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pickup height suggestion


wiltel24

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Spoken in general, it is a matter of taste in first order. There's some kind of a natural minimum space between strings and pickups, given by the bridge height and the strings fretted at the last fret, i. e. the 22nd for most LPs. The strings should be well above the pickups respectively pole pieces when vibrating after being attacked very hard.

 

With the pickups set pretty close to the strings, the string pull of the magnets and the intermodulation distortion caused by strings and pickups (not the amp, which will distort earlier this way, too) may cause a muddy sound. The string pull might also cause less sustain. So one may set the pickups lower to match the personal taste.

 

The string pull depends strongly on magnet material and pickup design. In case of one bar magnet per pickup, the force increases from AlNiCo 2 over 3 to 5 (sometimes written in Latin numbers). Ceramic magnets cause less pull when there's a single one per pickup, but those featuring three magnets may pull even stronger than AlNiCo 5.

 

Finally, the pickup height depends on the desired output level ratio between the pickups. It depends on the pickup designs used for neck and bridge position, and again on taste. When wanting less signal from a pickup, simply adjust it a bit lower.

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Spoken in general, it is a matter of taste in first order. There's some kind of a natural minimum space between strings and pickups, given by the bridge height and the strings fretted at the last fret, i. e. the 22nd for most LPs. The strings should be well above the pickups respectively pole pieces when vibrating after being attacked very hard.

 

With the pickups set pretty close to the strings, the string pull of the magnets and the intermodulation distortion caused by strings and pickups (not the amp, which will distort earlier this way, too) may cause a muddy sound. The string pull might also cause less sustain. So one may set the pickups lower to match the personal taste.

 

The string pull depends strongly on magnet material and pickup design. In case of one bar magnet per pickup, the force increases from AlNiCo 2 over 3 to 5 (sometimes written in Latin numbers). Ceramic magnets cause less pull when there's a single one per pickup, but those featuring three magnets may pull even stronger than AlNiCo 5.

 

Finally, the pickup height depends on the desired output level ratio between the pickups. It depends on the pickup designs used for neck and bridge position, and again on taste. When wanting less signal from a pickup, simply adjust it a bit lower.

Thanks. Is there a starting point you recommend? My pups put out about 10k ohms, just decided to replace covers, so curious.

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Thanks. Is there a starting point you recommend? My pups put out about 10k ohms, just decided to replace covers, so curious.

Saying you will replace covers, what are you planning to replace them with? Just curious, too... :rolleyes:

 

Your starting point may depend on the desired output level. In case you want to maximize it, it makes sense to start from set close to the strings. In any other situation, you may start where you like, it is just useful to start from an appropriate setting of the bridge height, i. e. string action, since in particular the bridge pickup height significantly depends on it.

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Saying you will replace covers, what are you planning to replace them with? Just curious, too... :rolleyes:

 

Your starting point may depend on the desired output level. In case you want to maximize it, it makes sense to start from set close to the strings. In any other situation, you may start where you like, it is just useful to start from an appropriate setting of the bridge height, i. e. string action, since in particular the bridge pickup height significantly depends on it.

 

Got some raw nickel covers that will be polished some, trying to get more of an aged appearance. Just wanted a different look after over 3 decades of having bare pups.

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Got some raw nickel covers that will be polished some, trying to get more of an aged appearance. Just wanted a different look after over 3 decades of having bare pups.

Ahh, didn't know that. I prefer covered humbuckers, too, but I go with chrome if ever possible since I love them shining like new, also after decades. [biggrin]

 

However, I never changed any stock pickups. Except the EB 2013 basses, all of my Gibsons are original in this respect, with or without covers, and my modified Fenders just feature different Fender pickups - I am addicted to their Noiseless ones.

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Ahh, didn't know that. I prefer covered humbuckers, too, but I go with chrome if ever possible since I love them shining like new, also after decades. [biggrin]

 

However, I never changed any stock pickups. Except the EB 2013 basses, all of my Gibsons are original in this respect, with or without covers, and my modified Fenders just feature different Fender pickups - I am addicted to their Noiseless ones.

 

The chrome covers it came with were like mirrors, way too reflective for my tastes. I also remember hearing from some fellow musicians that taking the covers off would improve the sound clarity and quality, so between those two reasons, I had them removed. Tried some Gibson nickel plated ones few years ago, but too shiny again. Then found some inexpensive raw nickel ones,so figured it was worth a go. I shall see how they sound covered again. Guess the whole covered/uncovered subject is perhaps debatable in and of itself.

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Pickup covers are a shortout winding on principal and do slightly attenuate the resonance caused by the reactance of coil inductance, coil capacitance and cable capacitance.

 

The effect is definitely inaudible if 100 kOhm tone pots are used as Gibson did from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s. It may be audible with properly high-resistance loaded, ceramic-loaded pickups in an A/B blindfold comparison. AlNiCo bar magnets cause eddy currents which load down the resonance to a much larger extent than a thin metal cover does.

 

The slight diffraction of the magnetic field due to the nickel coat which also is under chrome or gold platings is very delicate and won't be audible in a comparison with any significance, even not when ceramic magnets are used. The nickel coat is too thin for that.

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Pickup covers are a shortout winding on principal and do slightly attenuate the resonance caused by the reactance of coil inductance, coil capacitance and cable capacitance.

 

The effect is definitely inaudible if 100 kOhm tone pots are used as Gibson did from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s. It may be audible with properly high-resistance loaded, ceramic-loaded pickups in an A/B blindfold comparison. AlNiCo bar magnets cause eddy currents which load down the resonance to a much larger extent than a thin metal cover does.

 

The slight diffraction of the magnetic field due to the nickel coat which also is under chrome or gold platings is very delicate and won't be audible in a comparison with any significance, even not when ceramic magnets are used. The nickel coat is too thin for that.

 

If you haven't seen it already, this demo seems to do a pretty good job at showing differences:

 

 

But of course, it's a matter of preference.

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If you haven't seen it already, this demo seems to do a pretty good job at showing differences:

 

 

But of course, it's a matter of preference.

This video is not evident since the guitar was played twice for comparison, and an extremely precise reproducability of the pickup adjustment is same impossible as playing twice exactly the same way (i. e., when played in parallel with reversed polarity, there would be no sound at all due to cancelling out). There are slight differences in distortion already in the falsely so-called "clean" setting. These depend on level, not tone. The level difference may depend on attack, pickup height, and operating time effects of the valve amp.

 

Any valid comparison will just require a measurement of the pickup with and without cover. I know quite many of them and will look for those the next days on the web.

 

Lots of money are made by selling snake oil through providing false proves. The most famous items they do it with are audio cables - there are some that cost hundredfold their value, and people buy them.

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What is the recommended height for the pickups (covers on)? And where and how does one measure them?

 

Thanks.

 

I usually lower it from the standard height a bit...

 

(Pickups: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".)

 

Lowering them gives you a little better and clearer tone IMHO. I think it lets the strings vibrate more freely.

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I usually lower it from the standard height a bit...

 

(Pickups: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".)

 

Lowering them gives you a little better and clearer tone IMHO. I think it lets the strings vibrate more freely.

Absolutely correct. [thumbup]

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I usually lower it from the standard height a bit...

 

(Pickups: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".)

 

Lowering them gives you a little better and clearer tone IMHO. I think it lets the strings vibrate more freely.

No math whiz here, but wouldn't setting the low E at 3/64 (=1.5/32nds of an inch) at the bridge pickup make it closer to the string than the high E at bridge which is set at 3/32? Did you mean 3/32? Thanks.

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No math whiz here, but wouldn't setting the low E at 3/64 (=1.5/32nds of an inch) at the bridge pickup make it closer to the string than the high E at bridge which is set at 3/32? Did you mean 3/32? Thanks.

You are correct... I didn't write this, a guy from Gibson did. I assume it's a typo and it's suppose to be 3/32.

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You are correct... I didn't write this, a guy from Gibson did. I assume it's a typo and it's suppose to be 3/32.

Yes, that's correct. The 3/64 is a typo and the 3/32 is correct. There was a setup guy from Gibson Memphis who posted the info somewhere. I'm with Riptide on lowering the pickups a little below what this guy suggests. Like maybe 1/32 lower than he suggests.

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