What Kind of Wax Should I Use for Guitar Pickups?

by Rob Kemmett
Before potting the pickup, draw a diagram of the wiring configuration so you know how to reattach the wires when you reinstall the pickup.

Before potting the pickup, draw a diagram of the wiring configuration so you know how to reattach the wires when you reinstall the pickup.

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Coating a guitar pickup with wax to eliminate noise is a process known as "potting." Potting a pickup fills the tiny holes inside and cuts down on unwanted buzzing and whirring sounds while you're playing the guitar. If you have never potted a pickup before, familiarize yourself with the entire process, including which type of wax to use.

Type of Wax

As long as it's clean and free of any debris, any common form of wax will do when you pot a guitar pickup. Canning, paraffin and bee's wax are all commonly available waxes that work well for potting. They are available at craft stores, retailers and online. As long as it is clean, you can even melt a candle, remove the wick and use the leftover wax. Do not use crayons or any other colored wax; many of them contain undesirable chemicals that may damage the pickup.

Why Wax a Guitar Pickup?

A guitar pickup is constructed with tiny pieces of hardware, including coils and screws. Occasionally, the tiny parts from which a pickup is made vibrate and emit a humming or whirring noise. The noise is caused by the friction created as the parts touch one another. Waxing the pickup will fill the tiny crevices between the parts and eliminate any unwanted noise.

The Waxing Process

Chances are you already have all the necessary equipment to wax your guitar's pickup, so you can do it at home. Waxing requires the use of a double boiler, which is a pot of boiling water topped with an empty bowl, often made of glass. Bring a small amount of water to a boil in a pot and then turn it down to a slow boil. Put the double boiler's glass bowl over the boiling water and fill it with wax. Once the wax is melted and liquefies, dip the pickup in it. Shake the pickup to remove any air bubbles. Once it is thoroughly coated with wax, remove the pickup and let it dry.

Signs That the Pickup Needs to Be Potted

If the pickup emits a squealing noise that sounds similar to microphone feedback, it needs to be potted. Another sign the pickup needs potting can be detected by touching it while the guitar is plugged into an amplifier. If the amplifier emits a loud noise when you touch the pickup, it needs potting. Some pickups have a metal cover lying on top of them. If you touch the metal cover and hear a clanking noise, the pickup should be potted.

About the Author

Rob Kemmett began writing professionally in 2010 and specializes in writing about food and hospitality. Kemmett has worked in various fine-dining restaurants throughout his career and holds an Associate of Applied Science in Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images