Burstbucker 1 & 2 Pickup Heights For Middle Position Tone

Classicplayer

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I have them as the stock pickups in my '18 Traditional and I do like the sound of each individually, but struggle to adjust them for a “honky” middle position tone a'la Jimmy Page. No, I don't expect to cop his exact tone for obvious reasons, but would like to improve the middle position tone so that it is more distinct than the bridge alone. Have any of you Lester players found your ideal middle position tone, or something very near it?

For reference, I have the neck pup set for the 6th string at below the ring or 1/4” away when fretted at the last fret. 1st. string measures 7/64”. The bridge pup measures at the 6th string 8/64” and the 1st 5/64".


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ARandall

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Some guitars and pickups just have It in the middle posi, and others just don't. I've had the most honk success in the middle with p90s, minis, and the typical SG. In all cases you have a bit more treble in the combined signal.
 

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Yes. I realize that an ideal middle tone on a Les Paul can be hit or miss and switching pickups may or may not be the cure; less so when taking guitar construction and wood type into the tone equation. I am interested in finding out how people adjust their Les Paul 's pickups to dial in three distinct tones based upon selector switch position.


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NYPV

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I raise the pole screws pretty high on the neck pup and set it at about 1/16" below strings fretted on last fret. Then match bridge to that volume. With paf style pups, I can get a stratty sound in middle position
 
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Classicplayer

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I raise the screws pretty high on the neck pup and set it at about 1/16" below strings fretted on last fret. Then match bridge to that volume. With paf style pups, I can get a stratty sound in middle position
i tried something similar and both my Lesters the neck pups were too high. Yesterday morning I decided to lower the 6th string side of the neck Burstbucker and it was the solution. It needed to be lowered a tad at that spot. I now have three distinct tones. neck along, bridge alone and middle all now with the right character in the tone. It also meant that by using my guitar's volume and tone knobs when in the middle position I can get a few variations of the middle position tone. It seems like my endless tweaking finally got me there. Now, on to my other Les Paul.

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Mockbel

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I almost never use middle position on my Les Pauls, R8 in particular as it has BB 1&2 similar to OP.

Best middle position tone I have is on my modified strat which has HS configuration now (Dimarzio Super Distortion in Bridge and Red Velvet in neck)
 

Wuuthrad

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I know Jimmy Page had a variety of switches in his Les Pauls I think for split, tap and reverse phase, if I remember correctly, but I don't know the exact wiring, or how you would achieve something similar with pickup height alone. Must be online somewhere, obviously!

I noticed you did what I was going to suggest- (if you don’t have the same wiring, adjust the height, and also dialing in the volume and tone knobs to your liking.) I’m often surprised how much variety of sound comes with simple adjustments.

Another thing I’ve had success with is adjusting the poles a little to emphasize a certain part of the tone one way or the other. And usually a much lower overall pickup height than average improves tone to my ears. Maybe more dynamics too?

Anyway I like the chance to talk about Pages setup! He was also a great innovator in sound recording having basically grown up in studios and learning mic technique, so if you're going for his recorded sound there’s a lot to it. Some of it will probably remain a mystery, but it’s not that hard to come close really.
 

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Yes, I'm a fan of his middle position tone. I not sure the guitar’s phase switches beneath his guitar's pickguard when he recorded his earlier famous Zeppelin song. “The Ocean” comes to mind of a tone I pay close attention to. It has that honk going on in the live performances. It has been explained to me on this forum as a “the sum being the whole of the parts”. His picking style, string gauge, pickups and their height,body wood and his choices of amps, also early wiring in his #1. If you were to pick up his famous Les Paul o play it, you'd have his touch and sensibilities to accomplish an exact reproduction.

However, there is reason to believe that one can get their own individual concept of Jimmy's playing, just by changing up a few things about your own Les Paul to sort of get the “vibe” and inspiration he had going, and that is where “magic” and ”art” come together.


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Saiko

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Jimmy Page didn't have any of the wiring mods done to his Les Pauls until well after Led Zeppelin had disbanded.

If you're using The Ocean as an example... Keep the burstbucker in the neck and put a t-top (or a replica of one) in the bridge. That is exactly that sound.

Also, keep in mind that his middle position tone is very different now than it was in the mid-70s.
 

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By using the term “different wiring” I meant this #1 being from the 1960 or' '59 Les Pauls were 50's wiring and Page's switches were post Zeppelin.

I wondered if a 3rd party T Top wind might give a better middle position tone, but as one who likes to keep a Les Paul as stock and original as possible, I have I have held off getting one.


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ARandall

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^ Both his Les Pauls are 59's. But even 1960 featured the '50's' wiring. It was the SG that debuted the modern wiring scheme.
ReWinds JP Post 72 set is precisely the setup you're after......or Vineham's 6070 Classic set bridge pickup.

But a good middle tone doesn't require 1 or even 2 t-tops. And other's setups aren't really going to help. You will need to find out the heights and volume settings that work in your particular guitar.......if indeed having all 3 being great is possible. Sometimes it simply isn't, and you simply have to settle for the individual positions being good.
 

cooljuk

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The pickups are definitely critical, but the rest of the chain can still make or break "honk" "bark" "quack" and such.

Use an amp built like a Plexi with G12H 55Hz Greenbacks (as close as you can get, at least, but not all all amps will do it and some other very different ones will). Plug straight in, no boxes.

Turn the guitar volume controls to 0, the tones to about 7, and put the selector in the middle position. DIME the amp, including / especially the master volumes (guitar volume is still on 0). Now, strat bringing up both of the guitar's volume controls just a hair each at a time and you'll hear all the varieties of that resonant midrange complexity of various barnyard animal sound names that your rig is capable of.

If you can't get honk in that setup, you can't get honk.
 
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Classicplayer

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But a good middle tone doesn't require 1 or even 2 t-tops. And other's setups aren't really going to help. You will need to find out the heights and volume settings that work in your particular guitar.......if indeed having all 3 being great is possible. Sometimes it simply isn't, and you simply have to settle for the individual positions being good.
This past weekend, I finally got pup heights tweaked to get a typical Les Paul middle switch position tone. The guitar I got this to finally happen on is a newish Trad with BB 1 and 2. My 2nd Lester is a 20 year old Classic with Seth Lovers. I'm almost as good with this one, but not quite the same as the Trad. So, I just may have to accept what I have right now, but I live in hopes.......


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LPTDMSV

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This past weekend, I finally got pup heights tweaked to get a typical Les Paul middle switch position tone. The guitar I got this to finally happen on is a newish Trad with BB 1 and 2. My 2nd Lester is a 20 year old Classic with Seth Lovers. I'm almost as good with this one, but not quite the same as the Trad. So, I just may have to accept what I have right now, but I live in hopes.......
There's three channels of tweakery without changing pickups - the guitars volume and tone controls (and a +1 for the 50s wiring, it's hugely helpful with middle position tones), the height/tilt of the pickups, and the height of the individual pole pieces.

So many people never adjust the pole pieces, and wonder why their bottom E strings are flubby and make the mid-position mushy :(

Seems to me that the neck pickup gets a much bigger bass signal from the thicker strings flapping around whereas they are more constrained in movement at the bridge pickup, so heights can (should?) be quite different from one to the other.
 

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I've found the middle position tone benefits in guitars that have a neck pickup wound higher than the bridge. It's the unique tone of the CC#7 Shanks and applies to Page's classic 70's tone with the bridge T Top in comparison to the neck PAF. Outside examples like Rewinds' fab Page Post72 pickups I'm not sure anyone provides sets this way since 'calibrated sets' became the standard.

Daz
 

Classicplayer

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I've found the middle position tone benefits in guitars that have a neck pickup wound higher than the bridge. It's the unique tone of the CC#7 Shanks and applies to Page's classic 70's tone with the bridge T Top in comparison to the neck PAF. Outside examples like Rewinds' fab Page Post72 pickups I'm not sure anyone provides sets this way since 'calibrated sets' became the standard.

Daz
My Classic has Duncan Seths which measure 7.2k (N) and 8.2k (B). You might be onto something, because the most chirpy and attractive middle position tone seems to be when I raise the neck volume so that it just takes it a hair louder than the bridge. It's like that scooped rich tone similar to Page, only more full.....but I think at that point, the rest would be decided by how my amp should be e.q.'d to accentuate that “scooped” effect I hear from my Seths. Would this make sense to you all? As it is now, I am feeling that I'm
getting nearer my goal. Of course I realize that I may never get near 100% of my goal.


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LPTDMSV

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My Classic has Duncan Seths which measure 7.2k (N) and 8.2k (B). You might be onto something, because the most chirpy and attractive middle position tone seems to be when I raise the neck volume so that it just takes it a hair louder than the bridge. It's like that scooped rich tone similar to Page, only more full.....but I think at that point, the rest would be decided by how my amp should be e.q.'d to accentuate that “scooped” effect I hear from my Seths. Would this make sense to you all? As it is now, I am feeling that I'm
getting nearer my goal. Of course I realize that I may never get near 100% of my goal.


Classicplayer
Almost invariably you have to tweak the balance between pickups (with volume controls, or height adjustment) to get the partial phase cancellations ("scoop") that make it funky, you're actually looking for some kind of mismatch.

It's usually easier and more interesting (sometimes *too* interesting) if the two pickups are somewhat dissimilar, though even if they're identical they "see" the string differently so are producing different signals.

Case in point: Last night I swapped out my standard Gibson bridge p/u for an old DiMarzio knock-off from my box of bits, just to see what happened - the pickups were so dissimilar that some of the mix sounds were almost like a comb filter, really whacky. I'll change it back tonight …

The extreme is obviously to invert the phase of one pickup, if you had p/ups that were otherwise perfectly matched the phase cancellation would result in . . silence :)
 
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LPTDMSV

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I have them as the stock pickups in my '18 Traditional and I do like the sound of each individually, but struggle to adjust them for a “honky” middle position tone a'la Jimmy Page. No, I don't expect to cop his exact tone for obvious reasons, but would like to improve the middle position tone so that it is more distinct than the bridge alone. Have any of you Lester players found your ideal middle position tone, or something very near it?

For reference, I have the neck pup set for the 6th string at below the ring or 1/4” away when fretted at the last fret. 1st. string measures 7/64”. The bridge pup measures at the 6th string 8/64” and the 1st 5/64".


Classicplayer
BTW I read this on the DiMarzio website last night - it's a good starting point for basic height adjustment:

"How high should I adjust my pickups for the best sound?

There is no specific distance that works best for everyone. We measure string height from the top of the polepiece to the bottom of the string when the string (usually the high or low E) is held down at the highest fret. For standard, full-size humbuckers, a reasonable starting point for the bridge pickup is at least 1/16" (1.5mm) from the high E and 5/64" (2 mm) from the low E. There are no recommended distances for the other 4 strings. Their polepieces should be adjusted (if necessary) by ear in relation to the volume established for the first and sixth strings. Once the bridge pickup is adjusted to a useful distance, the neck pickup can be adjusted by ear for a good balance."
 

Dazza

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In addition to my earlier post about the middle tone being enhanced when the neck pickup is more powerful - a great example is a tele Custom. I have a '76 with the typical twangy 6k-ish bridge single coil, and the woody 10k-ish cunife magnet Wide Range neck humbucker. Individually they go completely against the idea of calibrated pickups. However the middle position is fantastic and very Page-like.

Daz
 

dc007

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I've found the middle position tone benefits in guitars that have a neck pickup wound higher than the bridge. It's the unique tone of the CC#7 Shanks and applies to Page's classic 70's tone with the bridge T Top in comparison to the neck PAF. Outside examples like Rewinds' fab Page Post72 pickups I'm not sure anyone provides sets this way since 'calibrated sets' became the standard.

Daz
.......that has been my experience as well.
 


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