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. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

    Apr 25, 2003
    Every pickup I've ever had with adjustable poles has ended up with the "G" pole lowered for balance. I guess because the unwound string has more steel in it. I also usually lower the "B" a little. With teles you'll sometimes hear complaints about a weak high E string. I figured the real problem was not that the E was weak, but the G and B is too strong. I had Aaron at Rumpelstilskin make a bridge pickup with a slightly lowered G and very slightly lowered B and it sounds perfectly balanced.

  2. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    .....and while all this business of staggered poles is true in some settings, it also depends on what frequencies your guitar is sympathetic to.

    Many guitars with that raised, vintage style G pole have a very loud G string. but not all of them. :D

  3. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    I agree with you 100%, on proximity. I like 'em close to the strings!

    But I don't think I've taken Jason's comments out of context at all.

  4. bob barcus

    bob barcus Tele-Meister

    Oct 10, 2004
    Tele Poles

    Have you tryed it with distortion aka Led Zep 1 to see if theres a difference:idea:

  5. limbe

    limbe Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 4, 2009
    When Fender began to stagger the pole pieces ,they were trying to correct the problem of uneven output from the strings.They put a standard string set (standard for the fifties with a wound G string) on a Telecaster and connected the output from the guitar to a Hewlett-Packard oscilloscope and went through every string with different pole heights until the output from every string was as close to the other strings as they could manage.
    Backbeat8 likes this.

  6. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    Excellent point. Is this from a book? Where do you get your facts about this? I'd love to read more about it.

    My optimum bridge stagger is with the G only slightly raised (maybe 1/32") and the D raised about 3/64".

    Using a wound G, you would need a taller G pole piece.

  7. cugel

    cugel TDPRI Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    on most builders sites where they mention this stuff, most agree that there is no real reason for a stagger. i just had this discussion with duff via email. i would never speak for him but we did opt for flat poles for my lead pup

  8. Ronsonic

    Ronsonic Tele-Afflicted

    I would prefer stagger IF the stagger were arranged in accordance with modern string gauges and the flatter fingerboard profiles of today.

    The vintage stagger of a 50s pickup was planned for a small radius board like 7.5" and a wound G string. Use it on a guitar with a 9 or 12 inch radius and a plain G and your B string disappears and the D and G take over the guitar.

    Since properly calibrated staggered set aren't common and I haven't resorted to winding my own .... yet, I prefer flat or just a slight radius across the poles.

    Oh, and don't get me started on the intonation ridges on Gibson style wraparound bridges. That's another design that's only 40 years out of date but still produced.

  9. bluemud928

    bluemud928 Tele-Meister

    Feb 7, 2009
    on my staggered pups i use the standard gauge .10", on my flat pole tele pu i use the fender traditional gauge, >.38, .32, .26, .15, .13, .10 ... only then will my sound even approach what Lollar is claiming

  10. Eric Daw

    Eric Daw TDPRI Member

    Jan 17, 2010
    Idaho Falls
    NO ****! What are they thinking still making those?

  11. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Yet one more reason why vintage guitars are firewood! :lol:

  12. BritishBluesBoy

    BritishBluesBoy Former Member

    Oct 19, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    Have you tried Lindy Fralin's hybrid stagger pickups?

  13. Hoopermazing

    Hoopermazing Tele-Holic

    A staggered bridge pickup on a guitar w/ a 7¼" radius is a no-brainer... wound G or not. (I won't touch an electric guitar with a +9.5" radius)

  14. Peter Florance

    Peter Florance TDPRI Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Honesdale PA
    Flatpoles and Staggered poles are 2 different animals . I agree with Eric the Lollar statements sound strange...But they are VERY different and so is the late '50's style with the Raised D and G...

  15. Telemach_1

    Telemach_1 Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 2, 2009
    Somewhere in the woods of
    I think a fixed pattern is a compromise to each guitar's individual sonic properties. Adjustable pole pieces like those Leo had established w. his G&L line was a good thing. Unlike most purists including me, Leo was always looking forward to improve things.
    I have accepted my crazy hobby and my stupidity that spends a good portion of time to hairsplittingly discuss about nuances in the design of a pick ups yet refusing to use reasonable hum cancelling PU designs. What sense does that make? ha ha,...
    Sorry for my ramble. back to the topic I'm in great favor of staggered pp. Only thing I'm gonna make sure w. my next own design or w. a future custom order is that I'd like to have them staggered according to my Tele's sonic properties. In my case this would melt down to an even stagger radious of 7.25" with a slightly higher A magnet relative to the deep E magnet. That's how I think would suit my tele best.

    P.S. I think the MIM one piece bobbins have one great advantage over the fiber flats. That's the ability to push the magnets back and forth w/o destroying the wire. Actually a great design that would make tweaking a snap. Only thing is that the wire is farther apart the the magnets

  16. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

    Jul 16, 2006
    Portland, OR
    I've always been bugged by string balance issues. It's the primary reason that I have for the past 30+ years used a lighter G string (e.g., take the G string in a regular set and go down a gauge or two) - otherwise, the poor D string always sounds like a second class citizen (with flatpoles especially).

    These days I play an AmStd Strat with VanZandt staggered pups quite a bit, and love how well that works on all 3 pickups. The D comes into its own nicely, and it balances much better than a Tele with flatpoles ever did for me.

    On my 52RI Tele I changed the radius to 9.5 long ago, which helped it all the way around. It now sports SD Little 59s, and yes I raise the screws on the D string at the bridge quite a bit to make it balance.

    My verdict: staggered works best.

  17. Seegs

    Seegs TDPRI Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    I think playing guitar is a series of compromises and adjustments that we make on the spot while playing...I enjoy this aspect of guitar playing the most...

    If I need more volume or highs I can vary my picking attack and have never really cared if my polepieces are staggered or not...

    Same with humbucker polepiece adjustments...I have a bud who likes to even out the volume by forever adjusting his polepiece heights...I like em flat and make the adjustments in my picking...

    as always YmmV!


  18. Donelson

    Donelson Tele-Afflicted

    May 31, 2011
    Nashville TN
    The poles or magnets, in either case, should follow the curvature of the frets, compensating (lowering) for the lowest plain string, which comes through the PU louder. In the 40's & 50's that string was the B; then rubberband strings took over, so that string became be the G. Who knows? Maybe plain D's will become the rage some day! Then that would have to be compensated for.

    This strategy works on any magnetic PU guitar ever made.

    I suspect that anyone using & liking flat poles or magnets is compensating by adjusting string height at the bridge saddle zone to give a "good sound". So, the guitaristic playability is crippled because of a gimmick, the "pickup system".

  19. surfoverb

    surfoverb Doctor of Teleocity

    Jul 17, 2007
    team Lollar checking in.

    all I know is his p90s kick some serious ass! Thats enough for me. :lol:

  20. Derek Kiernan

    Derek Kiernan Friend of Leo's

    Sep 7, 2008
    Princeton, NJ
    On a Fender, the radius at the bridge should be over twice the radius at the nut, due to the difference in string spacing at both locations. That means the strings are going to be considerably "flatter" near the bridge. Poles should not follow the radius of the nut or neck.

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