Pickup Height - Critical or Subjective

How critical is pickup height?


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DugT

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Is there a Sweet Spot for pickup heights? I just watched a youtube video about adjusting pickup heights and adjusting pole pieces. The author implied there is a perfect height for pickups and it provides the best tone, volume and voodoo etc.

What do you think? I always thought that it was more subjective than that. Too high causes string warbel and if the strings are too low the harder the preamp has to work and so the out put will be less clean. Anywhere in between will work and there is probably an ideal height but somewhat lower is no big deal.

Maybe it is more critical with weaker magnets.

Party on.
 
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beanluc

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Hang on, are you asking if it's one or the other? That doesn't really make sense. Height is critical to many people, to satisfy their subjective taste. To other people it's not critical, but that's also subjective.

Anywhere in between will work

Of course it will, so will any of 900 different pickups. Does this mean pickup selection is not critical because it's subjective?
 

jsnwhite619

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I saved a whole lot of money I was planning to spend after I reset all my pickups to factory specs a few years ago. I would raise them now and then trying to get a hotter sound, over the years they just ended up muddy. I was dead set to replace my Tele pickups, when I saw something about height, and I reset mine really low. That did it. Did the same thing to all my guitars, some are pickier than others, some end up a little wonky looking, but after you start messing with pickup height, you can go a long ways into shaping your sound for free.
 

MilwMark

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The magnetic sweet spot varies depending on pickup type, materials and construction, as well as location along the string relative to the bridge.

If you are above or below that sweet spot, it won't be "ideal". Whatever that means.

Too close and intonation and other things suffer for sure. That's pretty "objective". Too far away is a little less so. You can get weird, I don't know, to me what sound almost like phase issues. I don't really follow the "preamp working harder" theory for pickups that are too low.

I think most pickup replacement issues could be avoided with pickup height, tilt and pole piece adjustment, plus making sure the pot values tune the resonant peak to sit where you like it. For instance, I think going to 1m pots with humbuckers would give more "confirmed single coil guys" sounds they are happy with from humbuckers.
 

rz350

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This is too high...

Extreme-Lift-e1423677125126.jpg
 

Billy3

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Yes. There are many things to consider when adjusting pup height. Type of strings, guitar, type of pups, magnetic pull, ECT... They al make a difference. I just start with standard specs. All are readily available on the web. I adjust from there. The key is to get a unity volume from all strings in every position. It can take a while, but once they are dialed in, you will be in a happy place. All it takes is a little time, screwdriver, good ears, and some patience.
 

Recce

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Is there a Sweet Spot for pickup heights? I just watched a youtube video about adjusting pickup heights and adjusting pole pieces. The author implied there is a perfect height for for pickups and it provides the best tone, volume and voodoo etc.

What do you think? I always thought that it was more subjective than that. Too high causes string warbel and if the strings are too low the harder the preamp has to work and so the out put will be less clean. Anywhere in between will work and there is probably an ideal height but somewhat lower is no big deal.

Maybe it is more critical with weaker magnets.

Party on.
Your perfect tone and pickup height and my perfect tone and pickup height are probably different. So it is somewhat variable.
 

DugT

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Now I'm leaning closer to "Very". I just spent some time adjusting my pickups higher, but not too high, and the tone is better and it seems more lively.

I'm going to adjust them to "Barely noticably too high" and then back them off to "Clearly not to high" and see if I achieve quintessential tone bliss before I achieve an even higher level of insanity.
 

Glen W

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I'm going to adjust them to "Barely noticably too high" and then back them off to "Clearly not to high" and see if I achieve quintessential tone bliss before I achieve an even higher level of insanity.

I’ll use factory specs as a starting point and then do pretty much the same to get them where I want.
 

telemnemonics

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Height is part of the way the pickup sounds.
A too powerful dark hot pickup will sound clearer and brighter if you lower it a good ways from the strings.
A vintage style low output bright weaker pickup will get max power and fattest tone at the highest possible location.
The string to string balance, in terms of louder low E than high E or vice versa, is determined by height adjustment.
Set them by eye to all look nice & even and you'll get loud bassy tone with a weak high E string.

As for too high causing warble, that's more Strat neck pickups, not a hard & fast rule for all situations, and really not an issue with bridge pickups.
 

gimmeatele

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I am not a big pickup adjuster, certainly not to micro measurement as I would always be like "well what if ......"
 

tomasz

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I personally find it critical to get the best out of a guitar, not only pickup height itself, but also balance, specifically on 3 pickup instruments like strats. I usually start with setting the neck, then matching the bridge, then adjusting the middle for the right amount of quack/balance, eventually followed up by tweeking the bridge a bit more. But approaches may differ, some people just set to manufacturers spec and are happy with the results
 




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