Potting 5420 pickups?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by alphahot1, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Hi all : ) I just purchased a green G5420T. Yesterday I played with my band mates and with the same settings I use with other guitars, the beautiful Gretsch squealed a lot! I mean a really nasty sudden squeal, vey high pitched not a controllable nice feedback.
    We play loud and sometimes with a good amount of distortion, and the only cure was to play cleaner. With cleaner sound I get the nice musical feedback.
    The question is: does anyone knows if the pickups are wax potted? Because the squeal seems to suggest they are not, I already wax potted other pickups and I definately solved similar problems.
    Should I attempt that or I just need to play cleaner?
    Thanks :D
     
  2. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Blacktops are wax potted. What year Electro is it? Older models have a lot of mounting hardware suspending them in the guitar, including at least two metal plates. These can be the culprit, but otherwise, it might just be a pickup that was quick dipped instead of being vacuum potted, etc.
     
  3. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Hi and thanks a lot for answering! It's a 2012 model, so it seems that another potting could solve the problem (if it's not the mounting hardware, but I expect a to feedback on a lower note if it was that the culprit)
     
  4. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    2012 models use the Baldwin era mounting system. If you every played a traditional Tele at high gain, the squeal can sometimes come from the mounting plate being just a little to high off the body. Some people screw it down or replace the plate with something more sturdy altogether. It is not a low pitched feedback thing, its a squeal.

    Check it yourself by setting up the gain levels and stand as you normally would. Once it starts squealing, start pushing on the metal plate and metal pickup cover. Plate--mechanical hardware thing. Pickup cover--do another wax dip. I don't know what kind of crazy gain you got going on to be playing a hollowbody, but I doubt it's the voids in the coil, rather the bobbins and plates inside giving you issues. Is it the bridge or the neck pickup that squeals, or both?
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  5. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Thanks for your thoughtful answer... amazing! I get squeal mostly from the bridge pickup, I tried to stop the squeal pushing on pickup cover and plate (my ears are whistling!!) but it's not going to stop.
    I must admit I could play with a fair amount of gain after all, being almost at the point of squealing, I'm past Brian Setzer territory so I guess I'm doing well already, don't know if potting the PUs is worth the hassle.
     
  6. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    Welcome by the way :)

    You might need to pot them, and if you've done it before and you like the BTs, why not?
     
  7. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I am a loud guitarist and my proline hollow 6119 does not make me any squaling problems. Only acoustic feedback which I really like.
    If you struggle with microphonic squeals on your hollow-body Gretsch I would really suggest to change pickups. My stock 6119 1959 RI uses a TVJ Powertron. It rules.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  8. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Thanks for all suggestions, I might try to pot them if the squealing is not manageable next time. I prefer not to change pickups because I had a very good offer on this guitar (it's in perfect conditions and I payed 400€ shpped with hard case), so buying new pickups would cost more than half of the guitar value :D
    I will report back if I resolve the squealing with potting.
     
  9. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Age:
    53
    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    Be careful not to melt the insulation on the wiring in the process. I lost two vintage PAFs that way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
    alphahot1 and j.s.c like this.
  10. Sean McILwaine

    Sean McILwaine Synchromatic

    554
    Dec 26, 2012
    London UK
    I have a 5420t same age 2012 but don’t play apart from with friends, but can get loud but I guess not to your level and not had any bad feedback that can’t be controlled.

    I think the Blacktop pickups are good when adjusted to what you want and gives you a lot of control on sound and volume.

    Have you tried playing around with height and individual pole adjustments to see if that improves your problem.

    I’m not in anyway an expert or what I would class as a good guitar player. But thought it worth mentioning given it seems the bridge pickup is an issue.

    Disregard these comments if they make no sense, just trying to be helpful.
     
  11. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    They make perfect sense and I'm grateful for your comments, although I don't think playing with PU height will make a difference.
    But you made me think: I have a Danelectro and I'm positive that came with no wax potting at all. At loud volume and good amount of gain (guns'n'roses territory) it was a nightmare, both pickups squealed like hell and wax potting totally cured the problem.
    The Gretsch seems to suffer just at the bridge pickup (maybe because of rolled off frequencies), so BorderRadio could be right, they are potted lightly.
    I guess that I could keep it like that and use less gain then usual... :D
     
  12. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Ok maybe I've found something: if I press a finger on the black plastic top the squeal stops! I didn't try this before, I tried to push the metal part of the pickups...
    I also noticed that the black plastic is flexible and a bit loose inside the case... what do you think it would be the best approach to fix that? Like opening the case and fixing it with a bit of hot glue?
     
    BorderRadio likes this.
  13. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    The cover is held in place by the coil assembly, all of which is held down by the back base plate solder job. Cutting the solder and re-doing it is a major PITA, ask me how I know. A third hand would be nice to hold it tight while soldering—no thanks. I’d do your hot glue/silicone idea, but the hassle says to it’s also a good excuse to buy some TVJs.. :)
     
    alphahot1 likes this.
  14. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    I'd like to but as I said they will cost 2/3 of the guitar... back to potting i guess :D
     
    BorderRadio likes this.
  15. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    If you bought it new, consider an exchange. Blacktops should not squeal.
     
    alphahot1 likes this.
  16. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    Thanks for your suggestion. Consider that I was playing it loud and with a medium high distortion and I could barely control it, so it wasn't really bad. Returning was not an option unfortunately, so I went ahead and yesterday a I potted the pickup and added a treble bleed to the volume pot.
    I'd say the problem is 100% solved from what I could test here at home, now the feedback is a musical one on a much lower smoother note, not a sudden ultra high pitch squeal. Also the treble bleed is really effective (with out it I lost highs immediatly). So far so good!!! I report back in a couple of days when I'll play with a real band :D

    IMG_8840.JPG
     
    new6659, BorderRadio and Henry like this.
  17. Sean McILwaine

    Sean McILwaine Synchromatic

    554
    Dec 26, 2012
    London UK
    IMG_1021.JPG

    Been there and we have the same guitars. This was my first time of doing any real work on a guitar. Nerve racking at times but I enjoyed it and in the end I learnt a lot. Good luck with the changes.

    IMG_1039[3662].jpg
     
    alphahot1 likes this.
  18. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    I'm loving it!
    The real pain was to put the potentiometers back in place without the tubing :D What kind of work have you done on yours?
     
  19. alphahot1

    alphahot1 Electromatic

    10
    Sep 19, 2019
    italy
    I played with my bandmates yesterday, full volume and plenty of distortion and no feedback at all!! I need to turn up the gain a little more I guess :D :D
    So mission accomplished, I love this guitar, it really shines for creamy crunchy tones, and then the bigsby action, I was projected directly in the '50s :D
    Sounds great! Can't wait to gig with it next saturday!!
     
    calebaaron666 and BorderRadio like this.
  20. Sean McILwaine

    Sean McILwaine Synchromatic

    554
    Dec 26, 2012
    London UK
    That's good news and well done. The mods I did were the normal ones on the older 5420, replaced harness and pots etc. fitted a jack plate, new bridge and that is about it. I think they are great guitars so enjoy. Cheers
     
    alphahot1 likes this.
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