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Thread: Magnet swapping photos and explanation

  1. #1
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    Default Magnet swapping photos and explanation (Pic heavy)

    This is so easy, even I can do it. Believe me, that's saying something.

    For this particular photo demo, I used an AlNiCo V covered pickup, and I'm putting in a rough-cast AlNiCo IV magnet. The original PAFs used the rough or sand cast magnets, and up until 1961 or so, used A2, A3 and A4 magnets. In my case, I'm also using the historically correct length for an early PAF, 2.37 inches. Gibson switched to a longer 2.5" magnet later in the 60s.

    First I removed the pickup surround, then I used a Dremel to cut the solder that holds the cover on.


    Then I gently loosened the cover using a small screwdriver, breaking the wax seal.


    Edit: Loosen the four bobbin screws on the bottom of the baseplate before you attempt to get the magnet out. In the photo above, they are the only phillips screw heads showing. Once the cover was removed, the magnet was easy to see. It's sitting on the baseplate between the polepieces and slug pieces.

    After loosening the magnet by using a small screwdriver once again, I started to gently push the magnet out. Be careful when doing this, and avoid touching the windings! A broken winding will most likely result in an unusable pickup.

    Be sure and mark North on the pickup you're removing so you can reuse it later, if so desired. The North side will face the slug bobbin (the one without screws) on a normal PAF style humbucker.

    I have two sizes of magnet, the 2.37 and the 2.5 inch, so I measured to see which one this pickup was loaded with. As I said above, this is the historically correct 2.37" magnet. I think it's actually 2.36xxxx or something, but 2.37 is close enough.

    Next I inserted the new A4 magnet, making sure to line up North with the slug bobbin side.


    Once the magnet is fully inserted and evenly lined up, tighten the bobbin screws back down, put the cover back on and re-solder the cover to the baseplate.


    Ideally you should first dip the cover in melted parafin (or beeswax if you're very fancy). If you don't have wax handy, you can also put a thin piece of masking tape over the slug bobbin before putting the cover back on to help dampen the metal-to-metal contact. I'll probably use a hair dryer to get some wax melted and to help suppress microphonics. The older PAFs were actually unpotted, but I prefer less feedback to historical correctness in this case.

    That's it! Not too hard, is it? I was a little intimidated at first, but it's been pretty easy so far. I'll be happy to answer any questions and help my fellow Fretters with their magnet swaps, if I can. I'm certainly far from expert, but I do have some experience now.
    Last edited by FrankenFretter; November 11th, 2010 at 05:30 PM. Reason: Missed an important step or two!
    -Sean
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    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  2. #2
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    Wow! Thanks for that. I always wondered how that was done. Very good explanation and photos. Now I feel more confident should I ever give it a try.

    Maybe this should be a sticky?

    "No Tele For you." - The Tele Nazi

    Ha! Tele-ish now inbound.

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    Cool beans, Sean. Does that work for refrigerator magnets?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudman
    Wow! Thanks for that. I always wondered how that was done. Very good explanation and photos. Now I feel more confident should I ever give it a try.

    Maybe this should be a sticky?
    Not sure how to do a sticky. Does the mod have to do that?

    Glad it was helpful, Spud. I'd heard from others that it was pretty easy, so I had to try it. Magnets are cheap, and if you look on Ebay, you can find a good assortment of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heywood
    Cool beans, Sean. Does that work for refrigerator magnets?
    Fridge magnets have a cool vibe to them...
    -Sean
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    Can you wax pot with straight beeswax? Or does it need to be a paraffin/beeswax mix?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodore 64
    Can you wax pot with straight beeswax? Or does it need to be a paraffin/beeswax mix?
    I'm not sure about that one. I would imagine that the mix would work better, though.

    Maybe somebody else who's more in the know about wax potting could answer this?
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

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    I have a P-90 PUP that has a busted plastic plate, exposing some of the windings. I'm hoping I can just wax pot it. I have an asston of beeswax, but no paraffin although, paraffin is cheap and easy to find, I should just get some.

  9. #8
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    Excellent tutorial with all the right details. This is simpler than I thought.
    Thx!
    Guitar: Gibson SG Standard Natural Burst, Squier CV 50's Tele, Hell Guitars No. 2, Squier CV 50's Strat, Reverend Club King 290, Taylor 522e 12-Fret mahogany,
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    Very neat, Sean! I'm glad they stick-ied the thread because I missed it the first time.

  11. #10
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    Thanks, guys!

    I think the next time I take a cover off of a pickup, I'm going to use a soldering iron and a solder sucker. I'm not too sure the Dremel idea is a good one, but that's the way it was done in the online article I learned my method from.

    I'd love to hear feedback from others that have done this. I'm sure I could use a few pointers to perfect my technique.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodore 64
    I have a P-90 PUP that has a busted plastic plate, exposing some of the windings. I'm hoping I can just wax pot it. I have an asston of beeswax, but no paraffin although, paraffin is cheap and easy to find, I should just get some.
    Is that a metric asston, C64?

    I may be wrong about this, but I think that the beeswax potting is more of a nostalgia thing than it is actually superior in any way. Anyone who knows, feel free to jump in.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  13. #12
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    I think the next time I take a cover off of a pickup, I'm going to use a soldering iron and a solder sucker. I'm not too sure the Dremel idea is a good one, but that's the way it was done in the online article I learned my method from.

    I'd love to hear feedback from others that have done this. I'm sure I could use a few pointers to perfect my technique.
    Funny, I just posted on my guitar blog about this. It's a video by Mojo music and the guy uses a cool trick with a razorblade to seperate the solder from the cover.

    http://www.guitarify.com/2010/12/how...bucker-covers/

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarify
    Funny, I just posted on my guitar blog about this. It's a video by Mojo music and the guy uses a cool trick with a razorblade to seperate the solder from the cover.

    http://www.guitarify.com/2010/12/how...bucker-covers/
    I finally got a chance to look at the video. The razor blade trick is a good one, I'll be trying that soon. I also realize that my soldering iron is not good enough (30w) for what I'm doing. I guess I also might invest in a bit of beeswax.
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  15. #14
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    I think I'm going to try the razor blade trick here soon. I have a covered ceramic hummer that came out of an Agile that I want to swap the magnet for an A2 and throw in my Tele project. First I have to finish the Agile project that I'm almost done with, though. Stay tuned!
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

  16. #15
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    I bought a solder gun (a Weller) at a garage sale for $5, so I think it'll make the cover removal easier. I'm hoping to do some more swapping this weekend (magnet swapping, that is). I did a set of P90s recently, and they turned out well, but I wonder if anyone has any tricks with the polarity, other than the fact that you want like polarities touching the poles?
    -Sean
    Guitars: Lots.
    Amphs: More than last year.
    Pedals: Many, although I go straight from guitar to amp more often lately.

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