Username: Password:

Author Topic: Potted or Unpotted?  (Read 18199 times)

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« on: August 24, 2007, 02:35:32 PM »
Now, I've pretty much worked out all the details of my Bare Knuckle purchase (and, like most guitarists, the details of the next 5000 worth of equipment that I'll still be buying in ten years...). I still, however, have one choice to make: should I buy my Mules potted or unpotted?

The problem is I really don't know enough to make the decision. What is the purpose of potting? I understand it eliminates microphonics, but in what situations are microphonics noticable and how much of a problem are they? I've heard that potting is more necessary for covered pickups (presumably because of the interaction of the metal covers with the magnets) but I don't know any details.

So can people give me the pros and cons of potting a set versus leaving them unpotted? Bear in mind that I'll be using these pickups for everything from jazz to metal, and I've heard the high levels of gain associated with the latter mean potting is virtually a necessity.


Help me, tonefreaks! You're my only hope!

gingataff

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 1872
  • NBVHIIMMPKAHITTSSH
    • My YouTube Channel
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2007, 03:01:48 PM »
I'm not a Jedi but I'll try my best.
If you'd said you play "Jazz to blues" I'd say unpotted, but if you're going to play metal I'd go for potted just to be extra sure against feedback.
BKPs are open enough sounding even when potted for all your Jazz needs.
I see a rainbow rising
Look there on the horizon
And I'm coming home

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2007, 03:13:31 PM »
I've read criticisms on other boards about other pickups, stating that the potting nullifies many of the harmonics that add to the warmth of tone, and that potted pickups lose that openness and depth that most people look for in a great guitar tone.

Is it your belief, then, that Bare Knuckle pickups are high enough quality and strong enough in design that these shouldn't be problems? I'd be very happy if this were the case, as it'd be a shame to have to get one set of unpotted pickups to get the optimal clean and crunch tones and one set of potted pickups for hard rock to metal tones.

Twinfan

  • Light Heavyweight
  • ******
  • Posts: 10528
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2007, 03:34:29 PM »
I have one potted Mule in the bridge of a Les Paul, and a set of unpotted in another.  All three pickups are open coiled zebras.

To my ears, the potted pickup is a touch smoother.  The unpotted is a bit brighter and more "lively".  For more open vintage tones, unpotted is the way to go in my opinion.  However, once you add a lot of gain they can start to sound shrill.

The best all round option for you is to go potted.  You won't be disappointed.

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2007, 03:49:13 PM »
Thanks for the advice, guys! One more question (and slightly off topic, whoops!).

My main reason for upgrading is that I find the stock burstbuckers (burstbucker pros, I think) in my Les Paul have no 'presence' in a mix: they simply don't cut through very well. This is particularly easy to notice when compared with, well, any other guitar: I've experienced it when playing with players using high output humbucking Ibanezes, but also when playing with guys who use vintage output Stratocasters.

My initial thought was simply that the Gibson pups just weren't of high enough quality and didn't have the required punch, and that upgrading to Bare Knuckles would sort me out. After reading the forum for half an hour I'm not so certain. Do you think that simply upgrading to a set of Mules would do the job, or is it more likely to be a case of 300k pots sapping the top end presence from my tone? Is my Les Paul likely to have a particularly dark timbre that upgrading to Mules would do very little about?

Choices! Far too many choices!

gingataff

  • Welterweight
  • ****
  • Posts: 1872
  • NBVHIIMMPKAHITTSSH
    • My YouTube Channel
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2007, 04:08:44 PM »
I have BKPs in guitars that are certainly not high quality timber and they have really improved the tone tenfold, you could put BKPs on a drainpipe and it would sound musical. However in an LP I would definately consider upgrading to good quality 500k pots and good caps to really get the best out of your instrument. If it's within your budget checkout RS Guitarworks wiring kits.
I see a rainbow rising
Look there on the horizon
And I'm coming home

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2007, 04:12:04 PM »
Thanks gingataff, although I asked so many questions in the last post that the important one ended up getting lost in the process!

Simply put, will buying a set of calibrated alnico IV Mules give my Les Paul a significant increase in 'presence' in a live mix compared to a set of Gibson Burstbucker Pros?


Edit: Looking at RS Guitarworks, would I want the Vintage or Modern electronics kits for my Les Paul? I really do wish there wasn't this much choice!

steve

  • Lightweight
  • ***
  • Posts: 798
    • http://www.cdbaby.com/stevegladman
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2007, 04:23:05 PM »
Quote from: Steve Kinsen
Thanks gingataff, although I asked so many questions in the last post that the important one ended up getting lost in the process!

Simply put, will buying a set of calibrated alnico IV Mules give my Les Paul a significant increase in 'presence' in a live mix compared to a set of Gibson Burstbucker Pros?


Edit: Looking at RS Guitarworks, would I want the Vintage or Modern electronics kits for my Les Paul? I really do wish there wasn't this much choice!


Yes, the mules will really cut through the mix. Changed the original Burst Buckers from my LP std and put in a set of Mules.Tone was immense and made the band sound bigger. They have a more focused tone which helps the guitar stand out in the mix.
Mule,Trilogy,Irish Tours,Holy Diver and Apaches.

steve

  • Lightweight
  • ***
  • Posts: 798
    • http://www.cdbaby.com/stevegladman
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2007, 04:26:59 PM »
This may help, its a recording of a small pub gig we did when i had the mules in my LP. The visual is rubbish but the audio is good enough to hear the live tone of the Mules.  it was recorded on a digital camera by someone in the crowd.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3Iwpg9-jWw
Mule,Trilogy,Irish Tours,Holy Diver and Apaches.

Ratrod

  • Middleweight
  • *****
  • Posts: 5264
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2007, 04:27:49 PM »
There's plenty of presence in all BKP's. Even the darker sounding ones. Changing from burstbuckers to Mules would be like taking a wool blanket off your amp.
BKP user since 2004: early 7K Blackguard 50

WezV

  • Middleweight
  • *****
  • Posts: 5838
    • http://wezvenables.co.uk
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2007, 04:39:08 PM »
i would be tempted to for a potted bridge pickup that will be good for the metal.  and maybe an unpotted neck pickup for the best jazz tones - that way you have both ends of your playing spectrum nicely covered and anything in between should be easy to get as well

Ratrod

  • Middleweight
  • *****
  • Posts: 5264
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2007, 04:41:17 PM »
Don't forget: Tim has found a way to make his unpotted pickups more feedback resistant. It's somekind of special wind.
BKP user since 2004: early 7K Blackguard 50

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2007, 04:47:16 PM »
Sorry to keep repeating myself but I'd like to pick up these pick-ups (pun, unfortunately, intended) as soon as possible and so I'm posting with some urgency.

1) Does anybody know if a 2005 Les Paul Standard Limited Edition would have been shipped with 300k or 500k pots? From my guitars tone it sounds like I have all the symptoms of a guitar with 300k pots, but it'd be nice to know for sure before dropping fifty quid on a new set of electronics!

2) I'm going for a tone with all the classic Les Paul tonal characteristics, but I do love that modern production and equipment brings to tone. With this in mind, would it be better to go for the RS Guitarworks 'modern' electronics pack or the 'vintage' electronics pack? I don't know if the modern set would simply give my vintage-voiced pickups the best possible treatment en-route to the amplifier, or if they'd change the tone at a base level and stop my pickups sounding vintage at all.


Oh, and Steve: $%&#ing fantastic live tone! Just can't beat an old Marshall driven by a good Les Paul, can you? If I'm not mistake you're using a pedal to push the amp a little harder: what pedal was it, exactly? I'm currently the owner of a Full-Drive Mosfet, but I'm starting to think a Keeley modded SD-1 would probably be more to my taste...

Ratrod

  • Middleweight
  • *****
  • Posts: 5264
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2007, 04:55:19 PM »
I'm about 90% sure it has 500k pots.

To answer question 2, it might be nice to know what kind of amp/fx you use. In most cases I found it easier to get a modern sound out of vintage style stuff than using modern style stuff and trying to get a vintage sound.
BKP user since 2004: early 7K Blackguard 50

Steve Kinsen

  • Junior Flyweight
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Potted or Unpotted?
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2007, 11:46:26 PM »
Quote from: Ratrod
I'm about 90% sure it has 500k pots.

To answer question 2, it might be nice to know what kind of amp/fx you use. In most cases I found it easier to get a modern sound out of vintage style stuff than using modern style stuff and trying to get a vintage sound.


I use very little in the way of FX, just a Full-Drive Mosfet (that at some point I may switch for a Keeley SD-1) and a GE7 that I plan to have sniped soon. I'm not really a fan of FX, rather I like to get the best core tone possible.

In terms of amp I'm currently using a late 80s/early 90s Peavey valve combo (a PAG60, not that that means anything to anyone). I didn't choose this based on the tone, but rather because of the price I could get it at. I'm looking to upgrade to a Matamp Kings Street soon, and even if I choose another it will certainly be a moderate gain, classic 'British' sounding amplifier.