Pickup distance from bridge

Discussion in 'Pickups, Electronics & General Tech' started by awjb68, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    Hi,

    I have a 27" scale 7 string guitar and I have measured the distance (with the low B string) from the saddle to the center of the poles closest to the bridge at about 39mm (a little over 1 and 1/2 inches).

    I am curious as to what others might measure up to.

    Cheers
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    If you're looking for something more in line with distance between "bridge and bridge pickup" perhaps look for a fixed point at the bridge to measure, and the center-line of the pickup.

    The position of the bridge saddle can be different, even on the same guitar in the same tuning, based on intonation. As for pickups, some don't have single poles to measure and some that due have different sized bobbins.
     
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  3. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    thanks for the reply.

    I am only curious because i have to guitars and there is a noticable difference in the fatness of the tone.

    The first is a 27" 7 string guitar with alder body maple neck ebony fingerboard, tune-o-matic bridge and seymour duncan nazgul in the bridge.

    The second is a 25.5" 6 string guitar with basswood body maple neck rosewood fingerboard, floyd rose bridge and seymour duncan black winter in the bridge. The low B sits around 47 mm from the the point of contact to the bridge and the center of the pole closest to the bridge.

    The 6 string is considerably fatter sounding to my ears. The seven string is quite thin by comparison

    I understand there are a number of differences between the two, but I am wondering whether the extra distance would be significant.
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Pickup location is definitely a factor, but not one that can't be somewhat compensated for through string, pickup, rig and/or technique.

    The biggest factors, as far as attributes of the individual guitars assuming same rig/player/etc., are going to be the pickups and associated electronics, and the scale and strings. Everything else is significantly less important individually.
     
  5. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Pickup location definitely makes a big difference. The closer towards the bridge, the brighter and thinner the sound will be. Away from the bridge, fatter (think neck pickup).

    One rule of thumb I heard is that the optimal position is approximate where the second fret would be, which is obviously affected by scale length.

    Out of interest, I measured some of my guitars for you. Using the lowest string, from the bridge saddle to the bridge pickup pole piece. All correctly intonated and in tune.

    ESP Horizon (25.5 inch scale, 647 mm) : 41 mm, 6.3% of scale length
    Gibson Les Paul (24.75 inch scale, 629 mm) : 35 mm, 5.6% of scale length
    ESP Eclipse 7 string (25.5 inch scale) : 37.5 mm, 5.8% of scale length
    Caparison Brocken (27.0 inch scale, 686 mm) : 46 mm, 6.7% of scale length

    Maybe that will help. If you look at the proportions, there is some variation. You said your 7 string is 39 mm on a 27 inch scale, so that's 5.6%. It doesn't seem out of the ordinary. It's in proportion to a Gibson Les Paul.

    In my case, the Caparison is the brightest, and tightest sounding guitar of the lot, even though the pickup is furthest from the bridge. And the Eclipse is definitely darker than the Horizon, even though the pickup is closer to the bridge.

    Quite likely manufacturers take lots of things into account - the overall sound based on their pickup choices, plus the aesthetics etc.

    And as Max said, the measurements will be subject to some variation depending on your intonation etc.
     
  6. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    The fatness of a guitar sound is also dependent on pot values and quality, just to detail what @MaxOfMetal already said. This to say that, imagine 2 equal guitars, same overall setup (pickups and strings and tuning), but with different volume pot values will sound different, one darker than the other...

    @Flappydoodle I've also read that rule of thumb and thought of it as correct... This is obviously dependent on the measurements and their references. For example, on 22 fret guitars with a neck pickup, if single coil, it is aligned at the 24th fret, if humbucker it will be either one of the coils (the outer one most likely) or the pickup's middle line.

    Pickup alignments are thought to be on harmonic rich locations on the strings and these happen not only at the frets position but also at their mirrored locations (like flipping the neck around and have the nut at the bridge...).
     
  7. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood SS.org Regular

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    This is the same reason why a neck pickup on a 24 fret guitar doesn't sound the same as the same pickup on a 22 fret guitar.
     
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  8. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks alot for the replies and for taking the time to measure your guitars up.

    It seems like there can be some variance depending on intonation etc. A friend of mine has a 7 string ibanez at 25.5". Yet his bridge pickup pole is 54mm (in tune and intonated)!

    Thanks again for the help. Alot to think about.
     
  9. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    I couldn't resist trying. I moved the pickup forward approx 10mm. Very little difference.
     
  10. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Please elaborate on this, how can you move the pickup forward 10mm?

    SHOW YOUR GUITAR! NOW! THIS IS A SSO OFFICIAL ORDER, REFUSAL TO COMPLY WILL IMPLY DIRECT BAN.

    Just kidding, but guitar pics would be much appreciated.
     
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  11. ElRay

    ElRay Mostly Harmless

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    Not the node crap again. “Harmonically Rich” locations change every time you fret a note. The nodes move. Also, pick-ups sense an area of the string, not a specific point.

    Any variations is almost completely due to the amount of vibration, which affects the amount of each frequency detectable in the output. If you’re playing at the 20th fret on a 21/22-fret Guitar, the neck pick-up will sound like a bridge pick-up. On a 24-fret guitar, less do.

    Also, the bridges pick-Up is more harmonically rich than the neck, because the higher frequencies are not lost in the much larger levels of the lower frequencies.
     
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  12. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    Yeah, I quote myself!

    ... and agreeing in a way with @ElRay, this has been, so far, the only proposed logic or formula I've read about this subject. I understand it as much as you have here stated. If we look back in pickup history on Fender Strats, initial Strats had the "same specifications" pickups for bridge middle and neck positions and were thought as "different EQs", on par with the tone pots. Someone along the way (or previously) elaborated that the best position should be under those harmonic nodes that mirrored fret positions. It does makes sense in mater of open string playing, but these nodes change every time one frets any note. It is obvious that these aren't geometrically accurate because saddle intonation also moves these around a bit. This is also thought to be a "ball park" rule of thumb or a good practice thing to do since it delivered solid results. From delivering good results tone wise (which is not only due to pickup position but primarily due to the overall guitar setup and associated gear) to marketing it as a statement to justify sales, it became a staples of guitar justification, even from folks as Joe Satriani who has only recently converted himself to 24 fret necks (also changing the neck full size humbucker to a single coil sized one)...

    It doesn't, however, excludes any other solution or formula for pickup positioning as long as the pickups fit within the designated area and the player's needs: between the end of the fretboard and the beginning of the bridge*. What one has to consider is that the tone does change giving the same pickup and its distance to strings to be constant: a pickup at the bridge has a brighter tone than if it was placed at the neck.

    * there are a few experimental guys who are positioning pickups behind either the bridge (TOMs allow for that) or nut, however, designed for noise and drone FXs, more than actually creating melodic/harmonic music as commonly understood as so.

    Nice post @ElRay, thanks for reminding that
     
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  13. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    Hi Odibrom,

    I carved out a further 10mm into the body and moved the pickup forward.

    To be fair I probably need to test it through my amp when it's at rehearsal levels.
     
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  14. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    ... I hope it is a cheap guitar... post some pictures!
     
  15. awjb68

    awjb68 SS.org Regular

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    It is not my primary guitar at all and it is pretty cheap. I have no qualms experimenting with it. Not something I'd do with my other guitar haha.

    Again, I will make a better judgement when I can crank my amp at rehearsal.

    Here's a pic.

    7string.png
     
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  16. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    I respect that you gave it a shot. :agreed:

    Too many folks speculate without doing.

    Also, there's something endearing about "test mule" guitars.
     
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  17. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Well holy shit

    I'm shocked there's no difference after moving it a whole 10mm further from the bridge though
     
  18. spudmunkey

    spudmunkey SS.org Regular

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    This.

    Amos Williams from Tesseract made some videos using a prototype for his then-future sig model that would let him experiment with pickup locations. I thought that was really cool (yes, I know that there are also actually sliding rail pickup systems out there)
     
  19. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Leo Fender's most used test mule was a square hunk of alder with a Tele neck bolted right to the top, no neck heel route with the bridge on a block.

    Since Leo didn't play guitar he didn't need it to be playable, he just needed to make sound.
     
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