Master the Art of Potting Guitar Pickups for Superior Sound and Durability

February 23, 2024 by
Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout

Guitar pickups are pivotal in translating string vibrations into electrical signals, which are then amplified to produce sound. The potting process plays a crucial role in ensuring that these pickups function optimally. Let's delve deeper into the technicalities of potting.

Understanding the Purpose of Potting

Potting, in the context of guitar pickups, refers to the process of immersing the pickup in a molten mixture, typically comprising wax, to stabilize its internal components. This serves several purposes:

1.       Eliminating Microphonics: Guitar pickups consist of thousands of wire windings. When these windings vibrate due to external disturbances, they can produce unwanted feedback known as microphonics. Potting ensures that these windings are held firmly in place, thereby reducing microphonics.

2.       Protection and Longevity: The wax mixture acts as a protective barrier against external elements like moisture and oxidation. This not only prevents premature wear and tear but also ensures that the pickup can be safely reopened for repairs or rewinding in the future.

The Ideal Potting Mixture

The choice of potting material is crucial. An 80% paraffin and 20% beeswax mixture is widely regarded as the gold standard. Paraffin provides the necessary stability, while beeswax imparts flexibility, preventing the mixture from becoming too brittle and cracking over time.

Technical Potting Techniques

  • Stratocaster Pickups:
    • Initial Protection: After setting the magnets, the bare coil is sprayed or immersed in a varnish or lacquer. This step not only offers added protection but also facilitates the winding process.
    • Taping: The coil is then wrapped in a specific type of tape, which provides an additional layer of protection against potential rust.
    • Final Potting: The pickup is then submerged in the wax mixture until all air bubbles are eliminated.
  • Humbuckers:
    • Preparation: The two coils are wound and then wrapped in heat-resistant kapton tape.
    • Initial Potting: Each coil is potted individually.
    • Assembly: If not using covers, the pickup is finished with cloth-backed finishing tape. For covered humbuckers, a second potting is essential. All openings are sealed, and the pickup is immersed in the wax mixture.

Common Technical Mistakes to Avoid

1.       Incorrect Lifting: Post-potting, the pickup should be lifted straight out. Lifting it at an angle can cause uneven wax drainage.

2.       Inadequate Sealing: For covered humbuckers, all openings must be sealed before the second potting to ensure thorough potting.


Potting is a blend of art and science, ensuring the pristine sound quality and longevity of guitar pickups. With a deeper understanding of the technical aspects of potting, both luthiers and guitar enthusiasts can optimize the performance of their instruments.


As you delve deeper into the world of pickups, you'll discover that various types of tape can be employed, and results might differ based on personal experiences. The essence of this article is to lay down foundational knowledge and offer a springboard for enthusiasts. Remember, the art of pickup winding is about personalization and innovation, and this extends to the potting process as well. Embrace the journey and make it uniquely yours.


Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout February 23, 2024
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