Unpotted pickups problems

PeteNJ75

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Don’t get me wrong, I *love* their tone and know they’re more historically accurate, but my band does mostly 90s alternative rock, and plenty of those songs need a lot of gain. Not heavy metal gain, but thick, big, saturated hard rock gain (for certain songs), and unfortunately for me, these things squeal like a stuck pig. I played an outdoor food truck fest last weekend and it was a little embarrassing at times. Turning the volume way down on the guitar was the only way to really tame it. When I’m playing at home at bedroom volumes I have no problems, but at band volume with gain these things can be tricky to deal with.

I love blues and classic low-gain tones too, and these guitars really shine at that, but I’m finding that I have to use my pre-2018 models for any kind of live use now, and my newer guitars stay home. I know it might be sacrilege, and I’m sure I’ll get roasted for this, but has anyone had their Custom Buckers potted? I probably wouldn’t go that route to keep them stock, and just try some different pickups instead. But is there any other way I can reduce the squealing without having to resort to that? If not, it’s not a big deal, it’s just something I’ll have to work around. Just curious if anyone has any suggestions.
 

mudface

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You could try removing the cover...... if that doesn't work you're not left with much alternative. Keep them stock and replace them with new pups....or if you don't care about resale you could pot them,.. but they will not sound the same after potting.
 

PeteNJ75

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You could try removing the cover...... if that doesn't work you're not left with much alternative. Keep them stock and replace them with new pups....or if you don't care about resale you could pot them,.. but they will not sound the same after potting.
Thanks - what would removing the covers do exactly?

And yeah I think I’m skipping the getting them potted idea, I don’t want to completely kill the resale value. I might just try new pickups. At least the originals can be replaced easy enough.

Would shielding the control cavities help?
 

mudface

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The covers can actually vibrate at certain frequencies causing squeal with unpotted pups..... this was a common remedy.... think Jimmy Page.

Shielding is for radio interference from lighting and other electronic emissions not feedback from vibration of coils.
 

none2low

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Might be a long shot, but double check your tubes (assuming you're using a tube amp) Sometimes a slightly microphonic pre-amp tube can cause feedback issue with unpotted pickups.
 

Clint

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I had exactly the same problem as the OP. Standing away from the amp would often fix the problem but it was a PITA whenever I added too much gain. I wound up replacing the unpotted ones from my 60th R9 and have been happier ever since. They do sound very clear and bright at lower volumes. If anybody wants the unpotted set, feel free to shoot me a PM.
 

Saiko

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I had exactly the same problem as the OP. Standing away from the amp would often fix the problem but it was a PITA whenever I added too much gain. I wound up replacing the unpotted ones from my 60th R9 and have been happier ever since. They do sound very clear and bright at lower volumes. If anybody wants the unpotted set, feel free to shoot me a PM.
Sending you a PM...
 

JMP

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I vote to just have your pickups wax potted. They aren’t precious original PAFs or anything. Not to mention that the potting will be way cheaper than a new set of pups. But I’m a cheapskate.,,,,
 

ARandall

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^ Cheaper to do.....but not in the long term.
You'll probably take a bigger hit than the entire cost of a boutique set of pickups on eventual resale if a model that is supposed to come with historically correct unpotted pickups has them potted.
 

framos

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Thanks - what would removing the covers do exactly?

And yeah I think I’m skipping the getting them potted idea, I don’t want to completely kill the resale value. I might just try new pickups. At least the originals can be replaced easy enough.

Would shielding the control cavities help?
The squealing can be caused by the cover alone and/or by the unpotted coils.

I'd first check the covers: remove them, and if it solves the issue, you can even try to install them back and do the "dab of silicon" trick do dampen it. This shouldn't affect the resale value if done properly.

If this doesn't help, I'd just get new pickups and save the original CBs unharmed for a future resale of the guitar.
 

DADGAD

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I thought CB’s were lightly potted. Page Burstbuckers I have were confirmed potted.
 

Brek

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Cb’s were lightly potted until 2019, then they went full ‘insert metaphor here’ unpotted, and yeah I have issue with a few details of Gibson’s JP sig models.
 
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modavis99

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I had exactly the same problem. I just swapped pickups with ones I know I like and that don’t squeal.
 

1all's Pub

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Cb’s were lightly potted until 2018, then they went full ‘insert metaphor here’ unpotted, and yeah I have issue with a few details of Gibson’s JP sig models.
I believe that the 2018 CBs were still lightly potted. The unpotted version was introduced in 2019.
 

PeteNJ75

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I believe that the 2018 CBs were still lightly potted. The unpotted version was introduced in 2019.
You’re right, I’m pretty sure the 2018s were potted. Just one of the reasons I prefer the 2018 R9s to the 60th Anniversaries.
 

cooljuk

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Just to make you think... How do you know the squeal is from the coils or covers and not loose screws, magnets, slugs, or keepers?

In reality, if both pickups are doing it the same, they are probably normal and fine and the squeal is just a result of the gain and SPL. If you can't change the playing situation (speakers/player location/volume) or the gain, you'll have to change the gear.

Custombuckers are inconsistent and fussy, but they fetch good money aftermarket. I'd move them on and get something consistent and reliable that will voice your guitar to your rig and style, as well as respond appropriately under the playing situations you work in.
 

Sct13

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As with the silicon treatment you can achieve the same result by placing some painters tape directly to the inside of the pickup cover (on the side without the holes.....this dampens the resonating cover.... its also not permanent....silicone would be permanent....

Waxed potted high gain pickups have the wax oozing between the pickup and the cover eliminating this resonant frequency all together.

New pickups as stated above would be the way to go....but if you blew your wad on a historic, the tape is cheap and easy....
 

GermHerm

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Try to reduce the tone pot a little bit. This helps.
If not, put another PUs in.
 


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