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EMG pickup height?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by kyral210, Nov 21, 2007.

  1. kyral210


    Sep 14, 2007

    To get that reall cool rock sound out of a set of EMG's, what height do you put them at?

    If you depress the string at the last fret, there should be a gap between the pickups and the base of the string.

    Currently I have my pickups as high as they go without touching the strings, is this a good move? What is your perfect distance.
  2. figuredbass

    figuredbass Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    NYC vicinity
    EMG recommends that the strings be as close to the strings as possible (without the vibrating strings banging into them). You're allowed to do this with EMG's because their much weaker magnets won't perturb the vibrating strings, while most passive pickups will. While you are allowed to this, you still may find a "sweet spot" of string height that responds and produces the tone you're looking for. I believe that for the rock tone you're looking for you should have them fairly close to the strings. I would say fret the last fret and adjust the PU's so you can just fit two Fender Medium picks inbetween. You should get good response and aggression. Don't get TOO close though because you get TOO fat or blurry - remember there's also "too much of a good thing." YMMV, so experiment to zero in on the height/balance that get's what you're after. For example, you may prefer to have the bridge PU a little closer than the neck PU for a little more Music Man-like snarl and cut-through.
  3. kyral210


    Sep 14, 2007
    Thanks. I have a J pickup at the bridge, and a P pickup in the neck. Currently I have the neck pickup screwed quite far down, and the J right up there! Im still not convinced I have the right height.

    If anyone has this combination, could you post your heights? As with (almost all) EMG pickups, I use them for metal!
  4. badboy1984


    Mar 27, 2007
    United Kingdom
    on my warwick corvette i have 2 EMG J pickup. Both pickup is pretty heigh up and close to the string. I not too happy about the sound i get when playing near the bridge, i feel the pickup is too height on the bridge. Can't really dig the string when playing near the bridge, maybe is my technique i guess.
  5. Skunch


    Jul 31, 2011
    I first go for a balance in the volume between each pickup and between the highest and lowest string, then I adjust both pickups the same amount. For tone considerations, I choose a good pickup combination and eq it. If you're going for a certain sound, I would suggest focusing on the type of pickup, the type of wood, on-board eq, passive/active, etc. before thinking about the height of the pickups. However, my understanding is that the neck pickup will convey the fundamental more whereas the bridge pickup will bring out the overtones to fill out and complete the timbre. I have an EMG DC(Bridge) and an EMG CS(Neck) in a Warmoth made of wenge wood. I find it to be very bright, but it's better to have the extra highs and cut them out a little than if they were too quiet to begin with. I lowered the bridge pickup and it took out some of the overtones. Also, if you find that you're getting a "detuned" sound as though you were playing more than one note(especially in the E or low B strings), lower the pickups until it isn't noticeable.
  6. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    When I used EMG pickups I would press the strings down on the last fret, and then adjust the pickups so they were as close to the strings as I could get them without the strings hitting the pickups when I played. Then I would lower the bass side slightly for better balance.

    There is no advantage having them far from the strings. Magnetic force falls off with the square of the distance, so keeping them closer is better.
  7. I've tried it both ways on my Jazz, alot of the fullness and power disappears the further the pickups get away from the strings. Right now they are as high as the hardware will allow... they almost come flush with the height of the neck.

    For a more 'rock' tone I keep the bridge pickup a little closer to the strings than the neck pickup.

    And even than my passive Les Paul bass is much hotter than my active EMG fender jazz
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    if you're trying to get the J "balanced" with the P, forget it!

    get the P up to where it sounds good by itself (nice and close for EMGs, with a bit more clearance for the low E), and run the J up close as well.

    the P will be louder, but that's fine. the J is just there to "season" the P pickup, scooping the mids out and adding a bit of treble.
  9. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    The EMG Jazz pickups are not very loud, but they have a nice tone.

    My favorite set on my 5 string basses was a 40P5 and a 40J.
  10. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    The only way to do oit right is by ear, listening. Adjust each pups individually solo'd for best tone and output to you. If the pole peices are adjustable, mess with them to. Generally raising pole peices a little above the pup hosuing top increases bite, treble,a nd lowering them a little below pup housing top generally decreases bite and treble and can make pup muddy sounding. Inbetween is of course that range of sound. Adjust pup height for bets overall tone and volume to you. Its common for some to slant pups a little to so that one side is lower then the other for better string tos tring volume. Then this done, put both pups on full. Tweak the pups as follows if desired:

    If you want a little bit darker tone for crusing voice (both pups on full) either lower the bridge pup just a little or raise the neck pup just a little.

    Do you want slightly darker tone for the D&G strings? Raise the neck pup slightly on that side and/or lower the bridge pup on that side. If you want slightly brighter tone on the E&A strings slightly lower the neck pup and/or raise the bridge pup slightly on that side.

    If you have individually adjustable pole peices you can also do the darker/brighter tweak by adjusting the pole peices.

    If you have single pup bass the only way to adjust pups for brighter or darker on one side compared to the other is via adjustable pole peices.

    Those who rely on a measurement for pups adjustments are loosing out on any opportunity to give the bass the best sound possible to them for pup adjustment.

    I once read a post about some guy who complained about among other things, "the pups on his new bass where not screwed down all the way". As though factory worker was too lazy to finish screwing them down. This peep is completely clueless about adjusting pups for best tone, best output level, and best string to string tone and volume.

    Measurements are only useful when tweaking your standyby/2nd bass which has exact same pups & preamp in it to be same as other bass if your too lazy to do it by ear for that bass.

    Ok, now we've learned the basics of adjusting pups individually and for paired together. Ok, roll off the volume just a little bit on the neck pups while keeping bridge pup full on. Pay attention to this sound change and its diff from soloing neck pup. Repeat for tilting the blend a little toward the bridge pup. Again listen to the diff on tone compared to both pups on full and bridge pup solo. Retweak the pups for best sound with either of these two addtional voicings as deisred if you use that skew fairly often.