MIM Geddy Lee & pickup "growl" + height

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by arca_tern, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Hey peeps.

    I recently pulled apart my Geddy Lee to shield it (super fun, went great) but now don't quite have the same "growl" out of the pickups that I did before.

    I'm assuming this has to do with pickup height, but I have them at factory spec.
    How much higher should I go?
    How do I do it in a repeatable, methodical way so I can lower back down to the exact current location if needed? 1/2 turn of the screw on both the treble and bass side of the pickup at a time?

    If you own a MIM Geddy, what height are your pickups?

  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Keep it old school…. …Ruler, pencil, paper. :)
    arca_tern likes this.
  3. guts


    Aug 13, 2018
    You don't need to worry about measurements or repeatability. They won't really help much anyway. And you don't need to worry about the number of turns on each side either.

    Just plug in your bass, adjust the pickup and listen to it. When it sounds the way you want it you're done.

    The goal is not to get a good distance, but a good sound.
    JohnArnson and arca_tern like this.
  4. Everyone is different! Pluck a note/string and start with quarter turns of the screws. I can't comment on that particular bass, or any jazz for that matter, because I don't own one at present.
  5. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    Desert, Colorado
    I stopped shielding Jazz basses. The noise is part of the sound
    arca_tern likes this.
  6. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Just saw interesting video mentioning that at stewmac. The tech says he runs his guitars unshielded and that gives a better sound. I don’t usually look at my control cavities so what I have is unknown. I usually like stock and don’t replace anything other than my drop in John east pre in 1 bass.
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  7. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    Desert, Colorado
    That was strictly bassed on my experience with 2 Jazz basses I shielded. I actually un- shielded the second. The difference was subtle, but discernible
    arca_tern likes this.
  8. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    did you shield the pickup covers themselves? how about the pickup cavities? what material did you use?

    if you use shielding that's too "good" like copper and wrap it right up against the pickups it'll actually dull the tone a little due to eddy currents.

    as for pickup height in general, it's a tradeoff on those old-school flat pole J pickups: if you get too close the outer strings get too hot compared to the middle strings; you have to keep them further away, especially on the bass side, and just make up the volume with the signal chain.
    arca_tern likes this.
  9. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Not buying this. On the face, anyway.

    I’m a piano tuner/tech and a pro sound guy (means I do it successfully for a living), so I trust my ears implicitly. I play mostly with a $650 set of in-ear monitors. And there’s a very specific tone I’m looking for and partial to with Jazz basses with single-coil pups.

    I’ve shielded 3 Jazz basses pretty thoroughly after experiencing significant noises issues. I did the control cavity, pickup cavities, under the pickguard, and even the little wire tunnels. I was careful to not let the foil touch anything but the surface it was applied to. And I tack-soldered each piece of foil together at a small point of the overlap.

    In each case, I noticed no change in tone. I don’t doubt the potential exists for problems if the foil is allowed to get too close to a pickup. And that shouldn’t happen with properly-applied shielding paint.

    I kinda equate that sort of thing with losing vintage tone because the 50-year-old lint and dust was removed from the vintage guitar’s control cavity. I’ll never discount anyone’s assertions about such things. I don’t put much in them, but to each their own.

    And thankfully, all my basses sounded the same, but much quieter after the shielding work.
    arca_tern likes this.
  10. guts


    Aug 13, 2018
    It's one of those things that would be super easy to prove or disprove with before and after recording. Nobody ever seems to want to do those sorts of tests when it comes to stuff that affects the tone of an instrument.

    I personally think that a noisy instrument is basically useless. So I would shield even if it significantly changed the tone. Tone can easily be adjusted.
    arca_tern likes this.
  11. the noise was interference from lights etc. especially bad on a big stage with big sound. hard pass on that.

    No, I didn't shield the covers of the pickups.
    I shielded every cavity and hole between cavities with high end shielding paint and tested conductivity across the board. Not touching pickups themselves or anything.

    Yeah, the bass was hotter but everywhere had grind/growl. Going to play around to find a happy medium.

    Yeah, don't think it does, and worth it to shield 100%. At least with this specific bass.
  12. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician - Retired
    The best sounding Jazz bass I have has shielded pickups - i.e. the windings of the pickups are wrapped with electrical tape and then that is covered with copper foil that is grounded. It is the stock configuration of this brand of bass and it's a brand used by many of the top players in the USA. I haven't heard any of them complaining about a loss of tone.
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