Reviving a Dead Pickup: A Comprehensive Guide to Troubleshooting, Repair, and Prevention

February 23, 2024 by
Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout

Guitar pickups are the heart of any electric guitar, capturing string vibrations and translating them into the iconic sounds we all cherish. However, like all components, they can be prone to wear and tear. This guide delves deep into understanding the vulnerabilities of pickups, especially single-coils, and offers insights into prevention, repair, and the innovative "Double Dutch" method for enhanced durability.

Understanding Pickup Vulnerabilities:

Single-coil pickups, in particular, are susceptible to certain types of failure. The top and bottom parts of their poles, though shielded by wax potting, remain exposed. Over time, these can corrode, allowing the corrosion to infiltrate the coil. This damages the insulation on the copper wire, leading to shorts and a non-functional pickup.

The Double Dutch Defense:

The "Double Dutch" method offers a robust defense against these vulnerabilities:

  1.  Lacquer Protection: After assembling the bobbin, spray or dip the magnets in lacquer. This creates a protective barrier against external elements, reducing the risk of corrosion.
  2. Double Barrier with Tape: Before winding the coil, add an extra layer of tape on the magnets. This second barrier ensures added protection against potential corrosion.

Prevention: The Key to Longevity

  1. Regular Cleaning: Wipe down your pickups after playing to remove sweat and oils that can lead to corrosion.
  2. Avoid Extreme Conditions: Protect your guitar from extreme temperatures and humidity.
  3. Use Quality Materials: High-quality materials ensure longer-lasting pickups with consistent sound quality.
  4. Regular Inspections: Periodically check your pickups for signs of wear or damage. Early detection can prevent minor issues from escalating.

Repairing a Dead Pickup:

  1. Re-Winding: If the coil wire breaks, consider re-winding the pickup using the same type and gauge of wire.
  2. Replacing Corroded Parts: Replace corroded poles or other metal parts to restore the pickup's performance.
  3. Re-Potting: After repairs, re-pot the pickup in wax to provide a protective barrier against external factors.


The world of guitar pickups is intricate, with countless nuances affecting tone and performance. By understanding these nuances and taking proactive steps like the Double Dutch method, you can ensure your pickups not only produce the desired sound but also stand the test of time. With regular care, inspections, and timely repairs, your pickups can serve as the soulful voice of your guitar for years to come.

Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout February 23, 2024
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