pickup adjustment height and pole pieces (comments and discussion)

Discussion in 'The Custom Shop' started by Samantha, Oct 15, 2007.

  1. Samantha

    Samantha MLP Cub Reporter V.I.P. Member

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    just thought I'd open up a thread about this iv been tinkering with my epiphone dot, beautiful guitar, great to play and acoustic sound is really nice but the pickups always seemed to be lacking something

    they are just stock pickups and iv been thinking of replacing them but they didn't sound so bad so i had a look at a few pictures of pickups on the web and read about the pickup height and pole piece height and decided before i went pulling it apart i would mess around with the pickups and see if i cant get a better sound.

    first i lowered the pickups with a slight slant from bass side to treble then i plugged in to my amp on the clean channel and sat there for about 15-20 minuets and adjusted the pole pieces to get more definition between the strings by the time i had finished i was amazed at the improvement in the sound.

    so if your wanting a bit more bang for your buck with your pickups have a tinker with them.

    anyone else have a go at this before. most people i know tell me to leave it to a guitar tech but id rather hav a go myself, "teach a man to fish"
     
  2. HolyGrail

    HolyGrail V.I.P. Member

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    I always screw the pole pieces all the way down with just the curved
    top of the screws showing . I do know that a very well known tech
    has been trying an idea he heard and told me about . Make the screw slots look like this

    / \ / \ / \
    \ / \ / \ /

    I can't tell any difference , but that just might just be me.
     
  3. BOBBO

    BOBBO Banned

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    I've never messed with the pole pieces !! I adjust the height of the pup but was always worried I might F* things up by playing with the screws !
     
  4. Sean French

    Sean French Senior Member

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    I adjust each pickup for each of my guitars plugged into my main amp at gig volumes and with screw driver in hand.There are no absolutes.I just use my ears.I tweak 'em till I get that sweet sopt for each pickup and each string.
     
  5. Blues hurler

    Blues hurler Senior Member

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    I pretty much always mess with the pickup height when I get a new guitar. Especially if I change the string height (action), which then changes the relationship of the string to the pickup. I've found that I can almost always improve the sound by adjusting the height, at least to my ears.

    I've tried adjusting the screw heads on an angle like HolyGrail says. Couldn't hear any difference either.
     
  6. lp59aholicDon

    lp59aholicDon V.I.P. Member V.I.P. Member

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    I leave my pole pieces down all the way like HG does, the height I do change , On my Orville with the new Gibson 57 and BB 3 I have the Classic in the neck position lowered a bit below the ring, it was over all louder and had more projection than the BB 3 , If you put your pickups too close the field of magnetic energy can actually dampen your strings and cut your sustain levels . Alot of guys with Strats, I have seen put their pickups too close to the strings
     
  7. Samantha

    Samantha MLP Cub Reporter V.I.P. Member

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    you should try it, it has improved my guitars immensely just plug in on clean and adjust for each string just use your ears.but if your happy with what you have thats fine, if its not broken don't fix it.

    this combination is a good starting point:



    [​IMG]
     
  8. jbmannon

    jbmannon Junior Member

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    I set my les paul standard up like this: 1/16th" height with the bridge pickup on both sides. My pole adjustments are highest with two center strings and taper down towards the outside E strings. Basicall i am following the shape and taper of the neck . I set the neck pick height at 3/32nd's " on both sides
    and the two center pole pieces are the highest and taper down towards the outside E strings following the shape or contour of the neck.
    To this gives a more balnced attack and helps bring the mids out slightly.
    This is my personal prefrence for set up.
    I am no expert but i know what sounds good to my ears.
     
  9. lifele55

    lifele55 Senior Member

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    I've been tinkering with the pups from my custom alot and I've found a sweet spot now. All this done by reading up alot of forums as well as looking at pictures of other LPs as a guide to how high/low ppl set their pups.

    But this one thing I'm still unsure, what diff is it if the pole pieces are closer to the stings than if its lower.

    I know its something about string to string balance... clearer explanations anyone?
     
  10. Scooter2112

    Scooter2112 Senior Member

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    I did this on my Epi about a month ago and it made a world of difference and improved the tone alot. My B and high E string seemed to be quieter than the rest. I adjust my bridge pup ('57 Classic) out of level, so that it's higher (closer to the strings) on the B and E string side, then adjusted the individual pole pieces to achieve equal volume throughout all 6 strings.

    I'm overdue for a string change, so I'll do that this weekend and will tweak it some more, paying closer attention to tonality and sustain. It's probably one of the best things that every player can do to improve their tone.
     
  11. Blues hurler

    Blues hurler Senior Member

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    Afraid I can't provide a clearer explanation, but it does work. Strings vibrate at different rates I guess, and closer to the bridge they don't vibrate as much as near the neck. All these things come into play when setting p/u height and screw height. One turn of a pole screw can make a noticeable difference to me. You have to find that middle sweet spot. Too close to the string is just as bad (maybe even worse) as too far away. I'd set the pickup height first, then fine-tune the pole screws. Compensating for the radius of the fretboard would come into play I suppose, though I dont' think my middle screws are necessarily higher. Make small adjustments and listen through a clean amp setting, at medium volume with the EQ set flat. You should hear differences. Then just go with whatever appeals to yer ears.
     
  12. uOpt

    uOpt Senior Member

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    Lower pickup higher polepiece is the one most overlooked sound changer. Everybody should try it, IMHO.

    Can look scary because some potting wax might come out, in particular on covered newish humbucker. But that's harmless, the screws won't become microphonic.

    For me, lowering the bridge pickup and getting the screws out next to the bridge is the most important improvement lately, way more than trying just another PAF style pickup. For the neck pickup I prefer the flat screws.
     
  13. dwagar

    dwagar V.I.P. Member

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    I don't spend enough time on my pickup adjustments I guess.

    I set the pole pieces close to the radius with the / \ / \ / \ screw settings as above.

    Then I usually adjust the pickup height, I tend to keep some air in there, and try to get a close overall balance between the 2 pickups.

    Then I'll adjust the side to side heights for overall treble and bass to about where I like it.

    Then I'll play the snot out of it for awhile, fine tune the pickup height adjustments, and adjust the pole pieces up or down a 1/2 turn if I find something isn't ringing out as much as I'd like, or is overpowering.

    I agree, adjusting pickups is crucial in overall sound, I think too many guys think they need to replace their pups when an adjustment can make a big improvement.
     
  14. MMetzger5

    MMetzger5 Junior Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm new to the forum. I realize this is a Les Paul forum, and I do play a Les Paul regularly, but I recently got my hands on a 70's telecaster delux3e(not reissue). I can tell that the poles have been messed with considerably and was wondering if anyone had any tips on getting them back to the approximate stock position. I can tell from the back side of them they're way out of whack. Any ideas??
     
  15. Blues hurler

    Blues hurler Senior Member

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    I'd start by adjusting so that the edge of the screw head is level with the face of the pickup and take it from there...
     
  16. Im called Paul

    Im called Paul Member

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    Just a quick question as im gonna give this a go and i have noticed that on my b string it rings out more that my high e when using lead/gain. Now does this mean i need to screw the pole in and lower it to reduce the ringing or higher the pole by screwing it out to reduce the ringing ?.
    Cheers Paul
     
  17. Blues hurler

    Blues hurler Senior Member

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    First, I'd suggest making any adjustments using a clean amp setting, as that'll give you the best indication of how things sound. If the b is ringing more than others, I'd suggest lowering the screw a little bit at a time, then testing it at stage volume, or whatever volume you usually play at. Make small adjustments and test till it sounds right. Or you could try raising the e a bit. Whichever gives you the best evenness of sound across all six strings. Having said all that...I'd start by adjusting the pick-up height till you get the best sound, then adjust the individual pole screws. There is a page on the Gibson site that has tone tips, and one of them deals with adjusting pickups. Worth a read. Let us know how you make out.
     
  18. Im called Paul

    Im called Paul Member

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  19. GDW

    GDW Junior Member

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    Hi everyone

    This information comes from Dan Erlewine's book "How to make your electric guitar play great". It was given by a guy that used to be a Gibson tech. (as far a I can recall)

    1. Make sure your string radius at the saddles match with your fretboard radius.
    2. Adjust the polepieces to match the same radius, i.e. higher in the centre, lower on the outside
    3. Fine-tune for the zig-zag formation /\/\/\ .
    4. Adjust the pickup height to 1/16.
    5. Drop the PUP height on the Bass side to 3/32

    Here is the kicker:

    6. This guy says after this he cuts off the bottom of the pole pieces. I can't remember why, just remember that's what I read.

    Please refer to Dan's book before doing any of this - especially step 6. I am just relaying what I remember from what I read.
     
  20. Im called Paul

    Im called Paul Member

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    I spent a couple of hours last night adjusting and so far i have my string height, saddle and pickups set and i have also put the poles to the radius of my strings. I have yet to fine tune on my amp as it was late when i finished but i will report back when done.
     

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