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  • Adjusting Pickups

    In the never-ending quest to get the best sound from my basses, I have been experimenting with the business of pickup height and how different settings can radically affect the sounds.

    Some people go with specific measurements (typically 1/8th inch between pole and string). Others prefer to set their pickups solely by ear and the particular sounds they prefer.

    Though you're going to have to decide which system works best for you and your own ax, there are some general tips:

    - Don't set them so close to the strings that you get clipping or distortion
    - Don't set them so far that you get distant or muted sounds
    - Don't be afraid to angle pickups toward bass or treble side
    - Be careful - magnetic pull can occur on strings if your pups are too close
    - Having the pups too close can produce a sound that is out of phase

    Some pickups even let you adjust individual pole pieces. You'll know those if you have them - there will be little screws for each pole.

    I also discovered an interesting way to test before you set. Since most pickups are loaded with springs or sponges, you can gently press down on the pup while plucking the string. This will give you a general idea of the sound you're going to get from each particular setting.

    Obviously, there are some special basses out there that do not need these kinds of adjustments. My tests have been on general magnetic pickups.

    I'm interested to hear how others like to set their pups. What say, y'all?
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Ralph's Avatar
      Ralph -
      All my pick-up lines are well-adjusted.
      I'm just sayin'
      Sir Ralph
    1. Elmeaux's Avatar
      Elmeaux -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ralph View Post
      All my pick-up lines are well-adjusted.
      I'm just sayin'
      Sir Ralph
      Yeah? Then why did someone poke out your eye?
    1. Bassix's Avatar
      Bassix -
      I increased the height of the pickups on my fretless a couple months ago and found that I got more mwah and growl by moving the pickups closer to the strings. Shortly after doing that I had to lower the neck pickup a little because when I tried to slap (I know. Why would one slap with a fretless? ), I'd hear a 'clank' as the strings hit the pickup. I did, however, find that tonal sweet spot I was looking for.
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