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Jazz bass pickup height & angle

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by static0verdrive, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. Hi guys,

    Over the weekend I swapped out the pickups and electronics in my squier VM fretless jazz for Nordstrand NJ4's and CTS pots. Overall I'm very happy, minus the fact I had to create new holes for the control plate (in every sense - had to drill out the holes to 3/8" to fit the CTS pots in, and had to screw into new holes in the body because of the pot size difference, but I lucked out and the new placement covered the old holes... PHEW!)

    I've noticed a horrible chorus-like effect on the higher frets, and I suspect it's related to pickup height after finding this thread. I had just eyeballed the pup heights compared to my fretted jazz, but the La Bella Low Tension Flexible flats on this fretless have a higher amount of excursion compared to the rounds on my fretted. So, a few searches later I found the stock / recommended heights here, (for reference they are 7 - 8 64th's of an inch (2.78 - 3.175 mm) on the Bass / E side, and 5 - 6 64's of an inch (1.98 - 2.38 mm) on the Treble / G side.

    So I was curious... do you guys angle the top of your pickups at all? In other words, do you leave the top of the pup parallel with an untouched string or parallel with a string you're holding at the last fret? Stock indicates level with an untouched fret, but anyone stray from that?

    Thanks for your input.
    duracos likes this.
  2. LoveThatBass


    Jun 28, 2004
    There have been times depending on String choice I have had to lower one side or another. If you strings have a lot of magnetic properties you will need to lower the pickup as the magnetic pull is too strong on the strings.
    static0verdrive likes this.
  3. Curious... Any possibility the horrible chorus-like effect is from it being harder to intonate a fretless in the higher "frets"? I usually get this effect when fretting up there myself... I know when I swapped my stock VM Jazz pots with CTS's, the notes got a lot clearer and would make it easier to hear this.

    Regarding pickup angles, I usually keep them relatively flat, with maybe a slight dip towards the neck, but not as much as the same angle as the string being fretted at the last fret since I rarely play up that high.
    duracos and static0verdrive like this.
  4. I'm not sure. I don't think so though - usually the difficulty getting intonation right has more to do with scale length and strings than fretted vs fretless, I think. I thought maybe the issue had to do with the fact my neck (right around where the heel attaches to the body) raises up a bit, meaning it buzzes on the higher "frets" some unless I have the action set a bit higher. I adjusted my pickups last night and the chorus-y problem is just about gone though, so that's a plus.
    OK awesome - this is pretty much what I realized as I went ahead with the adjustment. The strings no longer hit the pole pieces if I'm really digging in, so no more clicking in that regard.

    Thanks for the replies guys!
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  5. Hey Static,

    The raised neck at the heel isn't a good thing. What's your relief like? You can check this by fretting the first and last note, The string shouldn't touch the board anywhere in between, but you should only be able to stick a credit card (or less) flat in between the board and the 8th fret.
  6. duracos


    May 10, 2014
    For Static,
    See this link Setting Pickup Height Using Foam | eBass.... in step 9. speaks of the angle of the pickup relative to the strings. I understand that the thought of a free string ... not pressed with finger.
  7. Thanks for the replies guys!
    The relief is just right (I finally have all the proper tools including the string action gauge I kept forgetting so I could measure and adjust relief and pickup height properly). It does raise a little at the heel still but not as bad as when I got it - Squier had a very much unneeded sandpaper shim that I removed. Between that and a PROPER setup (measuring, not eyeballing) it is much much better.
    OK cool - thanks again. Once I stopped overthinking it and did it, I could see that going flat made sense... the angle of the string doesn't change too much anyway unless you're right up at the last few frets (which is rare for me anyway).

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