Do you think people have their pickup heights set correctly?

Discussion in 'Pickup Joint' started by mitch_cumsteen, Sep 10, 2020.

Do you think most people have their pickups set:

Poll closed Sep 10, 2020.
  1. Too low

    0 vote(s)
  2. Just right

    1 vote(s)
  3. Too high

    1 vote(s)
  1. mitch_cumsteen

    mitch_cumsteen Squier-Nut

    Jun 25, 2018
    Planet, Idaho
    It seems like every used and new guitar I've purchased, the pickup heights are not set to correct specified height. It seems like they are always set too low and sometimes they're set way too low. I deal mostly with Strats and Teles and this seems odd because of all the adjustments, this one is the easiest to do. Anyone else notice this on the guitars they buy?
    Big tuna, dbrian66 and JurnyWannaBe like this.
  2. mkgearhead

    mkgearhead Squier-holic

    Dec 18, 2009
    Fort Morgan, CO
    I've never set my pickups to specs. I adjust them where they sound best to me.
  3. JohnnyMac

    JohnnyMac Squier-holic

    Mar 5, 2018
    Front range Colorado
    From my tinkering experience Fender specs generally call for them to be set too high for my taste. But that depends on the pickups. Tex Mex vs 57/62s.
  4. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Squier-holic

    I know what happens to a Strat when the pickups are too high, but aside from the Fender spec, how do you know when they're too low?
    dbrian66 and Las Palmas Norte like this.
  5. Ace38

    Ace38 Squier-holic

    Jul 19, 2016
    Tulsa, OK.
    Guidelines, not hardlines. What sounds best to my ear could be different from yours. I set to what sounds best to me.
  6. Bob the builder

    Bob the builder Squier-Meister

    Feb 25, 2017
    Rhode Island USA
    I set mine where they sound right.
    I don't measure a thing
    Yup...see hair relief,
    Action at a red see hair,
    p/u's by ear
    I do set intonation with a tu2. Suppose if I had a strobe it would be better but it's the best tuner I own.
    rorygman, Big tuna, fuelish and 3 others like this.
  7. JohnnyMac

    JohnnyMac Squier-holic

    Mar 5, 2018
    Front range Colorado
    Joe Walsh likes the pickups on his Les Paul set as high as Possible. I like mine decked. But that's not saying much 'cuz I'm not Joe Walsh.
  8. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    I go for the best balance between sound and feel. Touch is as important as tone. John Mayer sets his really high on his famous black Strat, and Jimi set his with the bass side higher than the treble side, the opposite of what Fender does, to compensate for the reverse magnet stagger on his guitars. I generally like mine low, and I set the other two pickups on any Strat to the best blend and quack (for me) with the neck pickup, after I set it where I want it, since I use it 95% of the time. I do the same thing on a Tele, 'cause I prefer the neck pickup on them too.
    Before the internet, we just did everything the way we liked the most, because there weren't any experts to tell us that we were doing it wrong. Still works for me!
    fattboyzz, Eddd, fuelish and 5 others like this.
  9. LAPlayer

    LAPlayer Squier-Meister

    Jul 9, 2020
    LA / Denver
    What they said. I shoot for response and balance. How they sound to me.
  10. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    My eyes can’t hear anything, so I adjust by my ears.
  11. IronSchef

    IronSchef Dr. Squier

    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    I think pickup height is certainly variable, depending on the desired style -- "vintage" is going to be lower, where as an overdriven/metal is going to be higher.

    I do agree that some folks prob don't adjust to taste - and it is a hugely important adjustment (IMHO) -- I think I typically spend a couple of days tweaking the adjustments on any new build or purchase
    Big tuna and dbrian66 like this.
  12. fuelish

    fuelish Squier-Nut

    I spend more time getting the neck pickups adjusted “just right” on my guitars, and just balance the bridge/middle pups with that. I’m not fond of bridge pickup by themselves, at least when I’m playing at home - no mix to cut through
    Maguchi, Big tuna and DougMen like this.
  13. beagle

    beagle Squier-Nut

    Nov 19, 2017
    My pickups are set where they sound best to me. I don't even know what the "correct specified height" would be, I never measure anything anyway.
    mduganjr and Big tuna like this.
  14. duceditor

    duceditor Squier-Axpert

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    With so many PUPS these days being "overwound" its no wonder that those who adjust by ear may well prefer them "too low."

    My taste in sound was formed before metal and lots else, thus the "boost" and "gain" circuits largely go unused even on my Supro Blues King amp (Indeed I've never even plugged in the foot pedal that control them.) An "overwound" PUP -- one wrapped for modern tastes -- is not likely to please me unless it has been lowered. I like my "cleans" to be, well, just that. I prefer to ad "dirt" via amp settings and playing technique, not just for it to be there in some standardized form to meet some recording copying beginner.

    Too, many today seem to be big into replacing their geet's PUPS -- not just once, but almost endlessly. Old school me just gets out a screwdriver, raise or lower the PUP, and presto chango I have a "new" set of pickups.

    How deep the string is into the magnetic field is not too different from a change in magnets. And on PUPS with adjustable pole pieces and adjustable pickup height, the output possibilities are huge. Add string type ad weight (something that many just choose based on ease of playing and feel) and the changes are almost without end.

    Oh, and when I say (as many others have) that such is done "by ear" let it be understood: What the maker suggests -- which is quite often (but not always) a generic constant for a basic guitar type, not based on the specific PUP type used on that particular guitar model -- is often to my ears simply not right.

    As to measuring the various setup parameters, number allow information to be shared. That is why they are featured. (How else could the companies do it?) And the many "nam" setup geniuses that work on this or that famous guitarists guitars have need to homogenize their setting so this guitar and that one meet the known preferences of the artist. But I bet not a few of them tweak away as well. It is often their ears, not their tool holding hands, that got them where they are.

    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
    wonkenstein likes this.
  15. radiotech

    radiotech Dr. Squier

    Apr 23, 2014
    “Correct” is what you make it when it comes to pickup height.
    Stratlover84, Big tuna and Eddd like this.
  16. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    I measure pup height with my ears ;)
    Stratlover84 and Big tuna like this.
  17. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Like one ear thickness for bridge, two ears high for neck ? o_O

    I suspect that 90% of owners don't ever bother with height. If their pickups don't sound good, they buy new ones or replace the harness. If those don't sound good, get new ones again. Or they will sell the guitar.

    I don't know how many times I suggest that the easiest, cheapest and most effective mod is done with a simple screwdriver. Often, after tinkering with their screwdriver, people will come back saying how great those muddy pickups now sound.
    TeleRooo, so1om, fattboyzz and 3 others like this.
  18. Big tuna

    Big tuna Dr. Squier

    May 6, 2014
    east Tn
    I have never given much thought to what other people set their pu hieght to.
    so1om and Tepid Pilot like this.
  19. Lonn

    Lonn Squier-holic

    Dec 19, 2009
    Carmel IN
    There is no right or wrong, just personal preference.
    TeleRooo and so1om like this.
  20. mitch_cumsteen

    mitch_cumsteen Squier-Nut

    Jun 25, 2018
    Planet, Idaho
    What I was getting at was, I've never purchased a guitar and had to lower the pickups but the vast majority of them I have had to raise the pickups. So, that got me to thinking, are most pickups set too low?
    so1om and Big tuna like this.