• Guys, we've spent considerable money converting the Les Paul Forum to this new XenForo platform, and we have ongoing monthly operating expenses. THE "DONATIONS" TAB IS NOW WORKING, AND WE WOULD APPRECIATE ANY DONATIONS YOU CAN MAKE TO KEEP THE LES PAUL FORUM GOING! Thank you!

The importance of pickup height!... GOTTA HAVE MORE CHIRP!.... Demo: '57 Goldtop, '69 Plexi, '69 G12H30 Cab

Ed A

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
4,669
The importance of pickup height, if you want Moby Dick chirp!!!.... but seriously, this quick vid is to point out how just one turn of the height screw can make such a difference... whenever I think I want more volume and power and I raise up the low E side of my bridge pickup I end up lowering it again because I cant get that Moby Dick pick attack chirp with it too high!... Listen for the chirp on the low E notes, just like Jimmy got on Zep II, then listen how its gone when I raise up the pickup slightly, and then listen how the chirp comes back when I lower it again... May seem subtle but when you focus on the pick attack chirp and not the notes its pretty obvious.... GOTTA HAVE MORE CHIRP!

 

Wally

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2003
Messages
3,410
If you get the pickup magnet too close to the strings, the magnetic pull will prevent the string from vibrating freely and accurately. Almost every guitar I see cannot function properly because of this.
 

SchenkerUFO75

New member
Joined
Feb 8, 2018
Messages
23
I couldn't agree more. I almost always have the bass side of my bridge pickup set considerably lower than the treble, which is still a little low itself. I'm currently considering replacing the pickups in my two Epiphones(a '50s Standard and a '59) since, even they do sound good for what they are, there's no, if any, chirp no matter what I do. They're either too much, or not even close to enough. I doubt if I'll go with high end PAF replicas in these ones, so I'll probably pick up some used Duncan '59s or something.
 

LeonC

Active member
Joined
Aug 30, 2002
Messages
492
The importance of pickup height, if you want Moby Dick chirp!!!.... but seriously, this quick vid is to point out how just one turn of the height screw can make such a difference... whenever I think I want more volume and power and I raise up the low E side of my bridge pickup I end up lowering it again because I cant get that Moby Dick pick attack chirp with it too high!... Listen for the chirp on the low E notes, just like Jimmy got on Zep II, then listen how its gone when I raise up the pickup slightly, and then listen how the chirp comes back when I lower it again... May seem subtle but when you focus on the pick attack chirp and not the notes its pretty obvious.... GOTTA HAVE MORE CHIRP!

Always be yourself.
.
.
.
.
.
Unless you can be Batman. In that case, be Batman!

Great demo! Yes indeed, height matters!
 

Bruce R

Active member
Joined
Mar 2, 2007
Messages
954
Great stuff, Ed. I always assumed it was pick attack or mic pacement in Moby Dick, but I have always noticed it. What was roughly your pickup height to begin with? Generally high? Low? Average? So many parts to the equation of an electric guitar.

I've seen photos of Peter Green where his neck pickup, bass side, was dropped so low you could see the shadow of pickup ring gap. In my R0 the pickups both have the same output but the neck PU is noticeably louder, so I have to drop it way down to get them to have the same volume.
 

Ed A

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
4,669
Great stuff, Ed. I always assumed it was pick attack or mic pacement in Moby Dick, but I have always noticed it. What was roughly your pickup height to begin with? Generally high? Low? Average? So many parts to the equation of an electric guitar.

I've seen photos of Peter Green where his neck pickup, bass side, was dropped so low you could see the shadow of pickup ring gap. In my R0 the pickups both have the same output but the neck PU is noticeably louder, so I have to drop it way down to get them to have the same volume.
For years I played with them much closer, especially the bridge... more volume, more power, more drive... but in recent years I've been backing off, more clarity, more open, more character.... All I can tell you is what the approx pickup height is now using my calipers..... BUT, I know that its very different with each guitar... I had a reissue black beauty a couple years ago that I had to have them significantly farther away to reduce thickness and aggressiveness.... Measuring from the center of the pickup cover and depressing the string on the 22nd fret currently the bridge pickup is .1 inch on the low E side and .05 inch on the high E side.... and the neck pup is .15 inch on the low E side and .1inch on the high E side... Attached pix to show distance from strings.... but I would never go by where the pickup sits in the ring, because every LP I've had has slight neck angle differences... some of them the pickups have to be way above (or below) the rings to be at the same distance from the strings. IMG_8882 (1).jpg
 

Wally

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2003
Messages
3,410
For years I played with them much closer, especially the bridge... more volume, more power, more drive... but in recent years I've been backing off, more clarity, more open, more character.... All I can tell you is what the approx pickup height is now using my calipers..... BUT, I know that its very different with each guitar... I had a reissue black beauty a couple years ago that I had to have them significantly farther away to reduce thickness and aggressiveness.... Measuring from the center of the pickup cover and depressing the string on the 22nd fret currently the bridge pickup is .1 inch on the low E side and .05 inch on the high E side.... and the neck pup is .15 inch on the low E side and .1inch on the high E side... Attached pix to show distance from strings.... but I would never go by where the pickup sits in the ring, because every LP I've had has slight neck angle differences... some of them the pickups have to be way above (or below) the rings to be at the same distance from the strings. View attachment 18016
Note: I am basing the following on what I can see in the pic….and I am a long way from the actual guitar. However, this is what I see…

If we were sitting in the same room, I could show you with your ears why this guitar will not play the way it could and should. It takes only a few seconds to change it.
A good rough guide is to fret down at the last fret. Set the pickup height so that there is about 3/16” between the E poles and the bottom of the E strings. This distance is dependent on the strength on the magnet and the strings’ magnetic qualities.
As it sits right now, if you fret say the 15th fret, you will not hear a strong and accurate note. The pitch will be warbling, and the string has no sustain or harmonic content. the. Go to the 12th fret and hit the harmonic. The string MIGHT give you an accurate harmonic. Fret the 12th fret. Notice that the note’s pitch warbles. It is impossible to accurately intonate the string due to that magnetic pull on the string. Go to say the 5th fret a full six string chord….strum it and let it ‘ring’. Note the sound.
If you adjust the pickups away from the strings as I described in my second paragraph, the warbling will disappear, the string will gain sustain and harmonic content, and you can accurately assess the intonation. Go strum that chord on the 5th fret….it will have gained new life.
Until the pickups have been adjusted to whatever minimum distance they should be from the strings, a guitar cannot be properly set-up not will it perform the way that it should,
 

fernieite

Active member
Joined
Jan 3, 2010
Messages
481
Note: I am basing the following on what I can see in the pic….and I am a long way from the actual guitar. However, this is what I see…

If we were sitting in the same room, I could show you with your ears why this guitar will not play the way it could and should. It takes only a few seconds to change it.
A good rough guide is to fret down at the last fret. Set the pickup height so that there is about 3/16” between the E poles and the bottom of the E strings. This distance is dependent on the strength on the magnet and the strings’ magnetic qualities.
As it sits right now, if you fret say the 15th fret, you will not hear a strong and accurate note. The pitch will be warbling, and the string has no sustain or harmonic content. the. Go to the 12th fret and hit the harmonic. The string MIGHT give you an accurate harmonic. Fret the 12th fret. Notice that the note’s pitch warbles. It is impossible to accurately intonate the string due to that magnetic pull on the string. Go to say the 5th fret a full six string chord….strum it and let it ‘ring’. Note the sound.
If you adjust the pickups away from the strings as I described in my second paragraph, the warbling will disappear, the string will gain sustain and harmonic content, and you can accurately assess the intonation. Go strum that chord on the 5th fret….it will have gained new life.
Until the pickups have been adjusted to whatever minimum distance they should be from the strings, a guitar cannot be properly set-up not will it perform the way that it should,

3/16"? Interesting. I usually find starting with Gibson's old recommendation of 1/16" works quite well.

6147155734_902372f22c_b.jpg
 

Wally

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 27, 2003
Messages
3,410
3/16"? Interesting. I usually find starting with Gibson's old recommendation of 1/16" works quite well.

View attachment 18021
As I said in my post, the error of Gibson’s advice can easily be ascertained with one’s ears. I show this to almost every person who brings in a guitar for a setup. Their eyes go wide when I adjust the pickup away after showing them what the magnet is doing. After the adjustment, their guitar is already a better instrument …and they hear it. EVERY new Gibson is unplayable due to this pickup height error. Every other guitar that comes in is this way. The only pickups that can be run that close to the strings are pickups like active EMGs which have such weak magnetic fields that they do not affect the vibration of the string.
 

Ed A

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
4,669
My neck pickup is close to the 3/16 of an inch that you suggest. My bridge pickup is closer to an eighth of an inch and not the 3/16. I appreciate all of the scientific explanation but I do everything based on my ears as well and nothing else. I never go by suggested settings. I have moved the same PAF pickups from one guitar to another probably at least a dozen of them and every single guitar requires a different pickup height setting because every guitar responds differently. I too have had many people come over and set up their guitars for them and they have been extremely happy with the results. I generally have the bridge pickup slightly closer and not at the same distance as you suggest. Simply because the neck pickup overpowers with volume if it’s the same distance from the strings as the bridge pickup. Plus I find the ideal middle pickup tone to be best when the bridge is a bit closer than the neck. In any case that’s all based on my own ear and what I like to hear. I can crank those pickups up quite a bit closer to the strings and some other guy is going to say that sounds better because of how much louder and more overdriven the sound becomes. It ultimately comes down to your preferences. Believe me with my pickup heights I’ve got the maximum amount of harmonic content I can get out of the guitar. If I go too far away then the guitar lacks drive and is too weak for my taste. Too close and it’s too heavy and thick. I’ve set mine where I feel it’s just right.
 

Maxmc

Active member
Joined
Mar 15, 2015
Messages
635
I could never totally agree with setting up your pickup height to factory spec and leaving it at that. Every guitar is different, no two Strats, LesPauls or whatever are exactly the same. I finesse the pickup heights letting my ears tell me what sounds acceptable (to me anyway). The pickups on my Les Paul are virtually flush with the pickup rings. Most would agree that the sweet spot is just before the magnetic force starts to influence the strings. Ed A's video demonstrates dramatically this concept.
 

SUPREME

New member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
6
For years I played with them much closer, especially the bridge... more volume, more power, more drive... but in recent years I've been backing off, more clarity, more open, more character.... All I can tell you is what the approx pickup height is now using my calipers..... BUT, I know that its very different with each guitar... I had a reissue black beauty a couple years ago that I had to have them significantly farther away to reduce thickness and aggressiveness.... Measuring from the center of the pickup cover and depressing the string on the 22nd fret currently the bridge pickup is .1 inch on the low E side and .05 inch on the high E side.... and the neck pup is .15 inch on the low E side and .1inch on the high E side... Attached pix to show distance from strings.... but I would never go by where the pickup sits in the ring, because every LP I've had has slight neck angle differences... some of them the pickups have to be way above (or below) the rings to be at the same distance from the strings. View attachment 18016
Any chance you can post a few other angles? I'm going to try and emulate your height on my LP.
 

Ed A

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
4,669
Any chance you can post a few other angles? I'm going to try and emulate your height on my LP.
Hard to do. Maybe this is better. The bridge pickup is not as close as it appears. And my neck angle is not very deep so only look at distance from pickup to string not how the pickup is set in the ring. CB8F6A97-2E37-4059-9A75-3FF4450E71DD.jpeg 8FD8F31E-F241-4874-B939-753E1FA23418.jpeg
 

SUPREME

New member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
6

Ed A

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 16, 2001
Messages
4,669
Are the strings touching the bridge pickup? That's like super close.
Nope. not even close... when depressing the low E string at the 22nd fret there is still at least 1/16 "... couldnt get it to show in the photo
 

garywright

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 17, 2002
Messages
14,451
I can’t imag8ne what Moby Dick would sound like with the strings touching a pickup
 

SUPREME

New member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
6
Lower the pickups, turn up the amp.
Turning up the amp is always a good thing.
These forums compresses the photos too much causing it to look fuzzy. might want to try imgur or somthing that works with this place. What aftermarket pickups you think are the best for a Jimmy Page tone?
 

SUPREME

New member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
6
Nope. not even close... when depressing the low E string at the 22nd fret there is still at least 1/16 "... couldnt get it to show in the photo
These forums compresses the photos too much causing it to look fuzzy. might want to try imgur or somthing that works with this place. What aftermarket pickups you think are the best for a Jimmy Page tone?
 
Top