What Does Coating Your Guitar Pickups in Wax Do? Unpack the Pros and Cons of Potting

March 23, 2024 by
Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout

Guitar pickups are at the heart of an electric guitar's sound. One of the techniques often discussed among guitar enthusiasts and luthiers is "potting" the pickups. But is potting always the best choice? Let's weigh the pros and cons of both approaches.

Potting Guitar Pickups


  1. Eliminates Microphonics: Potting stabilizes the pickup's components, reducing or eliminating unwanted feedback or "microphonics" caused by internal vibrations.
  2. Protection: The potting mixture, typically a blend of paraffin and beeswax, protects the delicate wire windings from moisture, oxidation, and potential physical damage.
  3. Consistent Tone: By ensuring that all components are firmly set, potting can maintain a consistent tone over time.
  4. Noise Reduction: Potting can help reduce unwanted noise or hum by ensuring all parts of the pickup are well-insulated and grounded.


  1. Tonal Changes: Some guitarists believe that potting can slightly alter the pickup's natural tone, making it sound less "open" or "airy."
  2. Less Sensitivity: Potting might reduce the pickup's sensitivity to certain nuances in playing dynamics.
  3. Difficult to Reverse: Once a pickup is potted, reversing the process can be challenging and might not restore the pickup to its original state.

Not Potting Guitar Pickups


  1. Natural Tone: Many guitarists believe that unpotted pickups offer a more natural, open, and dynamic tone.
  2. Greater Sensitivity: Without the added layer of wax, the pickup might be more sensitive to nuances in playing, offering a more responsive feel.
  3. Easier Repairs: Unpotted pickups can be easier to repair or rewind since there's no wax to remove.


  1. Prone to Microphonics: Unpotted pickups are more susceptible to unwanted feedback or microphonic noises.
  2. Less Protection: The wire windings are exposed to potential moisture, oxidation, and physical damage.
  3. Inconsistency Over Time: Without the stabilizing effect of potting, the pickup's tone might change over time due to internal movements or external factors.


The decision to pot or not pot guitar pickups often boils down to personal preference. While potting offers stability and protection, it might slightly alter the pickup's tone. On the other hand, not potting preserves the pickup's natural sound but comes with its own set of challenges.

If you're considering potting your pickups or leaving them unpotted, weigh the pros and cons, and consider what's most important for your playing style and tonal preferences. Remember, the ultimate goal is to achieve the sound that resonates best with you.

Nebula Belgium, Steven Van Hout March 23, 2024
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