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Adjusting Pickups: The "Sweet Spot" with Soundclips

BrazenPicker

New member
Joined
Oct 31, 2010
Messages
28
Thanks a lot for posting those again. I read this thread a while back and missed having those clips. Will give it a try now. There's always those on forums who will say "just use a screwdriver and your ears", "if it sounds good, it is good", but it's also easy to miss cool stuff like this and not all of us can be pro players.
 

FretsAlot

New member
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
931
I just wanted to add something to this thread that may be obvious to some who have spent lots of time adjusting pickups, but perhaps not so obvious to an adjustment newbie. While dialing in the relative distance of the pickup to the strings using the aforementioned methodology, I personally got more mileage out of adjusting the pole pieces on my pickups. I had resisted the urge to do individual pole pieces in all my years - don't know why, just cuz. In short, I found that...

pole piece screw head away from bobbin increased clarity
pole piece screw head toward bobbin increased body (decreased clarity)

I have two humbuckered LP's, covered BB's 1&2 on my '57ri and uncovered SD 59's on my '76 Custom. On both guitars I tuned all pickups for more clarity - pole piece heads away from bobbin. I found that the difference in the tone of each neck pu vs it's bridge pu is much more noticeable. Alot more quack out of the bridge pickups. Neck isn't as muddy/muddled on each, and middle position has better 'clank'. Both guitars are now even more fun to play and I'm hearing more of the tones that YT, soundcloud, etc clips have in them offered up by the better players with better setups.

In summary, both pickup adjustments are important. When I started, my pu's were too close to the strings, which made them more sizzly, less woody, no harmonic richness really. Away from the strings, more woody, more harmonic richness. Add the pole piece adjustments, and I'm really lovin' my LP's.

Fretsalot/Scott
 
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PHILBERT

Active member
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
Messages
1,659
Good post. This stuff makes a difference that can make your guitar like new. I often wonder how many players throw back their guitars because they never found the right pickup distance. :hmm

Funny little story here...but related...I never had any EMG pickups before, so other than a couple of guest guitars on my rig I didn't know what to expect. I was looking for something like "Shitallica" - "Sad But True" sound. My piano black Explorer with stock 500T/496R pickups sounded too wide in frequency, with deep lows and slightly pointy highs, so this was the guitar I chose to try the 81/85 combo in. (Easy install BTW) The EMG's gave my Explorer new life by adding crunching mids, but also sounds a bit vintage with the volume and tone back a bit. Great change for this guitar I almost wanted to sell. Back on topic...adjusting the pickups on EMG's was not as obvious as most non-active pickups. Too low and you just get the mids. Too high and it just gets too messy. There is a sweet spot, but it is more like the zone where you get crushing crunch, just enough bass (tricky to get right) to punch your gut, and clarity without overwhelming highs. The mids are always there, it is the low and high end clarity that you have to hunt for. Distance wise, the EMG's end up a little closer than my other pickups. Now this Explorer will not be sold unless I am flat out broke...or dead. It needed that change. It was just a new experience in finding the sweet spot, but made the crunch and full clarity 100% balanced. :note

PS- I'm actually thinking my Jackson RR1 would benefit from the 500T/496R by expanding the low end. I need 4-conductor wire to split the coils and give that a try.
 

Black58

New member
Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
10,139
Bushings? That takes guts! I'm not that brave.

:update .. Bullseye! :dude: ...... Depth matters with the bushings; Too low or too high will do interesting things, but a dime's thickness from the top, deep, is "the shit"! :wow .. AND, uneven depth between the two DOES matter! :ganz
 

joek86

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2005
Messages
426
I'm a little confused as to how to start my measurement of distance, or gap between the string and the pup. I was always told to press the string down at the 22nd fret to measure. Is that what is suggested to listen for the "sweet spot"?

~Joe
 

Triburst

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 12, 2006
Messages
4,353
Here's a "bump" on yet another method of adjusting pickups. I like the method I saw posted recently to get close, but I use this for "fine tuning," using tiny harmonics and bloom (or lack of it). Roadrunner mentions Roy at RS showed him this method.

It's not easy, requires plenty of patience, a good amp on medium gain, and a good ear. However, the rewards are really outstanding. Bloom on every string.

Note - The soundclips on the original first post are long gone. However, if you go to post #58, you'll find the "sweet spot" clips on Soundcloud which I reposted for Roadrunner about 5 years ago. Go to the last example of each string and you'll clearly hear what he's talking about.

He also plays a short bit after the example to give you an idea of how that optimal tone sounds on these guitars (examples for Les Paul and 335).
 

Black58

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Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
10,139
It's not easy, requires plenty of patience, a good amp on medium gain, and a good ear.

Words to live by. :salude .. Only thing I would change is that it doesn't necessarily have to be a good amp. I have a piece of shit, solid state, '87 Fender Sidekick 15 combo that only sounds good on volume 1! :rofl .. I don't know if it's the age, the circuit, the fact that it's a piece of shit, or a combination of those, LOL, but it sure gives me a LOT of information! :ganz .. :salude
 
T

TcRoc

Guest
why do these links keep throwing me to facebook?? I cant get to them.

Edit ,, found it
 
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Skydogfan81

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2006
Messages
910
Revisiting this post again to dial in some pickups. Thanks for keeping the links alive!
 
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