Epi Special 1 P90: what pickup heights are you using?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by Michael7, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    After a little Googling, I found this link by Vaughn Skow, who sells a line of his own very pricey pickups.


    He recommends really close spacing of about 1/5" to 1/10" from top of pole pieces to bottom of the strings. Does anyone else have their pickups set that high, or have the pole pieces screwed out to that height? If I raise the pickup that close, the plastic cover of the pickup is floating above the face of the body, at least at the bridge.

    Who has messed around with this some and what did you find was the sweet spot? Thanks.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  2. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    I've got a original style dog ear (no pole adjust) that's very close.. I want to lower the action but its not real possible.. But it sounds great!

    @duceditor did a write up on properly adjusted p90s shortly after purchasing one of his epi specials..
    Its believed the best place for them as close as you can get em without interfering with string action..
    But it really boils down to your own ears..
    Like I said that dog ear sounds great!
    Have adjustsble p90s too but the dog ear sounds better.. Maybe I need to play with the adjustables more
    dbrian66 likes this.
  3. willhowl

    willhowl Squier-holic

    Dec 19, 2011
    Houston Texas
    Well, I have no answer, really, for you.......but I really, really want another P90 guitar...Looking for a Epi/ Maestro LP Junior w/ P90........but they are a hot item now,kinda pricey for me..:oops:

    I have owned a Gibson ES-125 TC......Thin Hollowbody, Single cutaway, P90 in the neck position.....GREAT guitar, long gone...:mad:..........

    I also had a Univox Special Edition DC LPjr copy. kinda TV yellow, single P90 bridge.....Another great guitar, wonderful neck, also gone...:mad:......

    BOTH of those, the P/U was not right up to the strings.....P90's have juice.....I think this Skow cat is outta line, look at (First) Ken Rose.....or maybe Lollar, or Seymour Duncan forP90,,,,,or even Gibson, I dunno, just my opinion........And, yeah, look at duceditor's posts.................Good Luck......willhowl
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  4. mikesr1963

    mikesr1963 Squier-holic

    May 6, 2016
    I tune my guitar to open G. Hooked it up to my amp and with the amp on adjusted all the way down then brought it up testing it along the way listening . When I found it I stopped.
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  5. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    That's a real nice little guitar you got there and those pups sound really good when at their optimal height. I've had one for 5 years now and out of ny 8 guitars, it still gets played daily.

    Here's how I do it.

    I set the bridge pickup (pole) height to about two credit card thickness distance from the bottom of the strings (1/8" or ±3cm). No closer, if not magnets will dampen sustain. If it sounds good, I leave it there. Too hot for you ? ½ turn of each screw at a time to lower it where I want it. Once I have that one at the sweet spot, I go to the neck.

    Neck tone has to be different from middle position. Many people have the neck pup adjusted so it gives the same tonality as middle position. Not good. Neck pup has to be adjusted so middle position gets a quacky tone. You'll know what I mean when you get there. So, I raise the neck pup until it starts to sound boomy. Notes will seem to be overwhelmed with too much bass. Now I lower it a full screw turn and compare it to middle. If it sounds the same, the neck pup is still too high. I go on until I hear three different balanced tones out of the two pup.
    Is that on a bolt neck guitar, if so, you can shim the neck to give it more angle.
  6. kjmac

    kjmac Squier-Nut

    Aug 14, 2017
    Omaha, NE
    One of my best sounding guitars out of the box is my Epi Wildcat with twin P90 dog ears. I've never adjusted the pole pieces and other than doing a setup on the action the only other mod was a Briggs fix tuning stabilizer on the Bigsby. I love the sound of some good P90s... and they don't even need to be high priced name brand pickups. there's just something about the clarity of a nice P90 setup.
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  7. surf green

    surf green Squier-holic

    Jul 15, 2014

    Attached Files:

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  8. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    Thanks for all the great tips!

    I had forgotten about this thread, which I had started when I was in California, where my Epi P90 Special resides. I can't work on that guitar for a couple more month until I'm there again. In the meantime, I'll try these methods on a couple of guitars I have here with P90s, but both have limited pickup height adjustment options without some minor work first on each of the guitars. This is due to the improvised way I have the pickups mounted.
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  9. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    One can do that ? I'm curious about what that look like.
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  10. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    Here you go. I just made these metal brackets from scrap aluminum strips to screw to the body that have nuts super-glued to them to accept machine screws through the pickups. When I bought my $15 set of Chinese P-90s, they didn't include mounting screws, so I had to fab something up. I used stainless screws from Home Depot. I turned the heads down to the necessary smaller size by spinning them in my drill press and using a file to reduce the head diameter. The brackets get screwed to the floor of the pickup cavity, with nuts up. I drilled some small recesses in the body behind where the nuts sit so the height adjustment screws can go up and down, but the travel is very limited. I got a couple of $.10 springs from my hardware store for the pickup suspension.

    The nuts broke loose a couple of times, so then I rough sanded both sides of the nut and the face of the metal strip to give the super-glue some roughness for the glue to grip. Problem solved.

    Hope this helps.

    IMG_20160628_132025061.jpg IMG_20160628_131957146_HDR.jpg
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  11. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Tinkerer ... I like that.

    LOSTVENTURE Squier-Nut

    If the pickup is at the bridge, it has to be pretty close. But, that can result in some pretty harsh tones. I adjust it to suit my tonal preference, sometimes as much as 1/8" inch below the strings.
    The pickup at the neck is much more flexible. The secret is to have both pickups "on" and set the neck unit height to a point that sounds acceptable to you. Since all of my playing is going to be clean, backing the neck pickup down to 1/4" below the strings can get you some very mellow tones.
    Keep in mind that all of these guitars and pickup height combinations are going to give different results. Don't be afraid to test them for yourself.
  13. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    Thanks, that sounds much better than "cheap-ass improviser"! lol

    I hadn't realize the P90s had no mounting hardware until they came, so had to make do. I know there are some commercially made mounting plates on Ebay that can be screwed into the cavity, but my total cost to sort out the mounting hardware was about $3 and I didn't have to wait for ordered items to arrive.

    The installation is in this First Act Strat conversion, which was under $50 total build cost including guitar, P-90s and new knobs. I built it since I had never tried true P90s and and wanted to do so inexpensively. Reshaped the head stock and borrowed some better tuners off a Silvertone Strat sitting unloved in my garage. I modded the stock one-ply FA pick guard, and did a poor job of the pickup holes, but will do a proper 3-ply guard next time I replenish my pick guard material.

    Now I love P90s! Hope this inspires others to do "cheap-ass" builds and mods!

    IMG_20160626_205731260.jpg IMG_20161016_162410877.jpg

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  14. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Well done. Can't be afraid to try things on a First Act.

    Here's mine.
    Headstock reshape
    Tuners replaced
    Fender style vibrato cavity filled
    Bridge replaced with wraparound (got it a the right place after a few tries)
    Routed for P90
    Maybe more that I don't remember

    2018 First Act.jpg
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  15. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    I've always loved your double-cut FA conversion, especially the bare wood finish on the face and the peace sign remnant. I've been on the lookout for this model in an opaque paint ever since seeing it. I'd strip it to bare wood like yours, and then do something different with and around the bridge and pickup(s).

    I actually have another DC (ME953) FA, but it has a nice trans finish over the one-piece top (veneer?) and I have been reluctant to remove that since it's so pretty.

    2007-01-01 13.44.54.jpg 2007-01-01 13.46.40.jpg 2007-01-01 13.45.44.jpg
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