Mounting pickups to the body?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner: Guitar & Bass Technical Discussi' started by Milo H, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Milo H

    Milo H Member

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    I think Eddie Van Halen did this where he drilled the pickups to the body instead of the pickguard. I kinda want to do this with my project guitar and see what kind of difference it makes in the tone.

    I guess I could put the screw in the pickguard and drill a bit until it makes a small indentation in the wood, then I'd know where to drill.
     
  2. fumbler

    fumbler Member

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    Yes, that's what EVH did. Most guitars that don't have pickguards or mounting rings are done this way. Here are a few tips.

    1. Find some very narrow (but still long enough) wood screws. If you're lucky you can find some that will fit through the pickup's mounting holes WITHOUT messing up their machine screw threading. That way you can still re-mount the pickup in a pickguard if you want to reverse what you did.

    2. EVH claimed that hard-mounting it directly to the wood gave him some tone benefits (then again, he made a LOT of claims.) But if you screw it directly to the body then the pickup height cannot be adjusted and it will probably be pretty dang low. You can use some pieces of scrap wood in the bottom of the pickup rout as spacers so you still have the "solid" thang going but you can still adjust the height somewhat. You could also use compressible foam under the pickup which will make it work almost like a "normal" height adjustable pickup; but then you lose the "solid" thang. Your choice.
     
  3. Ronsonic

    Ronsonic Member

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  4. Maltese Fan

    Maltese Fan Member

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    My Ibby's have their pickups mounted this way. I don't think it makes a big difference in tone, and height adjustment (which does make a difference), is a PITA.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  5. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I wouldn't do it myself. I don't believe there's any tone enhancement.
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    it's not so much about "tone" as it is resistance to low-mid "howl" at insane volume levels, from the entire pickup vibrating as a unit (as opposed to "squeal" from parts of the pickup vibrating internally). bolting it hard to the wood prevents that movement.

    the trick to height adjustment is to use small washers under the bridge legs, stacked up to the height you want. (you might need a longer mounting screw.) this keeps the mounting absolutely rigid.
     
  7. Milo H

    Milo H Member

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    Yeah, it doesn't sound like it'd make a huge difference.

    I was just asking because first off my lipstick pups came with long screws, I had to cut them down because they hit the back of the pickguard compartment. After that, they had to sit high or they appeared to be sliding inside the guitar.

    Thanks for the help guys! I'm gonna go mess around with pup heights and see the difference.
     
  8. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    No real difference .
     
  9. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    EVH only nailed the pickup directly to the wood on a few guitars as far as I know.

    The Frankenstrat and the Destroyer for a few months and maybe some others.

    All of the rest of EVH's guitars were the usual mounting.
     
  10. Eagle1

    Eagle1 Member

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    Not true .
    Franky,5150 ,musicman EVH and all the Wolfgang models are direct mount.
     
  11. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    i think fenderlead's referring to the other "regular" guitars eddie had and used in the studio (like the flying V he used for "hot for teacher").

    yes, all his own designs from music man or peavey bolted the pickups right down to the wood.
     
  12. Blue_n_Jazz

    Blue_n_Jazz Member

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  13. dazco

    dazco Supporting Member

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    Yep. just did this a couple days ago and it really does sound different in a good way. Obviously because being mounted to the bridge plate causes some harshness in the top end and generally too much top end. Mounting it in the wood made a very noticeable difference in reducing that.
     
  14. buddastrat

    buddastrat Supporting Member

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    The thing I've noticed about Ed, is he likes his stuff to be very solid so he can abuse it and it be relable through any torturous use. He wants it to appear "junky" but be very functional. I think it's easy to believe it'll sound better because you can attack it harder and it remain secure, so you can play with more authority and without worry. Go ahead and throw it odd the roof, pick it up and keep shreddin'.

    Hard mounting a pickup falls into this stuff, along with eyebolt screws for strap locks, and screwing quarters on the guitar, leaving amps on at max volume for days at a time to see if they will still work... He likes that sort've thing. I always liked his uniqueness.

    I did this once years ago. I think soundwise, there may be more of the coupling effect, plus big screws and washers adding a bit more mass. Everything is tight and ringing more together as one. It wasn't a huge thing but I did like how solid everything was. I never really mess around with the height once I have it right.
     
  15. mannish

    mannish Member

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    happens all the time with P90s
     
  16. pflo

    pflo Senior Member

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    It DEFINITELY makes a difference in sound.More low mids.
     
  17. Earthwormjim

    Earthwormjim Member

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    What does that even mean?
     
  18. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    How much sonic difference really depends on how much the pickup is "potted".

    The heavier the pickup is potted (less microphonic especially from the coil/windings), the less the difference.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
  19. Structo

    Structo Member

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    You can use surgical tubing or soft foam under the pickup to act as springs.
    This helps feedback issues as well as performing as a height adjustment spring.
     

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