Pickups are the most important part of an electric guitar. Guitar string sound waves create distortion in the pickup’s magnetic field. The distortion is converted into an electrical signal and amplified through the sound output device. That is how an electric guitar works.
Now, pickups have to be at a specific height to work properly. After reading this article, you will know each and every detail about pickup heights.
Our advice for bridge pickup height is between 5/64″ and 4/64″. For the neck, you might want to go a little closer (4/64″) from these measurements.
Keep in mind these are measurements are from the Lower E side. On High-E pickups, try moving it just a tad closer (1/64″ for example) from each pickup to get better sound quality! Adjusting the height is easy – simply turn the Allen wrench counterclockwise until the desired measurement is reached.
- 1. Why Pickup Height Matters? Does It Affect Tone?
- 2. How Does Pickup Height Affect Tone?
- 3. How Close Should Humbuckers be to the Strings?
- 4. What Happens if the Position of the Pickup is Changed?
- 5. How do you Adjust the Pole Pieces of an Electric Guitar Pickup?
- 6. How to Set Guitar Pickup Pole-Piece Height?
- 7. Final Thought
Why Pickup Height Matters? Does It Affect Tone?
This is a question that many guitar players have asked themselves at some point in their careers
The answer is yes and no, depending on the type of pickups you use.
Single coil pickups will produce a brighter sound with decreased bass when they are closer to the strings due to magnetic field strength decreasing as distance from the strings increases.
Humbucking pickups do not suffer this effect because they use twice as many coils and so magnetic field strength does not decrease as quickly over distance.
How Does Pickup Height Affect Tone?
The interaction between the strings and magnets is a complex process.
The magnetic field created by the pickup interacts with strumming patterns to produce different sounds at varying heights.
Guitarists typically place their pickups close to the bridge of an electric guitar because it provides more power through amplification, which requires less energy from other components.
However, this increases single-coil distortion and decreases treble frequency response when compared to pickups placed near the neck or middle position on an instrument’s body.
For these reasons, many players prefer a blend of pickup positions for optimal tonal balance: one out toward each end with another in about halfway up the neck as well as near its center point (the “sweet spot”). Experimentation will help you find your own perfect blend, and you can always go back to the others as needed.
How Close Should Humbuckers be to the Strings?
The answer depends on what type of sound you’re looking for, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Generally speaking, humbucker pickups are placed closer to the bridge so that they can pick up more string vibration from higher notes coming out of an electric guitar neck pickup.
The distance between the strings and the pickups is important for an optimal sound. Gibson‘s engineers recommend a 1.6-millimeter gap on both bridge and neck pickup, which may have been different in the 1950s because of lower output with unpotted standard pickups at that time.
What Happens if the Position of the Pickup is Changed?
The position of the pickup in relation to the bridge or neck can also have an effect on how your guitar sounds
What does Raising the Pickups on a Guitar Do?
Increases the height of the pickup in relation to strings, which increases treble and decreases bass.
Higher pickups will also alter string balance by bringing more vibrations from the higher strings into proximity with electrical circuits that amplify them – thereby enhancing their output volume and tonal range (due at least partly to a phenomenon known as fluxing).
Raising Your Pickups Might Be Useful If You Want
- More feedback, better high strings clarity.
- Less distortion when playing cleanly without overdriving your amplifier’s front end.
What does Lowering the Pickups on a Guitar Do?
Lowering your pickups might be useful if you are experiencing feedback problems or want less distortion when playing cleanly without overdriving your amplifier’s front end.
Some electric guitars have adjustable truss rods that can change how high they are off of the body, but many only allow for neck adjustments: In these cases, it is usually necessary to buy a new neck or modify the existing one.
Lowering your pickup height will not likely affect its tone in any significant way because the magnetic signal is unaffected and does not depend on contact with wood surfaces.
However, if you’re looking for a warmer and darker sound, try placing it further away from the bridge so that its signal has less resistance as it travels down through your strings. This would be best suited to jazzier tones with lots of sustain.
How do you Adjust the Pole Pieces of an Electric Guitar Pickup?
The pole pieces are adjusted by using a screwdriver to turn them clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on whether you want the pickup’s magnetic string-pulling force to increase or decrease. Turning the magnet closer to the strings increases their pull so they’ll get louder and sound brighter; turning it away from them decreases their pull and makes them quieter and sound darker.
A lot of work goes into making an electric guitar: designing, construction, assembly—but none is more crucial than setting up its pickups for optimum performance. This all starts with adjusting the height of each individual piece in relation to where it’s placed on your instrument
How to Set Guitar Pickup Pole-Piece Height?
Adjust the height of each individual piece in relation to where it’s placed on your instrument It can be tricky at first finding your own sweet spot. You will find that different guitars have an ideal point, but you’ll need some trial and error before you get there. The following are a few guidelines for setting up pickups:
- If the sound is too bassy or nasally, try raising the pieces closer to the strings.
- If the string sounds scratchy or muffled, try lowering them instead so they’re further away from metal parts such as screws holding down brackets and strap buttons located near these areas. This should make them more responsive with cleaner resonance which will give you a better sound.
- For some players, the best pickup height is when they are hanging off of their guitar strings just enough to produce good feedback. This will be different for everyone and you’ll need to experiment with this as well to find your own individual preferences.
When it comes to pickup height, the rule of thumb is that you want a gap between your strings and pickups. The measurements we provide will help ensure optimal sound quality when playing.
Just Remember to adjust from the lower E side on guitars with high-E pickups!
Have any questions about how adjusting this setting can affect your tone? Get in touch – or comment below, our experts are happy to answer all your questions!