Tech question about pickup height

Sunflake

Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
150
Is there a rule of thumb measurement on height? Reason I’m asking is because the neck is closer to the strings than the bridge. And when you flip the switch from bridge to neck it’s a lot louder.
 

Thundermtn

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2017
Messages
1,740
Reaction score
4,649
You're going to get a lot of different answers on this.

There are setup numbers galore too. The way I do it is a plug into the amp I'll be using at the volume I normally play at and slowly adjust the neck pickup by ear until it sounds the best.

Then I'll adjust the height of the bridge pickup so that it is almost imperceptibly louder than the neck and that's it.

The neck p/up should be lower though, measuring from the bottom of the string to the top of the pole pieces.

Watch this too, good stuff.

 
Last edited:

smk506

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2009
Messages
6,243
Reaction score
11,703
Along with that video, check out the thread stickied in this forum.


Eric did a great job breaking down the how and why, it’s worth the read for sure.
 

WannaLesPaul

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2020
Messages
414
Reaction score
414
Is there a rule of thumb measurement on height? Reason I’m asking is because the neck is closer to the strings than the bridge. And when you flip the switch from bridge to neck it’s a lot louder.
Your pickups are adjusted bass ackwards lol The string vibration is MUCH greater at the neck position, than at the bridge, (the maximum string vibration occurs at the center point between the nut and the bridge), so the neck will be naturally louder and boomier than the bridge.

I would suggest first, lowering the neck pickup down to level with the mounting ring. This should get you in the ballpark at least. Then read the post that SMK506 suggested for an optimal adjustment.
 

Sunflake

Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
150
You're going to get a lot of different answers on this.

There are setup numbers galore too. The way I do it is a plug into the amp I'll be using at the volume I normally play at and slowly adjust the neck pickup by ear until it sounds the best.

Then I'll adjust the height of the bridge pickup so that it is almost imperceptibly louder than the neck and that's it.

The neck p/up should be lower though, measuring from the bottom of the string to the top of the pole pieces.

Watch this too, good stuff.

Thanks for sharing the video! I set them this way to start.
 

jonesy

GLOBAL WIRING GURU
Joined
Mar 28, 2008
Messages
17,479
Reaction score
4,865
Is there a rule of thumb measurement on height? Reason I’m asking is because the neck is closer to the strings than the bridge. And when you flip the switch from bridge to neck it’s a lot louder.
Lower the neck and raise the bridge until they balance. I usually do this with the amp set clean. You don't want them any closer than 1/8" from the strings.

Use your ears not a ruler to adjust the height of the pickups. Spend some time doing this until they sound best to you. If you use gain then crank the amp up and see how they sound that way.

Raising the pole screws on humbuckers or P90s will make that coil sound brighter. You can also set the pickups on a slight angle with the low E side down.

The closer the pickups are to the strings the more aggressive they will sound, lower them and they will mellow out. Hope that helps.
 

otaypanky

Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
33
Reaction score
21
Here's some set-up info I came across one day and found it quite helpful ~

Hi I'm David the final inspector at Gibson Memphis. I can give you the factory spec info. on our setups. You will need a mechanics rule to do this properly.



To check neck relief: fret the low E at the first and 15th fret (not 12th) reach to the 7th fret and tap string. There should be a small space between string and fret - no thicker than a piece of paper. Do the same with the high E.

ACTION: fret low E at first fret and measure the distance from the bottom of the to the top of the 15th fret. It should be 5/64". Do the same with the high E, measurement should be 3/64". Now measure the string height at the nut; underside of the string to the top of the fret. Low E and A should measure 2/64", D and G =1.5/64" and B and high E = 1/64". If string height at nut is correct, recheck string height at 12th fret with strings open. Measurement for low and high E's should be the same as measurement taken at the 15th.



Pickups: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".



Play test: Play every string at every fret checking for buzzes. Bend High E string 1 and 1/2 steps, beginning at the sixth fret and ending at 22nd, checking for "choking" and to make sure string stays in nut notch.
 

theresstrange

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2022
Messages
21
Reaction score
16
I do respect the "rule" method but in the end I always compare the response of each pickup when played through your amp. I tend to balance them depending on whether I want a hotter output when I flip the selector or not. I personally favor the bridge pickup to be hotter.
 

dspelman

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2009
Messages
12,160
Reaction score
9,186
Is there a rule of thumb measurement on height? Reason I’m asking is because the neck is closer to the strings than the bridge. And when you flip the switch from bridge to neck it’s a lot louder.
From the beginning (and because the original LP and all LPs up to at least 1980) the pickups in neck and bridge positions have been identical. Because of where the neck pickup is relative to "string swing," it has always been louder. Leastways, that was true until hotter pickups came along and manufacturers began putting a hotter pickup in the bridge position in an attempt to "balance" the volume between the two. This modern "balanced pickup set" is part of the reason that a current Les Paul sounds nothing like an original Les Paul.

Generally, pickups come set too high from the factory, and you'll find originals with the neck pickup's top surface nearly matched to the pickup ring. There will be a lot of folks chiming in with "rules of thumb" regarding pickup height. In the end, it's whatever sounds good to you.

I actually have a couple of LPs that have *very* hot pickups in the neck position. In the end, they're nearly three times louder than the bridge pickup. And for me, that's a good thing.
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
18,280
Reaction score
50,774
I start with the bridge pickup. I set it so that when the strings are fretted at the highest frets the clearance is about 1/8" give or take. It depends on the pickup and what sound you're going after. But i find that the threshold of being too close is when each individual string barks out in the attack. That's the point I'll back it off from. Then set the balance from low strings to high .
Then set the neck pickup. i don't use measurements on the neck pickup, i just balance it to the bridge pickup.
 

Metlking

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2009
Messages
803
Reaction score
748
I place a nickel on top of the bridge pickup and raise the pickup until it just touches the string while fretted on the highest fret. This gets me in the ballpark.

Just my 2 cents, well, 5 cents actually.............
 

Latest Threads



Top