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Pickup to pickup distance

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
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3,836
I'm building a partscaster and I have quite a few old pickups. I am wondering if there are problems if pickups are too close together to one another. I realize that they are likely to have little differentiation of sound if they are nearby, but I'm wondering if they actually interfere with each other's signal.

My options are:
three '66 Duo Sonic pickups
one Duo Sonic, one P-90 and one humbucker
or the crazy option of
two to three Duo Sonics, the P-90 and the humbucker

Would the magnetic pull on the strings also be a problem in the crazy option?

I realize that the wiring would be a challenge as the Duo Sonics are much lower output than the P-90 and humbucker.

I tried to look up the core question here and on the internet, but the more popular question of pickup height blots this one out entirely.
 

Ronsonic

Member
Messages
3,302
haven't seen a problem. You'll have all sorts of phasing issues and such to work out, but proximity shouldn't be a concern.
 

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,836
Thanks for that information

I also love:

"My blog is stale and never gets updated."
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,554
proximity is one thing, but another is the actual locations themselves; pickups live where they usually do because that's where they sound good.

cramming extra pickups in the "off" locations is usually disappointing, both by themselves and mixed with their too-close neighbors.

also, scottB from zexcoil has tested for this and found that proximity (and magnet polarity) in fact does affect the sound of a pickup by itself, as one pickup's field and metal bits change the inductance of the pickup next to it a little, just like a steel tele bridgeplate or jag pickup "claw" changes the sound a little.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
proximity is one thing, but another is the actual locations themselves; pickups live where they usually do because that's where they sound good.

cramming extra pickups in the "off" locations is usually disappointing, both by themselves and mixed with their too-close neighbors.

also, scottB from zexcoil has tested for this and found that proximity (and magnet polarity) in fact does affect the sound of a pickup by itself, as one pickup's field and metal bits change the inductance of the pickup next to it a little, just like a steel tele bridgeplate or jag pickup "claw" changes the sound a little.
The old Fender Stringmaster steel guitar pickups' location was a successful "non-standard" scheme in my opinion.
If you know the mounting plate I'm talking about, with the PU's and balance adjustment wheel, you'd know how physically close they were, and if you've played one you'd know what a great variation of sounds it provided.

But that's gotta be about the limit.

If you take those same two pickups and mount them side-by-side, covers touching, like one big humbucker, they sound like ass.
It just doesn't work, even with all the same electronics, it's not even close.
Neither pickup sounds good by itself, and the two together sounds like a combination of two bad pickups.

Separate them and they sound great!

So yeah, you're going to run into some weirdness jamming 'em up against each other for sure, and I'll go out on a fairly sturdy limb and say that goes for 3 humbucker type guitars too, although it's not as pronounced as the Fender single coils strapped together.
I struggled enough with one of my own 3 HB guitars to finally just ditch the middle PU entirely, and both neck and bridge are happier now without whatever interference the middle PU created.

ScottB knows what he's talking about, for sure, for sure.
My bit's just an anecdotal observation.
 

Lucidology

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,422
The old Fender Stringmaster steel guitar pickups' location was a successful "non-standard" scheme in my opinion.
If you know the mounting plate I'm talking about, with the PU's and balance adjustment wheel, you'd know how physically close they were, and if you've played one you'd know what a great variation of sounds it provided.

But that's gotta be about the limit.

If you take those same two pickups and mount them side-by-side, covers touching, like one big humbucker, they sound like ass.
It just doesn't work, even with all the same electronics, it's not even close.
Neither pickup sounds good by itself, and the two together sounds like a combination of two bad pickups.

Separate them and they sound great!

So yeah, you're going to run into some weirdness jamming 'em up against each other for sure, and I'll go out on a fairly sturdy limb and say that goes for 3 humbucker type guitars too, although it's not as pronounced as the Fender single coils strapped together.
I struggled enough with one of my own 3 HB guitars to finally just ditch the middle PU entirely, and both neck and bridge are happier now without whatever interference the middle PU created.

ScottB knows what he's talking about, for sure, for sure.
My bit's just an anecdotal observation.
What about Firebird pickups?
 

B. Howard

Member
Messages
1,211
Les Pauls with three humbuckers have some followers out there, Frampton and Frehely among them. And that is basically as many pickups as you can cram in between the bridge and the neck, The mount rings are tight together.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
What about Firebird pickups?
Hi Lucid. Look up Firebird and Stringmaster in google images.
There's a lot of real estate in between those pickups compared to strapping Strat pickups together cover-to-cover.
Done that 3 PU FB thing, those PU's don't interfere with each other to my ear.

Peace, rain, etc.
 

kimock

Member
Messages
12,520
Les Pauls with three humbuckers have some followers out there, Frampton and Frehely among them. And that is basically as many pickups as you can cram in between the bridge and the neck, The mount rings are tight together.
No, the LP's mounting rings are not tight together.
Google an image if curious. .
 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,554
i'd include 3-pickup LPs in the "less-than-awesome" category myself :hide2

we all know gibson did it because it looked cool, and for no other reason; i'd also argue that yes, a few famous and great players made them work, but one attribute of being a famous and great guitar player is that you can make anything work. (and how much of that famous and great guitar playing ever even used that murky M+B setting anyway?)
 

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,836
Here's the project. It is an early 60s Fender acoustic neck and a 60s Vox body.

You've convinced me not to do more than three pickups, so now the question is:
1 Duo Sonic
1 P-90
1 Humbucker

or
3 DuoSonics

I play old school blues, but I also love to add fuzz to it. I think that the single coils are more traditionally "me," but I also have that territory fairly well covered.



 

walterw

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
39,554
have we determined that the fender neck and this body will even work together anyway? does the scale length/pocket spec line up between neck and body?

either way, i don't see "fat, solid humbucker goodness" happening here, i think lo-fi singles are gonna make more sense; two duo-sonics and a P-90 bridge?
 

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
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3,836
Sorta ...

The neck is a 25.5 inch scale length but it is physically shorter than a Tele or Strat neck, it is mostly missing the last fret and the wood between it and the one above.

The neck fits the pocket rather well, although the angle is a bit off.

The scale does not end where the original bridge was, but somewhat lower, toward the bottom of the guitar. This body already had some routing in the cavity by the upper horn, so I'm okay with additional routing and drilling as necessary.

So ... the pickups may not be in the right location on this one.

The reasons I bought this body was that it made it possible to make any modifications necessary on the body rather than lengthening the neck, which is possible but tricky and expensive. It also was inexpensive, looks cool and seems to go with the neck even though it doesn't. The neck turns out to be lightweight, and the whole guitar is arcing to be under 7 pounds even if that Bigsby winds up on there.

I like the Duo/Duo/P-90 idea.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,914
I've worked on my fair share of mongrels. First thing to consider is- how are you going to mount them? Are you going to make a pickguard that covers all the routes and mount the pickups to the guard? Because you'll need to mount those Duo Sonics to a guard of some kind. So then you've got that dogear P-90, mounts straight to the wood, so you'd need a cutout in the guard for that. So thats already a pretty complicated pickguard to cut.

I also agree with Walter, that thing is screaming single coil and I wouldn't mess with a humbucker. So considering the pickups you have, the logically move is to go Duo Sonic-Duo Sonic-P90 (that's neck-middle-bridge), being that the P90 is going to have the most output. Or just Duo Sonic P90, with no middle. But then you have to ask yourself how you're going to wire them up, because if it's a single volume control those Duo Sonics will want to see 250K pots but that P90 will likely be too dark with that value. IMO that makes your best move just two Duo Sonics.



Sorta ...

The neck is a 25.5 inch scale length but it is physically shorter than a Tele or Strat neck, it is mostly missing the last fret and the wood between it and the one above.

The neck fits the pocket rather well, although the angle is a bit off.

The scale does not end where the original bridge was, but somewhat lower, toward the bottom of the guitar. This body already had some routing in the cavity by the upper horn, so I'm okay with additional routing and drilling as necessary.

So ... the pickups may not be in the right location on this one.

The reasons I bought this body was that it made it possible to make any modifications necessary on the body rather than lengthening the neck, which is possible but tricky and expensive. It also was inexpensive, looks cool and seems to go with the neck even though it doesn't. The neck turns out to be lightweight, and the whole guitar is arcing to be under 7 pounds even if that Bigsby winds up on there.

I like the Duo/Duo/P-90 idea.
That kind of sounds like too much to take on, I wish you luck!
 

LarryOM

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Messages
723
Fullerton, I think you're putting the cart before the horse. Forget about the pickups until you're sure that you can get the neck, body and bridge position together so that it can intonate properly. Assemble those things to see if it plays properly, and then think of the rest, afterwards. Otherwise, you might be wasting time and energy.
 

ngativ

Member
Messages
1,024
You should only worry about the magnetic pull against the strings , something that can be easily solved by adjusting the pickup height
 

DBBlues

Formerly fullertone
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,836
...you'll need to mount those Duo Sonics to a guard of some kind. So then you've got that dogear P-90, mounts straight to the wood, so you'd need a cutout in the guard for that. So thats already a pretty complicated pickguard to cut.

... IMO that makes your best move just two Duo Sonics.
I actually have three DuoSonic pickups wired to go in a Strat, so that may be my best choice.

Fullerton, I think you're putting the cart before the horse. Forget about the pickups until you're sure that you can get the neck, body and bridge position together so that it can intonate properly. Assemble those things to see if it plays properly, and then think of the rest, afterwards. Otherwise, you might be wasting time and energy.
Really makes sense. I've learned that the original Vox (by Eko) had a 25 inch scale, the Fender neck has a 25.5 inch scale, but is physically short. If I'm thinking of it correctly, both the longer scale and the shorter neck push the bridge away from the neck.

You should only worry about the magnetic pull against the strings , something that can be easily solved by adjusting the pickup height
Thanks, that's helpful, too.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,914
Really makes sense. I've learned that the original Vox (by Eko) had a 25 inch scale, the Fender neck has a 25.5 inch scale, but is physically short. If I'm thinking of it correctly, both the longer scale and the shorter neck push the bridge away from the neck.
You better double check the scale length on that neck. Only reason it would be shorter than a standard neck is if it has less frets, otherwise it's a different scale length. Easy enough thing to do- measure from the nut to the 12th fret, then double that and you have your scale length.

If that neck is indeed 25 1/2" then you might not have to relocate the bridge, depending on how adjustable it is. But as mentioned already I'd be more worried about things like the neck angle, which you're only going to know if you have a problem once the bridge is mounted and everything is strung up. Being a bolt on you do have some room for adjustments, but there's only so much you can do.
 




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