Overshielding: The Double-Edged Sword of Guitar Noise Reduction

February 23, 2024 by
Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout

In the quest for the perfect guitar tone, players often turn to various modifications and tweaks. One such modification, especially popular among electric guitar enthusiasts, is shielding. Shielding, as many know, is the practice of lining a guitar's cavities with conductive materials to reduce electromagnetic interference. But what happens when one goes overboard with this practice? Enter the realm of "overshielding."

What is Overshielding?

Overshielding refers to the excessive use of shielding materials in a guitar, beyond what is typically necessary to prevent interference. While the intention is to further reduce noise, it can sometimes have unintended consequences.

The Good:

  • Noise Reduction: The primary purpose of shielding is to reduce or eliminate unwanted noise, and more shielding can mean less interference.
  • Protection from External Sources: Overshielding can offer added protection from external sources of interference, such as fluorescent lights or other electronic devices.

The Not-So-Good:

  • Tonal Changes: Excessive shielding can sometimes alter the natural resonance of a guitar, leading to a muted or darker sound. The guitar might lose some of its high-end sparkle and clarity.
  • Aesthetic Concerns: While this might not concern everyone, excessive shielding, especially if done haphazardly, can look messy and unprofessional.
  • Diminishing Returns: There's a point where adding more shielding doesn't offer any noticeable benefits in noise reduction. Beyond this point, you're simply adding weight and potentially affecting tone without a clear benefit.

How to Shield Properly Without Going Overboard:

  1. Know Your Needs: Not all guitars are prone to the same levels of interference. Before you start, determine how much shielding your guitar actually needs.
  2. Quality Over Quantity: Instead of layering on excessive amounts of cheaper shielding material, consider using a higher quality conductive paint or copper tape. A single layer of a good quality material can often be more effective than multiple layers of a lesser quality one.
  3. Test As You Go: After applying some shielding, test your guitar. Play it, listen to it, and see if you notice a difference. If the noise is gone and the tone is intact, you might not need to add more.
  4. Consult Professionals: If you're unsure about how much shielding to use, or if you're concerned about potential tonal changes, consult with a professional luthier or guitar technician.


While shielding is a valuable tool in the fight against unwanted guitar noise, it's essential to approach it with a balanced perspective. Overshielding, despite its name, isn't necessarily "over the top" in every situation. However, it's crucial to be aware of the potential pitfalls and benefits. By understanding the nuances of overshielding, guitarists can make informed decisions that best serve their instrument and their desired tone.

Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout February 23, 2024
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