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Thread: Pickup covers fitted.

  1. #1
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    Pickup covers fitted.

    On Tuesday I fitted some pickup covers to the Bare Knuckle Mules on my 1998 Les Paul Jimmy Page Model. This pic was taken back in 2014 when it still had the original gold hardware, but the original Gibson ceramic 496R/500T pickups had been replaced by vastly superior Bare Knuckle Mules.

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    A few years ago the gold hardware got replaced with nickel hardware as I don't like gold hardware much (and I don't seem to have taken a picture of it since doing it). But the open black bobbins just didn't look right to me. Sitting on a stand, it looked more like a copy than the real thing and seemed to distort the shape. Maybe cream of zebra bobbins would have helped, but the original Gibson pickups had black bobbins, and at the time I tried to keep the look original.

    I was thinking about moving the Mules to another guitar, but a new set of covered BKs would cost over 300/AUD$540 (and I'd just bought my niece a new 600 laptop as her old one had just blown up). So instead I spent 20/AUD$35 for some nickel pickup covers from WD Music and fitted those. These were their vintage spaced pole-piece versions, to match the vintage dimension spec Mules.

    I first tinned the sides of the covers and the sides of the pickup bases with some solder. I stuck tape over the screw slug hole cut-outs, then turned the covers upside down. I had to line the inside of the covers with wax, so I got a small lump of beeswax, used a hairdryer to warm the wax and melt it so it pooled on the inside of the top of the cover. Once it had cooled and set again, I then fitted the covers on, soldered them to the pickup baseplates, then warmed up the pickups using the hairdryer to part-melt the wax inside the pickup so that it would stick to the bobbins and the top of the cover to stop it vibrating and becoming microphonic. Made slightly harder by the fact that I hadn't unwired the pickups so they were still attached to the guitar. Being the JP model, the pickup wires run all over the cavity to the four switched pots, and I really didn't fancy unsoldering them and then re-soldering them.

    So I cut out a suitable slot in a thin piece of ply, slid the pickup wire into that so the pickup sat on top and the wood provided a heat-shield for the body (and I also used a towel underneath that for extra insulation), before wielding the hot hairdryer over the pickups, in order to prevent any damage to the guitar's finish.

    I didn't get the waxing quite right on the neck pickup to start with (the one I heated up first, so was a bit hesitant and afraid of over-doing it), as when tested it howled away happily with a couple of drive pedals running at high gain (which stopped when I pressed down on the cover). So a longer, hotter blast with the hairdryer until I could just see some melted wax sorted that, and no howling occurred.

    Of course, the real PAFs were unpotted and unwaxed, so they did get microphonic at high gains and volumes. But I'd bought my Mules potted (there was an unpotted option) so I could go high gain if I wanted to.

    So here it is with the nickel hardware, darker knobs, added knob pointers, and of course, the pickup covers.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    To me, it now looks like a Les Paul standard should look, and I'm really happy with the result. I know most people take the covers off, rather than put them on, but I'm awkward like that.

  2. #2
    Mentor McCreed's Avatar
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    Nice work Simon. It's always rewarding when you can do mod that saves you 280!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  3. #3
    That's quite a palaver to address an 'aesthetic' issue.
    The kind of trap I would likely fall into.

    cheers, Mark.

  4. #4

  5. #5
    Looks great! Covers always look better.

  6. #6
    A great result there Mr Barden. And even better that you are 100% satisfied in your self that it looks and feels right, to you. Thanks, as always, for bringing us on your ride.

  7. #7
    Mentor blinddrew's Avatar
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    Agree with the consensus, better with the covers on. I prefer the knobs too. Oo er...

  8. #8
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliSam View Post
    i also think they look better with the covers on!
    Me too. Nice work

  9. #9
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    I still grin with pleasure when I look at it now. Just looks so much better.

  10. #10
    Mentor fender3x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Barden View Post
    I still grin with pleasure when I look at it now. Just looks so much better.
    Probably the most important thing is pleasing the target audience ;-)

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