Do you lower the middle pup on your Strats?

Billy Moss

I do when I use the guitar live. My pick hits the middle pickup so I lower the middle pickup flush with the pickguard. When I am recording I use the middle pup.

I got this from Blackmore. He only uses the bridge and neck pups.


No. I use the middle pup sometimes (especially combined with the bridge, but sometimes by itself), so I wouldn't want it lowered. When playing a Strat, I tend to have the pick between the neck and middle pickups. I've never had a problem with the pickup getting in the way.

If you never use any of the three positions that use the middle pickup, then I can understand lowering or removing it, but then again I don't really understand wanting to limit yourself to only two positions. Middle + bridge is one of the iconic Strat sounds, even if Ritchie doesn't use it.


If it works for you -- why not? Personally I have the middle pickup set right slightly higher than the neck and as close to the strings as I can get it without it messing up the intonation. IMO I get the best sound out of it this way. I also use 2mm picks. If I was digging into the strings far enough to hit the pickup -- well, that'd be a mess.

I almost never use the 2 and 4 positions as I don't care for the 'out of phase' thing. There's room for everybody to do their own thing.

Neon Trotsky

Yup, but not down to the deck and not because it gets in the way of my picking hand.

I typically put a stronger than normal pup in the bridge position. So I have that and the neck pup for most conventional tones. Then with the middle pup lowered I can get super glassy/jangly tones there, GREAT for clean stuff and w/ lite OD it sounds VERY 3D.

Other benefit of this - notch positions become way more glassy/quacky. Also, removing the tone pot COMPLETELY off the middle pup (moving it to the bridge) so there's no double loading (correct term? idk) helps with this respect too, gets you more chime in the notch positions.


Silver Supporting Member
No way would I ever do that. Lowering the middle pickup flush to the pickguard IMO is like neutering your strat. There are a ton of tonal variations there with three pickups and I personally never found I hit the pickup with my pick. To me it's like the complaint about the volume knob being too close. Part of the beauty of an instrument is learning how to deal with and capitalize on its inherent idiosyncracies.


Yes and it helps especially when it's run wide open without a tone control. I set the height so that it balances well in volume with neck and bridge (which both have their own tone controls) and by default, that means it isn't an issue in terms of picking, because it's already well out of the way. My middle pickups are usually non RWRP and the quack sounds good. I lower all of my strat pickups though, because I like them more that way, especially the neck. I like digging in, in order to make them sing. If I want some breakup, I'll turn up the gain on the amp or add a TS9.
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On my first Strat I did, as I dig a little deep when I pick and was hitting it all the time. That Strat got stolen, and when I got a new one seven years later my technique and picking position had changed enough that it's no longer an issue.
I have Suhr pickups and I'm not dropping the middle, sounds way too good as is.

I normally pick between the neck and middle pickup anyway, not on purpose...same spot on my Tele and Les Paul.


When I set up a 3 pickup guitar such as a Strat, I first get the neck pickup set up, and then the bridge.
I then adjust the middle pickup for how much quack I want from the middle and bridge pickups together. I like using the middle pickup by itself as well.
Usually the 3 pickups are adjusted so that the neck is lowest, the middle is next, and the bridge is the highest like stair steps. when I'm finished. ymmv


I own a guitar & I'm 3° from Kevin Bacon
Silver Supporting Member
i lower it some, but it's also a flat pole which helps.

way lower than this guy though:eek:

serious question to those who don't like the 2 and 4 out of phase. are you messing with your tone and volume knobs in these positions at all? 2 and 4 are glorious on a start along with the other positions. I couldn't imagine not having all 5 positions. they are all super useful. I'd say 80% of my rhythm playing is done in 4


yes, I usually prefer the M flush with the guard.
the rest depends a lot on the specific guitar and PUs.
the M alone is a position I rarely use, but the combinations are crucial.
e.g. on my EJ, just lowering the M works great.
But I have a 3PU Tele with 1st gen Vintage Noiseless where the M tended to get lost, replacing it with a Hot Noiseless (the Jeff Beck PUs) perfectly solved the issue, all 5 positions sound fine now.
The higher output makes up for the lower position, so to say.
OT, but the Megaswitch is a godsend for these guitars, all 3 Tele sounds + the two quack positions, exactly where you'd expect them. :aok

for recording those VN would not necessarily be my 1st choice, but on stage they saved my butt so many times, and nobody ever complained about the tones, au contraire. :cool:


i use the middle position on my strat alot - if you set your amp to the middle pickup the jump from neck to bridge isnt so drastic and you dont end up with a muddy neck or 2 bright bridge.


Senior Member
On my earlier set of recordings this year, I used my Strat neck pickup a ton. On my current set of recordings. I'm using the middle pickup a ton.

And I can't recall ever hitting the middle pickup while strumming.

So no, despite whatever Richie or Lionel or Blackmore does, I'm not going to lower my pickup.
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