Pickup Cover-ups

Legend has it that Jeff Beck was the first guy to start taking the covers off of his vintage style humbuckers in search of a new sound.  I don't know if there is any truth to this at all, but it is definitely true that pickup covers do color the sound of your pickups.

The Sound
Basically, the presence of pickup covers gives your guitar more of the mellow sound characteristic of a Les Paul, whereas without them you can achieve a brighter, more "trashy" sound.  Of course, the result depends entirely on the pickups themselves, but you can use this mod to accentuate the differences between, say, the bridge and neck position pickups.  Recall how one of Jimmy Page's Les Pauls has a covered neck pickup with an open-faced pickup in the bridge position.  That's the effect he was going for.

Try it!
If you want to experiment with new sounds, find a piece of magnetic sheet metal.  You can cut it to the dimensions of your pickups and, when you lay them on top, they will be held fast by the magnetism below.  Pretty neat, huh?  Actually, when I tried it, I made it such that I could attach it to my DiMarzio FRED using the pole pieces (I drilled 12 holes, then screwed the plate on with the pole pieces).

The nice thing about this modification is that it is completely and immediately reversible.  You can also switch it between the other guitars in your collection.  I have only experimented with this technique once, so you may have better or worse luck depending on your gear and other factors.  Note that there are a lot of variables to play with if one is so inclined, including the thickness of the metal, its iron content, etc.

You could also use a conventional pickup cover and modify it.  Watch this...

Start with a humbucker cover that fits the pickup(s) you want to work with.  Note that there are a variety of different sizes available.  I bought a standard 2" set, but it turned out my Seymour Duncan '59 pickups had the 1-15/16" spacing, so I had to bring the covers back and swap them out.

I've already started cutting with the Dremel here.  It could have been a bit straighter, but this was just an experiment.  The goal is just to have enough "wrap-around" over the edges that it looks like the pickup is completely covered.

Kids, please don't cut yourself or burn yourself on the hot metal and try to sue me.  Get your shop teacher to do the job for you.

Here's the top completely cut off.

Now most pickup covers aren't themselves magnetic, do they won't adhere to the pickup on their own.  Rather than modifying the pickup to hold the cover, we're just going to make it slightly magnetic.

Below the cover here is a piece sheet metal.  You can use the Dremel here as well or a pair of sheet metal cutters.  Don't wear out your wire cutters.  You'll need them for the rest of the projects on this site.

Finally, we use glue (epoxy is my preference) to attach the sheet metal to the pickup.  Now the magnetic pickup has something to grab onto.

So you start with this...

...and in a couple seconds you have this.  Not only does it change your sound, but you also get a different look for your guitar.

Think how long it would take you to change your pickups compared to this.  Yeah, a looooooooong time, and it would be a hell of a lot more expensive.

Copyright Alexplorer.