Jump to content
Gibson Brands Forums

What pick-up heights are you using on your burstbucker pro equipped Les Paul standard?


heritage cherry

Recommended Posts

I hope we haven't had this one before.

 

Using the "conventional" method of fretting the 6th (bass) string and then later the 1st (treble) string at the last fret, what is the gap (in fractions of an inch) people are using between the bottom of the 6th & 1st strings and the top of the pole pieces of their (a) treble (bridge) and (B) rhythm (neck) burstbucker pro (Alnico V) pick-ups on their (2002 designed) Les Paul Standards ???

 

Eg. My current heights/gaps are:

 

Bridge pick-up

6th 1/8" 1st 1/8"

 

Neck pick-up

6th 5/32" 1st 1/8"

 

I seem to get a better tone (I play blues & classic rock) with these "lower" heights than "old" Gibson factory specs (as per Dan Erlwine book) - which are probably not prescriptive for burstbucker pros anyway - or the factory set height that came with the guitar (in 2006). I'm always playing around with the height as the burstbuckers are a little bright and can be harsh-sounding on the bridge pick-up on the treble strings.

 

I'll try this for a while instead of flicking the burstbucker pros (which I'm lead to believe are very good pickups) for 57 classics.

 

Just wanna know what heights people are using out there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heritage...

Its very personal. Its whatever sounds good to you. Yes, they are set up at the factory, but as the

manual says you can adjust them to your liking.

Dont go too low, or youll get magnetic pull on the strings. Thatll deaden sustain, and possibly pull the strings out of tune. It happened to me.

I have left my BB-pros as they were set at Gibson. I love the sound.

You say they sound too bright?....hmmmm?

May I ask what amp you use?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys.

 

Very definitive post Nickblues 1 !

 

Deep Blue 1963, I have two amps: Fender Blues Junior and a Roland modelling amp I usually play set to "Blackface" (Twin Reverb). I love clean Fender tube amps. Of course those amps are bright in themselves. But I do find the Burstbucker Pros bright compared to say my 490R / 498T equipped SG.

 

The starting-point settings of Nickblues 1 are very similar to (for good reason) what Gibson & Dan Erlewine recommends. But I'm just wondering if those settings apply more to "vintage" humbuckers with Alnico II magnets. Whereas the Burstbucker Pros have Alnico V magnets.

 

Accordingly I lower my Burstbucker Pros (as per the settings I advised above) and usually roll the tone off on the bridge burstbucker and can almost get close to that Clapton humbucker tone on "Beano" & Fresh Cream and that sublime BB King tone. But not TOO close, as Clapton & BB are genuises!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice kaicho8888 on using the F5 key, I can now see deepblue 1963's pick-up chart. I'm not only learning about Gibsons on this forum from you guys, but how to operate my computer !

 

I have seen the chart before on the Gibson web-site, but never thought about it before in this context. I suppose the pick-up chart shows that burstbucker pro pick-ups are not all that more hotter than burstbucker pick-ups (modelled on vintage '59 pickups with Alnico II magnets) so it kind of disproves my "theory" that burstbucker pro (Alnico V) pick-ups need to be lowered more when comapred to vintage pick-ups. So the conventional Gibson/Erlewine/Nickblues 1 pick-up height starting point of 1/16 " still holds true (contrary to what I suggested may be the case) for burstbucker pro pick-ups. So I suppose in hindsight my current pick-up height of 1/8 " goes too far. I'm going to revist and see how I go, according to what sounds the best. I'll also revisit my "bright" amp settings. Thanks for all your help guys.

 

And I've just got to remark that deepblue 1963's "top" is about the best I've ever seen. My own Les Paul has a pretty good top and is a great player, but deepblue's Lester is the kind of thing you'd see on a Gibson web-site as being as good as it gets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

Heritage...

Its very personal. Its whatever sounds good to you. Yes, they are set up at the factory, but as the

manual says you can adjust them to your liking.

Dont go too low, or youll get magnetic pull on the strings. Thatll deaden sustain, and possibly pull the strings out of tune. It happened to me.

I have left my BB-pros as they were set at Gibson. I love the sound.

You say they sound too bright?....hmmmm?

May I ask what amp you use?

 

CUSTOMER SERVICE: I just bought a new Diablo and was REALLY, REALLY happy with guitar itself, but when I played it, I was like, "what the heck is wrong with this". The pick ups are strange..too much highs for the bridge, not enough distinction (really muddy. And now after reading numerous reviews, I understand these pickups can often sound bad. Now I'm just not sure if I return the guitar for a refund or buy a set of pickups for a new guitar i just spend a bunch of money on. GIBSON: Do you have any suggestions??

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice kaicho8888 on using the F5 key, I can now see deepblue 1963's pick-up chart. I'm not only learning about Gibsons on this forum from you guys, but how to operate my computer !

 

I have seen the chart before on the Gibson web-site, but never thought about it before in this context. I suppose the pick-up chart shows that burstbucker pro pick-ups are not all that more hotter than burstbucker pick-ups (modelled on vintage '59 pickups with Alnico II magnets) so it kind of disproves my "theory" that burstbucker pro (Alnico V) pick-ups need to be lowered more when comapred to vintage pick-ups. So the conventional Gibson/Erlewine/Nickblues 1 pick-up height starting point of 1/16 " still holds true (contrary to what I suggested may be the case) for burstbucker pro pick-ups. So I suppose in hindsight my current pick-up height of 1/8 " goes too far. I'm going to revist and see how I go, according to what sounds the best. I'll also revisit my "bright" amp settings. Thanks for all your help guys.

 

And I've just got to remark that deepblue 1963's "top" is about the best I've ever seen. My own Les Paul has a pretty good top and is a great player, but deepblue's Lester is the kind of thing you'd see on a Gibson web-site as being as good as it gets.

 

Try about 1/16" on the bridge or maybe a little more, like 3/32". Try about 1/8" on the neck pickup. That's enough to get the tone a little snappier and more woody. [thumbup]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

I have burstbucker pro pups in my 2013 LP Standard Plus. I measured the pup height when I took it out of factory box and this is how they are actually set at the factory. With 1st and 6 string pressed at 22nd fret, measuring from pole piece to bottom of string.....

 

Bridge - Low E -3/64 and High E -2/64

Neck - same as the bridge heights

 

If you call Gibson they will tell you they factory spec is 1/16 bridge and 3/32 neck

 

By the way the 2013 LP was setup factory spec right out of the box, I measured everything and the guitar was right on, and that's exactly how the pups were set and it plays awesome, the action was at 12th fret Low E 5/64 and high E 3/64, Neck relief at 7th fret was .012

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...