optimum pickup height

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by purestmonk, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. purestmonk

    purestmonk Member

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    hi guys, i wonder what's the optimum pickup height (from the top of the pickup to the underside of the strings) ?

    I have a gibson semi hollow and in the manual it says that this height should be 1/16. But there are 2 pickups and the height will be different isnt it? Now Im a little confused.

    Could anyone help me clarify this?
     
  2. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    There are no set rules.

    Just adjust them to whatever height that sounds good to you.

    Some like them far away, some like them as close as possible.
     
  3. in a little row

    in a little row Member

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    be aware that the closer the pickups are to the strings, the more magnetic pull on the strings, causing drag and loss of tone

    and yes, often the pickup heights are different
     
  4. HurricaneJesus

    HurricaneJesus Member

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    Regardless of height (which is a personal preference thing) most people adjust height so that they are balanced in volume. This usually results in a close bridge pickup and further away neck.
    I'm pretty sure ritchie blackmore used to put his bridge and neck close to the strings and the mid flush with the pickguard....
     
  5. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    "Optimum height" is not a single measurement, it's a range. Most manufacturers don't make that clear. 1/16" seems a little close to me, especially on a semi-hollow. Could feed back that close.

    On the other hand, try it, see what you like. 1/16 seems too close to me, try staring at about 1/8 from bottom of the string to top of pole piece, adjust to taste. You'll probably have the neck pickup a little lower than the bridge pickup when you're done ...

    Hey In a Little Row - in single coil pickups - Strats especially, you're right, too close and the magnet pulls on the string and wrecks sustain and tone, but that's not so true in humbucking pickups like a semi hollow has, or a Les Paul. Standard wind HB pickups pull way less on the strings than a Strat pickup, or a Tele or P-90 - magnets aren't as strong.

    Dana O.
     
  6. alltone

    alltone Member

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    As a starting point, I fret the low and high E's at the last fret and lift the P/U's to a point where they are not going to touch strings:Spank..... usually ends up..bass side comes down a bit more to balance the output.
     
  7. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    Any specs you see are for a measurement between the polepieces and the strings when the string is held down on the last fret. There really is a sweet spot, but you can manipulate it to suit your sound. Move them higher and the pickups are hotter (louder, break up more easily in a clean amp) and more midrangey with less sparkle or treble; move them lower and the pickups get more weak and thin losing mids but getting some trebles (chime, sparkle, insert your wine-tasting analogy here...) in the bargain. It's a lot like the differences you get comparing stock pickups to overwound or high output models, but you really don't get a very broad adjustment range with pickups because if they're really too high then the magnets will pull the strings and dampen your sustain - you get false "wolf" tones or harmonic overtones at that point. Of course if they're really really too low then they'll be too anemic and low in volume.

    One of the Gibson tech pages talks about how lower output can give a better character to the tone, and they recommend turning down the gain, backing off the volume knob, and pulling the pickups down away from the strings as ways to achieve this.
     
  8. purestmonk

    purestmonk Member

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    wow okay thanks
    it seems like it's down to personal preference ;)
    thanks
     
  9. eyeball987

    eyeball987 Member

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    I do that but only because I pick right over the neck pickup and hit it sometimes and it drives me crazy.
     

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