford

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Don't know if it's been mentioned, but the old tools that smell could be Xcelite tools. The plastic they use contains butric acid, which is what gives off that nasty stench. I have a ton of Xcelite tools here at work, but I never use them. They stink of my tool bag, drawers and hands. They only way to get rid of the smell is to get rid of the tool because it's the stuff that it's made from that stinks. I assume the bobbins will be the same way.
New ones too..I get a bug whiff from my rollaway when I open the drawer.
 


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