Like a long tailed cat in a roadhouse full of Telecasters

Got a sqealing TeleCATster? We just might be able to help you out with that.

Got a squealing Tele-CAT-ster? We just might be able to help you out with that.

As a follow-up to our last post about pickup potting and the effect it can have on microphonics (which can be found here: http://www.lollarguitars.com/blog/2014/01/what_is_potting/), we thought we’d address the issue some players have with their Tele bridge pickup squealing like an angry cat. This can be caused by an overly microphinc pickup, the bridge plate, or both. We’re here to help you narrow down what is causing the problem and how to go about fixing it.

large-bridge-telecaster

The Tele bridge pickup! There are a lot of things that can make it overly microphonic, including the bridge itself.

#1 – if you have the bridge pickup mounted very low there will not be enough pressure on the springs to hold it tight enough, and it can squeal – it’s amazing what a difference even one turn on the screw can make if you are in the sweet spot right on the edge of “too much and just right”.

#2 -The metal plate on the bottom of the pickup is waxed on during assembly.  If the metal plate on the bottom of the pickup comes loose it can be overly microphonic. This can happen by dropping the pickup or by having the pickup exposed to heat – wax melts at 140 so even sitting on a windowsill in direct sunlight or in a car trunk can pop the metal plate off the bottom.

tele-bridge

#3 – not enough wax potting can cause too many microphonics. This is highly unlikely to happen with Lollar pickups because we pre-heat every pickup and pot it in wax held at a specific temperature under vacuum at a specific VAC for a timed amount of time.

#4 – The bridge itself can be vibrating at high frequency – vintage style ashtray bridges are stamped steel and being stamped they are not machined level on the bottom and are only held down by three or four screws located towards one end, so the screws themselves apply uneven pressure and can leave the bridge plate tipped back ready to vibrate. It’s also possible that if you use excessive pressure to screw it down the screw pressure can warp the bridge plate.  Too much pressure or not enough on the mounting screws of the bridge plate can cause the problem, or just a warped plate from the factory can do the same. You will see on newer designed bridge plates that there are additional screws on the edge closest to the guitar neck – these are included because vintage bridge plates are such a big problem.

 

Ideally I like some microphonics, and I use springs in order to dial in the amount you can hear. A lot of Tele players want to hear a big CLUNK when they hit the selector switch – that’s a bit more than I like but it’s not uncommon. Raising and lowering the pickup will vary the amount of spring tension- less tension and the pickup will vibrate more. Of course, you want to set the pickup height more by the overall tone so clipping the springs shorter may be in order if you want more microphonics at distances with the pickup closer to the strings, which increases spring tension if they are left full length.

Check out our video on pickup adjustment:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JEyGuST9oc

If you have your pickup raised up to where it’s within 1/8” or less and it’s still too microphonic, it’s probably a bridge plate problem, but you could try going with surgical tubing instead of springs – in fact you might want to do that anyway if you don’t like much microphonic content, or if it’s being problematic.

Any drugstore will have some surgical tubing, and you’ll want some with an inside diameter of 1/8”- cut to length through trial and error. In addition you can pack a little foam under the pickup to hold it even tighter. If the metal plate on the bottom of the pickup popped loose you can send it back and we will reheat it.

 

Other than that you could test the bridge plate by laying it on a flat surface and see if it rocks at all.

If all of the above fails we can pot the pickup more, but there is a 95% chance it’s a mechanical problem – the design of the bridge and pickup assembly is a recipe for uncontrollable feedback! Most of the time it just takes a little head scratching and effort to get the pickup and bridge plate adjusted and you’ll be fine.