50’s Road Worn pickup height

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by ty8611, Nov 9, 2019.

  1. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Hi, I have a stock 50’s RW Strat with the Tex-Mex pickups, and would like any advice or experience you may have with setting the height of the pickups.

    I currently have them set at the Texas Specials recommendation of 6/64” treble and 8/64” bass, using the Stew Mac ruler.

    FWIW, I play through a Deluxe Reverb. I spent quite a while the other day adjusting by ear and finally just ended up leaving all three of them at the aforementioned height.

    It doesn’t sound too bad, but I’m wondering if anyone has had success enhancing their tone using different measurements. I spent most of the time trying to balance the sound of the first and second positions, as I mostly play those. I’d like a smoother distortion out of the bridge, first position, and, most importantly, the renowned clean Mark Knopfler quack from the second position (if possible through the Tex-Mex). It’s almost there but there isn’t quite the attack and clarity, so I suppose I need to further the influence of the bridge pickup in that position,
    either by raising it or lowering the middle.

    I know the best way is to use my ears and keep adjusting, but if anyone has found something similar to what I’ve described, please share your measurements of these pickup heights, as well as any other advice or questions you may have.

    Thanks!
    Tyler
     
  2. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    I start with the neck pickup cover level with the scratchplate and adjust them upwards from there, tilting as required, until it sounds sweet and balanced E to E. Then I do the same with the others until the output of each balances with the neck pickup.
     
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  3. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Thanks very much, I will try that approach! I was just kind of muddling along the other day.
     
  4. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    After all these years I set them by eye where I think they should sound the best then tweak from there. No measurements. Just your ears, eyes, and a screwdriver.

    Now if I was new to this, I'd start with the neck pickup high enough to cause Stratitis. Magnetic pull on the strings causing an audible warble/oscillation. Then I'd lower it until it goes away. Then I'd do the middle pickup the same way, matching the output to the neck pickup. Then the bridge.

    Then I'd lower them a little more. There's a sweet spot for every type and wind. Find it with your ears.
     
  5. Tuner Sandwich

    Tuner Sandwich Strat-O-Master

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    I tinker and fiddle till I like the sound.

    There's no right, but you'll know when it's wrong.
     
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  6. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Very helpful- I’ve never experienced Stratitis, so it would be cool to deliberately raise the pickups that far as a starting point on my way to finding the sweet spot, which seems a bit difficult with this set.

    I played for quite a while tonight and it seems I’m liking them set further down than usual but still haven’t quite gotten there. Thanks for the advice!
     
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  7. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Couldn’t agree more. It’s all subjective and I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. I think the Tex-Mex pickups are fine, but are sounding better to me set lower than even the Texas Specials recommended heights. I’ve read those are hotter, but I would venture to guess more goes into it than that. I’ll know it when I hear it! Thanks very much.
     
  8. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    `
    Here's my experience with the Tex-Mex set on my 2018 Fender Road Worn 50s Strat:
    `
    Setting them too high can certainly cause Stratitis like Fezz pointed out, but too low and they started loosing clarity and tightness.

    I too start off setting the pickups high then backing them off until you get a good balance of clarity and warmth. You may need to work with your amp as well to find the sweetspot that works best, so there are a few things you can do to get the most out of them.

    Probably the most difficult thing is to find the best tones for both position 2 & 4 and each individual pickup by themselves. You may have to compromise a little depending on what settings you use the most...

    I've experiences Stratitis with the Tex Mex set, so it's very possible.

    Good luck!



    `
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  9. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    Put it where they sound best... to you. :)
     
  10. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    My experience has basically been the same. I have them pretty well-balanced now, but there is a compromise with the in-between positions - especially getting the signature 2nd position “quack.”

    The bridge pickup can be quite shrill through this amp, so it’s tempting to bring it down pretty low, but there is a point where you lose clarity. Certainly have to work with the amp tone controls in order to get the right balance.

    Backing them off just right produces more sustain and warmth, while retaining clarity. Very time-consuming work!
     
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  11. freddy

    freddy Strat-Talk Member

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    After many hours spent on pickup height adjustments i have found that for single coils the starting point that works the best for me is to set the Low E at 3.2 - 3.5 mm and the High E at 2.5 mm after that i just balance them for volume/tone.
    i am using light string gauge (9's) so in case that you are using heavier gauge the starting point should be at least 0.5mm lower .
    Anyway you should use your ears to set the pickups height that works for you and it might be not even close to my suggestion which is fine .
     
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  12. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Thanks- I use 10’s, so I will experiment with those measurements you gave, 0.5mm lower or more. They may be close to those heights now. Thanks very much for the advice!
     
  13. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Btw, for anyone else who may be working with these pickups and comes by this thread, first make sure your action and intonation are set up. I checked them as an afterthought, and fortunately they’d remained the same since my last setup. But, surely that should be done as a first step.
     
  14. freddy

    freddy Strat-Talk Member

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    thanks for the tip , let us know the final result .

    P.S : another point to take in consideration is also the strings material , i used in the past EB slinky 9's which were a bit brighter and with more output , since i changed to Pyramids pure nickel strings the final output is much better to my ears , if you are after the vintage sound the Pyramid strings might be the way to go as the strings are feeling looser and nicer under the fingers with warmer sound .
     
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  15. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Thanks. After meticulous adjustment, I’m satisfied with the height of the pickups now. In my experience, it’s good to begin with a reasonable height, and then adjust by ear, while working with the amp tone controls. Balancing the heights of staggered strat pickups is a frustrating challenge compared to, for instance, two humbuckers, but eventually you get there. As they sit now, I don’t even know the measurements, only that the heights look typical at a glance and I wrangled the best and most balanced sound I could get out of them, per adjustment by ear. All positions sound clear and warm, with good sustain.

    With respect to strings, I have used pure nickel DR strings in the past. They’re unquestionably warmer and more vintage-sounding than typical nickel-plated sets. I didn’t use them for long, however, since they put more wear on the frets. This may have been exclusive to that brand. But, in terms of tone, I liked them very much, as they suited my playing style. They certainly sounded warmer and more natural than the nickel-plated sets that we’re more familiar with. It was just the noticeable increase in fret-wear that convinced me to go back to regular nickel-plated strings. This may or may not have been brand-dependent, as I didn’t try the Pyramids, only regular DR’s.
     
  16. freddy

    freddy Strat-Talk Member

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    Well Done !

    with regards to fret ware i will be honest i didn't see any accelerated wear with a particular brand of strings ,for me its just matter of how much force you apply with your fingers on the strings when you play .
    try a set ( Orange ) of Pyramid strings , you will not be disappointed .
     
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  17. ty8611

    ty8611 New Member!

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    Cool, I will look those up!
     
  18. Vic Interceptor

    Vic Interceptor Strat-Talker

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    I've never experienced stratitis... probably because Strat pickups almost always sound best closer to the pickguard than the strings. There is no "ideal" height because of so many variables.
     
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