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Pbass Pickup tilt: It it mandatory ?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by spiker, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. spiker


    Nov 29, 2008
    Central Coast NSW Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Puretone Bass strings

    Recently purchased a 2010 American Standard Pbass that i play 99% with my fingers. It's beautiful. Here are some dramas i'm having with it though:

    The pickups are very tilted leaving me no room to rest my thumb. Should they be so tilted ?

    I'm getting the punchiest sound on the A & D strings, but not much low or high end on e & G strings, which i'm attributing to extensive tilt. I get a great tone playing with a pick, but a bit dry on the E & G strings with fingerstyle.

    What are the pro's and con's of keeping the pickups straight with no tilt (or minimum tilt) ??? What do the pro's do ???

    Thanks for your help.
  2. snaverb


    Feb 19, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    Ive been wondering the same question. Hopefully someone can answer
  3. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    You can adjust it to your liking. The only risk is getting it too high, where it gives a distorted/wavery sound.
  4. spiker


    Nov 29, 2008
    Central Coast NSW Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Puretone Bass strings
    What does the majority do ?
  5. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    the whole idea is to adjust each side of each coil until all 4 strings are equal in volume and tone.

    that will usually mean the pickup sits higher in the middle to follow the fretboard radius, with the G-D coil ending up a little closer to the strings than the A-E coil.
  6. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    The majority give the pup a slight tilt. The idea being so string radius is followed. Allmost no one anymore adjusts their pups according to listening for best tone. Most seem to use rulers and callipers imo and cant and even begin to tell you what little sound tweaks adjusting pole peices and overall pickup height and tilt gives. The only reason they use such and such a distance for closeness to pups etc is cause it was written somewhere as what its supposed to be. Ears are eliminated from the equation. Sad state of affairs and laughable when they then complain about their pups sound.

    Me, I adjust P pups individually by ear. Both pole peices when adjustable, and height and tilt. For best sound. Doing so for each half indivvidually. And then sometimes a small tweak to one halves side for best volume balance to me between the E&A string and the D&G string side.

    Lower your pup all the way down. Listen, Sounds weak compared to how it did before in most cases. Now raise it till it allmost interferes with string by touching it. Sounds a bit distorted but not in musical way dont it? And sustain decreases to. Somewhere between those two extremes is the pups best sound for you. When dealing with two pup basses including those with P neck and bridge set. Theres also the adjusting tweak for both pups on full. And most pleasant tweaks from rolling balance slightly toward neck or bridge. This last tweak is done by raising or lowering one or the other pup just a little bit. But for the average P pup bass, is just one set located somewhere between mid and neck position. So theres no need for pup to pup balannce tweak like with two pup basses
    Jamie_Funk and line6man like this.
  7. I have very slight tilt on mine. If the sound output is even and pleasing to your ears across all the strings, you're fine.
    JLS likes this.
  8. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Banned

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    I set them by ear and they wind up following the curvature of the strings.


    Dec 29, 2009
    They're adjustable by pulling the screws out a little.

    They're tilted because a P bass fretboard is rounded, therefore the center strings are a little higher than the E and G, and therefore the tilt brings the pups closer to the A and D strings. Although, I've noticed Fender is starting to make the tilt a little more extreme than necessary on a lot of newer models...
  10. BroKenSticKs


    Jan 11, 2010
    Mine is quite heavily tilted on my roadworn P. I messed with it until it sounded the most balanced to my ears and thats where it stays.
  11. 39-Bassist


    Jul 7, 2010
    Endorsing Artist for: Brace Audio; Duncan Pickups; Line6, Hipshot, GHS Strings, Somnium Guitars
    The tilting of the pickup should ALWAYS be adjusted to the tone and attack that YOU like. Just careful not to get it too high because of it adding some distortion(some may say) or the fact that they get noisey. Adjust them to your desired height and then make minor tweaks for your taste on each string. Good Luck and hope this helps...
    (Oh and Darkstorm is correct also)
  12. I have mine tilted pretty heavily under my e string. I play in drop d with a pick and if the pickup is too close it will not hesitate to distort. It sits so the part of the pup cover where the screw is is just above the pickguard
  13. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    It varies from bass to bass. I've owned several Amercian P's and a couple of Mexicans and all required slightly different settings for the pickups.

    I have a routine I use that gets me the best results for each individual bass. DISCLAIMER: My method is very unscientific, I don't own calipers and gauges and atomic micrometers, I do it all by ear and always have :)

    I also find it pretty much impossible to truly balance the pickups just playing the bass by itself. I always get a buddy to play drums with me, or at the very least, set up a drum machine so I can play along with it and adjust accordingly. That way I hear the bass in a mix somewhat similar to stage conditions...makes a big difference.

    So...I set both halves of the pickup dead even to start. Most basses will have one string that's not quite as loud as the others, so I will set the pole pieces for that string as close to the string as possible without getting the weird overtones mentioned in a previous post.

    Then I will play the bass for a while across all strings, low and high registers, with my handy screwdriver nearby, and adjust the pickup halves to balance to the quietest string as closely as possible. That usually ends up with the A and D sections a bit higher than the E and G, but not radically so. However, I bought a new American Standard Precision just a couple months ago, and that bass is VERY balanced with the pickups set dead flat...it took only tiny tweaks to get the response even across all 4 strings.
    Oddly, rockinrayduke and JLS like this.
  14. giacomini


    Dec 14, 2008
    Florianopolis - Brazil
    Endorsing: Copetti Guitars
    Yeah, they are made like that so you can get perfect string-to-string balance, specially when the fretboard radius is the standard 7-1/4".

    In my P, I leave the E/A pickup almost flat, a little bit higher in the A side, and the D/G pickup gets a little more tilted up towards the D side. But this is for the Lace Sensors I got. I had a P with the standard Fender pickups on, but I don't remember exactly how I set them up.

    Anyway, string balance is a matter of taste, too... Some people like to bang harder on the E and A strings, but many try to get an even touch on all strings, so having the pickups adjusted to be as balanced as possible helps...

    My .02
  15. I had a '78 P-bass and when I got it, the pickup was dead flat and way low, almost flush to the Pickguard. At the time, I didn't know any better, so I let it be, and was quite happy. Then years later I got Dan Erlewine's Guitar Repair guide, and following his recommendations and specs, set the pickup height so it had that "tilt", and I can tell you it made a very noticeable improvement in tone, volume and string balance. I wished immediately I had known I could do that and done it sooner. SO, IMO, yes, it is mandatory. For me, anyway.
  16. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Does it matter much if the pup is actually tilted down towards the neck? I just cant seem to get mine to sit level in my CV P. Im sure its not going to affect the tone but its annoying when i look at it.
    I have a feeling its to do with the pup cut out forcing this as both the stock pup and a replacement do this.
  17. Craig_S

    Craig_S Banned

    Oct 15, 2008
    Metro Detroit
    Check fender specs for proper distance from the strings. The idea behind the tilt of pickups is to follow the string radius and keep the poles the correct distance from all strings. I think you might have a bass that was improperly adjusted.
  18. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    Some new foam under the pup should fix that. Whats under it now may just be squished into the bridge side making pup want to roll over toward neck side. Or just to weak on that side to hold pup level in that regard.
  19. dave_bass5


    May 28, 2004
    London, UK.
    Its brand new foam centred on a brand new pup. Its definitely the PG that pushing it over slightly. Without the PG on its standing straight but due to the PG not being cut out right im having toforce it towards the neck and so its pushing the pup over.
    The PG will be filed this week to hopefully cure this.
  20. faulknersj

    faulknersj Supporting Member

    Apr 4, 2008
    Scottsdale Az
    DarkStorm nailed it...what he said.
    PawleeP likes this.

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