Correct distance from Pickups to strings on my P bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rocksolid, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. I just posted something in another thread that reminded me to ask this question: What is the correct distance from the Pickups to the strings on a P bass? The Pbass is a late 80's MIJ with a Frahlin Pickup and a Bad ass II bridge on it.

    I had a dead E string issue - and started screwing with the pick up height to fix it but it wasn't the answer to my problems - as a consequence I ruined the set up of the pickups on this bass. (Not that I am convinced they were right in the first place)

    In the end I had the Pickups too close to the strings (I believe) as the signal from the bass was hotter than previously and did not sound as clean. I have since screwed the pickups down some and am alot happier with the sound but I would like some other opinions.

    Thanks in advance!!
  2. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Allentown, PA!
  3. bass_fish


    Oct 26, 2006
    the Netherlands
    well since Fender pickups and frahlin pickups aren't gonna be the same... don't think that's gonna help much...

    but you're happy with it now right? leave it alone! there isn't a rule, just a guide... if they don't distort and it sounds fine to you, leave it alone...

    just my opinion
  4. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    more info here:

    there is no real "correct answer," it's as much personal preference as anything.

    I don't see how you could ruin a pickup by adjusting height.

    I run mine as high as I can get 'em, short of the strings hitting the poles when I dig in.
  5. Thanks Guys! I will have a read of the links

    And no not ruin the Pickups - just ruin the set up that I had or the positions they were in. Worded poorly I will admit!
  6. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Be careful, too close to the strings, and you can get interesting tuning adventures. :)

    I had the neck pickup on my Stingray 4HS too close to the strings, and it was pulling the strings down, causing fret buzz on the E and A strings.

    On a P Bass, I get the E string to sound just how I like it, the adjust the rest of the strings to balance volume.
  7. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    There's no correct answer. Just put 'em where you think it sounds best. Too close, is a bigger problem than too far away.

    I run all my P bass p/u's fairly low in the body, but that's just what suits me best.

    Try adjusting it untill you like what you hear. It's just that simple.
  8. johnnydenver


    Apr 14, 2008
    i can't get the Pu's low enough in my p-bass...the screws are tightened all the way and the pickups are still close to a 1/4 inch out of the body...normal?
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Press the pickup body/cover down firmly as you tighten. Use the right size phillips head screwdriver.
  10. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
    sometimes I can't even hear the difference when i change the pickup height :p
  11. Set them up as per the Fender instructions and the A and D strings are significantly louder. Played with the heights and it is all balanced out and I am fairly happy. Need to hear it in context with a band and out of my little rehearsal room where everything rattles but I think I am close.

    You are certainly better off starting with them all a little further away and moving them closer as needed I feel.
  12. Depends on teh magnets. The beefy alnico5 mags are sensitive. start with 4mm.

    Johnny, normal. Most pups are backed by a dense foam. I;ve had to take that foam out and slice it in half to get the right heights sometimes.
  13. Stealth


    Feb 5, 2008
    Zagreb, Croatia
    From what I've heard, the general idea is to start with pickups as high as they go (without messing with the strings), fret the highest possible position and then lower the pickups until you stop hearing high harmonics (that is, until the real note becomes dominant).
  14. I spend a lot of time adjust my pickups. IMHO, it's the most overlooked or improperly done part of a setup. There are son many factors, the pickups themselves, the strings, how you play, etc. Once your overall set up is to your liking, experiment with pickup adjustment. I have 4 P basses and each one is dialed in a little differently.
    smart51 likes this.
  15. johnnydenver


    Apr 14, 2008
    regarding my inability to get the pickups low enough - i am able to push the PU down lower, but the screw is just done - won't move, any more and it feels like it'll strip...

    i might need to add a tiny washer or something...
  16. MaddAnthony_59

    MaddAnthony_59 Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2006
    Columbus, IN
    I Channel Surf During Commercials. (Drives my Wife CRAZY!!!)
    As a starting point I fret the strings at the 22nd Fret (Yep I've got 22 fret P-Basses!:bassist:) and get a stack of Feeler gauges set to .250 (1/4" for Non-Gear Heads...) and raise/lower the pickups accordingly. After playing for 10 - 15 minutes I adjust slightly as needed. Viola!
  17. DavePlaysBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    On my 50s P with an NP4 and 760FLs, I have the strings a little more than 1/8" between the top of the pole and the bottom of the string as the last fret is fretted. If memory serves the correct the E and A strings are on the order of 0.14" to 0.15" away. The D and G are a little closer. I finder lowering them beyond the factory specs using speaks better to my playing. Less rattle and string noise. And I do not feel I lose anything tone wise.

  18. markorbit


    Apr 16, 2004
    +1. I have ruined a good number of Fender pick up screws over the years. I think they are made of chocolate.

    My Precision setup tends to favour substantially angled pickups to get the string to string balance to my liking. I also like a fair bit of clearance between the stings and pickups. My 'E' and 'G' sides tend to be set low, sometimes quite close to being flush with the pickguard.

    My #1 hate with an otherwise good sounding bass is uneven string balance which is why I love P basses. They're so adjustable.