Are your pickups too high?

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
Had this sonic blue AM standard for years, equipped with late 60s spec pickups. It always sounded colder than my other guitars. I looked and realized there was an optical illusion cause of the neck and guard placement, and the pickups were actually kinda high. Lowered them, even a bit more so than the others, and I gotta say...it doesn't sound colder than the others anymore.

Moral: lowering pickups can give a warmer, more dynamic, articulate feel.

That's all.
 

Stratafied

Dr. Stratster
Oct 29, 2019
13,785
North of South
Had this sonic blue AM standard for years, equipped with late 60s spec pickups. It always sounded colder than my other guitars. I looked and realized there was an optical illusion cause of the neck and guard placement, and the pickups were actually kinda high. Lowered them, even a bit more so than the others, and I gotta say...it doesn't sound colder than the others anymore.

Moral: lowering pickups can give a warmer, more dynamic, articulate feel.

That's all.
I like low string action, so my pickups are almost flush with the body on 2011 Stratocaster. More so on the bass side.
 

PlayerOne

Strat-Talker
Jan 29, 2022
294
Charlotte, nc
Usually when I bring home a new guitar, part of the setup is finding the best elevation for the pickups. And it's usually pretty low, the exception being my two Standards loaded with Fat50's pickups. They can be placed a little higher than most pickups and not loose any of the great Strat tones. Those I'm still playing with. And thats after 8 years of experimentation.
 

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
Usually when I bring home a new guitar, part of the setup is finding the best elevation for the pickups. And it's usually pretty low, the exception being my two Standards loaded with Fat50's pickups. They can be placed a little higher than most pickups and not loose any of the great Strat tones. Those I'm still playing with. And thats after 8 years of experimentation.

Sometimes its subjective too. I can see many people preferring the way this ax sounded with the pups higher: louder, more compressed, more bass. Some value aggression and power more than warmth and dynamics.
 

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
Found that also.
Go by your ear is the rule of thumb.

Yup, always by ear. Fender guidelines are preposterous, and all pickups are different.

But I am hearing lotsa talk about 'flush with body' here. That goes to show you how subjective things are. That would be waaay too weak for me on any pickup type. Too much bass and treble would be pulled back and it would be mostly midrange, sounding less stratty... for me anyway.
 

joebtone

Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Jan 26, 2022
2,142
Northwest US
Yup, always by ear. Fender guidelines are preposterous, and all pickups are different.

But I am hearing lotsa talk about 'flush with body' here. That goes to show you how subjective things are. That would be waaay too weak for me on any pickup type. Too much bass and treble would be pulled back and it would be mostly midrange, sounding less stratty... for me anyway.
I think it stems from many a strat owner who came upon the epiphany of the lowered single coil pickup.
What sounded like crap suddenly……😵‍💫😍🥰
 

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
I think it stems from many a strat owner who came upon the epiphany of the lowered single coil pickup.
What sounded like crap suddenly……😵‍💫😍🥰

Yup...I had the epiphany years back. However, I had it again this time only because on this particular strat the neck sits a bit lower, so you have to set the pickups pretty close to flush get the same distance from the strings as my other strats. I allowed that optical illusion to over-ride my diligence in using my ears to determine height.

In fact, the neck sits so much lower that the Wound E saddle is so low that it is actually sitting on the bridge plate. Luckily, I get the action I want but it won't go any lower unless I deck the trem, or at least put it lower than I want it. But it all works out fine in the end.
 

joebtone

Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Jan 26, 2022
2,142
Northwest US
Usually when I bring home a new guitar, part of the setup is finding the best elevation for the pickups. And it's usually pretty low, the exception being my two Standards loaded with Fat50's pickups. They can be placed a little higher than most pickups and not loose any of the great Strat tones. Those I'm still playing with. And thats after 8 years of experimentation.
This is good info. I think I have seen people complain here before about fat 50’s.
Knowing how to jack things around is key…and clues about where to begin are always a good thing.
 

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
Usually when I bring home a new guitar, part of the setup is finding the best elevation for the pickups. And it's usually pretty low, the exception being my two Standards loaded with Fat50's pickups. They can be placed a little higher than most pickups and not loose any of the great Strat tones. Those I'm still playing with. And thats after 8 years of experimentation.

At 6.26K, Middle: 6.34K, Bridge: 6.43K the fat 50s are more overwound than most strat pups. You'd think lower would be better for them. I usually find that the hotter the pickup the lower they can go.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
5,666
Edmonton, Alberta
Yup...I had the epiphany years back. However, I had it again this time only because on this particular strat the neck sits a bit lower, so you have to set the pickups pretty close to flush get the same distance from the strings as my other strats. I allowed that optical illusion to over-ride my diligence in using my ears to determine height.

In fact, the neck sits so much lower that the Wound E saddle is so low that it is actually sitting on the bridge plate. Luckily, I get the action I want but it won't go any lower unless I deck the trem, or at least put it lower than I want it. But it all works out fine in the end.

That’s just it, I have Strats with necks that sit higher in the neck pocket then others. So “flush with the pickguard” doesn’t work, especially with vintage type single coils.

If I go to my Strats and get actual measurements, they’re all pretty much the same. Some look higher then others only because of the neck depth. So it’s definitely a go by ear type setting.
 

SIngles Forever

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 14, 2019
1,377
Montreal
That’s just it, I have Strats with necks that sit higher in the neck pocket then others. So “flush with the pickguard” doesn’t work, especially with vintage type single coils.

If I go to my Strats and get actual measurements, they’re all pretty much the same. Some look higher then others only because of the neck depth. So it’s definitely a go by ear type setting.

mais oui.
 

HazyPurple

You've gotta get up!, to get down!
Silver Member
May 5, 2020
2,209
UK
If I lowered my neck pup any more it would fall off the screw.

String pull with strong magnets can determine lower height...
 

Higgins1980

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 11, 2013
2,723
North Carolina
This is good info. I think I have seen people complain here before about fat 50’s.
Knowing how to jack things around is key…and clues about where to begin are always a good thing.
I had this problem with my fat 50s. When I got the guitar they were all set way too high and I didn’t understand why everyone said they were so amazing mine sounded awful. Dropped them down quite a bit and they came to life.
 

Wound_Up

You can call me Duane 😁
Jan 23, 2020
5,006
NW LA
Too high? Never.

Mine sounds the same whether they're 0.5mm under the strings or 10mm under the strings. Only difference is how loud it is.
 

Stratstrangler

Strat-Talker
Mar 27, 2017
278
Upstate NY
I keep the pups on my two Strats higher than most that seen in photos. I was wondering if mine were too high, but the key is how they sound with your rig and do all 5/3 switch positions have a familiar Strat flavor. I like to hear a lot of the low e-string in my own tone, so I set my Strats for that firstly with all three single coils. The high e-strings side get raised to equal out the volume of both e strings. As a result, both Strat's pickups look quite similar when it comes to comparisons.

Stratstrangler
 


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