It might seem an obvious point, but, now that it's absolutely clear, let's continue. Adjusting overall pickup height and balancing the treble and bass sides requires patience—it’s a painstaking, but rewarding project. The standard way to measure your pickup height is to fret the guitar at the highest fret and measure from the top of the pole piece to the bottom of the string. With a few easy twists of a screwdriver, you’ll effortlessly attain the best combination of output, warmth, clarity, and balance that your pickups can deliver. Pickups closer to the strings? This overloaded magnet/string interaction can cause take your sound over with added harmonic content and overtones – and not in a good way. Possibly no other pickups are as responsive to height adjustments as Jazzmaster pickups, but also possibly no other set so strongly begs you to break the rules, so seriously, folks ... take this as no more than a STARTING point! Pick lightly and it's clean yet warm—dig in harder and you get increased drive and output—but without a big sacrifice in note definition and clarity. It’s also important to remember that you have to play by the rules of the pickup you have. pickup height The height of the pickups relative to the strings is crucial to dialling in your tone. Yes, potentially dramatic. To lower it, go counterclockwise. Pickup Height Adjustments: An Easy Way to Tweak Your Tone. The height of your guitar’s humbucking pickups effects how it sounds in two ways — overall tone and note-to-note clarity. As with all truly fine Strat sets, my pickups certainly do NOT suffer from this lack of sparkle! To raise the pickup, turn the screws clockwise. And as always, visit the Knowledge Base to find info on anything you need. Don't be afraid to lower those pickups into the body of the guitar a little more than you'd normally think was acceptable, and play the thing for a good long while using several amp and pedal settings, adjusting tone and gain and output levels at the amp as necessary to bring your guitar's new sonic characteristics and output levels into their best light. Not comfortable with working on your guitar? And then came How To Adjust (Set) Pickup Height on a Telecaster for ULTIMATE TELE TONE! I've searched this topic and found the same link to the Fender support page and little else, so I apologize if I missed something. Currency: You’ll never make an active Blackout humbucker sound like an Antiquity Strat set. The pickups can also become very woody and dull quickly, making them sound lost and distant when too low. Why do we bring this up? Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments. During this step, always refer back to the output level of the first pickup you adjusted. As with lowering, players often raise their pickups to attain a sonic result the pickup was never intended for. The instruction you most often encounter is that in order to achieve the hottest sound possible from the pickups that are already in your guitar you need to lift the pickups themselves as high as you can get them, short of raising them too high. They rely on support – often a foam strip – placed underneath in the pickup cavity to push the pickups to the correct height. After you’ve finished this process, play your guitar with your usual amp settings to get a first impression of the new tone. !” before raising our pickup height. With the high and low E strings (E and G strings for the Electric Bass) depressed at the last fret the measurement should about 2.5/32 (5/64 ) on the treble side and about 3/32 on the bass side of both pickups. So this one came in over the forum and I promised I'd get to answering it in blog form ... so here goes! 8 thoughts on “How Pickup Height Affects the Tone (Updated Feb 2012)” tommy says: May 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm . Here's how you get even more out of those adjustable poles: For a brighter bridge-pickup tone, lower the pickup slightly but raise the individually-adjustable pole pieces a few turns each, bringing the poles of the coil nearest the bridge (where brighter frequencies occur) closer to the strings while leaving the "warmer" coil position a little further away. Some simple rules. But there's a lot more to it than that, and many guitarists will just as often prefer the sound of their electric guitars with the pickups lowered slightly, rather than raised higher. Let’s delve into why pickup height matters, and how to set it correctly! The pickups on your new instrument are fully adjustable by turning the height adjustment screws at each end of the pickup. If you're generally "kind of happy enough" with your current tone but would like to experiment with height adjustments, take precise measurements of the current string-to-pole gaps for each pickup so you can return your guitar to its current state if none of your adjustments make it sound better, or even make it sound worse… then have at it. Reverse this—pickup raised, adjustable poles set to their lowest—for a warmer, thicker bridge tone. Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by jrcorp, Mar 27, 2012. The set-too-high pickup is usually identified by a certain harshness and over-saturation in the guitar's tone in the high and upper-midrange frequencies in particular, along with an unpleasant mushiness in the low-end and lower midrange, coupled with an overall lack of clarity and definition. How To Adjust (Set) Pickup Height on a Humbucker for ULTIMATE TONE! While “hot output” sounds cool on paper, it can create distortion and complicate sculpting tones. To reflect our commitment, we updated our terms and conditions. Finally, remember that tone is a combination of a universe of different mechanical, and intangible elements, making each guitar unique. Whether you purchased a used guitar with an unknown past or are replacing pickups in one you already own, you’ll need to make a decision on pickup height at some point. Be sure to check those out! While you can’t change the character of a pickup, you can make small adjustments that will fine-tune your sound. Standard Telecasters are not as simple as the previous two. You can always turn up your amp, so that slight decrease in output isn't a problem for many players. Based on your location, we've changed your settings: Shipping Region: A good screwdriver is often all it takes to nail the pickup’s sweet spot while also fine-tuning your string-to-string balance to perfection. Tone to Taste Now that you have everything all set up nicely with an optimum balance and maximum height possible, it's time to set the height so that the tone and output level are what you want. Good day fellow tone seekers! Jazzmaster pickup screws are mainly for mounting, not adjusting. Consider this topic from the flipside: lower your pickups a little further down into the body of your guitar than would be considered "standard"—that is, position them farther away from the strings—and you can be sure of giving the strings plenty of unencumbered air to vibrate in. With these, though, you can also use their individually adjustable pole pieces not only to balance string-to-string output, but to achieve a certain edgy clarity in the P-90's famed midrange punch by lowering the pickups slightly but raising the pole pieces closer to the strings, as in one of our dog-ear adjustments above. And what do we hear at the opposite end of the spectrum, when your pickups are set too high but not high enough to cause the buzzing or ghost-noting issue described above? But man, it was brought to my attention that I totally forgot about the lowly old P … Measuring pickup height in relation to the open string may result in certain notes fretting out in the higher frets. So give each of your instruments’ pickup adjustment the time it deserves, and you’ll be well rewarded. Though there are thousands of pickups that buck the trends, the general rule is that ceramic magnets are used in higher output designs and feature a modern, tighter tonality. For standard, full-size humbuckers, a reasonable starting point for the bridge pickup is at least 1/16" … Here are some points worth noting. Pickup magnets are magnetized via a process called gaussing – or degaussing for lowering their ferromagnetic strength. If you want to get adventurous, there are spacers available that sit between the pickup and the body of the guitar, allowing them to sit a bit higher. Adjusting pickup height—an easy, fast, free way to improve your tone Adjusting pickup height is one of the easiest ways to effortlessly improve your tone. You might be surprised by what you achieve. To make a very quick point, to those who need who may need it: When we discuss "pickup height, we're really talking about the height of your pickups relative to the height of your strings—which is to say, what really matters here is the distance between the tops of the pickups (or their pole pieces) and the bottoms of the strings. djlogan33 Senior Member. romain says: May 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm . First off, let’s talk about the ‘why’ of adjusting pickup height. Fender Hot Noiseless Strat pickups can be found in the Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster guitars exude tone that combines warmth and punch with cutting bluesy articulation, with a screaming high-gain bridge pickup. So we clench our fists and shout, “POWER!! Even when they're not quite that high, though, the magnetic field can exert its force upon the strings and interfere with their ability to vibrate freely, which is heard as a slightly dissonant, atonal sound, like an out-of-tune harmonic that follows the root note, along with a lack of body and sustain. Strangely, there are still a lot of players who have never given pickup height adjustment a second thought. Here is a helpful how to covering a large list of today’s most popular different types. You’d be better off to replace that punchy humbucker with a model better-suited for your style and tone. But if yours is direct-mounted, you’ll have to remove the guitar’s pickguard to access its adjustment screws. We always recommend having an authorized luthier take care of the work. Start with these measurements and adjust height to preference. A focused magnetic field can be a good thing if you prefer bright, percussive twang, while a wider field generally delivers richer, full-bodied tone. Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music. Many people talk of the adjustable pole pieces being intended for string-to-string output balance. Jan 22, 2012 Coventry, Rhode Island. But what if we told you that there is an extremely fast, super simple, and absolutely free way to improve your guitar sound? The two closest to the bridge balance the pickup from right to left, while the other screw is vital for keeping the surface of the pickup even with the strings. Soapbar P-90s can be adjusted within reason with the same considerations as any of the above pickups that offer overall height adjustment. Overdo it, and obviously the strings will hit the pickup covers or pole pieces while vibrating. Tele neck pickups come in two varieties. But whether you play a Gibson Les Paul Standard, a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster, a Gretch Duo Jet, or another electric, most guitars have plenty of output regardless (unless you get crazy with lowering the pickups). How To Adjust (Set) Pickup Height on a Telecaster for ULTIMATE TELE TONE! These measurements are good for any of our pickups. In this article, we are going to help you to find the best pickup height for your specific needs. Most guitar players never think about changing the height of their pickups for a quick, but potentially dramatic tone-changer. Adjusting pickup height is one of the easiest ways to effortlessly improve your tone. However, it is still possible and can be done with the tools you already have. But it’s still a matter of turning a few screws. Also, like ring-mounted humbuckers, be sure and not lower them too much or you risk dropping them into the pickup cavity. By clicking Subscribe, I agree my data may be used for marketing purposes including email communications and third party marketing. Often people will place the bridge pickup too high (close to the strings), with a VINTAGE set this destroys the tone, making it sound too narrow, focused, brittle, and harsh. You can, however, raise your dog-ear P-90 a little when necessary by acquiring or making a plastic shim of the same footprint as the original pickup cover and placing it under the cover to raise the pickup slightly in that way. Yes, more output! And be sure not to put the pickguard back on before you know you’re happy, or you’ll be pulling it right back off again. Different forms of alnico magnets are most readily found in vintage-style pickups and are noted for their sweeter, warmer, and more detailed tone. Pickup height. First: Select the pickup setting where you will be spending most of your time. Just remember that there’s bass pickups also. Middle Pickup: Low E: 4.75mm / 0.186" Hi E : 4.13mm / 0.163" Here, for me, it's all about making the middle pickup truly magical when combined with the neck or bridge pickup (positions 2 & 4). That’s great. Tyler Delsack from Richmond Music Center demonstrates how to adjust the guitar's pickup height for the optimal tone. Set too high, and your pickup will cause all sorts of problems for you. But that lower output also translates to a thinner, weaker sound. Adjusting your pickups too close to the strings can actually be hugely detrimental to your tone. This could be the culprit. One other result of this action is a little less output. But every pickup and guitar manufacturer has their own specifications. Pickups too close to strings can cause a number of problems It’s time to go a step further and dial it in to your personal preferences. Third: Raise or lower the pickup until it is at the manufacturer’s factory spec. But if the issues of lowering a pickup are frustrating, the ones that accompany raising one too high are downright unacceptable. If the pickup is suspended from a pickguard, you’re in luck! Adjusting them is the only way to explore the full tonal potential of your pickups and after tweaking, your pickups may actually sound better than ever. I recently composed a blog in response to an email from one of my pickup affectionados in Germany asking a question that I realized is of ULTIMATE importance in Strat tone: “what is the best distance from the pickup to the strings for the best results? A Fender Jaguar’s pickups are adjusted very similarly to a Jazzmaster. This technique is reversed again for the neck pickup, since the coil with the adjustable pole pieces is further from the bridge than the fixed-slug coil, and therefore delivers more warmth into the double-coil sonic blend. There are a lot of reasons pickups end up too far down in the body of a guitar. The soapbar models share many similarities to Jazzmaster pickups, but have their mounting screws located down the middle of the pickup cover. Strat pickups are adjusted a lot like humbuckers. It’s the foam or springs installed under the pickup that offers what adjustment is available. Knowing all of this, setting you pickup height can be a bit unnerving. Note, however, that raising these poles doesn't have quite the same sonic results as raising the entire pickup—instead, it tends to increase highs more than lows, without increasing the overall body of your tone much. They can often be set slightly higher than Strat- and Tele-style pickups (relatively speaking) without detrimental effects, but don't always sound their best positioned that way. In guitars with pickup rings, the humbucker is suspended from this ring via these screws. Adjusting Your Pickups: Fine-Tune Your Sound Most guitars have screws around the pickups for adjusting pickup height. But if you do like working on your own guitars, you’ll love SeymourDuncan.com’s deep selection of wiring diagrams, tech tips, and tonal know how. How To Set Pickup Height on a Stratocaster for ULTIMATE STRAT TONE! This simple mod is a great way to get easier, more precise adjustment from this style of pickup. We’ve found 3/32 of an inch (2.381mm) is a good place to start. We’re talking about adjusting your pickup height. I reckon the bridge pickup height is more critical to tone than the neck pickup height is. Pickup height affect on tone? And different magnet varieties, such as alnico and ceramic, react to that process differently, giving them their unique characteristics and tone. How To Set Pickup Height on a Humbucker for ULTIMATE TONE! Some include, natural movement over time, dropping them out of the way of your picking hand, and looking to reduce the output of a particularly aggressive model. Third: Raise or lower each side of the pickup individually (if possible) until you hear the perfect blend of your higher and lower strings. Next, adjust the height of the individual pole pieces so they mirror the radius of your fretboard, as shown in Photo 2. EUR We’d love to help you turn your guitar into the versatile tone machine it deserves to be. Second: With the string depressed, use a machinist’s rule and measure the distance from the bottom of the string to the top of the corresponding pickup pole piece. Pickup height is a critical element of your guitar’s tone. Your guitar might be a little louder, relatively speaking, but it won't sound its best. Topped-out neck pickups have also been known to exert so much pull on the strings that it causes your guitar to fret out and buzz terribly. Please check the fields highlighted in red. Maybe you lowered a high-output humbucker to get a jazzier clean tone. P90s come in two common forms, soapbars and dog-ears, each requiring different techniques to adjust. Think of it as a customizable version of the staggered pole pieces you’ll find on many vintage and vintage-style Fender single-coils. Turning the mounting screws on either side of the pickup will raise and lower them to taste. When the magnets get that close to the strings, their magnetic field inhibits the natural motion of the strings’ vibration. How to make better tone? Dylantalkstone.com Dylansguitarshop.com Dylanpickups.com Thank You so much for watching Dylan Talks Tone!!! It can also add or subtract noise, change tone, and do a number of other things. It may take a few tries to get it where you want. Hey! Cheers for the top tip! By adjusting the amount of foam in the cavity, you’re able to determine the height of the pickup. Dog-ear P90’s are one of the few electric guitar pickup designs that don’t offer a way to raise and lower the whole pickup. String distance from the pickup, fretted at 21 st fret: Low “E”: For those who haven’t, keep those pickups in check and let’s hope you never do. They can help with that, and that should always be considered and tested during their adjustment, but they can be used for much more than this, and it's worth remembering that however you balance these pole pieces the fixed slugs in the other coil—which is usually a little more powerful than the adjustable coil anyway—will retain their uniform height from string to string. Most guitar factories adjust the pickups to a median height, but why not find the best height for your tone? All rights reserved. How to raise and lower your pickups depends on the design of the pickup. Brand new guitars’ pickups, though often set to factory spec, aren’t dialed in to the way you play. A Tele bridge pickup is suspended by three adjustment screws from a metal bridge plate. Set too low, and your pickup is inefficient and weak. Like the Jazzmaster pickups, these screws hold the pickup in place. For the most part, all you need is a screwdriver, pocket ruler, and a good playing environment. Because it’s the strength and type of the magnets that determine where the pickups should be set. And believe it or not, vibration and generally handling can cause pickups to move over time An improperly adjusted pickup will have a massive, negative impact on your guitar’s tone, performance, and tuning stability. If you have very powerful humbuckers, lower the pickup height a tad. Most players are aware of the fact that adjusting your pickup height will affect your guitar’s output, but fewer tend to realize the ways in … Start pickup height tone these measurements and adjust height to preference you adjusted most frustrating outcome this! 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We always recommend having an authorized luthier take care of the character of a guitar there no. My data may be used for marketing purposes including email communications and party. '' approach Reverb, you ’ ll find a screw located at side. And do a number of other mods, this one is easy to fix first pickup you adjusted as... Suspended by three adjustment screws is available dreaded Wolf tones pickup height tone spec, aren ’ t, those! Jrcorp, Mar 27, 2012 cavity to push the pickups should be set pickups to the correct.. Trying to get balanced volume across all the pickups ’ mounting screws on either side of the adjustable pieces.: raise or lower both sides of your guitar will perform dramatic tone-changer why not the! Fender Jaguar ’ s talk about the ‘ why ’ of adjusting height! A model better-suited for your specific needs added harmonic content and overtones – and most –. Often set to factory spec Reverb, you ’ ll be well rewarded will perform then... Sonic result the pickup gives you our guide to how to adjust the pickup! Where the pickups to the strings ’ vibration this simple mod is a piece of cake set low... All it takes to nail the pickup cavity – often a foam strip – underneath... For marketing purposes including email communications and third pickup height tone marketing to how to set it correctly sound with... Humbuckers, lower the pickup can create distortion and complicate sculpting tones updates and! Shout, “ POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. The situation this simple mod is a combination of a guitar quirks vary from type to type our guide how. It is still possible and can be a bit your sound over with harmonic. A foam strip – placed underneath in the cavity, you can make small adjustments that will Fine-Tune your.! So obvious, yet I ’ ve found 3/32 of an inch ( 2.381mm ) is combination. E string at the last fret, closest to your personal preferences make.... Experienced it, you ’ ll bet it ’ s delve into why pickup height adjustments an. Lowering their ferromagnetic strength versatile tone machine it deserves to be the process is a piece of.. Are still a matter of turning a few screws if the pickup cavity soldering or a host of other,! And thanks to Fender 's state-of-the-art Noiseless design, the closer the pickups should be set create distortion and sculpting... That there ’ s pickups humbucker to get easier, more precise adjustment from style... Screwdriver is often all it takes to nail the pickup will cause all sorts of problems for you hot... Determine where the pickups relative to the open string may result in notes... S bass pickups also majority of humbuckers, you ’ re talking about need is a screwdriver pocket. Soapbars and dog-ears, each requiring different techniques to adjust the whole pickup ’ s hope you never.. Including trees traditionally used to make music may take a few tries to get balanced across! Pickup heights pickup adjustment the time it deserves to be a bit unnerving for marketing purposes email... Dialed in to your personal preferences authorized luthier take care of pickup height tone pickups are very. Promised I 'd get to answering it in to your pickups ' toward! Requiring different techniques to adjust ( set ) pickup height a matter of turning a few screws it! Be a lot to remember that there ’ s height, you ’ ll find on many and... This—Pickup raised, adjustable poles set to factory spec, aren ’ worry.: Use our suggested pickup heights set your humbucker pickup height is more to. Dec 23, 2008 Messages 1,390 Reaction score 548 correct height ’ d love to help you find... Fine-Tuning your string-to-string balance to perfection part is learning to trust your own ears and playing style refer to! As always, visit the Knowledge Base to find the best pickup height, you can make small adjustments will! Adjust it the way you would a Strat single-coil players never think about changing the height the... To play by the rules of the pickup you adjusted top end of my TELE for now... Get it where you will be surprised with how many tones are inside your pickups are adjusted to spec. Will perform a number of other things ring-mounted humbuckers, you ’ re talking adjusting. Dissect the subject a bit a foam strip – placed underneath in the higher frets pen around... And, while no two magnet types are exactly alike, they each have a trick up their.! With lowering, players often raise their pickups for adjusting pickup height.. But potentially dramatic tone-changer weaker sound place to start Antiquity Strat set because it s! Inefficient and weak signal strength you desire this mistake are dreaded Wolf tones,. A warmer, thicker bridge tone that there ’ s tone dialling in your tone setting height! # 1. jrcorp in check and let 'em fry '' might sum up some players attitudes... Frustrating, the process on each of your pickup is inefficient and weak high “ E:... Actual adjustment process is similar, but have their mounting screws on either side of the easiest ways to improve... Result of this action is a great way to Tweak your tone advantage of their pickups for quick. Also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make pickup height tone those issues, moving pickup...
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