Balancing Strat Pickups

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by mikenixon316, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. mikenixon316

    mikenixon316 Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    Leeds, England
    I recently put a set of CS Fat 50s pups in my strat and, while they are a good sounding set, I'm still noticing a significant drop in volume when switching from the neck or middle to the bridge.

    Are there any ways to make the bridge pickups sound louder?

    If I set the middle and neck pickups really low and the bridge high would that balance out the sound? If so how would the tone be affected?
  2. DejavuDave

    DejavuDave Member

    Aug 11, 2006
    So Cal
    Yes, definitely raise the bridge. It can make a huge difference. Although pup mags can pull on the strings if adjusted too high --- causing stratitis --- you can usually adjust the bridge pup higher than you can the others. Just use your ears.

    My pickups usually wind up thusly:

    N - very low, almost to the guard.
    M - only slightly higher than N.
    B - Considerably higher than N & M, sometimes pretty close to the strings.

    Like I said, use your ears, experiment. It can take a little tweaking to find what you like best.
  3. johnh

    johnh Silver Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    I usually spend quite a while adjusting pickup heights on my guitars, since it has a major impact on the pickup balance.

    Not only pickup to pickup relative height, but also treble to bass height. There is a reason that most famous strat players have had the bass side set lower than the treble side.
  4. Telecaster62

    Telecaster62 Member

    Nov 24, 2006
    Lexington South Carolina
    Since you are using "old style" pickups you definitely will get more volume and brightness by raising the pickups and less volume and brightness by lowering them so the previous suggestions are all very valid. If you are using some newer pickups they can be wound and calibrated so that they compensate for position on the pickguard. Thus the raised pole pieces and hotter winds for some bridge pickups. These newer models don't need as much up/down adjustment for balance. Careful not to get the pickup too close to the strings or you can induce Stratitis which will cause your notes to sound weird/dissonant.
  5. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    Clemmons, NC
    I have 57/62 pups in my Strat. The neck is almost flush with the pickguard. The middle is maybe a turn higher than the neck and the bridge is 2-3 turns higher. The balance is very good. I also have a metal base plate on the bridge pickup which beefs things up a bit.
  6. 1973Marshall

    1973Marshall Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Yeah, you do gotta play with heights. The Only thing is the CSFat 50s can be REALLY thick sounding for single coils, so if you put the bridge up too much you might get a little more P90s ish "fat" than the generally intended goal of Fat50s being a way of getting a LITTLE more balls and bass from a Strat. Too close will also kill the notch position.

    I have my neck up but lower than bridge, middle low for quack, and bridge medium, and all are a touch angled.
  7. KennyM

    KennyM Supporting Member

    Jul 24, 2003
    Burbank, Ca.
    I recently just got a Senn Fullerton which has the most amazing balance between all the pickups and every setting on the toggle is just perfect. I noticed that Jeff set the pickups much lower than I normaly have had them on 30 years worth of Strats. The bridge is the highest, but it's still about an 1/8th of an inch of the highe E side and probably a 1/4 on the low E side. The middle and Neck are slightly lower on the high E side, but way lower on the low E side with the neck about a 1/16th to an 1/8th inch above the pickguard. The pickups are a custom wind set of Lollars.

    Just for grins I grabbed my hardtail Strat with SR's on it and matched the pickup heighth to the Senn. Immediate and huge improvement. Still learning something new every day.
  8. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    Golden Valley, AZ
    I start with the bridge highest, middle lower and neck lowest. All three are slightly raised under the high E string side. Not only to balance volume but that's usually where they sound best to my ears.
  9. CitizenCain

    CitizenCain Member

    Jan 10, 2004
    Magdalena, NM, US
    What does that relate to in terms of distance between the polepiece and the underside of the string. Measuring how high from the pickguard is not repeatable between different guitars.

Share This Page