Guitar Copper Shielding – How to Shield a Strat

Guitar Copper Shielding – How to Shield a Strat


Today we’re doing a video on how to shield a Stratocaster I’m going to be using copper shielding tape which we
sell on the website sorry for the shameless promotion here: 10-foot
lengths it’s 50mm wide so 3m long or so and it’s more than
enough to do 2+ guitars. The first thing to note is you don’t have to
use copper tape. I’m only using it because it’s what I’ve got to hand – you can use aluminium foil it works just as well
and it’s cheaper and you can also use the shielding paint which you can get
from various sources but the paint is actually very expensive and it does require quite a few layers to generate for conductivity. So a little bit about
the theory behind it. All electronic devices and components are vulnerable to
EMI (electromagnetic interference) so sometimes when you’re
playing live in front of big stage lights and got big speakers and
amplifiers on the stage it will all start humming and giving unwanted
feedback coming from your guitar and that’s because components inside are picking up
feedback and it’s obviously being amplified. Some people like it, most people don’t. If you’re a bedroom player like myself about 15
years ago if you had your mobile phone anywhere near your amplifier you would
hear it ticking every time a phone call or message came in. Technology has
advanced since then it doesn’t quite happen with a smartphone obviously for me and this this house
that I’m currently living in doesn’t matter what guitar I use I have to shield my guitars because if I walk start to walk towards my amplifier
especially when it’s on high gain the feedback just goes ballistic. Anyway the theory behind it is you need to make a Faraday cage to shield the components from external unwanted electro magnetic interference.
So do that by using aluminium or copper.
I’m using copper. I’m going to layer all of the control cavities all the way around including the pick up cavities and jack cavity. I’m going to layer all of those with copper
tape. I’m cheating a bit the idea is that your pick guard also has
the copper on or a shield of some sort so I’m using one of these it’s one of
those vintage style strat shielding plates. It is a very very thin sheet of
aluminium very very handy so apologies, I am cheating major style. these are not too expensive approx £10.00 off eBay so the idea being when all of your components are inside and protected
underneath from the copper tape, when you put your pick guard in place that’s also
got shielding on the underside the shielding from the pick guard comes into
contact with the shielding in the cavities and that creates a
fully conductive Faraday cage surrounding the components inside and
that cage is what protects it from the unwanted interference. You don’t HAVE to shield your guitar. If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it. but for a lot of
people it unfortunately needs to be done so I’m using 50 mm wide tape, a
pair scissors obviously and I’ve got a multimeter here to check for continuity
which we’ll do throughout just to make sure everything’s working as expected. So
if you cut your tape into strips and you want to lay on the surface
of the body there like I have you’re talking 2mm that I’ve gone
over and just make sure you really push the copper tape up against the the body
surface. This overhang here is very important you’re going to do that
all the way around. so I’m going to get another strip exactly the same bit of tiny
over hang on. The other thing I should have said is if you’re using
copper tape or aluminium tape you need to make sure that the adhesive on the
underside of the tape is conductive obviously that’s important for your
constant continuity so once you’ve laid down your first 2 or 3 strips take your
multimeter, set it to the continuity setting which is this one here where my
thumb is and check for continuity between the two strips that you’ve just put down. *beep* That beep tells me there is full
continuity between the two. If you’re using tape that you bought from
www.sixstringsupplies.co.uk you won’t have to do the continuity test our tape is fully
conductive. If you buy tape elsewhere and it’s you know it’s I’m not saying don’t
use everyone else’s go whatever you fancy, sometimes the adhesive isn’t
conductive so once you put down two strips check for continuity if you don’t
have it you’d have to put a blob of solder just across the seam here
to ensure continuity between the two strips. So I’m going
to go around now doing all of these cavities and cut the tape in strips
of different shapes and sizes ensuring I’ve got the overhang all the
way around including the pickup cavities. I’m not going to make
you watch the whole thing because it’s it is very boring so I’ll do a little
time lapse of that and when it’s all done we’ll do a quick
continuity test just to make sure everything’s there *music* okay so I finished putting all the copper
tape completely covering all the cavities – the jack cavity the
main controls including the pickup cavities It is completely sealed there are no gaps
or holes anywhere apart for obviously the holes so I’ve just covered
the holes and pierced through to reconnect the jack cavity to the main controls and
this hole is where we have the ground wire come from the bridge. However
it doesn’t matter if it’s a Strat or a Les Paul or whatever the guitar is if you’ve
got two cavities like this that are not connected, you obviously need connect them to ensure continuity (conductivity) throughout the
guitar. To do that I’m going to use a little jumper wire, tinned copper. I’m
just going to very simply feed it through the hole just like that and I’m going to solder it in
place. okay so here’s the wire I’m just going to
solder that down that’s nicely soldered and then I’m just
going to cover that blob of solder up with some copper tape and I’m going to do
exactly the same from the other side. so here’s the ground wires coming from
the jack cavity it’s going to solder that in place. This is the main advantage of using
copper – it’s a lot easier to solder if you’re using aluminium it is solderable but it does take a bit more heat Exactly the same again just use a little
square of copper tape just hold it in place and cover it. Okay so that’s how you connect the cavities together now we’re just gonna
check for continuity throughout I’m also gonna start thinking about our Faraday
cage. Take your multimeter, set it to the continuity setting and
just test between points throughout the for continuity. *beep* So there I can see that
it’s fully connected from the cavity which means the jumper wire has worked
beautifully. So to complete your Faraday cage itself
this is the underside of my pick guard the aluminium shielding plate that I showed at the beginning is very thin and it’s gonna sit underneath the pick guard
so when that comes into contact when it’s all screwed down and everything’s
loaded in it and you it comes into contact with the tape below
that’s what’s effectively it’s the cover of the Faraday cage so I’m just going to
connect test them both and that’s all beautifully connected and that as well
so that’s how you create the Faraday cage however your Faraday cage is
completely useless unless it’s grounded so we’re just going to show you how to
ground it to your main circuit. I’m putting the ground wire here which
is coming from the tremolo claw on the back so basically even though I haven’t
got the bridge in place when this is grounded here and it’s connected to the
springs the bridge/tremolo system and therefore the strings which we as
the player touch that’s part of the ground circuit so this you will see on a a lot guitar wiring diagrams referred to as “ground from bridge” There’s a little hook on the claw just there but this is what we’re gonna ground to the electronics of the main circuit normally on the volume
pots just because it’s nearer and once that’s done we’re gonna have to ground
the shielding (the Faraday cage) to the main circuit to complete the Faraday
cage. If it’s not grounded it is
essentially useless and just a pretty bit of copper that looks nice but it
doesn’t do anything. Solder the main ground from the bridge okay and then like I say we need to
create another ground we need to ground the shielding to the
main controls so I’m going to run another ground wire from the the side of
the shielding to the top of the volume pot just so where I put that
one. cut the wire bit short because it’s too
long. I’m essentially doing exactly the same thing so
I’m gonna solder this to the side of the I’m just gonna tape it to keep it in place because it’s at a funny angle. I don’t want to leave the tape on too long because it might attack the Nitro finish. I’m just going to solder this in
place this second ground wire… …and then same again I’m
just going cover it up with a sliver of copper tape because I don’t want too
much just a small square to cover the joint. This isn’t actually
necessary to add a second jumper wire there is a risk (extremely small risk) of
a ground loop because essentially once you’ve connected this ground wire
here to the volume pot everything becomes grounded including the shielding
plate and when that comes back into contact with the copper when it’s
screwed down it grounds it anyway. But just in case you’re not shielding the
pickguard properly or for whatever reason you might as well put in a second
ground wire I’m just going to pop that onto the pots just like the other one
I’m just going to tin this quickly I’m going to solder this wire next to the
other one. That’s all done I’m just checking that the shielding is all grounded…*beep… beautiful so everything now is
completely connected obviously when that has all been screwed back down you have a
perfect Faraday cage. Thanks very much for watching. That is how you shield a Strat. If you have a bit of noise or feedback, particularly with single coils are particularly vulnerable. Any
questions or comments please leave a message or comment or whatever get in
touch I will see you next time

23 Comments

  1. Don't forget to shield and ground the inside of your single coil covers. If you don't, they will act as an antenna for interference.

  2. Instead of soldering the ground wire to the copper foil, is it OK to put a tiny screw through the copper foil and solder the ground to the screw? Soldering it directly to the foil worries me down the road.

  3. Great video, keep up the good work mate. Is there any chance you can provide a link with the pickguard shielding plate?

  4. I own a guitar repair shop business (15 years) and also someone who started building guitars by shielding the cavities. Simply put, shielding an electronics cavity is simply a waste of time. It is a futile waste of time and it really doesn't work. Not very well. Shielded cable like Belden Ru 174 works very well. Shielding you cavity with copper does not. Beginning builders will see videos like this one and articles on how to do it, but everyone knows that none of the manufacturers shield their guitar cavities. That is because it is a waste of time. To do it will be a waste of your time and your money. It don't hurt anything, but there are over 200 companies that make guitars and they don't shield their cavities. If is helped at all, probably one of them would shield the cavities. None of of them does. Not one of over 200 ? Smart people will figure this out and dumb people will continue to shield their guitar cavities. It doesn't hurt anything to do it, but it doesn't work and it will waste you time and money. Good luck guys. 14 West Guitars, Dunedin, Florida

  5. The eternal unsolved problem of Faraday's cage is that the pickups cannot be shielded (or almost), and there is where the most suceptible to noise parts are; the coils.

  6. Very good shielding video! Bear in mind that the guitar is being grounded to the amplifier via the guitar cable. Hence, the output jack and plate are the first grounded elements of the guitar. If you leave foil tabs to be captured by the jack plate and the pick guard (scratch plate) foil (or shield plate) everything else in the electrical "chain" will be inherently grounded. Adding the soldered wires is good insurance, though. Shielded coax cable from the jack to the pots is also recommended.

  7. You don’t need to use solder to join tape if the adhesive isn’t conductive. Just fold a section of the tape over to match metal surface to surface as you go and cover the folds with small bits of tape. Way easier than soldering. Works for me anyway.

  8. One way to get around the solder blob between every piece is just bending over the edges. Shielding my guitar, I would bend over an edge of one piece that laid on top of the other and then I'd put another little piece taped over that just to hold that folded edge down. I have full continuity from one cavity to the other across all cavities without issue. I did need to solder a wire from the neck cavity to the control cavity on to the copper shielding (it was a tele) but it worked well, I stopped picking up radio stations.

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