Keeping Your Balance
If your electric guitar has 2 or more pickups, having the volume
or output balanced between them is extremely important. Especially on
a Stratocaster style guitar which of course has 3 separate pickups.
Lets start at the bridge or treble pickup. Near the bridge
the strings are much more taught and dont have a
chance to really vibrate, so this pickup should be the closest to the
strings. At the other end, the bass or neck pickup tends to be louder
by nature because the strings are much looser and have a greater
opportunity to vibrate. Therefore this pickup should be much farther
away from the strings. On a Strat where there happens to be a middle
pickup, as you can guess it should be half way between the relative
height of both the treble and bass pickups.
What I usually do to set the pickup height on a Strat is depress
either E string at the last fret (21st, 22nd or whatever) and be
sure the string is about 1/8" from the pole piece on the treble
pickup. I then adjust the middle and bass pickups as mentioned above.
If the pickups are too close to the strings you can end up with
some rather ugly overtones, particularly on the low E and A strings -
listen for it and adjust accordingly.
If the bass pickup is too
close, the magnetic pull from the pickup can actually yank the string
down towards the body making proper intonation nearly impossible! To
combat this problem, try angling the pickup slightly down at the 6th
string and or if the pickup has individually adjustable pole pieces
just screw the 6th string one down a bit.
The final test is to plug the guitar into an amp and flick the
pickup switch back and forth to be sure all 3 pickups have a balanced
output to each other. Often times a guitarist will want the treble or
bridge pickup to be just a bit louder than the other two, but not to
the point where its over powering.
With humbucking pickups you usually can have them a bit closer to
the strings than what would be the norm for single coils. This is
because with a single coil pickup the magnetic pull is concentrated
on a very narrow area of the string. With a humbucker theres 2
coils which affect a much wider area of the string and causes much
less magnetic pull.
On most humbuckers at least one set of pole pieces per pickup are
adjustable. This is a great feature because it allows you to balance
the volume of each string!
Greigg Fraser is a guitarist/songwriter
from London Canada. Click below to visit his web site and listen to audio samples from his two CD's!
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