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What is the reasoning behind having 2 screws on one side and 1 screw on the other for pickups?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by matante, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    You have tons of pickups that simply have one screw on each side and they were perfectly, so what is the reason that some pickups use a different number of screws per side?
  2. To level them.
    If you have four screws, only two of them could be holding it down while 1 or 2 are loose.

    Also, if you have 4 screws & want to tilt it towards the neck, you need to turn two screws, but how do you know when they're evenly tightened?

    A tripod situation takes the guess-work out of the equation.

    If there's only two screws the pickup can tilt one way or the other & the only control you have is to re-pack the foam underneath it.
    cataract, zontar, zubrycky and 13 others like this.
  3. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    So conversely, if 3 screws are necessary to level the pickups why do so many designs (including modern ones like EMG 35, Bartolini candy bars, etc) use only 2 screws? These were designed after the invention of MM pickup and therefore the designer could see if there was a benefit to that 3 screw design.
    Ross W. Lovell and gebass6 like this.
  4. simple
    Bartolini & EMG are flawed designs

    Loring, equill and jbrew73 like this.
  5. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    You can level a pickup with two or four screws, but it's easier with three. Why then use two? My guess would be economics, esthetics, and/or tradition...
    john m and Killed_by_Death like this.
  6. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Those pickups are in a Bartolini shape, including the screws. Yeah, if 3 is best then other designs are flawed but then why use flawed designs even when designing new pickups from scratch? I'm just curious what pickup companies and luthiers would say as to their reasoning.
  7. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    It's not economics since so many new basses come with 2 screw design, from cheapies to Spectors to Foderas. I don't think Fodera chooses the 2 screw design to save money.
    pellomoco14 likes this.
  8. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Don't underestimate Leo's frugality :) When it comes to boutique makers, I suspect esthetics or tradition might prevail as key reasons, and they could also have other reasons and beliefs...
    matante likes this.
  9. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    It's simply to allow the pickup to be tilted forward to match the angle of the strings over the body. Gibson used (and still does use) angled guitar pickup rings for this reason, but it doesn't actually work that well; the pickups usually don't follow the angle of the rings in the end. The three screw method does work. Some pickups have four, but three is all you need to do it.
    Clutchcargo likes this.
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    If the pickup has a single line of poles, as opposed to a 2 row humbucker, 2 screws are enough.
    In some case the 2 screw setup can be problematic, like when you have a P in a soapbar case. It can be really difficult to adjust with only 2 screws.
    3 screws. No more, no less. 3 shall be the number of screws. Not 4, not 2 unless you're on your way to use a 3rd one. 5 is right out.
  11. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    I've always thought that the extra screw was there to repel demons.

    (since the best answer was first I really couldn't contribute much more than idiotic drivel... Sincere apologies, I just hate to see a good question get only one answer)
  12. El Güero

    El Güero

    Oct 5, 2015
    The Guild HB's used three screws, two on the E side and one on the G side.

    The common two screw method works well for adjusting pole-to-string distance across the strings.

    The three screw method allows the pickup to be tilted with the strings, as in lowering the neck-side poles and/or raising the bridge-side poles on a HB. That helps balance the signal output of the two coils.
    PDGood likes this.
  13. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    3 point leveling is easier than 4 point and more stable than 2 point.

    This becomes more evident when rolling around 5 ton machinery on on a concrete floor that is less than perfect.
    ak56, mikewalker and Clutchcargo like this.
  14. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    The design you are showing is not a flawed design (both companies are rather successful with that design). It is designed like that with the assumption a player will rest their thumb on the side with 2 screws and it is less likely to rock front to back while playing.
    As for the alembic picture those are not unused holes. There are spacers in the screwless holes that Alembic has determined to be the appropriate approximate height for the pickup then only requiring 2 adjustment screws.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I’m sorry. Where is the Alembic picture?
  16. alembicguy

    alembicguy I operate the worlds largest heavey equipment Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    The person who posted it took it down for some reason. It was the post above mine originally.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Thx! Thought I was losing it for a minute. :)
  18. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    My Alembic uses all four. Two on top and two UNDER the pickup to push up and lock the pickup at the height. Works much better than a spring.
    Oobly likes this.
  19. sstillwell


    Nov 20, 2008
    Actually that's not quite right (but very very close). The "posts" underneath are screws as well. There are generally no springs or foam in mounting an Alembic pickup. The posts underneath are adjusted to set the pickup height and the screws coming in from the top hold the pickups rigidly onto the posts beneath the pickups. The pickups don't move at all when mounted correctly. You can screw up a pickup case pretty badly by trying to lower the pickup by tightening the top screws without lowering the spacers underneath.
  20. Mark_70


    Dec 31, 2013
    "A chair with three legs never wobbles"
    12th century Chinese saying


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