String alignment with polepieces (Les Paul)

frank1985

Member
Messages
760
I've just noticed the strings on my Les Paul Navigator do not pass over the center of several pole pieces. This seems more evident over the bridge. It sounds fine - no problems in terms of sound, but then I have no frame of reference...is this common? Would I notice a difference (for the better) if I had them more centrally aligned?
 

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Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
38,560
This is another one of those things that one can test and observe for oneself.
Strike the string, then bend it so that it lies between pole pieces, or wherever, and listen for level dropoff.
Some pups DO drop off between poles. I have never heard dropoff from a string that was over or near a polepiece.
 

Tootone

Member
Messages
6,933
This is normal.

What you should avoid is the decades old BS that the Humbucker face plate should be parallel with the string... to wit, stuffing foam inside the pickup cavities.

This will make your pickups dull and lifeless.

The screw top pole pieces should be nearer the string than the hidden (or non-screw top) pole pieces.

Again, BS born of "neat" OCD.
 

FattRaxx

Member
Messages
701
This is normal.

What you should avoid is the decades old BS that the Humbucker face plate should be parallel with the string... to wit, stuffing foam inside the pickup cavities.

This will make your pickups dull and lifeless.

The screw top pole pieces should be nearer the string than the hidden (or non-screw top) pole pieces.

Again, BS born of "neat" OCD.

Is there a specific reason why this would happen?

Assymetrical distances from the string?

I am completely bonkers OCD about my humbuckers being straight, i.e. parallel to the guitar top. I can't stand wonky looking humbuckers! :D
 

Dave L

Member
Messages
1,531
This is a bit debatable, however; what someone hears as not dull is way too bright for others and so on. Basically a cousin to the main question of pickup height, where one size does not fit all. It doesn´t have to be parallel, sure, but it also doesn´t need to be not parallel.
 

sunking101

Member
Messages
3,617
It's.common to see guitars at all price points where the strings don't align perfectly with all the pole pieces on all 2 or 3 pickups.
 

Krausewitz

Member
Messages
4,064
I've just noticed the strings on my Les Paul Navigator do not pass over the center of several pole pieces. This seems more evident over the bridge. It sounds fine - no problems in terms of sound, but then I have no frame of reference...is this common? Would I notice a difference (for the better) if I had them more centrally aligned?

Very common and a non-issue, as others have stated.
 

Tootone

Member
Messages
6,933
Is there a specific reason why this would happen?

Assymetrical distances from the string?

I am completely bonkers OCD about my humbuckers being straight, i.e. parallel to the guitar top. I can't stand wonky looking humbuckers! :D

There is a specific reason... it's the intent of the design dating back to the 50's. The second Coil (covered, flat pole pieces) has a specific purpose of phase cancelling 60Hz hum.

The Screw-Top (uncovered) pole-pieces are the "playing" pickup surface.

The original P.A.F. pickups were effectively " A Single Coil + a Humbucking Dummy Coil".

There are many examples of variations of the "Dummy Coil" over the years, because Gibson had the "original" Patent. Fender had their own "version" decades later on Strats where the "Dummy Coil" sat low in the body, beneath the pickguard. It worked, apparently, but it totally screwed with the normal Strat design, and cost more because of it.

If you have a Les Paul it's easy to confirm to yourself. Slacken the Strings and wedge the pickups parallel with a matchstick shoved between pickup ring and pickup. Play it for a while. The general sound will be a lot darker because the "Dummy Coil" is still active in the Audio Output. It's cancelling the hum, but it's also cancelling most of your high end (high end harmonics are more closely spaced).

Some people do know this, and do prefer the darker/warmer sound (IMO muddier, mushier) of setting the pickups parallel.

I can't stand it.

My Les Paul was bought second hand, as seen. I couldn't believe how sh*t it sounded amplified. So I opened it up and found half a ton of rotting packing foam shoved in the cavities.

Got rid, cleaned it out, now sounds like it should.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
38,560
Some people do know this, and do prefer the darker/warmer sound (IMO muddier, mushier) of setting the pickups parallel.
?
But..pickup rings are angled to allow the pups to be more parallel to the strings.
Other guitars with less neck angle often have hb tops parallel.
IOW parallel is 'normal.'
 

Tootone

Member
Messages
6,933
?
But..pickup rings are angled to allow the pups to be more parallel to the strings.
Other guitars with less neck angle often have hb tops parallel.
IOW parallel is 'normal.'

I didn't say they need to be at a "wide angle" to the strings.

The pickup rings are angled to bring the pickups close to the Neck pitch angle, but in a natural "resting" position, the pickup cover plates are not "perfectly" parallel".

The Screw-Top poles pieces will be closer to the strings. As God intended.

The easiest thing to do is just try it.

For contrast, Google search the (probably) thousands of comments on raising (unscrewing) the screw-top pole pieces with a screw driver to lessen mud.

Some even go as far as dismantling pickups, melting the wax, and pushing the poles around.... definitely not recommended IMO.

All those people could have just saved themselves the bother and taken the packing foam out of their pickup cavities.

People just like to fuss. Personally, I don't get it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 

NoiseNinja

Senior Member
Messages
4,162
Perfectly normal, not just for Gibson Les Paul guitars, but for just about every single guitar and bass on the market that features magnetic pickups utilizing individual pole pieces.

And absolutely no issue at all, unless you suffer from OCD (the actual medical condition, not the meme) and the pole pieces visually not being perfectly aligned happens to trigger it.
 
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MRCHEVY

Member
Messages
586
Is this a new guitar. Or have the pickups ever been changed. On a les Paul, the string spacing is slightly narrower at the neck and slightly wider at the bridge. Humbuckers are also commonly made with a very slight variation in the spacing of the pole pieces, usually when the pickup is designed to be used in the neck position or the bridge position. It looks to me like the pickups are reversed. What I mean by that is it looks like the neck pickup is actually a bridge pickup, and the bridge pickup is actually a neck pickup. If you measure the string spacing over the poles on the neck pickup and the bridge pickup, and measure the spacing of the pickup poles, you will likely find that if the pickups were switched that they would line up perfectly.
 




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