Humbuckers: Raising pole pieces vs. the whole pickup

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by SixStringSlinger, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Antigua, the difference in those magnets in those pickups is not a string imbalance but a difference in the sound of the strings due to a difference in the magnets of the poles pieces. As I understand it, the Alnico 5 magnets on the bass side are used for the articulation while the Alnico two magnets on the treble side are used to warm the signal up. there is a difference in the sonics. AS for those pickups,they are still built in a vintage stagger manner and are not balanced because of that. I can't play such a pickup. the G string is hot. It is noticeable when played clean. IT is especially noticeable when in overdrive since that hot string can cause the signal to go to pieces in the preamp......this is known as Strat-itis. that is how well known the problem is....and as I noted, I read about 45 years ago. Why anyone builds such a pickup these days...unless specified for a wound G set of strings as Kinman provides for....is beyond me.

    https://www.seymourduncan.com/pickup/five-two-strat-bridge
     
  2. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Whole pickup = over all tone ("e.q.") changes a lot, and output changes too (which also has an effect on over all tone – especially with low-wattage amps).
    Polepiece screws only = volume changes a lot, but tone much less so. This is also done to adjust the string-to-string volume as you see fit.

    So, the rule of thumb: Adjust entire pickup to control tonal e.q., then adjust screw poles to fine tune total pickup volume, then adjust them for desired string-to-string volume.

    E.g. With a "muddy" neck pickup, you can lower it till the low frequencies are firmer sounding, then raise the pole pieces to get the reduced pickup volume balanced back up to match better with the bridge pickup...while having a smaller effect on e.q. than using pickup height adjustments to control output.
     
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  3. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    AlNiCo 2 is much weaker than AlNiCo 5. They can say whatever they want in their marketing copy, it doesn't change the facts of the matter. They're going to make simple things seem sophisticated, that's the business they're in.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
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  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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  5. thesjkexperienc

    thesjkexperienc Tele-Holic

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    In general the slug side is brighter than the screw side so I prefer keeping the screws flush except for the A and D strings that need to come up for volume balance.
     
  6. NashvilleDeluxe

    NashvilleDeluxe Tele-Holic

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  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    My approach has changed as my playing has improved and my ear has gotten better. I used to put the pickups up as close to the strings as practical, with tone and volume dimed. Now I know better. I understand how tuning the pickup heights and pole pieces can make a guitar sound and perform a lot better. The general patterns I use:

    Neck Humbucker gets pole pieces raised in a Strat stagger. I like a good Strat neck pickup for cleans. Going for equidistant or string to string balance does not give the classic tones people are familiar with. That stagger has been used in so many iconic songs that it's an important tone pattern.

    I'll split the humbucker too. I lower the whole neck pickup (with the poles raised) to give the same signal strength difference as a Strat under optimal Quack setup. Stronger neck and weaker middle pickup, even mixing stagger and flat across, gives a humbucker the ability to quack. I have one guitar on push/pull so down is neck screw side single and up is both in parallel, but even a series humbucker set like this can produce more quack -- it's the unequal signal strength from each coil that contributes.

    If you play with heavy gain on the neck pickup (I use it for light gain and clean), you'll probably not want a stagger and you'll do better with a flat across pattern.

    Bridge I lower the pickup and raise the screw poles level to each other. That natural mid-scoop caused by not matching equidistant strings gives more classic tones from a regular Tele bridge or a P90 bridge. This also curbs some of a humbucker's tendency for fizziness under extreme drive.

    Then I balance overall Neck vs Bridge volume as usual.

    Here's a pro setting pickup heights, no he's not fiddling with the pole pieces, but the process he goes about can be replicated whether you are working at moving pickups or poles.




    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  9. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    "BUT, BUT, THE LITTLE STRINGS ARE FAR AWAY
    Our natural inclination is to adjust the pickup closer under the first couple of strings because they look so wimpy. That’s not always a good idea, though.
    "

    One thing people don't realize is that the higher the pitch, the louder the output, because of the fact that magnetic pickups work by Faraday's law, where voltage is rate of change over time, and higher frequencies means a greater rate of change, greater voltage. The only reason the bass strings are as loud as they are is because the strings are so large; what they lack in "rate" they make up for in "change".

    The string gauges are mostly chosen in order to preserve even tension so that the neck wont twist, not to have a certain amount of ferrous mass, and so a stagger pattern makes sense to compensate for that difference, but I think part of the "electric guitar sound" is for it not to sound too uniform. That's loud G string has been a part of popular music for decades, if you take it away, you're not necessarily changing things for the better, depending on your goals. If anything, I think guitarists should experiment with making the stagger even less balanced.
     
  10. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If one puts an ear on the vintage stagger with a plain G, one will hear how that G string wrecks a preamp. If one chooses to ignore that, so be it. This is nots news.....50 years of understanding that the vintage stagger was built for a wound G string and that a plain G is hotter than a wound G cannot be ignored without accepting Sonic compromises. Not one person for whom I have demonstrated the difference has opted NOT to have a polepieces adjustment that accounts for that difference in the difference between wound and plain G strings.
     
  11. Treadplatedual

    Treadplatedual Tele-Holic

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    Decent explanation.
     
  12. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That radiussed stagger he ends up with is great for a wound G. A plain G will stick out like a sore thumb in a clean mode and will wreck a preamp in an overdriven preamp. The G needs to go down to the same level as the outside E’s when running a plain G string.
     
  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    He says it was to match the vintage 7.25 radius, but if that's true, why are the pole pieces not arranged in a similar arch? The truth is Leo Fender just made it all up by ear. It's just one man's preference, set in stone forever. He asks, why doesn't Fender doesn't change it after all these years? You could ask, why don't they change the Stratocaster itself? We're all thinking the same thing, "I want to use exactly what my guitar hero used", vintage stagger notwithstanding.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
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  14. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    And....that vintage stagger has been changed by those in the know for more than 5 decades now....just to adapt to the plain G string. Those who don’t do that use a compressor...which balances the outputs of the individual strings but also affects the strong string in a different way than it affects the rest of the strings.....it compresses the hot string to a greater degree. This also can be heard and felt.
     
  15. mistermikev

    mistermikev Tele-Holic

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    pardon my ignorance but I always thought the pole pieces were adjustable for the sole purpose of balance between the strings ie matching the radius... that is, of course, unless we are talking about a dog ear p90 in which case that is your only adjustment. Always figured that since you can't adjust the poles on the secondary coil (barring hex nut designs and the like) you should probably have them matched pretty close to what the stationary poles are since otherwise you will be changing the pickups ability to hum cancel (very small amount) and one coil will start to overpower the other (which can be good if you like that sort of thing). that said, "I know nothing" - col. klink.
     
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