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Action and Pickup height

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Groovin_Joe, May 29, 2003.


  1. I am trying to set up my Fender MIM jazz v and I want to lower the action. I recently changed the strings and i have lowered the strings a bit, and i had to innotate the B, E, and A strings. I know that i have to lower the pickups with the strings. I read it in a Bass Player but i can't remember the measurments for the distance from bottom of string to top of pickup magnets.

    Any information on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Or any other comments or ideas.

    Thanks
    Adam
     
  2. Ben Mishler

    Ben Mishler

    Jan 22, 2003
    San Jose
    Generally for pickup distance I would recomend that you just adjust them by ear. If the sound is too distorted lower them. If it is too weak, raise them. I don't remember the actual distances for them, but you can just play it by ear and it will be fine.
     
  3. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    I remember the arcticle you're thinking about.They recommended 1/8 inch to start. For me, that,s a little too low to get a decent output. With passive pick-ups, you want the p/u's as high as you can get them without the magnets pulling on them. You'll be able to hear if the magnets are too close to the strings (wierd harmonics, and/or no sustain. with active p/u's, generally you can raise them as high as you like. There is a lot of differing opinion on this subject, so you'll have to see what works for you. Try the search engine and I'm sure sure you'll find a ton of threads.
     
  4. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    Also, make your adjustments while fretting your strings at the last fret.
     
  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy

    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA
    Groovin,

    As Wiley suggests;
    1/8", with the string being fretted at the last fret, is pretty much in the ballpark.

    - the Guitar Repair site I reference has said the 'E' string starting point is at 3&1/2 1/32" or; just under 1/8"

    - at 'G' string; 2&1/2 1/32" or; just over 1/16"

    But, as Ben mentions; .."best judged by your ears." You can use the measurements as start and tweek from there...

    BTW:if a good ruler isn't available, I've found a good 'feeler gauge' works well.

    michael s.
     
  6. squire_pwr

    squire_pwr

    Apr 15, 2003
    San Diego, CA.
    :eek: :eek: whoa, if I'm reading this correctly, my intuition of the distance between pickups and strings is COMPLETELY wrong! oops! So, let me get this straight:

    A) If sound is distorted, lower action
    B) If sound is too weak, raise action

    I totally thought opposite! maybe that's why my bass sounds so bad when I compare it with others (it's also squire...but i guess the messed up action didn't help either). Hmmm... so does that mean each pickup has a "sweet spot," where the sound will be "optimal"? :confused:

    edit: btw, where are all these articles you guys are referring to? Thanks!!
     
  7. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    Yes,you got it right :D And Yes there is a sweet spot, but it really kind of depends on how hard you play, what gauge of string you use, etc.
     
  8. Ziggy

    Ziggy

    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA
    Squire,

    I believe you either misread the post or; are adding some humor with a bit of sarcasism??... the original query is regarding 'pick-up' height, not string 'action'.

    - an overpowering or distorted string would suggest the 'pick-up' be lowered farther into the body of the guitar

    - conversely, weak sounding string/s, would be 'vicey versy'

    I remember posting a reply a while back to a query regarding good information sites. Unfortunately, I am currently unable to track down the exact url... I did come across a site that might help; http://www.guitartips.addr.com/guitar_care_preservation_tips.html

    Good luck and hope you get the problem solved to your satisfaction,
    michael s.
     
  9. squire_pwr

    squire_pwr

    Apr 15, 2003
    San Diego, CA.
    Oh wow, good point. I totally misread, it wasn't action, it was pick up. Thanks! I would've totally lowered my bridge saddles expecting to hear pristine clean sounds! ok, that is much closer to my original idea of how pickups work. So, after all is said and done, is this the rule?

    A) Distorted sound, INCREASE Pickup-to-string distance
    B) Weak sound, DECREASE Pickup-to-string distance.

    I'm assuming you would first set your action to a good level, then adjust the pickups accordingly. Cool. Thanks!! :D
     
  10. Ziggy

    Ziggy

    May 9, 2001
    Orange County, CA
    Squire,

    I guess you see that glass as half empty?;^)

    You have it correct;

    If the string hits the pick-up, distorts or is significantly louder than the others, the Distance between it and the string/s is Increased; by Lowering the Pick-up.

    And ofcourse, should the opposite symptoms occur, the Distance is Narrowed; by Raising the Pick-up closer to the string/s... michael s.
     
  11. permagrin

    permagrin

    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Ben, who said "use your ears" makes a good point. The closer the pickups are to the string, they "see" a smaller portion of the string, thus pick up less frequency/modes/vibrations..., you get the picture. This can be good or bad depending on what tone you're looking for.

    And since it's an easy screwdriver adjustment, it's real easy to mess around with. Start with the recommendations and go from there, don't be afraid to see how things sound at the extremes.

    The pickups on my basses are vastly different, but as an example I've got a P-bass w/SD QP's (passive, relatively strong output) and I have them sitting a little lower to pick up more of the string to get a bit thicker tone - pretty small effect, but you can hear it if you listen carefully, and I think it contributes to how well that bass cuts through the mix. On the other hand, I've got active EMGs on a P-J bass that are very close to the strings, a lot cleaner tone. And another with active EMGs J-J, where the bridge p/u is a lot lower than the neck 'cause it was sounding too harsh.