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Pickup Height?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by SixStringSlinger, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

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    What do you all recommend as a starting point for pickup height? Some of the pics I've seen here have them so low they look like part of the pickguard, whereas mine are pretty high up there (especially the bridge pup).

    Also, I see that the general consensus is to have them pretty low, but why is that? Wider dynamic range? Something tonal? Less pull on the strings by the magnets? And why are the heights Fender recommends so high?

    If it means anything, mine is an Am. Dlx. with the SCN's, no mods outside of the occasional string change.
     
  2. JohnK24

    JohnK24 Friend of Leo's

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    Set them where they sound BEST to your ears. I've tried the set really low and just a hair above the pickguard and they sound like a#s, thin and too mellow, zero bass. Tweak to your ears and enjoy.
     
  3. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you get them too high your guitar wont tune right at all the magnetic pull from the pickups throws the strings all out of whack.
     
  4. Twi

    Twi TDPRI Member

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    The SCNs seem to have lower magnetic pull than the regular AmStd pups and can be raised closer to the strings. I had those SCNs on my Am-Mex mongrel set at 1 nickel trebel side and 2 nickels on the basse side which was ok but when I brought it in for its annual checkup I noticed that the tech raised them both another 1/64" on each side and that was an improvement to my ear.
     
  5. pchilson

    pchilson Friend of Leo's

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    So after he raised them did they sound better to you or did you lower them again? That 1/64 would have put them at what distance from the string?
     
  6. NewOldStock

    NewOldStock Tele-Holic

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    I see mine are set about half-way between pickguard and strings. Probably a hair closer to the strings than halfway. They were closer last week but I switched to 11's. Had to find the new sweet spot. String gauge will also effect pickup height/tonal balance.
     
  7. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the replies. I guess what I'm looking for is more along the lines of generalizations, like "lower = less bass" as per Johnk24's experience, just so I have an idea how to start and not just run blind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  8. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here is the best way to do it takes 2 people.

    Start with all the pickups low in the pickguard so the top edge of the pickup cover is about 1/8" above the pickguard on the neck pickup make the middle 1/8" higher than the neck and make the bridge 1/8" higher than the middle.

    The treble side can be a little higher than the bass side.

    Now tune your guitar as perfect as you can.

    Now have your friend turn the neck pickup screws 1 turn and watch the tuner needle while you strum each string. If its still in tune go higher until ther tuner needle goes haywire then back it down a little from there. Then set the height of the middle and bridge a tiny bit higher than the neck

    Each pickup and guitar will react a little different but by watching the tuner needle you will know when its too high.
     
  9. Bhodie

    Bhodie Tele-Meister

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    something I did not notice in the replies, but the bridge is usually higher.. as high as you can get without causing anomalies due to magnet pull on the strings (ie. cannot intonate strings, warble, etc) and the treble side is higher than the bass side. Then set the middle and neck to have similar volumes when you switch between them (usually meaning the middle is lower than the bridge and the neck is lower than the middle) again, slanted so the high E side is higher than the low E side..

    or.... to quote from the Fender support site:

    Set too high, pickups can cause myriad inexplicable phenomena. Depress all the strings at the last fret. Using a 6" (150 mm) ruler, measure the distance from the bottom of the first and sixth strings to the top of the pole piece. A good rule of thumb is that the distance should be greatest at the sixth-string neck pickup position, and closest at the first-string bridge pickup position. Follow the measurement guidelines in the chart below as starting points. The distance will vary according to the amount of magnetic pull from the pickup.

    Bass Side Treble Side
    Texas Specials 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)
    Vintage style 6/64" (2.4 mm) 5/64" (2 mm)
    Noiseless™ Series 8/64" (3.6 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)
    Standard Single-Coil 5/64" (2 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
    Humbuckers 4/64" (1.6 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)
    Lace Sensors As close as desired (allowing for string vibration)

    Sorry if that is old info to you...
     
  10. Twi

    Twi TDPRI Member

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    Yes it did improve the balance so I kept 'em there, I terms of height it brings them at about 7/64 from the low e and 3/64 from the high e, with strings depressed at the last fret.
    Again as other have said it's a matter of taste and amps. But this is what agrees with my ears through my Deluxe.
     
  11. Fourth Feline

    Fourth Feline Tele-Holic

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    For me 3/32" distance between pickup and underside of strings fretted at the last fret e.t.c.

    I normaly start out with more gap on a Strat , but with 10s on and vintage type pickups, this seems to be the best balance so far between volume, clarity and 'air'.
     
  12. Gr8tfulEd

    Gr8tfulEd Tele-Holic

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    Very interesting Mark. I'm gonna have to try this!
    One question: In your experience, after doing the above, do you find Fender's recommendations for pup height reasonably "ballpark" or do they usually run too high or too low?
    Oh, one more: Will this work for Telecasters too?
     
  13. OSdave

    OSdave Tele-Meister

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    On my strats, I've found Bill Lawrence's suggestion of 2 nickels distance on the bass side and one on the treble side to be a pretty good starting point. I rarely have to vary much from that...
     
  14. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Teles dont seem to have the same problem as Strats.

    After Im done I dont measure anything just go by what sounds best and will still tune right. Its different on different guitars.

    Here is where I usually start at I make it look like this.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. nikgavrilov

    nikgavrilov NEW MEMBER!

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    Well, I also made the calculations for the SCN pickups and it turns out that it should be 8/64" (3.06mm) and 6/64" (2.3mm). So, can you please recheck your calculations cause I'm into a dilema...

    Thanks,
    Niko
     
  16. shadowfan

    shadowfan Tele-Meister

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    I just gotta love the inch system! 8/64" (what's wrong with 1/8"?)

    Same with 6/64' (=3/32"), 4/64" (=1/16").

    Long live the metric system!
     
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