Flat Poles vs Staggered?

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Scottg32, Aug 25, 2021.

  1. Scottg32

    Scottg32 Strat-Talk Member

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    Which do you guys prefer? Thoughts between the 2?
     
  2. fenderkev

    fenderkev Most Honored Senior Member

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    Flat for anything over a 9.5" fretboard radius, staggered if you have a 7.25". In my experience staggered on a modern radiused fretboard makes for a volume drop on the B and high E strings.
     
  3. Scottg32

    Scottg32 Strat-Talk Member

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    Thanks! I was told the 2 lower strings
    Become weaker too?
     
  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    You can essentially wipe out any stagger by tipping the pickups bass/treble side. Hendrix did that so you are ok adjusting pickups by ear that way.

    I prefer stagger on Strat neck pickups and flat poles on any bridge pickup. I will lower humbuckers and raise their screw poles and put the same patterns in neck and bridge too. More clarity and tone while still getting hum protection.

    If you use 'equidistant' poles from the strings (matching poles to fretboard radius) you'll get sterile tones. Flat across gives you a little 'mid scoop'. Treat the poles as mini-EQ pedals.

    Many classic songs were recorded with stagger pole strat pickups and thus the tones sound 'right' to many of us.

    .
     
  5. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

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    No audible differences between the two on my Strats. Staggered on Elite, flat on hardtail.
     
  6. grumpah

    grumpah Strat-Talker Silver Member

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    I wind a modified stagger to go with my 12" radius and wound third.
     
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  7. Ace38

    Ace38 Senior Stratmaster

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    Stagger was Leo's response to output with sets in the 1950s which tended to not only be heavier but had a wound G string. You don't need it today with modern strings.
     
  8. train

    train Worlds largest private army Silver Member

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    Two Texas specials and a bucker. Set up to my liking is a lot of fun. Yes less treble more mid. That’s the idea . Variety is the spice of life
     
  9. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    I don't understand why staggered poles have anything to do with fretboard radius. It was simply done to work well with the string gauges and wound G of 1954. ;)
     
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  10. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    Quoted for truth.

    Until 1957 Fender only had one string set for Spanish guitar. (Other sets exist for steel guitar etc). That set was 13-55 nickel roundwound with a heavy wound g. Fender also used a small 7.25" radius. The stagger was intended to make it sound good and have good string to string balance in that circumstance. There are reports the guitar was tuned to open g, which may further explain the high g pole on those pickups.

    If you use those pickups with modern light strings, the g is louder than the other strings. If you have a bigger radius, pretty much everything is out of whack. This is why CBS Fender switched to non-stagger pickups in the mid 70s. Fmic brought the stagger back because it's vintage and that's what people want.
     
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  11. ThreeChordWonder

    ThreeChordWonder Senior Stratmaster

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    S-D SSL-1s on both my SSS and HSS Strats.

    The low E and A strings are halfway up, the D and G are the highest, the B is the lowest and the high e is in between the B and the low E.

    That does, I presume, accentuate the mids, leave the bass pretty much the same as for flats, but maybe reduce the highs.

    I like the mids, though TBH I would prefer less bottom end. I compensate by turning the bass down on my amp and raising the E and A strings. Actually think that might be counterproductive, however,, as I tend to hit them harder.

    I have yet to experiment with tilting the pickups.
     
  12. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    The strings follow the fretboard radius. Imagine an extreme case, a guitar with a classical style non-radius flat fretboard. The vintage stagger pickup will be way closer to the strings in the middle and further away at the edges. Which means the middle strings will be louder.

    Of course that won't be quite as prominent if the fretboard has a radius, but it is there.

    The string's position in the magnetic field is one of the things human ears are sensitive to. I'm sure some of us can hear one turn of the adjuster screw in a/b/a testing, which means 1/24 of an inch. The difference between the highest and lowest pole on a vintage stagger pickup is about 6 times that.
     
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  13. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    Mine don't. Especially on 7.25 boards.;)

    That's a bunch of internet hogwash.

    My 56 years of experience is greater than any internet lore.

    If you're playing in a room...by yourself...you might hear a difference. Emphasis on "might".

    Playing with other musicians, or recording anything other than solo guitar, you won't hear a loud G. It's pure speculation. No one hears things without preconceptions guiding your "opinion".

    Two guitars. Staggered poles. 7.25 radius. Everything sounds fine. And that's what it's all about. If the music sounds good to you, it is good. :D

     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
  14. ThreeChordWonder

    ThreeChordWonder Senior Stratmaster

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    ^ Amen to that.

    On your own "in the bedroom" or in a studio, or playing in front of a small, silent audience, chamber music style, maybe.

    On stage in front of 20,000, in a crowded bar, in front of 100 noisy drunks, and with all the other musicians, probably not.
     
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  15. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    Okay, they follow the radius if you set the action as low as it'll go without buzzing. Which is the way I usually set things up. If you set it up with a straight edge so the strings are flat where they pass over the pickup, then they're flat there--but that would be a weird way to do setups.



    In a room by yourself, if you raise one side of your pickup 6 full turns I suspect even you will hear a difference. That difference is there whether you're looking for it or not.

    Of course it sounds fine. That's YOU playing. Hell I never said a sound difference was better or worse, I just said different. And I agree that small differences are very hard to notice unless you're in ideal listening conditions.
     
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  16. Slacker G

    Slacker G Strat-O-Master

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    I hate staggered poles. Worthless today in most instances
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
  17. Caddy

    Caddy Strat-O-Master

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    Flat for me. Keeps the g string from being very noticeably louder. That drives me crazy when recording melody parts for instrumentals. I only play clean with no pedals and with staggered I can look at the track in my DAW and see exactly which notes were played on the g string.
     
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  18. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    Since I play the things, I set them up so that when I do a big bend on the B and High E, it won't fret out. So that means that the B and high E don't follow the fretboard. They're essentially the same height as the G. :)

    What you're describing is a on-paper theory. In real life...it doesn't work that way. Firstly you'd have to have the same gauge string above the lowest and highest pole to hear a difference.

    This is akin to using the donut's hole to measure it's flavor. In other words, it's hairsplittingly irrelevant. :D

    Get it sounding good and go play. Turn off the internet. LoL
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2021
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  19. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    Setting the pickup height is part of getting it sounding good.

    If somebody raised the bass side of one of your pickups by 6 turns you would hear it, you would beat the hell out of them for screwing with your guitar, and then you'd fix it. Maybe not in that order. :D
     
  20. Intune

    Intune Senior Stratmaster

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    My ancho poblano set of pickups has staggered for the neck and middle and a flat pole bridge. Setting pickup height all the same allows the bridge to be closer to the strings.

    I don’t know the technical side of it with radius and all that but I have to say with the flat pole bridge this is probably the only set of fender pickups I can use the bridge pickup wide open