Photo 3 — Courtesy of singlecoil.com
Step 2: Surround the pickup with copper tape.
The copper tape’s 3/4" width is perfect for surrounding the pickup because you only need one wrap to accomplish this (Photo 3). But it’s essential that the two ends of the tape don’t touch each other. This means no overlap and, of course, no solder connecting the two ends of the copper tape. It’s crucial to have a little gap between the two ends of the tape to keep all the high end alive (Photo 4). Not having the gap is exactly why so many shielded pickups lose all their highs, and in a moment, I’ll explain the reason.
Photo 4 — Courtesy of singlecoil.com
Note: Be sure the gap isn’t right where the pickup’s two wires are attached, because in the next step, we’ll need that space to connect the copper wrap to ground. Otherwise, it’s not important where the gap is or how wide it is. I like to place the gap on the opposite side of the pickup from where its two wires are attached.
Why is this little gap so important? If you close the copper-tape wrap so the two ends make contact, the loss of all high end is unavoidable. You’ll often read this is because the capacitance of the pickup’s winding increases against ground. While this is electrically true, it is not the reason for the loss of high end. The real reason for the high-end loss are eddy currents in the metal film, which act like a shading coil in a transformer. The gap breaks the eddy currents and the loss of high end is minimal—and in most cases, not even audible.
Step 3: Connect the copper tape to the pickup’s ground.
In this last step, we engage the shielding function. This is also the point to decide if you want to swap the two standard pickup wires for a shielded cable. If you elect to do this, simply connect the braided part to where the black wire was originally connected, and the hot of the shielded wire to the white wire’s former location.
Photo 5 — Courtesy of singlecoil.com
Take a piece of solid core wire and solder it to the spot where the black pickup wire connects to the base. Next, use some alcohol or naphtha to clean the area on the copper tape where you plan to solder the solid wire. This cleaning makes the soldering process much easier because the solder sticks perfectly to the copper. After the area dries, solder the wire to the copper tape (Photo 5). Note: Be sure the wire is long enough that you can bend it toward the copper foil (Photo 6) to allow the plastic cover to fit over the pickup.
Photo 6 — Courtesy of singlecoil.com
Congratulations—you’re done! In a future installment of Mod Garage, we’ll apply everything we worked out today to shielding plastic pickup covers. Again, we’ll do it the right way so you don’t lose any high end.
But next time, we’ll continue our study of pickup parameters by bringing phase and polarity together. Until then ... keep on shielding!