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Adjusting Pickups: The "Sweet Spot" with Soundclips

roadrunner

Active member
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
6,835
Ok... we've been over this in a few threads here recently so I decided to see if I could record some examples of Roy's method of adjusting pickups. I use this method now to adjust my guitars and it works so fine. I hope this will of some benefit to some of you... YMMV. You might have your own preferred method of setting up pickups and that's great, this is just another way to do it that I've found works very well.

Disclaimer: This method of adjusting pickups is per Roy of RS Guitarworks. In a previous thread here's Roy's quote on what this is all about:

"My best suggestion is to dial them in with the following steps on an amp set with medium gain (or a good clean Tube amp).

start with the pickups very slightly below each ring and starting with the bridge pickup hit the high E open and raise the pickup slowly listening to the note decay. As you come up you will hear a point where the end of the note starts to bloom (or the end of the note starts to get louder as ) keep raising the pickup till you hear that bloom stop then back it back down till it starts again. At that point go to the low E and do the same thing. When the bridge is done move on to the neck listening to the same bloom then you are done. I have never believed there was a magic measurement for pickups, but I'm a firm believer that every pickup has a magic sweet spot."


I used two different guitars for this, a Historic LP and a 1962 ES-335 with PAF's. The "medium" gain amp is a '58 5E3 Deluxe. The amp's turned down low, volume's just before 3, the tone's on 10. At this volume, with this amp, the overtones are pretty apparent and there's little additional overtones being added by the amp from using more volume.
Any good small tube amp will work for this, it needs to be set kinda bright to hear the "bloom/overtone" thing Roy's talking about.

Listen for the end of the note decay. When the strings are too far away, you won't here any change to the sound... it'll just die off in a linear fashion.
As the pickup gets closer to being in the right spot, as per "factory settings" you'll begin to here the tone "bloom" and a harmonic will appear as the note decays.
When the pickup is in the "sweet spot", you'll hear the note changing from the pure tone to the overtone, it's rather subtle but you should be able to hear it clearly... hopefully!

Disclaimer #2! This "bloom" thing happens toward the end of the note's decay... it's subtle and you probably won't hear it with regular computer speakers. Try using headphones or maybe you'll have a set of monitors, for recording, hooked up to your computer.
If you don't hear anything, download the clips and burn 'em to a CD for home audio listening... that'll definitely work.

Ok, there's two clips for each guitar, one clip per pickup. I'll put the times in for:

"Pickup too low"... this is the sound of the pickup even with the rings on both sides of the pickup. For the 335, the "low" setting is 3/32+" away from the strings.

"Factory"... this setting is the 1/16" away from the depressed E strings. You'll hear some "bloom" and the overtone here. It's not a bad way to go for starters and will usually always get you in the ballpark

"Sweet Spot"... this is the sound from finding the most "bloom" and harmonics that I found in each guitar.

After the three separate tone samples for each setting, I play a little with the pickup in the "sweet spot"...just noodling around the fretboard to show how the guitar sounds with the pickups setup right.
A Deluxe sounds pretty bright/thin and not so good at this setting, so get ready for that. You'll also hear the filaments in the tubes rattling, they do that.

Here's the samples:

LP Bridge:
Low: 0 - 1:02
Factory: 1:07 - 2:10
Sweet: 2:12 - Playing starts at 3:08
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/LP bridge sweet spot.mp3


LP Neck:
Low: 0 - :41
Factory: 0:42 - 1:29
Sweet: 1:30 - Playing starts at 2:12
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/LP neck sweet spot.mp3


335 Bridge:
Low: 0 - 0:42
Factory: 0:43 -1:30
Sweet: 1:31 - Playing at 2:22
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/335 Bridge sweet.mp3


335 Neck:
Low: 0 - 0:47
Factory: 0:48 - 1:28
Sweet: 1:29 - Playing at 2:14
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/335 neck sweet spot.mp3


On the neck pickup clips of each guitar I play there for awhile and then start moving the selector switch around to give you all three tones... remember I'm just noodling around, so I apologize for the playing!

Here's what the amp sounds like turned up to some sort of "standard" recording level... volume's around 7, tone's all the way up. Two mics on the speaker instead of one (Royer 121 on the left and a AEA R92 on the right) and a room mic as well... sorry the guitar's a bit:wah out of tune here:lol .
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/Jr Deluxe jam 2.mp3

Here's the tools used for this little demo:
http://images.lilypix.com/albums/userpics/10208/335_Deluxe_LP.jpg

Sorry for the long post, hope it's worth reading and I hope this helps some of you when setting up your guitar.:)
 

thin sissy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,701
Wow! I will give these clips a listen. Thanks a lot for doing this, I'm sure it will help a lot of people. I'm going to try it after I've listened.
 

sickboy79

New member
Joined
Apr 2, 2002
Messages
5,161
Awesome! I could hear it. Just curious - what was the measurement on the sweet spots for both guitars? I'll definetely have to give this method a try sometime - maybe tonight! BTW - fantastic playing and tone as well!

Thanks again for making these clips!
 

keef

Active member
Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,006
Thanks much! - the differences are not huge, but convincing enough.
 

thin sissy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
2,701
I've always been after that "sweet spot" you're reffering to. If the guitar sustains with a "phaser" kind of sound, like an old piano, I've always thought it's a good guitar. When I listened with a lot of volume I could hear it well in your clips
 

lpcust

Member
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
414
Thanks Roadrunner! I tried this without success a few weeks ago but thanks to your clips I realize that I need to let the string ring longer. My impatience and ADD got in the way. :lol Can't wait to do it correctly this time! The clips make all the difference. :applaude

Just out of curiosity, did you find any patterns in terms of the sweet spot being further from the strings or closer than the factory recommendation?

Thanks again to you (and Roy). This info should wind up being right up there in the LPF Hall of Fame (Flame?) with the Mapleflame mod- big improvements for no dough!
:foghorn
 

bluesforstevie

New member
Joined
Jun 20, 2002
Messages
12,771
Ok... we've been over this in a few threads here recently so I decided to see if I could record some examples of Roy's method of adjusting pickups. I use this method now to adjust my guitars and it works so fine. I hope this will of some benefit to some of you... YMMV. You might have your own preferred method of setting up pickups and that's great, this is just another way to do it that I've found works very well.

Disclaimer: This method of adjusting pickups is per Roy of RS Guitarworks. In a previous thread here's Roy's quote on what this is all about:

"My best suggestion is to dial them in with the following steps on an amp set with medium gain (or a good clean Tube amp).

start with the pickups very slightly below each ring and starting with the bridge pickup hit the high E open and raise the pickup slowly listening to the note decay. As you come up you will hear a point where the end of the note starts to bloom (or the end of the note starts to get louder as ) keep raising the pickup till you hear that bloom stop then back it back down till it starts again. At that point go to the low E and do the same thing. When the bridge is done move on to the neck listening to the same bloom then you are done. I have never believed there was a magic measurement for pickups, but I'm a firm believer that every pickup has a magic sweet spot."


I used two different guitars for this, a Historic LP and a 1962 ES-335 with PAF's. The "medium" gain amp is a '58 5E3 Deluxe. The amp's turned down low, volume's just before 3, the tone's on 10. At this volume, with this amp, the overtones are pretty apparent and there's little additional overtones being added by the amp from using more volume.
Any good small tube amp will work for this, it needs to be set kinda bright to hear the "bloom/overtone" thing Roy's talking about.

Listen for the end of the note decay. When the strings are too far away, you won't here any change to the sound... it'll just die off in a linear fashion.
As the pickup gets closer to being in the right spot, as per "factory settings" you'll begin to here the tone "bloom" and a harmonic will appear as the note decays.
When the pickup is in the "sweet spot", you'll hear the note changing from the pure tone to the overtone, it's rather subtle but you should be able to hear it clearly... hopefully!

Disclaimer #2! This "bloom" thing happens toward the end of the note's decay... it's subtle and you probably won't hear it with regular computer speakers. Try using headphones or maybe you'll have a set of monitors, for recording, hooked up to your computer.
If you don't hear anything, download the clips and burn 'em to a CD for home audio listening... that'll definitely work.

Ok, there's two clips for each guitar, one clip per pickup. I'll put the times in for:

"Pickup too low"... this is the sound of the pickup even with the rings on both sides of the pickup. For the 335, the "low" setting is 3/32+" away from the strings.

"Factory"... this setting is the 1/16" away from the depressed E strings. You'll hear some "bloom" and the overtone here. It's not a bad way to go for starters and will usually always get you in the ballpark

"Sweet Spot"... this is the sound from finding the most "bloom" and harmonics that I found in each guitar.

After the three separate tone samples for each setting, I play a little with the pickup in the "sweet spot"...just noodling around the fretboard to show how the guitar sounds with the pickups setup right.
A Deluxe sounds pretty bright/thin and not so good at this setting, so get ready for that. You'll also hear the filaments in the tubes rattling, they do that.

Here's the samples:

LP Bridge:
Low: 0 - 1:02
Factory: 1:07 - 2:10
Sweet: 2:12 - Playing starts at 3:08
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/LP bridge sweet spot.mp3


LP Neck:
Low: 0 - :41
Factory: 0:42 - 1:29
Sweet: 1:30 - Playing starts at 2:12
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/LP neck sweet spot.mp3


335 Bridge:
Low: 0 - 0:42
Factory: 0:43 -1:30
Sweet: 1:31 - Playing at 2:22
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/335 Bridge sweet.mp3


335 Neck:
Low: 0 - 0:47
Factory: 0:48 - 1:28
Sweet: 1:29 - Playing at 2:14
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/335 neck sweet spot.mp3


On the neck pickup clips of each guitar I play there for awhile and then start moving the selector switch around to give you all three tones... remember I'm just noodling around, so I apologize for the playing!

Here's what the amp sounds like turned up to some sort of "standard" recording level... volume's around 7, tone's all the way up. Two mics on the speaker instead of one (Royer 121 on the left and a AEA R92 on the right) and a room mic as well... sorry the guitar's a bit:wah out of tune here:lol .
http://h1.ripway.com/GJB58/Jr Deluxe jam 2.mp3

Here's the tools used for this little demo:
http://images.lilypix.com/albums/userpics/10208/335_Deluxe_LP.jpg

Sorry for the long post, hope it's worth reading and I hope this helps some of you when setting up your guitar.:)


Awesome GB. For taking the time and doing it right!!! Killer little amp btw!!! Clone me one of them bad boys!!!
 

sanhozay

Member
Joined
Feb 14, 2003
Messages
165
Deep thanks for taking the time and sharing this AWESOME info! You're a good engine!
 

roadrunner

Active member
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
6,835
I'll have to measure the pickups for the exact numbers. I do know that just about every time the bridge pickup ends up closer to the strings than the "factory" 1/16" spec. The neck pickup is usually real close to factory spec... but I always lower the bass side a bit to clean up the tone.

The only guitar I have that the sweet spot ended up being farther away than 1/16th, at least for the bridge pickup, is a PRS David Grissom guitar. I'm still getting used to the pickups in that guitar... they're real powerful, not like a PAF at all.

One thing I didn't mention... the treble side's not too critical in all this. It's the bass side that really determines thin vs. mud in the whole adjustment scheme. Thin's (thin-er) actually good for an LP on the neck pickup bass side but the bridge pickup really has to be right to get all the tone out of it.

Deluxes are mostly mud machines anyway so that's why I used that amp, if you can get an LP to work with a 5E3... it's gonna sound way better thru just about anything else. My "reference" LP tones have always been Duane and Bloomfield... Marshall's and Blackface Fenders.

You're all very kind, thank you for the compliments but I just had some time on my hands and thought maybe this could help a bit. It's all a big puzzle anyway, this is just a little piece.:hee
 

SlyStrat

New member
Joined
Nov 11, 2005
Messages
1,043
Very nice of you to do this for everyone.
What is the factory setting for neck pup?
 

roadhog96

New member
Joined
Apr 21, 2006
Messages
566
Awesome GB. For taking the time and doing it right!!! Killer little amp btw!!! Clone me one of them bad boys!!!

What do you set the volume controls for the PUP's when making these adjustments? The reason I ask is because if your using an upgrade kit in the guitar it really effects the way the strings sound. Do your guitars have upgraded electronic kits in them?
 

Jurius

Active member
Joined
Sep 2, 2007
Messages
1,399
This is the most informative post I've read on these boards. It's EASY to hear on my POS computer speakers. Immediately useful information for better tone.

Get's my vote for a sticky. In case it doesn't, I copied and pasted this to a Word doc.

Thanks Roadrunner ... you da man. :3zone :headbange :salude
 

roadrunner

Active member
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
6,835
Very nice of you to do this for everyone.
What is the factory setting for neck pup?

The little handout/flyer that came with PAF guitars back in the day stated "1/16th of an inch, stings depressed at the last fret"... didn't say anything about neck vs. bridge pickups so I'm assuming it was for both.
 

roadrunner

Active member
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
6,835
What do you set the volume controls for the PUP's when making these adjustments? The reason I ask is because if your using an upgrade kit in the guitar it really effects the way the strings sound. Do your guitars have upgraded electronic kits in them?


All the controls were on "10", for the sake of consistancy. No upgrade kits... everything was stock except the pickups in the R9 which are, coincidentally, RS/Fralin "True '60's". I left 'em in the guitar after the "Find the PAF" deal a couple of years ago.
 

roadrunner

Active member
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
6,835
This is the most informative post I've read on these boards. It's EASY to hear on my POS computer speakers. Immediately useful information for better tone.

Get's my vote for a sticky. In case it doesn't, I copied and pasted this to a Word doc.

Thanks Roadrunner ... you da man. :3zone :headbange :salude


Wow! Thank you so very much.:)

I'm just the messenger here though, it's Roy from RS that deserves the credit for this... it was his idea. Thanks Roy!:dude:
 
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