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ES-175d P90 Pole Piece Height / Electronics Question

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Thanks for the feedback and recommendations on my tailpiece questions the last couple of days, i figured i'd start a new thread for this topic.

I have a '53 ES-175d with the original electronics installed, which include 2x p90s. The sound when plugged in is generally pretty dark and boomy (it's different using different amps, but generally always dark, and i can't change it significantly with the tone controls on the guitar or amp).

Here are a few pictures of the guitar - i didn't realize the forums only allows 40kb of image attachments

I don't really mess with this guitar too much mostly because of the aforementioned tailpiece / endpin issues its had, but not that i've resolved them i want to spend a lot more time with it. It plays pretty similar to my J45 - which is very comfortable to me.

So i'm wondering if there's a good starting polepiece height i can use - i've found advice on this online but it's all for modern guitars with modern humbucking pickups (so far).

The guitar is strung with D'Addario XL 11-49 (w/ wound third) which were recommended to me when i bought it and i really like the way they feel (again, similar to an acoustic with the wound third).

The pickups readings are a bit odd - and maybe are indicating a problem with the electronics

  • The bridge pickup reads 9.1k ohms
    • although if i roll the volume pot from 10 -> 5 -> 10 it'll jump to 14k and kind of slowly fall to ~10k ohms
  • The neck pickup is reading 13.1 -14.2k  ohms (it's bouncing around)
  • In the middle position i get 6.2k ohms


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I'm no electronics expert, but as far as I know the height of the polepiece relative to the pickup doesn't have a lot of effect.  As long as it still connected to the pickup, it will work.  I suppose some trial and error might show different results.  As to pole piece height, I always measure the distance between the pole piece and the strings, to determine pickup height overall and not individual pole piece height.  The poles on  your bridge pickup look to be about equal height, the ones on the neck pickup seems quite uneven.

As I said I may have no idea what I'm talking about 😧

Really nice looking old 175 by the way, but get rid of those speed knobs😮

Edited by Twang Gang
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I agree, i don't like those knobs either. What are the right ones to have on that guitar? I have a suspicion that i'm going to figure out that there's something wrong with the electronics which may lead to some parts substitution - is that a bad idea on a guitar like this?

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I believe the knobs should be amber top hats.  Nothing wrong with fixing electronics if they are faulty.  Often old guitars have shaky wiring or other components that wear out.  Fixing them will only improve the sound and reliability.  It does not devalue a vintage guitar, in my opinion anyway, to have it working properly.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I adjust the individual Polepiece height according to the overall Balance, Sound & Tone.. While Guitars might have a common recommended height Setting when new from the Factory I doubt any 2 Guitars require exactly the same Polepiece height adjustment. Every Guitar might need different height adjustments to get your desired Balance, Sound & Tone..

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