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Question for P-90 PU users


lostindesert

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What are your favorite height adjustment for the P-90 PU.

What do you do if they are to low and not in height adjustable.

Adjust the polepieces or use a spacer or shim ?

Please measure pressing the strings on the last fret.

Thanks in advance,

 

Peter

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My favourite is that the pole pieces are almost touching the strings, but on a level where the magnet doesn't pull on the strings. I have them way up right now, but I'm going to get a shim to raise the whole pickup when I have the time to go shopping around. I think the sound gets a bit thinner if you raise only the pole pieces but that's a start...

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Gibson Tone Tips: Pickup Heights

Dave Hunter | 10.16.2007

 

Most players are aware of the fact that adjusting your pickup height will affect your guitar’s output, but fewer tend to realize the ways in which such adjustments can affect your tone, too. The instruction you most often encounter is that, in order to achieve the hottest sound possible from the pickups that are already in your guitar, you need to lift the pickups themselves as high as you can get them, short of raising them to a point where the magnetic field starts to exert pull on the strings and interfere with their ability to vibrate freely (which is heard as a slightly dissonant, atonal sound, like an out-of-tune harmonic that follows the root note). There’s a lot more to pickup height adjustment than merely maximizing volume, however, and a little consideration of the other variables will give you a new tweaking tool in your tone arsenal.

 

Let’s look at the issue from the flipside: lower your pickups down into the body a little more than is considered standard. That is, position them further away from the strings, and you can be sure of giving the strings plenty of unencumbered air to vibrate in. The result of this is in part, of course, a little less output. But whether you play a Les Paul Standard, SG Special, Les Paul Junior, or other model, most Gibson guitars have pickups that produce a fat, beefy signal anyway—even the more vintage-styled lower gain humbuckers and P-90s—so that a slight decrease in output isn’t a problem for many players. And you can always get more gain and volume by adjusting your amplifier and any booster or overdrive-type pedals in your sound chain to compensate. What you do often achieve, though, is a tone that’s woodier and more resonant, with greater dynamics and touch sensitivity and a “livelier” feel to the playing response. Pick lightly and it’s clean yet warm; dig in harder and you get increased drive and output, but without a big sacrifice in note definition and clarity. (Of course, all of this needs to be done within reason, and tweaked and tested gradually; lowering your pickups to extremes will obviously result in weak output and a loss of tone.)

 

Note that adjustable polepieces are generally not intended for height adjustments to achieve changes in overall output level or tone, but are mainly provided as a facility for achieving good string-to-string balance, and are usually best adjusted to follow the curve of your guitar’s fretboard. “Dog-ear” style P-90 pickups occasionally prove the exception to this rule. Since these pickups have no means of overall height adjustment, you might occasionally need to raise the polepieces to achieve a little more output, or lower them further into the coil to soften the sound, although mounting-ring “shims” can be used to lift the entire pickup unit a little closer to the strings when more extreme adjustments are required.

 

Any adjustment of pickup height in two-pickup guitars needs to give some consideration to balancing the output between the bridge and neck pickups, too. In most cases, the neck pickup is positioned a little lower than the bridge pickup, because the broader vibrational arch of the plucked string over the neck pickup, which is closer to the center of the strings’ length, already makes for a greater output and beefier sound. Many Gibson models come with calibrated pickup sets that account for these natural differences in pickup position, however, such as the 490R and 490T humbuckers in the Modern Classics set, so differences in pickup heights on contemporary models don’t need to be quite as extreme as might have been required to balance the pickups in vintage guitars, which often had similar or randomly selected output strengths.

 

None of the suggestions here in Tone Tips are “bad/better/best” directives. Different approaches suit different playing styles and tonal preferences. It’s best to experiment with different heights and see what works for you. Measuring between the top of the pickups and the bottom of the strings, with the strings depressed at the last fret, the best advice is to start with a gap of 1/16 inch between bridge pickup and strings and 3/32 inch between neck pickup and strings, and this makes a good general base from which to launch your own experiments. If you really do want more drive and intensity for a hot, compressed crunch to lead sound at all times, you might want your pickups a little closer to the strings, within reason. If you want more balance, air, warmth, and definition, along with less mud, chances are that moving them a little further away might do it for you. Play around with it for yourself—it’s the easiest “mod” you can do—and remember to experiment with your amp and pedal settings as you do so, because a new pickup height adjustment might require you to find some new preferred settings on other gear to achieve your ideal tone.

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My favourite is that the pole pieces are almost touching the strings' date=' but on a level where the magnet doesn't pull on the strings. I have them way up right now, but I'm going to get a shim to raise the whole pickup when I have the time to go shopping around. I think the sound gets a bit thinner if you raise only the pole pieces but that's a start...

 

[/quote']

 

Almost the same here. Alltho only applied to the bridge(approx. 1,5mm with 22th fret pressed). The neck PU is lower(approx. 6mm) for more balance in switching PU. This is with standard Gibson P90 soapbars. Also the PU are about 1 mm closer to strings on the trebleside(highE)

 

I'm thinking of getting a shim as well. Not for adjusting height, but rather the angle. A major annoyance I have is with pickups being level with the body, when they should be level with the strings. Just a personal preference. Not intended as a golden rule or anything.

 

I try to keep the polepieces flush with the pickup if possible. So the outer (both E) are flush, the 4 inner polepieces follow the neckradius.

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I used to keep my pups high, but in the last few years I've lowered them quite a bit. All of the things nickblues cited are true--any decrease in the output is more than compensated by the improvement in tone.

 

I would use thinner spacers or shims if you want to lower your pups. Obviously, that's not possible with dogears, so the polepieces would be the way to with that.

 

...sorry about being Mr. Obvious there, but I'm still on my first cup of coffee...

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you can get higher mounting rings if it has mounting rings.

they come in three heights.

 

I don't like to go much beyond fingerboard radius for the pole pieces.

 

I prefer the pickups to be slightly lower..I try to find a good neck sound then balance the bridge with it, because the neck pup is going to have the most ooomph to start with.

 

depending on the output of the pups, too close can mean pushing the amp pretty hard, and too low can mean a thinner weaker sound.

Since the neck pup is so much closer to the strings to start with, I adjust for clean tone.. then balance the bridge.

 

If you've got only one, then I'd have to ask what you mean by 'too low'.

using your pups to increase gain means messing with the tone they were designed to produce.. this isn't bad necessarily, but you should know it's happening.

 

For me.. it's up to the players ears.. I prefer no dist. or a very little out of the bridge.. others like those pups right up there next to the strings.

 

Hope this isn't just more confusing!

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Gibson Tone Tips: Pickup Heights

Dave Hunter | 10.16.2007

 

If you want more balance' date=' air, warmth, and definition, along with [b']less mud[/b], chances are that moving them a little further away might do it for you.

 

I agree with most it. Tho I find that with a SC or P90 close to the strings the notes seem more direct and in your face. Moving away tends to increase the mud, subjectively speaking.

Could be my imagination because of the perceived volumedifference, I'm not sure. Also the ampsetting has got to play a part here. Playing with a hi-gain setting, balance, definition etc. are less prone to get noticed or matter than say a jazz-setting.

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Hello TWANG,

 

My Epi Wildkat has 2 Alnico V P-90's (nickel dogear) which aren't height adjustable.

I's more about the balance between the neck and bridge PU.

Polepieces on the neck are flush with the cover and the high E-string is 3mm, low E 3,5mm away from

the strings. Leaving the polepieces flush on the bridge PU with the cover get's me even more distance.

Because i got a master volume i could turn down the neck PU volume but then it lacks treble and punch.

I could wire a treble-bleed capacitor on the pot or disconnect it from the master tone pot.

I like the PU's to much to chance them so i'm looking for a spacer for the bridge PU.

 

Thanks for your reply,

 

Peter

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What are your favorite height adjustment for the P-90 PU. Peter

 

I find that P-90s are very sensitive to string height. If you want that dirty P-90 growl, the coil has to be fairly close to the string. If they're just a little low, you get more of the twangy P-90 tone. And raising the poles will only slightly increase the volume, but won't give you that growl.

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Hi everyone I'm new here as far as posting goes, but I have been lurking for a while.

I have a 74 Gibson les paul special with p90s that I raised the pickups on a while ago.

This is what I did. Take some cardboard, not the corrugated kind, the heavy stuff like

on the back of a righting tablet and trace the outline of the pickup rout and transfer it

to the cardboard and cut it out. Make two or three or more of these spacers that way

you can adjust the height of the pickups by stacking them. Glue them together with

some good glue when you have the height you want. Drill holes for the mounting screws,

and spray with some clear acrylic spray, spray well, top and bottom to water proof.

What I ended up with was pretty close to the spacers shown in the photos. So far so

good, this was last year and they are holding up just fine. Hope this helps. Just something

you can do your self and won't cost you anything.

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Hi everyone I'm new here as far as posting goes' date=' but I have been lurking for a while.

I have a 74 Gibson les paul special with p90s that I raised the pickups on a while ago.

This is what I did. Take some cardboard,

[/quote']

 

Good one. I was just about to suggest that to Peter. That or rubber foam.

We call it greyboard over here. It's available in Arts&Crafts stores, and comes in several thicknesses.

Beats 12 pop a set.

 

Welcome to the madhouse. :-)

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The one problem with these is that they have a much larger footprint than the dog-ear cover. They might not fit if the pickup is close to the bridge and/or neck.

 

Are these flat or curved ? i need the curved ones, the Wildkat's top isn't flat.

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I have a similar question that may or may not affect my future spending.

 

I will get a Casino sometime in the near future and, depending on how I like the stock P-90s, I may swap them in favor of Gibson P-90s. The questions I have are: Has anyone done this and how did they compensate for the bridge pickup's height?

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Gibson Tone Tips: Pickup Heights

Dave Hunter | 10.16.2007

Let’s look at the issue from the flipside: lower your pickups down into the body a little more than is considered standard. . . . What you do often achieve' date=' though, is a tone that’s woodier and more resonant, with greater dynamics and touch sensitivity and a “livelier” feel to the playing response. Pick lightly and it’s clean yet warm; dig in harder and you get increased drive and output, but without a big sacrifice in note definition and clarity. (Of course, all of this needs to be done within reason, and tweaked and tested gradually; lowering your pickups to extremes will obviously result in weak output and a loss of tone.)[/quote']

 

I hope this isn't a silly question, but does the type of magnet make a difference? For instance, will lowering ceramic overwound pickups still help improve the sound quality?

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I hope this isn't a silly question' date=' but does the type of magnet make a difference? For instance, will lowering ceramic overwound pickups still help improve the sound quality? [/quote']

 

I think lowering overwound PU's will benefit the sound.

If you got Humbuckers just experiment with the height and listen to the differences.

 

Peter

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My 56 Gold Top Reissue with P90's sounds great right out of the case. I haven't needed to adjust the pickups as they sound great just the way they are. All tone tweaking is done at the amp (Fender Blues Deluxe). When I switch guitars I just adjust the midrange and am back in business. I have a Sheraton, Joe Pass and a new LP ultra all with humbuckers. I recently bought a BBE Sonic Maximizer. I nowenjoy the sound of my humbuckers.

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