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Bridge and neck pickup height?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by phxlbrmpf, May 5, 2005.

  1. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I'm pretty new to two-pickup basses and I was wondering: what is generally considered to be the "best" way to adjust your pickups?

    Should the bridge and the neck PU have the same height, or should the bridge pickup be higher? I have a Status Energy with two soapbar humbuckers and I noticed that the sound becomes too boomy if the PUs are too high.

    I like having both pickups on because I feel the sound I get this way fits best to most of our songs. The only drawback is a slight decrease in volume. Is there a way to counteract this by adjusting your pickup height accordingly? Thanks in advance.
  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    the strings have more travel at the neck position so more clearance is required to keep them from hitting the pups. The neck pup will be darker and louder (and often boomie if too much volume is used) by virtue of it's location. Boom is usually the result of too much bass or too much neck pup or both. A higher frequency boxie tone can result from too much treble. Excessive mids can factor in either depending on settings. If you start out minimal with tone controls and work up - you'll learn what you need to do to get what you want through your rig.

    I set pups as high as they'll go without the strings striking them and drop them as indicated. Typically the bass side is a bit lower becuase heavier guage strings have more travel and transmit a stronger signal which puts volume out of balance if the pup is level across the strings (though not necessarily - you don't know unless you max them). Unless a pup is high output (10K or more) you can probably set the pups as close as you want (though not necessarily - you don't know unless you max them). A pup can distort if it is too close to the strings (particularly noticeable from the 10th fret up) or even decrease output (kind of like it's out of phase). Potent large pole pups like MM's will actually distort string travel and create Wolfetones if set too close - and in fact suck the strings right down fast to the pole following a hard attack.

    Basically I set the height for maximum volume without distorting with even balance across the strings. Actives, you can set as high as you want.

    Fralin or somebody wrote on their site that the further the pups are from the strings the better the tone but I have not found that to be true at all. In general, they will drop in output proportionate to the amount they're dropped in distance.
  3. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    I happen to agree with Fralin (or whoever) when he suggested that the tone will be better if the pickups aren't close to the strings. Having said that, I will tell you that I am most emphatically not into a "modern" tone; I am strictly into the "old school" tone thing. I like my bass to be heard but not stand out, if that makes any sense.
  4. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    yep, there's a renown player (whoever) that sets his strings extremely low (I think with pup real high) and uses a light attack with the theoretical perspective that the strings actually have more travel (whatever) with a lighter attack. I tried it but my reality was it doesn't work for me cause there are lots of tones I like I can't get by fondling strings. However I did adapt his idea of chucking onboard pre's and controls and, to a lessor degree, using a single pup.

    A real beater would definetly want the pups at some distance. I just found the tone qets anemic for most pups when it's not at maximum useable height. But I don't have a mega watt amp either and that could make a difference.

    Everybody's different and it's always good to hear different views to keep players aware of the different options available to them. The only thing that really matters is whether a given player likes the results he gets, not what someone else thinks about it.
  5. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    The bridge pup on my jazz is closer to the strings than is the neck pup. Both are still quite high, but not high enough to interfere with the strings physically or magnetically.

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