pickup placement

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by mahrous, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    I am done designing everything except for the headstock and pickup placements.

    i might post some drawings of headstocks and get some freedback from you guys. but i am more worried about the pickups at the moment.

    4 basses in production now:
    Telecaster - Jazz Pickups configuration EMG Select
    Jazz - Jazz pickups configuration EMG Select
    my own design - Hybrid P/J configuration EMG Select
    6 Strings neck through - 2 Delano Quad Coil Soapbars

    The first three are more economic and will be sold. they are ash wood with maple neck and fretboard.
    the neckthrough will be my own personal bass. maple core with palisander top. laminated wenge/maple neck and maple fretboard. all basses are fretted.

    my question:
    how do i go about placing my pickups? i would be highly interested in coming up with my new pickup location thing rather than using the traditional Fender one ... especially for the 6stringer 36" bass. this one will be coil splitted and equipped with Aggie OBP3 18Volts or Duncan 3band 36Volts.

    any help would be appreciated!
  2. I don't know much about this, but I know that the farther a pickup goes towards the neck, the more full and "bassy" it will sound. The farther it goes towards the bridge, the more "sharp" and harsh it will sound. Sorry I couldn't offer more info
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
  4. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    i am quite familiar with that applet Frank Martin.

    it doesnt really show me what kind of tone i will get from different placements. say for example a Ken Smith pickup placement gives that Smith tone that is well know. 70s jazz is another. Stingray's placement and so on.

    how do i approach the concept of pickup placement? how did these guys find their sweet spots?
  5. trial and error i am guessing. try putting one right at the bridge and one right against the neck. might be interesting

  6. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner In Memoriam Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build guitars and basses
    That there is any magic in pickup placement is just jive mumbo-jumbo. If you were to only play open strings it would mean something, but once you start playing the bass or guitar it all becomes meaningless except when playing in certain ranges of the neck.

    But how about this? Say you're playing a Les Paul...the "mellowest" pickup setting will be the neck pickup, right? Well what if you're screaming up at the 20th to the 22nd frets? The neck pickup will be closer to one end of the string than the bridge pickup, so the frequency emphasis just got turned around.

    Magnetic pickups divide the string by a constantly changing ratio that shifts harmonic emphasis and de-emphasis constantly as you play up and down the neck.

    Also, just as a general design consideration...making things different just to make them different can be off-putting to your potential clients who may want a bit of the familiar along with whatever unique features you bring to them that they like. I've seen far too many basses what were weird for weird's sake, not for any observable musical reason.
  7. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    one last quick question.

    say i am putting my pups 2inches and 5 inches away from the bridge. which point on the bridge should i measure from? the saddles? the middle point of the bridge? the tip of the bridge? the locking nuts of the bridge?

  8. Mahrous, you should measure using the same reference point that the 2" and 5" dimensions were derived from. Unfortunately, it's common practice to call out dimensions from the bridge or from particular points on the bridge and that isn't so good. Of all the possible reference points available on a bass, the bridge location or location of saddles, etc, are locations can vary greatly from instrument to instrument. The only reference I like to use is the 12th fret because, no matter what 2 instruments you are transferring the dimensions between, the distance from the 12th fret to the center of the pickup poles will remain the same. The bridge or saddle locations could be contrary but that measurement will be consistent.
  9. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    You should measure from the theoretical scale point of each string :D

    Which is not going to be possible on the bridge side, since no bridge has that position marked on it.

    Which is why Hambone suggests the 12th fret as a reference, but still...where on the 12th fret? It's not that easy to find the highest point of the fret.

    If you have an instrument without zero fret, the front of the nut is the best reference. By far.
    If there is a zero fret, first, recognize my congratulations to owning a superior instrument, then, measure from the hihg point of the 0th or the 12th fret! :D
    Good luck!
  10. mahrous


    Aug 13, 2005
    my MTD got a Zero Fret ... but its not really a superior instrument. its a Kingston 5.

    I have placed my pickups last night. and i am gonna be routing them in 2 hours. thanks for the help :)