Pre CBS Stratocaster Pickup Height

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by Fender753, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. Fender753

    Fender753 Strat-Talker

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    So I have to admit I have a problem. I am constantly fiddling with my pickup height on my Pre CBS Stratocasters. Sometimes to the point I lose my sanity and cant decide what sounds better or worse. I know the old adage is to "Use your ears" but I was wondering if there was any trend on how you all setup your Pre CBS strat pickup heights. For reference, I am measuring my pickup height by fretting the last fret on the guitar and measuring from the bottom of the string to the top of the magnet pole piece.

    My current setup is approximately 3.2mm on the bass side and 2mm on the treble side. I am curious to hear others measurements and see if people like to run them closer or further away.
     
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  2. Oldboy

    Oldboy Senior Stratmaster

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    Here we go again.:rolleyes:
     
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  3. archetype

    archetype Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    There is no trend, standard, or shortcut. Use your ears. Get a screwdriver and go to work.

    Sorry OP, but this is only the 4,000th time we've been through this.
     
  4. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    +1
    Turn a screw. If you liked the result, keep doing it.
    If you don't like the result, undo it.

    Pretty sure the original models from the factory didn't include, and there were not likely any published "specs"... the musician was expected to adjust to what he/she wanted.
    Playing over 40 years and it probably wasn't until 5 or 6 years ago that I even saw pickup height numbers.
     
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  5. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    Keeping in mind that angular momentum of the ellipse in which a vibrating string moves is the cross product of linear momentum relative to the flux lines q of the pole pieces, and disregarding circular polarization for the moment and substituting for the velocity vector, v, and the magnetic field vector, B, the corresponding height differential, F, can be determined by the application of

    F=qv x B
    Pretty straight forward really.


    :cool:
     
  6. Oldboy

    Oldboy Senior Stratmaster

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  7. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    And don't forget to carry the 2.

    :rolleyes:
     
  8. Oldboy

    Oldboy Senior Stratmaster

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  9. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    Good lord man, look at that equation on the lower right...damn fragment of the Lorentz equation...you know, the one that explains why anything with mass cannot achieve relatavistic velocity...
    light speed don't cha know...
    mass goes into a vertical asymptote, infinite mass...
    can't hardly have any of that...
    make a right mess of things it would.

    Probably suck us all into a parallel universe where one of the Kardashians is queen...

    SO WATCH WHERE YA POINT THAT THING...!
     
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  10. 3bolt79

    3bolt79 Dr. Stratster

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    To the OP…your just gonna have to adjust the neck pickup until there is no warble, and then adjust the middle and bridge pickups to achieve volume parity.

    Same goes for volumes between the lower three strings and the G, B, and high E strings if you have staggered pole pieces. You may have to tilt them to get an even volume across all strings.

    Also, when measuring things such as string heights, report your measuring in 64ths of an inch. That is the measurements that Fender used and still uses.

    The only guitars where I think about measurements in millimeters is on classical guitars traditionally. I’m not converting mm to inches every time someone reports measurements in metric.
     
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  11. jrbirdman

    jrbirdman Senior Stratmaster Platinum Supporting Member Silver Member

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    This is right on, thanks
    That's why I keep a screw driver in the bag. If I can't find the sound with the knobs on the amp then I pull out the screw driver.
     
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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Senior Stratmaster

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    .

    I lower all the pickups so their covers are level with the pickguard (much lower and they fall off the adjustment screws), and then raise the bridge pickup until volume parity with the neck pickup.

    Sometimes I tip the neck pickup slightly for more treble, sometimes the bass pickup for more bass.

    I have one Strat with the reverse/Hendrix bridge slot pickguard.

    [​IMG]
    It also has an Armstrong Blender on it (SSS blends to series HSH or anywhere between)

    At 2:13min you can see how Hendrix set his pickups. Some other videos of his with different guitars shows pickups lower than this and more tipped.



    .
     
  13. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Silver Member

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    Set the neck pickup at 8/64" bass E above the neck pickup with string fretted at last fret. Treble E at 6/64".

    Now set the other pickups so the volume is the same when you switch to them....

    Yep
     
  14. ripgtr

    ripgtr Most Honored Senior Member

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    Back in the 70s I set my strat pickups by ear. Strat pickups are pretty weak compared to others, and back then, it was guitar into amp (I didn't get my first pedal til 80 or 81).
    I measured them a few years back, they were almost exactly the height that Fender recommends for "vintage style" pickups.
    I've tried them lower, they sound kind of anemic to me, but that is for me. That is not a rule, and you do whatever you like. There is a reason they have screws - to adjust them.
     
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  15. StratorTrle

    StratorTrle Strat-Talk Member

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    I adjust until it tickles my fancy. My Vintera 50s modified I have them low. My Strat with the deluxe drive, I actually put those closer. They react like p90s and it's just doesn't have the attack with the alnico 3 mags when they are lower.
     
  16. Fender753

    Fender753 Strat-Talker

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    I think you guys are generally misunderstanding the point I was trying to make in this post. I do appreciate the advice and I’ve read other threads or recommended videos. I know the answer is to “use your ears”. What I was curious about is some other data points that people have set up their original vintage pickups at. I just wanted to see if there are some trends or a preferred average.
     
  17. Fender753

    Fender753 Strat-Talker

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    Interestingly enough all 3 pickups on all three of my strats were set to exactly this height by ear… almost freaking accruate
     
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  18. rolandson

    rolandson Dr. Stratster

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    The point many, including myself, are making is simple...
    We put away the rulers and micrometers long ago, and utilize the only metrics of any consequence:

    Feel and Sound.

    In my 55 years of playing I've determined that in this regard, numbers are superfluous.

    The strings will tell you when the magnets are too close, the amp will tell you when they aren't close enough. Everything in between is subjective.

    But I enjoyed the opportunity to bastardize the right hand screw rule...haven't thought about it in 30 years or so...so thanks!
     
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  19. Groundwire

    Groundwire Strat-Talker

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    This is a great default starting point. Gotta check and see if you get wolf tones, but if not, you are pretty well set at this point.
    One thing I will note is that if you use lighter gauge wound strings, then you don’t need to angle the pickups as much, if at all. I use 10-38 nickel roundwounds, and the bass strings aren’t louder than the treble strings, so I leave my pickups even, and it balances really well.
     
  20. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Silver Member

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    The problem with preCBS pickups is that their values aren't consistent. While I like the 8/64" - 6/64" setup as a general rule for all three pickups, if I set the neck pickup to this I tend to have to adjust the other pickups slightly away from those measurements to balance the sound. That's where the using my ears comes into it.

    Incidentally the 8 to 6/64 setup is Fender's recommendation for their Texas Special pickups.
     
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