How To Remove Metal Filings From Guitar Pickups Cover Image

The Correct Way To Remove Metal Filings From Pickups

Last Updated: August 29th, 2021

Hello! Today, we’re discussing a quick tip – how to safely remove metal filings from guitar pickups. If you’ve ever installed pickups in your guitar and noticed metal filings around the magnets or pole pieces, you’re not alone. Removing metal filings from your pickups seems like an easy task – and it is – but as with everything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. 

Although it might be tempting to reach for that old refrigerator magnet and “grab” those filings back, doing so can cause damage to your pickup. So, read on and learn the correct way to remove metal filings from your pickups magnets!

The Wrong Way To Remove Metal Filings From Guitar Pickups:

Never use magnets to remove filings. Doing so can weaken the pole piece pull and therefore changing your guitar’s tone. This problem happens especially in Alnico-type pole pieces, like pickups found in Stratocasters, Telecasters, Jazzmasters, and Bass pickups.

The Correct Way to clean guitar pickups:

Tape! Using quality masking tape is the safest and most efficient way to fix this issue. Check out this step-by-step below:

  1. Place the guitar on a secure, flat surface under good lighting.

    Doing so prevents your guitar from falling, and allows you to see the offending filings clearly.Fender Stratocaster with metal filings on magnet pole pieces

  2. Place quality masking tape on affected pickup(s)

    Place the masking tape on the pickups affected by metal filings. Gently apply pressure to the neck pickup and work the tape around each pole piece to remove metal filings.Fender strat with tape on Neck pickup to remove metal filings

  3. Remove tape and repeat if necessary

    Remove the masking tape and repeat this step if necessary. Enjoy your cleaned magnets!Fender Strat with cleaned magnets

Pretty cool, right? This process is so incredibly simple! Also, you can use this on any pickup model, including humbuckers with covers. Some good masking tape to use is painters trim tape – it leaves no residue behind, and is easily removed. Do you have any other tips to share regarding this? Let us know below. Until next time!

Written By:

Tyler Delsack (Manager, Fralin Pickups)

👋 I'm Tyler Delsack, the Manager of Fralin Pickups. Along with managing the shop and working on this Website, I run my own website to provide free Jazz Guitar lessons.


6 Comments

  1. Esteban Reysays

    Why not use compressed air? Uhh.. because that’s not cleaning up the metal shavings. That’s just scattering them around the shop. Like, why would you ever use a broom when you can just get out your leaf blower?

  2. JESSE LALICsays

    ACTUALLY,
    THE BEST PRACTICE WOULD BE TO COVER PICKUPS (AND BODY) WITH PAPER AND MASKING TAPE BEFORE ANY OF MENTIONED WORK AND IF YOU HAVE TO CLEAN ANY FILING OR OTHER RESIDUE TO SIMPLY VACUUM IT WITH ONE OF THOSE HANDY 12V PORTABLE VACUUM CLEANERS, OR EVEN THE BIG ONES WITH HOSE…
    I DO THAT ALL THE TIME.
    THANKS
    JJL

  3. Compressed air does a good job, why shouldn’t it be used?. Just use the lowest pressure you can and blow across the face rather than directly onto the face of the pickup.

  4. Tim Davissays

    Is it necessary to remove the plastic pickup covers in order to ensure that filings haven’t gotten inside the covers?

    1. It’s not necessary, but if you want to ensure that you have completely cleaned the pickup thouroughly, it’s a best practice.

  5. Do not use compressed air on pickups to remove filings. I always cover pickups, pots, and the jack if it is top mouted with painters masking tape when leveling, crowning, or dressing frets.

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