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Thread: Q: lacquer "potting"?

  1. #1
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    Feb 2015

    Q: lacquer "potting"?

    Hopefully this isn't a stupid question, but I've read a few places about people dipping their pickups in lacquer as opposed to wax to pot them. I haven't tried potting my winds one way or the other, and I'm curious if anyone here has lacquer potted pickups, and if so, perhaps how it compares to wax?

    Thanks, Mel

  2. #2
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    The word "lacquer" coupled to "pickup" gives me the chills , yet there is something to it.

    To begin with, transformers and motor windings *are* potted in something close to lacquer, but itīs actually either "transformer varnish/enamel" or potting Epoxy , which can either be air dry or oven dry types.
    In a pinch, I have successfully potted transformers in plin household "marine Varnish" and even in home type oil/synthetic paint (colour is irrelevant and doesnīt hurt anyway)
    We are talking paints, varnishes or enamel which dissolve in turpentine or similar, which is "oily" and does not attack plastics.

    Now the word "lacquer" makes me think of old car pint, dissolved in strong thinner, which attacks plastics and most wire coatings, specially modern ones, so itīs dangerous useless on ickups.

    One problem with the "strong" varnishes, even worse with Epoxy, is that they become solid forever, pickup becomes disposable, while itīs easy to remove a wax potted winding, wipe bobbin clean with a plain piece of cloth, no need for solvents, and rewind it.
    Richard likes this.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  3. #3
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Mid-South USA
    Unless you are talking vintage pickups that were lacquer dipped?
    Wax gets my vote, because it is so easy to work with, and wax potted pickups can be modified by simple heating.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks guys, I didn't realize that lacquer would have the same finality of epoxy.

  5. #5
    Old Timer Possum's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Planet Mongo in the country of PAF
    Lacquer potting was seldom used and for good reason. Lacquer only penetrates a few layers of wire in, it doesn't get in deep. I've seen it used on old Tele neck pickups, and P13's, but nowhere else.
    Stephens Design Pickups

  6. #6
    Senior Member jack briggs's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Lacquer potting was seldom used and for good reason. Lacquer only penetrates a few layers of wire in, it doesn't get in deep. I've seen it used on old Tele neck pickups, and P13's, but nowhere else.
    late 60s Strats were lacquer potted.

  7. #7
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    "late 60s Strats were lacquer potted." Confirmed- seen many made that way in that later 60s era and it doesnt work that well. The other thing I have seen which works better is bondable wire- used in the 40's on a number of items but never across the board for all models of a certain manufacture. done correctly bondable has a far more uniform result than lacquer. Trick to it is if you use solvent to activate it then you need to be careful not to use too much solvent. too much solvent just makes a huge mess and takes a long time to solidify.
    The way I do it is to run the coil wire through a felt pad that gets wetted with denatured alcohol. Takes some trial and error but if you are throwing wet bonding off the coil during winding you are using way too much solvent. Fender trapazoids and epiphone new yorkers used bondable wire among others so really you would use it for mechanical reasons like winding a bobbinless coil or a coil wound on a bias rather than using it for potting.
    David Schwab likes this.

  8. #8
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Staten Island, NY
    I've seen P bass bobbins that were either lacquer potted, or they used self bonding wire.

    I've used vanish. The problem is it doesn't seep in all the way, and it takes forever to dry. On coils I cut open days later, it was still wet inside.

    I switched to wax after those experiments.
    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. — Albert Einstein

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