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Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by asc67, Jul 21, 2008.
What are the difference in sound between the two styles ?
My understanding is that staggered poles allow for the string volumes to be more consistent. Naturally quieter strings have higher corresponding poles. I don't think there is a definintive change in tone, but strats nowadays are mostly stagger-poled.
Their really isn't a tonal difference. The difference comes from the output. Even poled PUPs generally have the louder strings overbear on the quieter ones. Pickup tech these days though I suppose it doesn't matter as much as it used to. Though Fender does stagger poles in most of their models these days.
I have thought that there is a relationship of the neck and saddle radii to the necessity/usage of staggered poles.
I also agree with aznrambo481.
It's been explained to me that "vintage stagger" was introduced to compensate for string to string volume differences on older string gauges, mostly due to wound G strings, and that many came to prefer them with modern lighter strings as well. I play and enjoy both flat and staggered, and notice a bit of difference in chord voicings, with the flat poles being a bit more balanced, YMMV. If you're feeling adventurous, you can create your own "custom stagger" by supporting your bobbins and pressing up or down on each pole to achieve the balance you prefer...a trick pretty common back in the day.
You need to be really careful about pushing the poles down as you can break the windings inside the pickup where the wire is stuck to it. Result - dead pickup.
Might be safer to to just file down the offending pole piece.
I think the stagger was Leo's idea originally. My friend who is a pro guitar tech told me about pushing them down, but he warned that it only works on pickups where the poles are loose enough. I don't think grinding them down would be easy because it's a kind of brittle iron, isn't it? Besides, you'd be changing the magnet's power by grinding some of it away. Maybe you could heat the pole with a soldering iron to melt the plastic bobbin a teeny bit, then push down.
i wouldn't grind it... sounds dangerous. not to mention all of the filings getting sucked into the pickup.
I do not suggest to my customers staggered unless they are using 7 1/4 radius necks. If they want them it is just for show. 9 1/2 on up you only need flat pole pickups. If you have a 12 inch radius neck and are using staggered pickups you are going to get an unbalanced amount of midrange from the pickup. If that's to you liking than by all means.