Setting pickup heights help??

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by teleguy234234, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. teleguy234234

    teleguy234234 Member

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    This might sound like a stupid question but I am needing to adjust my pickup heights soon. I know some people do this by ear but I was hoping to use Fender's official specs first. Problem is I don't own a ruler in 64th of an inch. Can this type of ruler be found at home depot/lowes and is there anyway to use something else like a playing card or something?

    Secondly I was planning on using a piece of paper or something to mark with a pencil the starting heights. If I adjust my pickup screws (I have a classic style ashtray bridge with 3 compensated saddles), will that mess up my bridge or do the three screws around the bridge pickup just affect the pickup not the bridge
     
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  2. Qmax

    Qmax Member

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    Home Depor sells a 6" ruler with 32nds. Very handy tool to have for guitars.
     
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  3. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Home Depot has them. I had one, lost it, bought another, found the first one. Story of my life.

    Link

    EDIT: This is similar to mine. 32nds & 64ths


     
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  4. teleguy234234

    teleguy234234 Member

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    So I need a ruler with 32nds. Got it thanks man!
     
  5. thebowl

    thebowl Member

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    A tip I picked up is to use a tuner with a moving needle. If there is noticeable oscillation when a string is at any given pitch, then your pup is too close. Back it off until you can tune the strings, and the pitch doesn't oscillate.
     
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  6. teleguy234234

    teleguy234234 Member

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    All I know is that with my pickups I feel that my bridge pickup is a tad quieter than my neck or middle. When I asked the main man himself at Porter Pickups he recommended to "Raise the bridge fairly close while lowering the neck and middle to match volume then adjust to taste." Also to note I have his Custom Bridge (Alnico 5) and Vintage Neck (Alnico 3). He recommended this set based on liking the vintage set already from videos but not wanting a super treble spiky bridge pickup.
     
  7. lostpoet2

    lostpoet2 Supporting Member

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    Why don't you start with the penny measurement test like you're looking at tire tread? Lincoln's head = 4/64". After that, is much faster just to grab a small screwdriver and adjust by ear with the guitar plugged in.
     
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  8. SuperSilverHaze

    SuperSilverHaze Member

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    This is very good to know. My guitar has a very slight oscillation when I strike a note.
     
  9. dallasblues

    dallasblues Member

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    I've always just done it by ear until it sounds right. I've even had a small screwdriver on stage to make tiny adjustments during a gig.
     
  10. teleguy234234

    teleguy234234 Member

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    SO I guess I'm just gonna adjust by ear. My pickups are already pretty far from the strings, so I don't anticipate anything crazy happening if I jack the bridge up a bit.
     
  11. tjmicsak

    tjmicsak Member

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    If this is a Strat, just google:
    Dirk Wacker adjusting pickup height
    You will see two links for part 1 and part 2 of his article in Premier Guitar Magazine. These are the best starting settings I have found and don't need much afterthought.
     
  12. AllenL

    AllenL Member

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    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
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  13. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Supporting Member

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    Good idea, I use a quarter turn of the pickup height screw and listen to the changes, then make another quarter turn as necessary. On my tele, I dialed the bridge pup in to a meaty lead, with some bark and twang, THEN, dialed the neck pup in to achieve that wonderful chimey middle tone great vintage teles have. I've got a booster or the volume and tone knobs to compensate for any short comings with the neck pup...you can't add that middle position open chime in with pedals or knobs, imho.

    Good luck
     
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  14. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

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    1/8 inch is 8/64.
    1/2 that is 4/64= 2/32
    Estimating half of 1/8 inch will get you close enough, then move it a bit from there.
    No special tools required.
    Or just push a string down to the last fret and make sure the neck pup has adequate string clearance even for your hardest attack.
    Adjust the bridge relative to that and you will be close to factory spec.
    Then move them up or down until you like the balance and sound, as long as you do not get too close.
    The spec comes after the performance setup is done.
    This is an easy user adjustable preference task. Tweak freely.
     
  15. 909one

    909one Member

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    Just use your ears, its the best way. Those measurements are a recommended start anyway, its not a law.
    I start by adjusting my bridge pickup to be the loudest, set at the tone I want, then I work backwards to the neck, constantly switching between pickups to get the volumes balanced. I like my neck pickup fairly low so its slightly lower output than my bridge and it helps tame some of the woofiness in that position.
    And in general, if you want something a little more midrange sounding put the pickup closer to the strings, if you want it a little more scooped, move it further away.
     
  16. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    Everything you try is completely reversable! I generally count the half turns of the screwdriver, just to keep track of where I've been and where I'm going, but you measure before you start, too, if you want to be able to go back to where you started.
     
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  17. teleguy234234

    teleguy234234 Member

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    Thanks for all the help guys! Gonna give this a go!
     
  18. Ron Kirn

    Ron Kirn Gold Supporting Member

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    without reading everything and apologies to others that may have mentioned this...

    the dimensional specs listed on various sites are a starting point only.... you set the height accordingly, then play the guitar for a while... if you're looking for something else, then give the screws about 1 turn that moves them about 1/32 of an inch.. then play it a while..

    Guys you don't need a ruler... you need two nickels.. their height, stacked, is a great starting point... then just turn the screws one revolution at a time.. Seeing/hearing someone using a ruler to set the pickups is as abrasive to me as saying "ain't" is to your English Teacher.... rap across the knuckles time...

    where the vast majority of guys make mistakes is in adjusting, playing a few notes and re-adjusting.. STOP . . . WRONG!! . . like stepped in dog doo and tracked it across Granny's kitchen floor Wrong..

    play the thing a week or so.. get used to it... better yet... adjust it then let someone else that knows the guitar and has no idea what you have done listen to it... then readjust, making notes, so you can return to the position, by keeping it to 1 turn only, you have a point of reference and can return to a previous setting. this method removes confirmation bias from the analysis... and keeps everything "honest"..

    also with single coil pickups if you get them too close, also a big mistake due to the seductive allure of louder sound . . the magnets in the single coils can act as a dampener on the strings vibration seriously diminishing sustain, and quality of sound.. also they can pull the string's symmetrical vibrations into an asymmetrical mess, which sounds like a horribly bad intonation problem,. that cannot be adjusted out..

    Ron Kirn
     
  19. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    Check at the 12th fret. It will be worst on low E and A strings. To get rid of oscillation, you may find the pickups need to be much lower than recommended spec. Thats ok, as long as it sounds good to you. If the pickups sound a little weak, thats ok you can adjust amp to compensate. If they sound thin and weaker still, you might want to raise em up a bit.

    I usually start with neck and work my way back. The bridge will be much closer to the strings to balance with neck. It has less power as the strings are tightest right there. Also less likely to produce oscillation for the same reason. If you cant get bridge to balance with neck and its very close to strings, your only option is to lower the neck even more.

    The thing Ive learned works for me, is not worrying so much about output of the pup. The neck sounds fat and loud when adjusted close to the strings, and may sound weak when adjusted properly. However, once you leave it for a few hours and come back, its easier to realize you were just hearing a difference in output, not necessarily "better" tone.

    Good luck. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
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  20. Qmax

    Qmax Member

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    Guess you'll have to slap my hand since my kids take all my nickels! I'll supply the ruler!

    To each their own. I like a ruler because I can use it for several things, and I always know where I started so I can go back there when I screw things up or get to far away from where I want.
    Of course, 2 nickels does the same thing.
     

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