Exact MM pickup position for a fretless?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by teppotyrvainen, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. Hello,

    I am planning to build a neck-through-body 5-string fretless with only one magnetic pickup. I have built earlier one fretless Jazz bass with "active EMGs" and now I thought to try MusicMan style.

    I have searched this database a while but so far not found the answer. I have read that there is some variation in the positioning of the pickup, but there were no exact measures.

    So the question is; what should be the distance between the nut and the center point of the pickup? Either in inches or millimeters (e.g. for 34" scale) or as fraction of the scale length. :confused:

    I guess there is some usable range for the placement. At least with my fretless Jazz the neck pickup makes the sound muddy if it's opened too much; only the bridge pickup reproduces well the fretless acoustic sound. Could I make a conclusion that for a fretless MM pickup position should be selected from the bridge end on the usable range?

  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    If you could...... assemble the bass without routing for the pickup. String it up and tune it acousticly, check for harmonics near the bridge and place the pickup centered on those harmonics. Just my thoughts..........t
  3. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    ofgb.org (TB member bgavin's site) has the info you want, in the musiciansreference.xls file. The site seems to be down, now, though. If you still haven't gotten the info by Monday, I have a copy of the file at work, and can give it to you then.
  4. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Found an image I posted in the past with standard positions for 34" scale. Hope it's readable.
  5. Pilot, what are those dimensions being referenced from?
  6. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Those are from Bruce Gavin's database that I mentioned. He has measured up quite a number of instruments. (Also, there's TONS of other info in that document. It's a great service for him to have it available. Hopefully he'll be back online sometime soon.)

    A few minor notes on the figures in my drawing:
    - For the J bridge position, I either did an average of the various positions, or I used the more common (non-70s) position. I think it was the latter, but I'm not sure.
    - He measures from the far side (head side) of the 12th fret to each pup position. So, I have subtracted out a small amount (1/16" maybe?) to get the approximate distance to the middle of the 12th fret, then added 17" to get the distance from the nut. I could check exactly how much I subtracted out tomorrow if anyone's interested.
  7. Hi,

    The site seems to be still down, can you attach the file to this thread or send it to me?

    Did I understand correct that the distance from the nut edge (or center?) to the centerline of Musicman PU should be between 30.172"-31.109"?

    Did you find out the method you used when making these calculations?

  8. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001

    Sorry for not getting back to you.

    I have a copy of the ss from 2005.10.22. The ss is nearly 3Mb, so I can't post it here. I've sent you an email so you can email me back so I can get your email address so I can send you the ss. (Whew!!)

    When you get the ss you'll be able to figure what I subtracted for the half-fret width, since you'll have the original data.

  9. Luke Sheridan

    Luke Sheridan Commercial User

    Dec 30, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I build guitars and sell them. Strings, too
    I'm interested in this document as well. I can host it on my site if you'd like. PM me and we can set it up.
  10. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ
    A MM in the middle position where a P-Pickup would usually bee. sounds nice on a fretless. Just ask Michael Manring and Zon.

  11. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    My understanding has always been that the distances are from the nut to the magnetic centreline of each pickup, or each half in the case of the MM.
  12. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I think Ham was asking where I got the numbers from. The answer is from bgavin's spreadsheet.

    Physically, the numbers shown are from the nut to the magnetic centerlines, as you've suggested. The data in the source spreadsheet is a measurement from the magnetic centerline to the far side (nut side) of the 12th fret, which is where one can easily hook a tape measure.
  13. No, the second part is what I was after. Thanx!
  14. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    FYI to all who wanted the spreadsheet:

    Just retrieved two emails from bgavin. The first was giving permission for Luke to host the file. But that's no longer necessary, since the second said that his site is back up. Just tried it- it works now.
  15. jongor

    jongor Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2003
    Does anyone have this file or know the musicman pickup location dimension?

    The site referred to earlier in this thread is offline again.
  16. 13.09" from center of neck-side polepieces to the G-string bridge saddle, measured with a digital caliper on a Stingray 5 (34" scale).
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    I do believe the MM5 pup has a different position from the MM4- actually the same as the Sterling 4, or something like that. Also, a measurement to the bridge saddle is less useful, since these get adjusted for intonation. You want a measurement from either the nut or the 12th fret.

    jongor, email me and I'll send you the latest copy I have.
  18. Here's the picture of my fretless bass that I made using the MM pickup, a Bartolini. The body wood is Birdseye Maple. I may have just gotten lucky (I didn't PLAN out it's location, really). . . . but everyone that has heard it has spoken high praise of it, . . . . even the person in the music shop who hooked up the electronics said that it sounded better than the fretless basses on his wall (and it's a good sized store).

    Just FYI

  19. Hi,

    I started this thread 6 months ago and my bass is still heavily "under construction". I have not routed the cavity for my Bartolini 5-string-Musicman pickup (I guess the same type as you have) and I can still select the position.

    You have a good looking fretless and I believe it sounds also great. Would you be so kind to measure the pickup position from the nut? In this case measuring from the "bridge side" edge of the nut to the "neck side" edge of the pickup would be the easiest (since the pickup dimensions are probably identical).

    By the way, is your bass 34" scale? Mine is.

  20. jongor

    jongor Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2003
    Dude, that can't be right. The 12th fret is 17", it's 4" away from the 12th fret?