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Unread 10-03-2010, 10:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Humbucker height question...

When adjusting the height of a humbucker, do you measure from the adjustable pole piece side or the fixed side?

The adjustable side on my humbuckers are about 1/16" or so higher than the fixed poles.

Thanks for any advice!
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Unread 10-03-2010, 10:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Mine usually have covers on them, so the adjustable poles.
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Unread 10-03-2010, 10:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

I forgot to mention, the pole pieces on my humbuckers (both adjustable and fixed) are exposed...
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Unread 10-03-2010, 10:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

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Originally Posted by kingswood127 View Post
I forgot to mention, the pole pieces on my humbuckers (both adjustable and fixed) are exposed...
I assumed that. I'd still measure from the adjustable poles.
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Unread 10-03-2010, 12:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

I've found a good rule of thumb I got from Bill Lawrence's website where you use 2 nickels on top of the pup on the bass side while holding the string down on the last fret and adjusting until the nickels just touch the string and a single nickel on the treble side, same procedure. This gets them pretty close to start. I'll usually adjust the stronger one lower to achieve balance in the middle position. I've found having them too close causes intonation and sound problems.
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Unread 10-03-2010, 06:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Gibson Tone Tips #33: String Height
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Unread 10-03-2010, 06:34 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

after you get the 2 outer poles set on both pu's its also a good idea to adjust the remaining poles to the radius of fingerboard or bass side 3 all the same as the outer bass pole distance from bottom of string with last fret held
and the 3 treb to the same as the outer treb pole distance from bottom of string
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Unread 10-03-2010, 10:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gtr-tek View Post
I've found a good rule of thumb I got from Bill Lawrence's website where you use 2 nickels on top of the pup on the bass side while holding the string down on the last fret and adjusting until the nickels just touch the string and a single nickel on the treble side, same procedure. This gets them pretty close to start. I'll usually adjust the stronger one lower to achieve balance in the middle position. I've found having them too close causes intonation and sound problems.
It's a good tip, but the strength of that magnet is not the same for all pickups, so I guess having a pre-set distance from the poles to the strings is just a guide, and not some absolute. You're setting up YOUR guitar and no two are alike.
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Unread 10-03-2010, 11:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

I like to set the neck first. Go by ear!! You'll probably find it sounds better a little lower then factory recommendations. Set high E side, while fretting on the last fret,and drop the low E string side a little more to lose the boomy bass. When you have good string to string balance raise or lower bridge pup to match volume. Hit high E with pup selector on neck, then switch to bridge and balance volume. Same with low E string. All this with all controls maxed, important. All strings, all pups should all be the same volume. Now you can tweak via the tone and volumes to your liking
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Unread 10-04-2010, 10:58 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeleDog View Post
It's a good tip, but the strength of that magnet is not the same for all pickups, so I guess having a pre-set distance from the poles to the strings is just a guide, and not some absolute. You're setting up YOUR guitar and no two are alike.
Very true. Like I said, a good place to start. It gets you in the ballpark and you tweak it from there. Bill Lawrence certainly knows his stuff! I've used this method to set up all of my guitars and others I've worked on and it works. Difference in pups are mere fractions of an inch, usually much less than 1/8". Balancing the middle position is the trick.
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Unread 10-04-2010, 11:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Does changing the pickup height really make that much of a difference? It's maybe something I'd like to do on my LP...
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Unread 10-04-2010, 11:16 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

I don't actually measure anything, but adjust them until they sound and feel right the way I like them.

The best tone tip I can ever give you - lower your pickups
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Unread 10-04-2010, 11:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
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Does changing the pickup height really make that much of a difference? It's maybe something I'd like to do on my LP...
It certainly can. Too close and you can get odd tones and notes that don't ring true due to too much magnetic pull on the strings. Too far and the sound is weak and thin. There is a sweet spot in between and you need a place to start.
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Unread 10-04-2010, 04:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCI View Post
I don't actually measure anything, but adjust them until they sound and feel right the way I like them.

The best tone tip I can ever give you - lower your pickups
Same here. I eyeball them to be like they were or like my other similar guitars, then sit down with a set of headphones and a screwdriver.

Some pickups react so strongly to height changes that I've thought I broke a solder connection. Others don't seem to care much, unless they're almost touching.
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Unread 10-04-2010, 05:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

I like to keep the coils low, and the screws up high; but, I started off my career as a Fender man, and I do still love the sound of Leo's pups.


Ginger, my #1, before she donated her bridge pup to the Monsterbucker:


Flora, my #2, in her current configuration:




Coils are pretty much level with the rings, screws are way up high. It's not a sound you'd expect to hear from a humbucker, but it sure puts a smile on my face.
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Unread 10-05-2010, 12:55 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfinger View Post
I like to keep the coils low, and the screws up high; but, I started off my career as a Fender man, and I do still love the sound of Leo's pups.

Coils are pretty much level with the rings, screws are way up high. It's not a sound you'd expect to hear from a humbucker, but it sure puts a smile on my face.
How would you describe the difference? I'm curious.
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Unread 10-05-2010, 03:05 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Humbucker height question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingswood127 View Post
When adjusting the height of a humbucker, do you measure from the adjustable pole piece side or the fixed side?

The adjustable side on my humbuckers are about 1/16" or so higher than the fixed poles.

Thanks for any advice!
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++
Hold down the strings on the last fret
  • Average neck Pickup height = 3/32" (little closer on the high-E string)
  • Average bridge Pickup height = 1/16" (little closer on ther high-E string)
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