If you’re curious about guitar shielding and whether shielding paint vs copper tape works better for this purpose, then you’ve come to the right post!
Guitar Shielding: What Is It and How It Works?
We all know how annoying faulty grounding can be, making the instrument almost unusable.
Shielding issues, on the other hand, might not be that common.
Compared to faulty grounding, poorly done shielding, or a complete lack of one, might not be that bad.
However, it’s still incredibly annoying and can completely ruin your performance.
Now, we’re all surrounded by sources of electromagnetic interference.
Whether you have passive or active electronics, your electric guitar is susceptible to this.
And no, having humbuckers won’t save you from it as this isn’t the same thing as the cycle hum.
Every electronic device is a potential enemy here, and we have plenty of those around us these days.
Shielding your guitar’s electronics cavity will provide protection.
Technically, shielding is what physicists refer to as a Faraday cage.
And a Faraday cage, also known as a Faraday shield, is a continuous covering of any conductive material that forms an isolated enclosure.
This enclosure should completely block all of the electromagnetic fields.
In short, your guitar’s electronics cavity should be a closed system that’s not impacted by any surrounding electronic devices or electrical grids.
How to Recognize Faulty Shielding
An instrument with poorly done shielding will show specific symptoms.
Some of them can be opposite to what we experience with faulty grounding.
You know how the buzzing stops when you touch any metal part on your guitar?
Well, with faulty shielding, you can increase the unwanted buzzing and noise if you touch some of its metal parts.
This way, you’re acting as an antenna of sorts, helping pick up more interference.
Another symptom is that your guitar reacts differently in various settings.
I had a pretty weird experience where my Les Paul couldn’t stop buzzing when I played at home.
What shocked me was that there was absolutely no noise, even on high-gain settings, when I took it to a repair shop.
The noise persisted when I got back home.
But then I realized that the repair shop in question was in an old building with thick walls and situated securely in a semi-underground position.
Then I took it to a local guitar builder and I heard the same noise that I’ve heard at home.
It was easily solved with copper tape and new wiring.
What Materials Can We Use for Guitar Shielding?
Speaking of which, there are two main materials that we can use for shielding.
The most common one is adhesive copper tape.
Some may also use aluminum foil or aluminum tapes.
But from my experience, copper tapes are a bit easier to work with in these particular settings.
The second one is conductive shielding paint.
Although a less common choice, shielding paint is a viable option.
No matter the material, one rule applies to all guitar shielding.
You need to cover the entire electronics cavity from all sides.
And if your guitar has more than one cavity, as is the case with Les Paul-style guitars, all cavities must be covered entirely.
Finally, your shielding should be grounded as well.
The main ground wire should be soldered to the shielding material, no matter which one you choose.
Shielding Paint vs. Copper Tape: Which Is Better?
Now, you may be wondering which one is the better option.
Well, technically, both tape and paint come with their advantages.
However, it may also come down to personal preferences.
But let’s look at some facts.
Copper tape is usually pretty cheap.
Additionally, it’s also very conductible, which means that it’s, theoretically, a much better material for this purpose.
However, it can be bothersome to apply it on all of the uneven surfaces within the cavity.
Remember that you need to cover everything.
This means that you’ll need to be patient and detail-oriented with all of the smallest surfaces inside.
As for the shielding paint, it’s super-easy to apply.
After all, adding paint is much simpler than applying tape in dozens of small pieces that would cover the cavity.
A major issue with shielding paint is that it’s technically not as conductive as copper or aluminum tape.
This, however, doesn’t mean that it won’t work.
In fact, shielding paint works like a charm on some guitars.
Additionally, you can make your paint, as instructed in the video below.
Another thing that I’d like to add is that paint is a bit more expensive compared to tape.
And you’ll also have to apply more of it.
But it’s not like we’re talking about something unobtainable.
In short, copper tape technically comes as a better choice.
On the other hand, if you’re not as experienced with guitar modification, or if you just don’t feel like bothering too much with it, then the paint will work just fine.
Shielding Paint Vs Copper Tape: Conclusion
I hope this article has helped you think through which of these is better for your guitar shielding purposes!
And if you want to read more about guitar shielding on this blog, then check out:
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have more questions about this or another guitar-related topic!