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Pickup location

Bearzito

Member
Messages
3
Hello all, new member here. I did a search for this topic, but nothing came up for it. I wasn't sure if this was the correct forum to ask about it in, so I also posted in the Guitar & Bass Technical info area in hopes for some insight.

I am curious about the HB pickup locations of solid body guitars and how they are determined. I'm not talking about the dimensions of pickup's themselves, but the actual location of them in the body. How is this determmined? I've looked a several guitars and they are all pretty much different in how close they are to the fretboard and the distance they are apart from each other. For instance, an LP's pickup's layout is different from a PRS's and I was wondering if anyone knew why? Is there some formula like in calculating fret? Does it have anything to do with the scale length? Or is it just a preference of the manufacturer in relation to the sound that has been implemented into production?

I'm thinking that the locations play a significant role in the tone and volume, but I haven't been able to find any information on this subject. If anyone has any info or explanations, please let me know becaue I'm trying to figure out where to place my pickups on my first guitar.

Thanx,

Bearz
 

stan p

Member
Messages
1,205
I have never heard of a generic rule. I notice huge variations in the position of the bridge pickup. I really like Michael Stevens's idea to position neck pickup at an angle to tighten up some bass.
 

Pietro

2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Messages
16,441
One thing I do know...

Neck pickup works best aligned with where the 24th fret would be, that's true on most 21- or 22-fret guitars. That said, I have two 24 fret guitars (and one 23!) and they sound fine to me.
 

jaevee14

Member
Messages
257
I would imagine that scale length would be very important in determining where to place the pups, but I really don't know much about it. This is the perfect place to ask the question. We have so many amazing luthiers who post here.
 

treeofpain

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,172
There is not a particular formula.

I think the pickup placement and height are two of the most important factors in a guitar's sound.
 

stan p

Member
Messages
1,205
to me 24th fret rule does not make sence, uless you are playing pentatonics in E or A or .. I mean who cares if the pickup is where high E would be?
 
Messages
12
I have been lurking in here for quite awhile. This seems like a good time to jump in here. Pickups are typically located under the strings anti-nodes. This is where we locate ours: Neck pickup, 6.375 inches from the bridge, Bridge pickup, 1.625 inches from the bridge.
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
I have been lurking in here for quite awhile. This seems like a good time to jump in here. Pickups are typically located under the strings anti-nodes. This is where we locate ours: Neck pickup, 6.375 inches from the bridge, Bridge pickup, 1.625 inches from the bridge.
Welcome to the forums.

The nodes change position along with the string length. By string length, I mean the length from the bridge to next point it makes contact (either a fret or the nut) and they can be all over depending how the string is excited. Actually, on an open string, there's only one antinode and it's technically over the twelfth fret, with the nodes at the ends.

I can see using some type of antinode on an open string as a reference point, but I don't think there's any perfect spot to place the pickup.

How exactly do you guys find that particular antinode?
 
Messages
12
Welcome to the forums.

The nodes change position along with the string length. By string length, I mean the length from the bridge to next point it makes contact (either a fret or the nut) and they can be all over depending how the string is excited. Actually, on an open string, there's only one antinode and it's technically over the twelfth fret, with the nodes at the ends.

I can see using some type of antinode on an open string as a reference point, but I don't think there's any perfect spot to place the pickup.

How exactly do you guys find that particular antinode?
Thank you for the welcome.

Yes, you are absolutely correct about node/anti-node locations. They are calculated for nut to bridge string length. It is a compromise to be sure, as the farther up the neck one goes, the shorter the scale length becomes.

In order to build electric guitars though, they have to go somewhere. And we have found this placement to work best for us. The numbers I gave, were for a 25.5" scale. Other scales will have different pickup placement dimensons.
 

JimmyR

Member
Messages
3,790
Well I know that I prefer bridge pickups that aren't right on the bridge. I notice that Hamer and PRS put their bridge pickups further from the bridge than Gibson do, and it seems to give a more honky tone. Having said that I certainly can't complain about the tone of my 335! Gretsches often have lots of room between the bridge and the pickup and I love the tone that gives you. It's almost like the one pickup sounds like the back two pickup position on a Strat. Lots ofcluck.

I also agree with whoever said the 24th fret position for neck pickups. I don't like 24 fret guitars because the neck pickup doesn't sound "neck pickup-y" enough!
 

Bearzito

Member
Messages
3
Wow!

First of all, thanx to everyone for the replies and sharing of knowledge! Secondly, sorry for the small font in my original post, I now realize how hard it is to read. I will make sure they are larger from now on. :jo

I think I need to do a little (or a lot) of research on nodes/anti-nodes in order to understand more fully what Guitar_stringer and Pfeister are talking about. This will be my first guitar build with a 25 in. scale length and I don't want to arbitrarily place the pickups just anywhere, or copy someone elses designs (as someone in the other forum suggested) but I also don't want to "re-invent the wheel" either.

Guitar_stringer or Pfeister, would you have any place to point me to research the node/anti-node issue? Also, I'm curious about the measurements you gave Guitar_stringer. How did you come up with them? You mentioned that there is a formula, but didn't say what it was. As for the measurements you gave...is the 6.375 inches from the bridge for the neck p/u and 1.625 inches from the bridge for the bridge p/u, directly in line with where the pole pieces would be on your guitars? I'm just a little confused as to whether that's where the pole pieces should be, or if that's where the edges of the p/u cavities are?

The same question applies to, as Pietro put it, "the 24th fret rule". Should the pole pieces of the p/u be where the 24th fret would be? :confused:

Thanx again for everyone's insight!

Bearz
 

stan p

Member
Messages
1,205
Are not anti-nodes and 24th fret position closely related things? In other words ... anti-node is a point, where the string is divided so that one part equals N times other part, right? This gives us high E on 12th and 24th frets, right?

So ... why the high E? Why not D or F?
 
Messages
12
Wow!

First of all, thanx to everyone for the replies and sharing of knowledge! Secondly, sorry for the small font in my original post, I now realize how hard it is to read. I will make sure they are larger from now on. :jo

I think I need to do a little (or a lot) of research on nodes/anti-nodes in order to understand more fully what Guitar_stringer and Pfeister are talking about. This will be my first guitar build with a 25 in. scale length and I don't want to arbitrarily place the pickups just anywhere, or copy someone elses designs (as someone in the other forum suggested) but I also don't want to "re-invent the wheel" either.

Guitar_stringer or Pfeister, would you have any place to point me to research the node/anti-node issue? Also, I'm curious about the measurements you gave Guitar_stringer. How did you come up with them? You mentioned that there is a formula, but didn't say what it was. As for the measurements you gave...is the 6.375 inches from the bridge for the neck p/u and 1.625 inches from the bridge for the bridge p/u, directly in line with where the pole pieces would be on your guitars? I'm just a little confused as to whether that's where the pole pieces should be, or if that's where the edges of the p/u cavities are?

The same question applies to, as Pietro put it, "the 24th fret rule". Should the pole pieces of the p/u be where the 24th fret would be? :confused:

Thanx again for everyone's insight!

Bearz
I just thought it was "fine print" lol.

As to your questions, the dimensions I gave are from the bridge saddle to the center pole of the pickups, and this is at 25.5" scale. We don't have any problems with 24 fret guitars either.

As to a formula and node/anti-node stuff, look at this article by Don Tillman: http://www.till.com/articles/PickupResponse/index.html

This should help. If you have any other questions that I can be of help with, let me know.

:AOK
 
Messages
12
Are not anti-nodes and 24th fret position closely related things? In other words ... anti-node is a point, where the string is divided so that one part equals N times other part, right? This gives us high E on 12th and 24th frets, right?

So ... why the high E? Why not D or F?
Node and anti-node placement affects all the strings, and they are affected by fundamental, and then harmonic frequencies.
 

Pfeister

Member
Messages
1,586
Wow!

First of all, thanx to everyone for the replies and sharing of knowledge! Secondly, sorry for the small font in my original post, I now realize how hard it is to read. I will make sure they are larger from now on. :jo

I think I need to do a little (or a lot) of research on nodes/anti-nodes in order to understand more fully what Guitar_stringer and Pfeister are talking about. This will be my first guitar build with a 25 in. scale length and I don't want to arbitrarily place the pickups just anywhere, or copy someone elses designs (as someone in the other forum suggested) but I also don't want to "re-invent the wheel" either.

Guitar_stringer or Pfeister, would you have any place to point me to research the node/anti-node issue? Also, I'm curious about the measurements you gave Guitar_stringer. How did you come up with them? You mentioned that there is a formula, but didn't say what it was. As for the measurements you gave...is the 6.375 inches from the bridge for the neck p/u and 1.625 inches from the bridge for the bridge p/u, directly in line with where the pole pieces would be on your guitars? I'm just a little confused as to whether that's where the pole pieces should be, or if that's where the edges of the p/u cavities are?

The same question applies to, as Pietro put it, "the 24th fret rule". Should the pole pieces of the p/u be where the 24th fret would be? :confused:

Thanx again for everyone's insight!

Bearz
You can look it up in wikipedia. They even have a section just for guitar harmonics that explains pretty well.

If you tie a string to chair and spin it, the middle and widest point is an antinode and the ends are nodes. If you spin it exactly twice as fast, you'll end up with two antinodes. Then there will be a node in the middle and two on the ends. The nodes are points that don't move. Antinodes are basically the widest point in the wave (the point of highest amplitude). If you spin it exactly three times as fast as when you had one antinode, you'll get three, with four nodes, and so on.

When you play tap harmonics on a guitar, it creates multiple nodes. The pitch goes an octave or two up because the moving parts of the string become smaller in equal sections. So if you do a tap harmonic on the twelfth fret, it basically splits the string into two moving parts, which are exactly half the size of the string and therefore each one octave higher. You can actually touch the node and nothing will happen, because it's not really moving.

If you've ever tried using an ebow, you've probably noticed that it tends to jump to high octaves suddenly. That's because it moves the string so fast that it eventually makes multiple nodes which shortens the length of the moving sections of the string which takes the note into the next octave.

I hope that makes sense.:huh:NUTS Surprisingly, it doesn't come up much when building, but it's useful to understand it. There's another forum you might be interested in that I frequent that's full of luthiers, both pros and hobbyists. A lot of the luthiers here use it(yeah, I've seen you guys there. My screen-name is different, though). It's an extremely good resource, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post a link to another forum here. I can PM you the link if you want.

BTW, I live in Colorado too.:AOK

Edit:
I didn't see that article posted by stringer. That's definitely worth reading.
 
Last edited:

stan p

Member
Messages
1,205
Stringer ... many thanks for the article! I understand that by moving pickup away from the node, we may get a number of interesting harmonics. By following the logic in the article a D-positioned pickup would have even higher bass responce and lower highs. An F positioned pickup may be very interesting too. Fretted notes kind off break this positioning logic, but E is kind of in tune with most common keys ... am I geting it right?
 




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