Tech Tips: How To Shield Your Single-Coil Pickups


It comes as no surprise that since the invention of the pickup, manufacturers have been trying to get rid of that annoying hum that is inherent as a result of the general principles of electronics. Since we can’t change the rules of electricity, manufacturers had to use those very same principles for their benefit, which gave us the humbucker which is essentially two single coil pickups placed next to each other. The hum-canceling properties of these pickups were great but the fact that they were twice as large meant guitars made for single coil pickups, such as the Telecaster, would not be able to use them without modifications.


Sure, we can cut away a hole large enough to fit a humbucker or buy a select kind of model that happens to be able to fit one, but all that requires major work or a new guitar – which isn’t going to help your old vintage Telecaster any time soon, but what if I were to say you can cancel out that hum using something that most of us have lying in our house or can buy from the grocery store for a couple of bucks? I’m talking about tin foil. That’s right, plain old tin foil.


Before we get started, here is everything you'll need:

Aluminum Foil
Soldering Equipment
General Purpose Spray Adhesive
Philips Head Screwdriver


Essentially, you will be applying a layer of tin foil on the underside of the pickguard that houses the pickups, creating a shield that will help block outside electrical interference that causes hum from your signal. This means removing the strings, pickguard, and input jack. You will have to desolder the connection between the input jack and the pickguard in order to be able to entirely remove the pickguard. Once you have that done, spray the exposed cavity of the guitar with a light coat of the adhesive. While that’s drying, you can remove all of the electronics connected to the pickguard. Once your pickguard is free, spray the underside of it with the adhesive as well and apply the tin foil, making sure you cover its entirety. The reason you want to spray BOTH the cavity and the underside of the pickguard is so that when the two meet, a nice tight seal will be formed. Once you have all that done, you can put everything back together, including (of course) resoldering the connection between the pickguard and the input jack.

Once that’s done, your guitar will have the proper shielding necessary to cancel out the hum!



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What are some other tone tips that can be accomplished using nothing but household items?

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