How important is pickup placement?!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by stitchbass, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. stitchbass


    May 20, 2006
    Virginia Water
    I know the basics of if a pup is near the neck it will sound warmer and fuller and if it is near the bridge it will sound thinner and clearer with a more midrangery thing going on. But does it really make a huge difference where EXACTLY the pups go? I say this because I got a pair of soapbars to stick in my in progress custom and want to put them in a traditional precision and slightly nearer bridge musicman positions, but by eye.......?

    Help would be much appreciated, I tried the search and couldn't find answer to this problem, thank you :)
  2. I've experimented a few times putting non standard pups in....
    from my experiences I don't think you'll notice much difference in the "exact" placement
  3. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I can stick any pup anywhere and it takes right at 3/4" (J width) for me to tell any difference in the same pup. So that's a fairly insignificant variation. Of course different pups or the same pups in a different bass you can't compare cause they sound different to begin with. Brighter tones are more easily distinguished by the human ear so it's easier to tell differences at the bridge than neck moved the same distance.

    Have no idea what was behind the Fender 60's - 70's variaton: promo gimmick, re-tooling. Who knows. Given CBS did a study that demonstrated to them that musicians basically hear what they're told, I doubt it had anything to do with tone.
  4. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Is this available to read anywhere?
  5. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    I completely concur... This can be illustrated, by merely picking up ANY bass, & trying this experiment...

    Start by playing down near the bridge, & then slowly work your way up towards the neck. You'll noticed a distinct change in tone of the notes as you work up the neck.

    Granted, pups are mounted to a fixed position, but if you can change the tone of a note, by merely altering how its struck, its common sense to realize that altering where its "received" by the pick up... would also affect how a note sounds.

    Perhaps the half an inch diff, between 60's & 70's may not be as drastic. But, consider either model jazz.... then pan full bridge only, to full neck only. Certainly, it illustrates the difference perfectly.
  6. RyreInc


    May 11, 2006
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Pickup placement need not be precise; once the general location is determined, a few millimeters won't make much difference. BUT:

    As you get closer to the bridge, a change of 1mm will have a bigger and bigger impact. Think of it as a percentage: if you're close to the neck, a change of 5mm, say from 250mm to 255mm from the bridge (with scale length being 34 in. = 863.6 mm) is a change of only 2%; If you're only 20mm away, a 5mm change (to 25mm) is a 25% change. This is why the bridge pup placement change from 60's to 70's J Basses is so significant.

    Also, pups basically take a reading of the string vibration at a specific point--so if your pup happens to be at the location of a node for a particular frequency, that frequency will not be picked up by the pickup. This is not an issue for fundementals and lower overtones, but as pitch increases the nodes get closer and closer together. Of course, all of this changes once you fret a note!

    Or, say if you have 2 pups, one pup could be reading an upward movement of the string while the other pup is reading a downward movement, thusly cancelling each other out (again, this concerns overtones only, not the fundemental). Or they might reinforce each other for another frequency, making that pitch louder.

    Not sure how all of this affects pup placement, but it's food for thought anyways! :)
  7. The Penguin

    The Penguin duplicate account violation Inactive

    Jun 21, 2006
    I'm not pelagic :bag:

    But seriously I would love to see that article of a CBS test.

    I'm also of the school of thought that position is a large factor in tone but I wouldn't say that being off a 1/2 or 1/4 inch will ruin a tone as is sometimes implied with "sweet spot" but it will simply change the tone a little bit. You can always wire the pickup in question to a cord plugged into your amp and have a friend hold it over the strings and move it up and down as you play to see exactly what position you prefer in this particular case.
  8. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    That 1/2" difference in sound probably has more to do the how the pickups are wound than the 1/2".
  9. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004
    Sup Aussie,

    It's mentioned in Donald Brosnac's Guitar Electronics For Musicians among other places but I've never been able to find the actual study.

    In general, I have no trouble accepting the results however. Whether it's valid depends on how they did the study. But there's no debating that sound is an evasive/deceptiive phenomenon. One of the things that makes is so appealing.

    For some of the other post: drawing a conclusion about one thing based on a different thing is not a sound approach (so to speak). You can believe anything you want, to know you have to do - and even that's subjective.
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