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Jazz pickup string/pole relationship - important?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Flacco, May 16, 2018 at 1:06 PM.


  1. No - you are crazy

  2. Yes - absolutely, your crazy is justified

  3. Yes - but only to tone snobs and the not the average listener

  4. Soft, boiled carrots

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Flacco

    Flacco

    Jan 22, 2017
    Jacksonville, FL
    Here I go again showing my OCD...but I've recently been irrationally (or rationally) obsessed with the location of the strings on Jazz basses and how they are "supposed" to pass directly through the pole pieces on the pickups. I had on old '93 fender jazz that had the two same sized "neck" pickups and I was convinced it didn't sound as good as my newer jazz because the string didn't "thread the needle" with respect to the pole pieces for each string. Well then I started to not like playing fender Jazzes (Blasphemy!) because I'm a little guy and I started gravitating towards smaller jazz style basses like sterlings. Then in looking for a smaller, lighter passive Jazz bass I recently got a G&L JB-2 trib and everything is great: lightweight, great tone, great setup out of the box, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut..........the E and G strings don't pass exactly through the pole pieces.

    Am I crazy? does this matter at all to the sound? Tell me I should love my G&L unconditionally like my mom does for me. Thanks.

    - Flacco
     
    Spidey2112 and Pbassmanca like this.
  2. OCD, OCD, OCD... Welcome to my world! :D
     
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You are hearing with your eyes.
     
  4. musicman666

    musicman666

    Sep 11, 2011
    ca
    I changed the saddles on my American Standard jazz to the threaded type saddle. This helped me to accommodate my preference for string spacing. Made no difference in tone as far as I can tell.
     
  5. Flacco

    Flacco

    Jan 22, 2017
    Jacksonville, FL
    I like that, I really do. However, I convinced myself by A/B'ing my basses and applying some amateur science as follows:

    The "tone" is developed from the string influencing/distorting the magnetic field produced by the pole pieces in the presence of the wire wraps. Thus, if the string is physically located in a different spot, it will influence the field differently and thus produce a different tone. Same reason why pickup location (neck vs bridge) produces a different tone. I just don't know if this small of a location difference matters.
     
  6. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    Absolutely. I can hear it instantly. Having one or more strings directly over a pole as opposed to evenly between the pair will cause it to be louder, spiky and uneven in tone and volume. Very much like the first generation P's, which led to the improved pickup in '57. It's even more problematic on the Jazz, since it's already going to have too hot an E or G since the stock pickup has flat poles right across, and doing a proper setup with the strings arcing to match the radius accentuates the problem even further.
     
    rockinrayduke, 70spbase and jamro217 like this.
  7. dabbler

    dabbler

    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    Short answer is, "Everything matters." But for me, what I care about is does it REALLY make a difference "that I can hear"? In my experience the answer is no, but let me explain why.

    When I have had strings not line up, it tends to be worse on one side relative to the other. Adjusting my pickup height by ear simply results in a little tilt, but the tone and volume wind up being consistent (to my ears) across the strings.

    That said, FranF does bring up the point that a small radius fretboard (mine have large radii) can make it difficult even when the string pass directly over the poles because of the flat poles being different distances from the strings. Tilts can't fix that.

    I've never been OCD about anything, and when it comes to setting up my bass all that matters is what I feel and hear. And be aware that many of the differences that you, the musician, hear, will be lost in the mix to the audience.
     
    Hillbillypolack likes this.
  8. Bass'd on a true story

    Bass'd on a true story

    Jun 28, 2015
    It matters, but does it make it sound more pleasing or less? That's a much harder question to answer. Who would have thought that a piece of foam under the bridge would make a P-bass sound better than it does straight out of the custom shop (this is obviously a point of opinion, but you get the idea).
     
    Hillbillypolack likes this.
  9. Jewce

    Jewce

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I beleive you on the pole peices part of it, but the tone between the neck and bridge differ because of tension, and resonant area. That's just the common sense of it. Towards the neck, the strings is loose and moves freely. Hence the big deep mellow sound. At the bridge, the string is tight and moves very little. Hence the quick sharp sound. But, the pole peices definitely play a part in the fullness of the string. They're there to pick up the vibrations. The closer they are to perfect, the fuller the sound produced. Common sense right? Whether it's a "noticeable" difference or not is an X factor. But, it definitely does affect it.
     
    Flacco likes this.
  10. sikamikanico

    sikamikanico

    Mar 17, 2004
    Iowa
    I think it depends on how bad the misalignment is. A little off, get over it. Badly misaligned, I’d first check the setup, then question the craftsmanship :) but yeah, I think I heard a difference a few times when I came across a bad misalignment. I could have been fooling myself too, or other factors may have been present...

    I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but Fodera Duncans have one large pole under the C string by design. I believe it’s to beef up the otherwise twangy C...
     
    Flacco likes this.
  11. It does make a difference, but when compared to such other factors as string choice, pickups, pot and cap resistance, amp, settings, pedals, technique, tort and mojo, it drops down on the list.
     
    Spidey2112 and Flacco like this.
  12. @Ric5 has used regular 8-pole jazz bass pickups in 5-string bass builds before and IIRC found them to be sufficient. So I would say no, exact lining up isn't important at all, as long as all strings are within the magnetic field.
     
  13. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    Colorado
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    yes I do that sometimes

    b%20092.

    Now I put blank covers on the pickups and they look better and still sound the same.

    b%20529.

    I got the idea from the Rickenbacker toaster pickup. It has 6 poles and they use it on 6 string guitars, 4 string basses, 5 string basses, and 8 string basses.
     
  14. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    Minnesota
    ... just curious what year of American Standard you had that did not already have threaded/spiral type saddles stock, Longhorn?
     
  15. Picton

    Picton

    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    Good Lord.

    Learn to do a setup. Then, make your bass sound like you like it. After that, quit messing with it.

    If it sounds like it should, why would anyone care about whether the polepieces are bisected?
     
  16. faulknersj

    faulknersj Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2008
    Scottsdale Az
    These pickups are your solution....never an issue!
    1D8CDF5C-17F1-4E23-9758-4A4491C3DE96. AE7A05FB-252D-44CF-8F0E-68A3EC7E7047.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018 at 12:55 AM
    Spidey2112, Flacco and Korladis like this.
  17.  
  18. pasi

    pasi

    Jan 6, 2015
    Finland
    Absolutely No ,polepieces has magnetic field
     
  19. The marginal (if any) difference will be automatically compensated by your hands when you play.
     
  20. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    Damn the torpedoes, I'm going to start playing with really dark shades, then...
     
    two fingers and Flacco like this.