From sirman–(at)– Sat Oct 7 21:21:32 CDT 1995
Article: 62053 of alt.guitar
From: sirman–(at)– (Mike Sirmans)
Newsgroups: alt.guitar
Subject: Re: ***Sheilding a Strat***
Date: Sat, 07 Oct 1995 06:08:32 GMT
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stoodle–(at)– wrote:

> Hi folks!
>I’ve been thinking about shielding my Fender Strat on my next string change.
>Here’s the procedure I’m planning to follow:
>1. Remove pickguard.
>2. Place copper foil on inside face of pick guard.
>3. Cut out holes for pickups and remove excess.
>4. Solder wire to copper foil.
>5. Solder other end of wire to ground on pot.
>6. Replace pickguard and check for reduction in hum.
>Anyone ever try to shield their guitar using this method? What do you
>folks think of this method?
> Thanks,
> Blair.

Blair, I just got through doing something very similar to my ’78
Stratocaster. The thing had an abominable amount of HUM and other
noises before I made the following modifications, even a metal
ground-plate in back of the pickups (in the cavities) made very little
improvement until I ‘shielded’ the pickguard. Here’s my method…

1. Remove the pickguard.
2. De-Solder the two wires to the strat’s 1/4-inch phone jack
(this makes working with the pickguard possible).
2. Remove all of the “electronics” (ie: pickups, pots, switches).
3. Clean & prepare the back side of the pickguard to receive
a foil backing surface (remove any glues or oils). Be careful
not to damage the pickguard in any way. Carefully remove the
Fender serial number label and save it safely away (this can
be done without tearing it if you go slow and easy).
4. Use 3M adhesive spray or Borden (like the cow) adhesive spray
to lightly “dust” the dull side of about 1-square foot of heavy
grade aluminum foil. The coating should be just enough to dull
the shine on the aluminum, no more. Let this “set up” for about
3 to 5 minutes to become “tacky”. The two adhesives mentioned
DO NOT chemically react with the plastic pickguard material.
Almost every other product contains petroleum by-products that
will eat into the plastic… Use only those products suggested
or others that are specifically designed for work with plastics.
If you put the foil on before the adhesive sets up, then the bond
to the pickguard will be permanent. If you let it become tacky
(about 3-5 minutes) then it will become something like one of
those removable gummed labels.
5. Carefully apply the foil (dull side to plastic, bright side up)
to the back of the pickguard. Use your finger to burnish down
the foil and remove all of the air bubbles. Be very careful to
not cause any creases in the foil. Appearance is very important
because it affects your ablilty to cut the foil properly.
6. Using a very sharp X-acto knife, cut out around all of the pickup
routs and around the outside of the pickguard. If you are not
careful, you can ruin the pickguard or cut yourself …so do not
rush this step. It is best to use a knife-point that comes to a
very sharp (triangular) point so that you can get into all of the
tiny cutouts and make clean edges. Cut out every screw-hole and
the slot for the switch. It works best if you cut from the foil-
side and take your time. The foil is easy to tear at this point
so you should take your time and do it right. Keep flipping the
pickguard over and view if from the front… if any foil is visible
carefully remove it. Keep burnishing down the foil with your
fingers occasionally as you work through the cutting. This helps
to keep the foil stable, and removes any “lifting” that may occur
due to flexing of the pickguard.
7. Let the glue completely dry a few hours. (this is a good time to
clean up the newspaper you used to protect your workbench from the
adhesive overspray).
8. Re-attach all of the electronics to the pickguard, being careful
to not harm the foil. Make all of your ground connections to a
single point on the back of the volume pot. Re-solder the ground
and signal lead from the 1/4-inch jack to the volume-pot. The
white (signal) lead should go to the center wiper on the volume
pot. The black (ground) lead should be soldered to the back of
the volume-pot case.
9. Reattach the serial number label to the back of the pickguard and
mount the pickguard onto the body. If you have done your job
correctly… you will not be able to see any visible signs that
you have put foil in the guitar. The pickguard should rest tightly
against the wood just like it did before. Other materials, such
as copper-foil are not suitable because they are too thick and
besides being hard to “work” would raise the pickguard up away from
the body of the guitar.
10. Wail away.

Single coil pickups will always be susceptable to magnetic or
electrostatic fields, but the addition of a “ground-plane” behind the
pickguard will greatly reduce the susceptability to AC-hum and other
offending stuff. Additionally, on some pickguards which tended to
pickup a static charge, the ground-plane eliminates the “popping”
sounds which occur as the static discharges into your hands or
fingertips. (Not all Fender materials hold static charges).

Like any thing that is done right, this modification does take a
little time and effort… but the results are well worth it. In my
case it made the difference in deciding whether to keep the guitar or
to sell it. I finished it up by adding a set of Texas-Specials
and installing aged white knobs and switch-tip to match the pickup
covers. The ’78 Strat has a Louisville-slugger thick neck and a
tri-laminate black/white/black pickguard on a natural swamp-ash body.
Strings are D’Addario Half-round Series-II 10-46’s with a low action.

I kept the guitar.


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