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Why won't Fender fix the alignment of Strat pickups?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by wyclif, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm mostly a Telecaster player but I thought I'd come over here to ask the following questions that I've never understood about Stratocasters:

    Why won't Fender fix the pickup alignment issues on many of their off-the-rack Strats?
    I was in a music shop a few days ago looking at some American Strats. I mention that because these were mid-level price US models, not foreign assembled. And on a surprising number of them, either the low E or high E strings were not passing directly over the pole pieces. This seems to especially be a problem with the high E string and the pole piece closest to that string on the slanted bridge pickup.

    This is unacceptable to me, especially on a new guitar that presumably was assembled and checked for QC on the production line. It seems pretty hit-or-miss as to whether a particular Strat has this problem.

    Anybody know about this?
     
  2. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    Addendum: For instance, here's a current photo from what I consider a very good Fender dealer in the US. This model is even FSR and it still has the problem I've described: look at the bridge pickup and the E strings. Completely off-center. I'm thinking the signal might sound a little weak on the E strings if you were switched to the bridge pickup alone.

    123stratproblem.jpg
     
  3. ricknbaker

    ricknbaker Tele-Afflicted

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    They haven't fixed it because it ain't broken.
     
  4. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    That doesn't answer the question though. It may not be broken, but it's clearly far from ideal.
     
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  5. Lucius Paisley

    Lucius Paisley Tele-Holic

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    I hadn't even considered checking the string alignment on the Squier I got back recently.

    The guitar is a little slanted (sitting on my lap), but the strings cover the poles quite well. Even considering the pickups were used on a 22 fret neck and are now on a 21 fret.

    upload_2020-12-3_18-49-56.png

    I would also assume the staggered poles would make up for any alignment discrepancies.

    Just as a comparison.
     
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  6. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    @Lucius Paisley Yes, yours is a great example of what I meant by "hit or miss"...fortunately some of them don't have this problem. I've seen some perfectly aligned, some a little off, and some that were way off.
     
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  7. black_doug

    black_doug Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It doesn’t matter. It’s not that important to be exactly aligned with the pole piece. It just needs to pick up changes in the magnetic field. The poles are not microphones.
     
  8. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    Another thing that might be related: if you look at the pic I posted above, the high E string looks very close to the edge of the fretboard. Might this be a neck alignment issue instead of a pickup issue?
     
  9. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    They can't fix it for the same reason almost all strat pickup manufacturers can't fix it: the bridge pickup is ANGLED so you need to make a special pickup for the bridge with different string spacing.And this costs $$$.
    Since this alignement "problem" does not affect things sonically they let it be.
    Plus with the "vintage" craze people have these days issuing a vintage style strat with a perfectly aligned bridge pickup would cause fainting,hate and internetS wars :lol:
     
  10. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    This is another non-issue that has only recently been invented by internet trolls with OCD, and seems to be cropping up more and more. The magnetic field of a pickup covers the whole width of the pickup. Some pickups have solid covers and no polepieces, and they still work just fine. When I bend a string on my Strat, it doesn't lose volume! Stop inventing your own pseudo-science and obsessing over things that don't matter, and start obsessing over things that actually do matter in the real world.
     
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  11. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    The solution is simple. Don't buy one, because they're all the same. That's how Leo designed them (in fact, even more simply with three way switch and non-humcancelling pickups).

    Somehow the marginal misalignment of the string vis a vis the poles haven't stopped 66 years of guitarists making great music with them.

    Really - go and check out some Gretsches, Gibson's, PRSs. None of them will have every string pass dead centre over every pole either.

    Even if they did, the diameter of bass vs treble strings will alter it. Remember the string waggles through the flux exuded by the end pole of the magnet. It's not that critical as the lines of magnetism extend over and around it.

    images (68).jpeg

    The string really doesn't care how OCD you are about it's relationship with the pole. It's proximity in 3 dimensions is all that's important.

    Believe me - you can't see it from normal playing position and noone observing can either.
     
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  12. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    If there was a valid argument, notes played would fade in and out when you bent them over the pickups poles. They don’t. You can bend a g string on a high fret across two or three pole pieces to test, for example.

    The combined field that the string interacts with is much bigger than the area above the pole. Iron filing experiments at school demonstrate the distances the field extends from the ends of a magnet. They curve out and around.

    You mention the neck angle and string to edge of fretboard closeness, but even adjusting that would not drastically change the path of the high E on the bridge pickup by very much at all.

    The issue that they should fix, is the out of date height stagger for wound G strings, which few use these days... I certainly DO notice the weak B string when playing delicate single lines and have to pick that string with a little more energy. It’s a frustration when recording, i put a flat profile pickup in the bridge of my strat.
     
  13. Billy3

    Billy3 Tele-Meister

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    Very possible. A fraction of a mm can make a difference. They are bolt on necks and can be tinkered with. Had this problem with a cheaper guitar before. I loosened the screws, set it straight and screwed it back while holding the neck tightly in place. I've also noticed sometimes the pickguard and screws don't always line up perfectly with the pup. Hope you have good luck with this. Every guitar has it's own twerks. Quality control is not to be trusted. In the best situation it's always best to check these things out before you buy a guitar. If you buy something before you play it, well I guess you just don't know what you're going to get. Caveat, Buyer beware! Keep on pickin!!!
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
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  14. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    I had this issue on a Fender and it kind of bothered me at one point. In my case it was a less-than-perfectly cut nut.

    Both this and a mis-aligned neck in the pocked can cause some mis-alignment of the strings. Luckily, both are really easy fixes. I was reading yesterday about Martin guitars from the early 70s having the bridge out of position by 1/4" and throwing intonation off – from factory. Now THAT's a big QC issue ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
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  15. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yep, this is a particular problem with teles as it can push strings into the grub screw slots on the bridge, which can make them break.

    As you say, shift the neck a bit, hey presto.
     
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  16. Blues Twanger

    Blues Twanger Tele-Holic

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    Are you aware the hidden pole pieces in a telecaster neck pickup are similarly misaligned? Better sell yours.
     
  17. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Tele-Afflicted

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    Two different things IME. The strings being misaligned with the fretboard generally can be fixed by loosening the bolt screws and re-aligning the neck inside the pocket.
    But it won’t change much the alignment at the bridge because it’s too close to the saddle.
    As @Nick Fanis stated above, what you’re referring to comes mostly from the pickup being slanted.
     
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  18. MrCairo46

    MrCairo46 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    But you’re assuming it’s a defect. Offset could be the right way. however if you want to , check out StewMac. They have pickup stretchers and scrunchers to help fix the issue.
     
  19. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    In the '60s, a young American guitarist named Jimi Hendrix broke onto the scene in London. Everyone agreed that Hendrix's playing was extraordinary, but sadly he chose to play a Fender Stratocaster guitar. The Stratocaster had a fatal design flaw where the guitar's strings didn't exactly line up with the pole pieces on the pickups, so Hendrix's career never took off and he remained in obscurity.
     
  20. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Unless you make three different pickups, it isn't possible to have them all perfectly aligned. From the nut to the bridge, the string spacing is getting wider, and one of the pickups is slanted. On a normal strat with three identically sized pickups, pole position with the strings will be a bit approximate.
     
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