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How far off can pole/string alignment be and still work?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by HooBass, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Hi folks,

    Asked another way, I have PUPs whose pole pieces will be fairly out of whack with my B and G strings, and is it worth installing them and trying them out, or is it a lost cause?

    I did a quick search but didn't see a definitive answer for this (or I didn't read closely enough) so I wanted to test the waters before I 1) install them only to see that this defies physics too much or 2) return them or put them up for sale.

    By "out of whack" I mean the following: There are two poles for each string (these are five string Ultra Jazz PUPs). Instead of being between its two pole pieces, the B string would be above the "bottom pole" of its two poles (actually slightly towards below that pole). The G string would be off by basically the same amount, just in the opposite direction. E and D strings off less so (almost between the poles) and of course the A string (being center-most) is spot on (yea! one out of five ain't bad).

    I'm fairly embarrassed. For how much I measured to make sure the PUPs would fit the routes in the body, and considered how I'd modify the pickguard to make them fit, I failed to measure for string spacing. Ugh. To be less self-deprecating, I had been comforted by a poster who mentioned string spacing wasn't a problem for his 5 string SX (mine is an SX, too) using Ultra Jazz PUPs.

    I can get specific measurements if useful.

    What do folks think?
  2. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    This is going to be a stupid question, but does it affect your tone any?

    On my SX...the string is like over one pole for my E string...and it doesn't make that much of a difference.

  3. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Thanks for the reply!

    Not a stupid question -- but my original post isn't clear. I haven't yet installed these PUPs, so I can't say if it would affect my tone.

    Indeed I'm hoping to shed some light on if there'd be significant volume (or tone) issues *before* I install. This is to be my learning opportunity at installing new electronics, and I don't want to have to add a take-PUPS-out-sell-buy-new-and-re-wire-everything task to the mix.

    Talk soon,
  4. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Actually you can try them without installing them. Use a couple of lumps of plumbers putty to temporarily mount them over the strings as opposed to them being under the strings.
    Use a shielded cable with a plug on one end and just hook the wires directly to the pup. This will do away with the volume and tone controls but it lets you hear the true sound of the pup.
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I had this question when I was setting up a Jazz bass - the string spacing was such that the strings weren't exactly over the poles. No problem is the answer to your question, the magnetic field of the pickup extends pretty well evenly from the outer pole on the treble side to the outer pole on the bass side. I'm almost certain that you would notice no problem with string balance, output, whatever. As long as the installation is a reversible process with no routing you're not really taking any chances, I'd say go for it.

    luknfur's the guy to ask if you want more reassurance - he'll more than likely respond to this thread or you could send him a PM. Hope this helps ya!
  6. HooBass


    May 27, 2003
    Great feedback guys -- You've given me some good ideas