Use a nickel for height adjustment checking...


Doctor of Teleocity
Apr 18, 2014
Lions & Tigers oh Mi !

Set pickup heights by ear, high or low or bass/treble tip. Adjust screw poles.

Setting them 'to spec' is a good method to ensure multiple pickup swaps.



Friend of Leo's
May 15, 2007
Exeter, England
I don't measure anything when doing a setup on a new guitar; just use my eyes, ears and fingers. If it feels right, it is right. Any factory specs from a manufacturer are only average, 'ball park', figures anyway, and ultimately any setup is personal preference-not what Fender or any other marque tells me it should be.
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Solaris moon

Nov 12, 2017
Fort Waste
Good job! A pic of your axe would be nice, especially the wonky pickup heights.

Action depends greatly on personal taste rather than a measurement. The measurments are a good refrence starting point though. A string action guage is a good simple tool as well.

For those who like the lowest action possible, possible only with leveled frets, I throw out the measurements and lowered each string until it buzzes & then raise it a quarter turn of the saddles until it doesn't buzz. Then raise it a hair more to allow for humidity changes. On a TOM bridge you only have the option to do so on the high & low E & the rest are as they are. On bridges with individual adjustable saddles I will do the same on adjustment on each string.
Regarding those pickups heights - I would remove the pickup from the body to see if it's been screwed onto the plate correctly. Knowing the factories that pump these guitars out like cookie cutters in record time they are also putting out other manufacturers' names as well - right beside Epiphone and many of the top overseas made guitars who are distributed in the USA and the EU. And you are correct about the string height; some people like higher action while people like me desire lower string action over it.
For setup, I employ the empirical method. I've never measured anything. Eyeball it, then tune it in. It's never failed me. People enjoy playing my guitars.
That's exactly how I do it too! I also cut the nut on all my guitars the same height which is basically standard - as close as possible but with a little space for wear. Otherwise when I set my string height over the bridge I do and I always have as Eddie Van Halen did which is set them so low that they buzz then I back off of them until they stop. I can't explain it any other way.
I am an OCD numbers guy. I prefer to have before and after measurements I can record.
Fractions of a nickel would make my brain itch. 🤪
Besides, what would I do with all the Stewmac measuring tools I have accumulated over the years? :eek:
I also hate carrying around change. :confused:
I don't buy Stewart-MacDonald tools or anything that they sell any more. I haven't bought anything from them for YEARS and I never will again. They don't sell anything that I can't make myself in either my bedroom, workroom, or backyard!
Seems to me that everything StewMac sells is somewhere between $1.50 and $40+ being more expensive than any other place on Earth... so you thought all that "free" advice and knowledge pages were actually "free"...
Yes - MORE EXPENSIVE that anyplace on earth!!!! Which is why I make my own.