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

Proximity Effect

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Chanan, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Chanan

    Chanan Tele-Meister

    Mar 20, 2015
    New York
    there was a post earlier today about raising/lowering pickup heights and its tonal effects, which got me wondering - do pickups experience proximity effect? I know with a microphone, the closer you get, the more pronounced the low-end becomes. Does that apply to pickups the same way?
    24 track likes this.
  2. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Feb 15, 2014
    Kinda. Raising or lowering the pickup will change the tonal qualities, from thin to harsh, with a so-called sweet spot somewhere in the middle.

    It's not exactly the same though, the mic is an acoustic transducer, while the pickup is magnetic.

    OK, you could say a mic is magnetic also, since they have a magnet moving through some kind of coil arrangement, but the thing moving is moved by air, not a pick, like on a guitar.

    Some guitars are micro-phonic, you can yell at the pickups and hear it from the amp. I'm not sure if that situation features a proximity effect though.

    Wow, I should switch to decaf.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
    preactor, 24 track and nojazzhere like this.
  3. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    the basic difference is simantics
    with the pickup you are moving the string through the magnetic flux field stregnth and the closer the string you get a stronger pull on the string until it will affect the playability of the string to resonate properly making it sound like crap but if you find the spot where the string vibrates freely and is at the maximum flux for that , that is the sweet spot

    for proximity effect in a mic /speaker arrangement you are dealing with sound pressure levels and the mics ability to handle them on axis refers to the mic being placed at the cone, off axis is the mics ability to pick up the vibrations from the cone , the closer the mic the stronger the SPLs by pulling back on the mic you get a warmer broader sound , but mic placement is critical to the desired sound being recorded ,

    so you see the principals are similar but technically two differnt issues
    Blue Bill likes this.
  4. Chanan

    Chanan Tele-Meister

    Mar 20, 2015
    New York
    Got it, thanks!
    Blue Bill and 24 track like this.
  5. ahnadr

    ahnadr TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Jan 28, 2013
    Tulsa, Ok. USA
    Find out! Yes, it makes a noticeable difference.
  6. tedtan

    tedtan TDPRI Member

    Nov 18, 2015
    Kansas City
    Proximity effect in a microphone is due to the mic's polar pattern. Only directional mics (cardioid, super cardioid, hyper cardioid, figure eight) exhibit proximity effect; an omni mic that picks up sound equally in all directions will not exhibit proximity effect. This will hold true even if you use the same mic and switch between the polar patterns as you can with some condenser mics - the omni position will not exhibit proximity effect, even though the directional patterns will.
    24 track and Blue Bill like this.
  7. macatt

    macatt Tele-Meister

    Jan 10, 2007
    silverdale wa
    Consider a pickup with adjustable poles like a P-90 or a Filtertron.
    When you raise the whole pickup you raise the coil closer to the strings and the tone gets louder and fatter with more lower end.

    If you just raise the poles you still add volume (to a lesser degree) but the sound is thinner with less low end.
    Manipulate these two adjustments and you have a lot of control when it comes to tailoring the tone you want out of your pickups.

    For instance; you can lower one end of the pickup for less low end response while raising the pole pieces retaining volume or vise versa.
    I did the lower coil, higher pole thing to make a P-90 neck pickup ballance with the bridge pickup in a Tele.
    In a Gretsch, I raised the whole bridge pickup and kept the poles low while doing the opposite with the neck pickup to achieve a good balance.

    Now with single coil pickups with non adjusting poles you have less control and it becomes more of a compromise because raising them up affects both the tone and the volume together.

    S Mac
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