Your Pickup Height Preference on a strat?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fuzzface71, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. fuzzface71

    fuzzface71 Member

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    Just wondering how you guys like it? Fooling around with the PUP height is like getting a new pickup replacement! Well, maybe not that drastic.

    Does higher= louder/muddier?
    Lower= thinner sounding?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    Another question to add...what level gives more harmonic?

    I like my new pickups however the neck pickup harmonics aren't so good...
     
  3. AndrewC

    AndrewC Supporting Member

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    Another question - what are the best heights for maximum quack?
     
  4. sqadan

    sqadan Member

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    I prefer my strat pups as low as possible without thinning out the sound too much... I find there are 2 problems with high fender pups, one is that the sound gets very muddy and "blobby" if that makes any sense... and two, the pull of the magnets causes tuning and intonation problems. I generally lower mine all the way to the pickguard on the bass side, and just about an eighth of an inch or so higher on the treble side...

    I'll add that the height of the strings off the pickguard is obviously a factor as well.... My action is set very low with the bridge flush to the body.

    YMMV though. It's all pretty subjective in the end.
     
  5. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    And they never will be - Strats have the neck pickup located in a non-nodal position, where the middle and bridge are in nodes. You'll always get better harmonics using the middle or bridge pickups in a Strat than you will using the neck pickup. That's true for all pickups and all Strats.

    The closer the pickups are to the strings, the great the output, but the greater the magnetic pull on the strings. Most folks think Strats sound better with the pickup adjusted closer to the strings on the treble side and a litle further away on the bass side, say 3/16 on the treble side and 4/16 on the bass side - measure from the bottom of the string to the top of the pole piece while fretting around the twelfth fret, that'll be a good ballpark to start.

    Most folks also think Strat pickups work better overall if you sacrifice a little output (by adjusting the pickups a little lower) for increased clarity and sweetness, and improved sustain.

    The closer the pickups are to the strings, the more the magnets in the pickup pull on the strings - that kills sustain and causes "Strat-itis", that warbling sound. Kills harmonics too. In the pic you posted it's hard to tell how close you have 'em adjusted, but I'd venture a guess that the bridge pickup is so close it'll cause Strat-itis. It looks to me that it's too close, especially on the bass side.

    Depending on your style you'll prefer more or less output, but nobody wants Strat-itis. If it's hard to intonate, the pickups are too close. There's no "correct height", just whatever works for you. Most folks prefer a little lower output as a trade off for more sustain, sweetness and clarity.

    Hope this helps, Dana O.
     
  6. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks Dana!

    I've always been a les paul guy and wondered why my strat neck pickup didn't have good harmonics.
     
  7. George Johnson

    George Johnson Member

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    Provided, of course, that you only play open strings. Otherwise, these nodes are constantly moving. ;)
     
  8. Bob V

    Bob V Member

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    "Blobby" being the technical term, I tend to agree. The original post is on the right track - higher has more output and midrange but loses the sparkle and tends to get wolf-tones and strat-itis where the sustain is sapped. Lower is nicer, more of a vintage chimey sparkle that has a more characteristic sound that you should be able to recognize as a strat. By the way I've never had my pickups anywhere near as high as they appear to be in that photo. Fender has specs for the different types of pickups but I'd start with at least 5/64" space between the string (when fretted at the highest fret) and the polepieces.
     
  9. dunara

    dunara Member

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    Beat me to it, George :AOK.
     
  10. fuzzface71

    fuzzface71 Member

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    Very cool. Thanks! Just wanna add though the picture above is not my guitar. :D
     

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