humbucker covers


Senior member
any difference between humbuckers which come with covers versus open humbuckers fitted with covers later?

the reason i am asking is that i already have a set of open SD 59s ie without covers.

would it be ok to just get aftermarket covers and install them or would having humbuckers with their pre-attached covers make a difference?

appreciate the feedback.


Senior member
Aftermarket covers are available but are a huge pain in the ass and often don't fit perfectly and look terrible when the screws don't line up with the holes. You could always try and maybe you'll get lucky but I wouldn't count on it.

Mor Paul

Senior member
Covers change the tone a bit, right?
Maybe uncovered ones are wound a bit differently. I know Fralin tele neck pickups don't have covers offered for overwounds because it would make the sound too dark.


Senior member
Putting metal covers on a pickup causes the inductance to go down and will change the tone. If they the covers are made of a ferrous material the inductance will go up and the pup will lean toward a muddy tone, if they are made of non-ferrous the inductance goes down and the pup gets brighter. The effect may not be enough to render the pickup useless but it will change it and it may not be something your after tone-wise.

Almost all the aftermarket covers you will find are non-ferrous.


Senior member
As far as SD goes, if you get it covered from the factory they come double potted.  Its not worth buying a whole second set though, just pot em yourself if it becomes an issue.


Senior member
I put an aftermarket cover on my SD '59.  The pole pieces are slightly too narrow for the holes in the cover, but it does fit.  No change in sound as far as I can tell.


Senior member
There are at least four USA spacings for pole pieces.

these are -

Gibson narrow used on neck pickups and 57Classic (maybe Burstbucker's too).  It measures 1-15/16 inches, also called "vintage" spacing.

Gibson wide - used on bridge pickups on modern pickup sets by Gibson.  This is 2-1/16 inch spacing.

Gibson bastard - used on transitional pickups of the "PAF reissue" type - those that came after the Gibson "Shaw" pickups (very good ones might add) and up to the very early 57Classics.  All but the very first 57 Classics are Gibson Narrow spacing.  As I recall its 1-31/32 spacing, and may in fact be a metric spacing.  Gibson never offered aftermarket covers for these, nor have any of the other suppliers.  Chances are these were not made by Gibson themselves.  Gibson called them "PAF reissue" and "57 Classic" but remember... only the very first 57's were like this (like maybe just leftovers of the older kind, remarketed while they geared up to make the real 57 Classics).

SD "trembucker".  Not sure of the actual spacing (somebody help out here).  Its wider than Gibson modern bridge spacing, by a little bit.  I'm guessing its about 2-3/32 spacing.  I think only SD offers covers for these.

Then there are many many "metric" (read that "far east") pickup pole spacings.  You name it... they got it.


If you get a cover that FITS your pickup - you'll have to take the outer tape off the coils and clean the base with naphtha to get rid of residue.  The cover should be CLAMPED onto the pickup.  I use spring clamps and wood blocks.  Clamp the pickup DOWN into the cover, and clamp the sides of the cover to the base sides.  Then you can solder it together.  You only need a tiny bead that flows, and thats it.  IF the cover is CHROME, then you need to sand the inner surface of the cover down to its base metal before soldering.

After you solder it, you can cover the pole screw holes with tape, and drip wax into the base.  After you get about a whole birthday candle of wax into it at the edges and corners - heat it with a hair dryer to allow the wax to migrate to the cover.  Then... let it cool.  That stops microphonic covers.  I dont like using silicon seal inside the cover to do that, its harder to remove than wax (which is totally disolvable in naphtha).


Covers are made from nickel-silver (german silver) like fretwire, and can be polished, nickel plated, chrome plated, or gold plated.  Covers are also made of brass.  Each has a different effect on tone - with yellow brass eating up the highs a bit more than nickel silver (nickel silver is just a copper-nickel or copper-nickel-zinc alloy, not copper-tin-zinc).  Brass is higher copper content then nickel silver.... so maybe that accounts for the highs being reduced.


Thats all, so get back to work!