Does Changing Pickup / Pickup Height Makes A Huige Difference In Tone?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Jimmy25, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Jimmy25

    Jimmy25 Member

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    Does changing pickup make a huge difference in tone? I learned that it won't sound much different at all unless you're using a very decent big amp? I was originally planning on changing the pickup, but since I'm using a small Roland Micro Cube Amp most of the time for practicing (unless sometimes performing on stage or in a practice room where they have good quality big amp, which doesn't happen so often), I don't see the point of spending money to switch my Stractocaster's original pickups, esp when I'm on a limited budget. How about playing around with the pickup height and stuffs, can that make a huge if not huge quite noticable change in tone? I've never done this before, if I'm planning on turning the screws of my pickups the get a better tone I wanted, is there anything I need to watch out for? Or I can just turn it any way I want till I get the tone? And how do I know turning which way gives me what tone? Also, how do I make sure they have equal volume?
     
  2. neville5000

    neville5000 Supporting Member

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    I think it makes a huge difference. PU height is crucial as well. Play around with the heights before you buy more PUs.
     
  3. paulscape

    paulscape Member

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    Yes, I usually lower the neck pickup and raise the bridge a bit.
     
  4. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Probably not going to notice much through a Micro Cube.

    What are you trying to accomplish? Pickups that are too low can sound weak. Too high and they can get nasty sounding.

    If you're trying to change the fundamental tone of the instrument, I'd advise that you change amps first.
     
  5. halcyon

    halcyon Supporting Member

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    Pickups are one of the most impacting (and interchangeable) components on an electric guitar, imo.

    Yes, they can make a big difference. And there are many factors... Alnico vs. ceramic, active vs. passive, overwound vs. underwound... I could go on. :)
     
  6. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    Yep.
     
  7. Sancho

    Sancho Member

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    I couldn't agree more.
     
  8. murray sanders

    murray sanders Member

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    Hello Jimmy
    Pickup height is very important on a stratocaster , with the strings pressed down on the last fret the string height on the bass side should be 5/64" on the treble side 4/64" between the pole piece and the underside of the string , if your strings are too close to the pickups the magnetic pull will stop the string from vibrating prematurely which will result in less sustain , too far away and like someone said on this thread your signal will be weak , you should look up the fender site ( under support for your stratocaster ) and set your guitar up properly , or at least check your guitar . best regards Murray .
     
  9. vbf

    vbf Supporting Member

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    I would add that pole piece adjustment is important as well. Mt guitar tech "voices" the pickups after adjusting the height. He adjusts each pole piece to ensure that each string has the same audible output. I never thought it was a big deal until I had it done. The guitar just sounds so much better. I swapped some Lawrence pickups in a LP because I didn't like them and likely would not have had I known then what I know now. It also helps to play through a decent amp. I've also learned that stubbornly (or ignorantly, as in my case :)) continuing on with an amp that fights you not only jades your opinions towards your guitars but pedals as well. Oh the lessons we learn the hard way.
     
  10. Jimmy25

    Jimmy25 Member

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    Here's my current pickup height,
    despite arranging it myself to get the tone I prefer,
    is there any of these pickup just way too low / too high at first glance?
    Bass side view:
    [​IMG]
    Treble side view:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. Mojo Shinn

    Mojo Shinn Supporting Member

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    First, I would recommend starting with the fender recommendations . . . it's a good place to begin tweaking:

    Bass Side Treble Side
    Texas Specials 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)
    Vintage style 6/64" (2.4 mm) 5/64" (2 mm)
    Noiseless™ Series 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)
    Standard Single-Coil 5/64" (2 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
    Humbuckers 4/64" (1.6 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
    Lace Sensors As close as desired (allowing for string vibration)

    From the photo, I'd say the neck and middle pu's look pretty close to spec, but the bridge looks funny . . . Yes, the bridge pickup is probably the toughest to get a good tone because it can sound very bright . .. and it should be "very bright" but not "ear stinging bright" . .. don't be afraid to let that pickup be what it is.... a strat will always sound better with the treble side a bit closer to the strings than the bass side (like your neck and middle pickups). . . most setups I see have the bridge's bass side a little higher than spec, but you appear to have the bass side higher than the treble side . . . If it sounds too bright, you can always adjust with your tone knob . . . Mine stays around 7 for the neck pickup . . .

    And I agree with the previous poster that said it will make a bigger difference in your tone to have a different amp . .. for instance, a tube amp will "usually" be able to sound bright without being painful . . . this is somewhat harder to achieve with a solid state amp . . . YMMV.

    And one thing to always remember . . . don't get lost in turning knobs and turning screwdrivers . . . set up your guitar "close" and then play softer, harder, more gentle, with your fingers -- do everything you can with your body before you start messing with all the other stuff. As most every player on this forum will tell you.. your fingers and heart have more to do with your sound than anything else . .. check out Jimmi in this link . . his guitar is still set up right handed . . . I'll bet it still sounded awesome.
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/stratocaster-discussion-forum/30764-hendrix-strat-pickup-adjustment.html
     
  12. Mojo Shinn

    Mojo Shinn Supporting Member

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    I meant to say: "I keep my tone knob @ 7 for the bridge pickup . . .
     
  13. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    The amp will make a bigger change than the pups. Being on a limited budget, you'd be wasting money by going on a pup quest while playing through a micro cube. Focus on your playing at this time in your life and save up for a "real" amp instead of blowing money on pups.
     
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Transducers are where the biggest changes occur to the signal, so changing pickups and changing speakers are among the biggest changes you can make in terms of altering your tone.

    That said, many pickups on the market are very similar to one another so, say, changing between one or another Tele bridge pickup made from similar materials with similar inductances and outputs is not going to result in a significant tonal variation, whereas, say changing between a traditional Tele bridge pickup and something like one of those Duncan humbuckers in a Tele bridge size will result in a very significant tonal change.

    And yeah, changing pickup heights can result in a big change in tone as can adjusting pole piece on pickups where the pole pieces are adjustable.

    But yeah, different amps sound different too. So bang for your buck maybe a better amp than the Micro Cube is money better spent than on a new set of pickups (though some of those ceramic Strat pickups on some of the MIM Strats are pretty lame). Everything contributes to the sound but I think making changes to the transducers can result in the grossest changes.
     
  15. Jammer2393

    Jammer2393 Member

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    I started with a micro cube and its a cool little amp. but it is COSM amp modeling, so the clean sound isnt straight into the amp. its gonna be changed around by the amp. so I wouldnt worry about it. its a good amp, and dont feel pressured to get a new amp unless you need one or you really want one.
     
  16. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Yeah, I'm quoting my own reply on another thread, but the earlier discussion is probably too old for you to find it easily with Search. So here's a link to save you the typing... :beer

    ...and that quote...

     

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