Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Flat pole vs. Staggered pole pickups

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by Eric Daw, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    Reading this on Jason Lollar's website, I found myself disagreeing with almost every one of his points. He says that flat pole pickups are the way to go, and I prefer staggered pole pickups. I'm no Lollar, but I do make pickups (just so you know that I'm not speaking from a point of no experience.) Jason is a pickup master, and I respect him and his pickups immensely, I'm not saying he's wrong and I'm right, I merely disagree with his opinions and wanted to get a consensus from all you tele freaks...

    Lollar:In most cases the flat-pole pickup will give you a better string balance.
    Me: I disagree, I find the D string to be weak compared to the low E on flat pole pickups.

    Lollar: The high E won't get buried in the mix like a staggered-pole pickup can.
    Me: With the unique 3-screw mounting design of tele bridge pickups, this is easily overcome by tilting the high E polepiece closer to the string.

    Lollar: No one ever comments that their 1952 telecaster has bad string balance.
    Me: I disagree, that is in fact why they changed from flat pole to stagger in the mid 50's.

    Lollar:eek:n Gibson guitars no one ever staggers the adjustable poles as much as strat pickups.
    Me: True, but this is simply because the fingerboard radius is different, and the strings follow that radius.

    Do you prefer flat or staggered polepiece pickups on your tele bridge pickup and why?

  2. chipbutty24

    chipbutty24 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 16, 2008
    Ontario, Canada
    I like the staggered bridge pup in my 62 but I don't know if its cuz its staggered or its just a great pup...
    Gibson likes this.

  3. iliketeles

    iliketeles TDPRI Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    you seem a lot more knowledgeable than him.....or your good at contradicting his points lol
    rbnalv7 likes this.

  4. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    I'm going to disagree with you on this point because Gibson humbuckers use bar magnets under the coils. The steel screws make a very small difference in the sound when adjusted.

    The big difference here is rod magnets vs bar magnets.

    I also feel that, when Strat or Tele pickups are set lower, the stagger isn't nearly as important.

    Look at the 70's Teles with Wide Range humbuckers. The strings spacing is much narrower than the magnet spacing at the neck pickup and yet, the guitars sound fine and balanced.

    It's all about proximity and magnet type.

  5. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    All the staggard pole Tele bridge pickups Ive owned sounded better than flatpoles except 1 of them and that was a real 53 Fender pickup.

  6. Aiden

    Aiden Tele-Meister

    Nov 13, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I prefer staggered pole tele pickups, I had a Am special bridge pup with flat pole pieces. It was ok sounded flat and lifeless. (pun intended) My current pup is a Texas Special Pickup with staggered pole pieces. I love this pup its alive and great sounding.

  7. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    Actually, I agree with you. It's about a lot of things, I think it's about radius, magnet type, pickup size, etc... but the bottom line is, his statement about Gibson vs. Fender stagger is really comparing apples to oranges. Saying that Gibson polepieces are better flat, and therefore Fender polepieces are better flat is weak logic.

  8. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    I'm not. Which is why his reasons surprised me. I know he lurks around this forum occasionally, I would love to hear his responses.

  9. musicmatty

    musicmatty Former Member

    Aug 18, 2008
    I don't think there is a right or wrong with either for sure...just a matter of preference and I prefer staggered 60s style..balanced to my ears and crisp ice picky lean and mean and they warm up nicely.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010

  10. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    Yes, if we're talking humbuckers. But if we're talking P-90's, I've seen lots of folks stagger the heights as much as a Fender pickup. And those are steel pole pieces.

  11. ADK Teleman

    ADK Teleman Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 30, 2009
    A-Bay NY
    On Teles I prefer flat on Strats I prefer Staggered

  12. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    Most interesting thread in a while.

  13. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    Well, good. Thanks. Unfortunately I posted it in the TELE ONLY forum, oblivious to the fact that there is a PICKUPS ONLY forum. As if tele's don't have pickups. Soon there will be a FRET SIZE FORUM, a BLONDE AND BUTTERSCOTCH FORUM, a HIGH E TUNER FORUM, and a STRAP BUTTON FORUM. So stay on your toes, men.

  14. Mr. Esquire

    Mr. Esquire Tele-Meister

    Jul 20, 2009
    I like a staggered pickup on a vintage-style 7.25" radius fretboard. When I bought my Rumpelstiltskin pickup (1950 Black-rope) for my 50s Esquire RI, I got it specially modified with raised D and G pole pieces. Sounds great and has a better string balance than a flat pickup, IME.

  15. Durtdog

    Durtdog Poster Extraordinaire

    May 19, 2004
    Good advice for anyone, any time, any place...

  16. indiobravo

    indiobravo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 14, 2009
    Raleigh NC
    i have both and i honestly can't tell the difference.
    Gibson likes this.

  17. I'm sure staggered served a purpose way back when string gauges/ construction etc was different to todays' strings. Gimme flats every time - staggered just sound so very unbalanced.

    So, I'm with Mr. Lollar 100%!

  18. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 21, 2006
    Vienna, Austria
    But then, all my Teles have flat fretboard radii - I hate anything smaller than 10" - and with a non-vintage, non-7.5" radius, staggered PUs will definitely sound unbalanced.

  19. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005

    How are you using the pickup?

    If you like 'em right up tight against the strings, stagger matters.

    If you like to give 'em lots of air and set 'em low in the pick guard, stagger is much less important.

    Perhaps taking Jason's comments out of context is where the problem lies.

  20. Codinho

    Codinho Tele-Meister

    May 11, 2009
    Nashville, TN
    I think I agree with the OP. I've got a 7.25 radius and I just put in a SD five-two with flat poles. My D and G string are weaker than say the two E strings. I called SD about it and they suggested I go with the Vintage 54 which has staggered poles.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.