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WilliamV

Strings over Poles

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Had a look. Couldn't find anything on here, but could online elsewhere. Google search. Still no definitive answers.

Just how critical is it that the strings are directly over the poles on pickups?

On the recent one that I am building, the strings do not align over the poles on neither the neck or bridge pickups. Nowhere near actually. Well... Maybe about a strings width away with all four.

I would post a pic but it is under construction and the neck is not attached. But will update with a pic after the cavities are routed out completely.

Edited by WilliamV

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Magnetic field is not very "sharp" within a bass pickup context. Bigger issue is if the balance between strings is not even. It is not a bad thing to have pickup poles right under the strings, but some tolerance is usually accepted before the sound is affected.

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I agree with the above- a pickup should in theory generate a magnetic field rather than a magnetic beam, so as long as the strings are in the general vicinity of the pickups they should induct signal fine, especially if all strings are a consistent distance from each polepiece.

...with that said, I've worked on some basses, particularly ones with '51 P pickups, where the pickups are ridiculously directional... I'd love to understand a little more on the ins and outs of magnets, inductance, etc to know why!

In the realms of conjecture I'd imagine a lower output pickup with magnetic polepieces would be more directional than a higher output pickup with a bar magnet underneath, or a blade style design, for example...

Short answer- depends what pickups you have, but it's probably fine!

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If it sounds good, it is good. It's a musical instrument ain't it! xD

Seriously though, you can have a bass with a pickup whose poles are directly under the strings and have issues with uneven volume across the strings. It's nice if it lines up, but it rarely does with any real precision.

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4 hours ago, PlungerModerno said:

If it sounds good, it is good. It's a musical instrument ain't it! xD

Seriously though, you can have a bass with a pickup whose poles are directly under the strings and have issues with uneven volume across the strings. It's nice if it lines up, but it rarely does with any real precision.

"It's nice if it lines up, but it rarely does with any real precision."

It's not just Precisions, real or not...  😉

Have a look at the MM Old Smoothie - 5 pole pickup with 4 strings.

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7 hours ago, Bigguy2017 said:

Have a look at the MM Old Smoothie - 5 pole pickup with 4 strings.

Excellent suggestion.

A suggested experiment: bend a string at or above the 12th fret and listen to the volume as it changes position over the poles. This will be more subtle on bridge pickups (hopefully, unless a string on a saddle or the whole bridge starts moving!).

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11 hours ago, Bigguy2017 said:

"It's nice if it lines up, but it rarely does with any real precision."

It's not just Precisions, real or not...  😉

 

I don't think that he was meaning Precision Basses. As in Fender Precision Bass.

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11 hours ago, Bigguy2017 said:

Have a look at the MM Old Smoothie - 5 pole pickup with 4 strings.

Yes, but the strings are directly "in between" the poles. I think that the pickup was made this way for a specific reason.

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On 23/02/2021 at 23:37, WilliamV said:

Just how critical is it that the strings are directly over the poles on pickups?

It depends on the type of pickup poles. Pickups with a 'double pole' configuration (eg. standard Fender) give a fairly broad and even magnetic field so string alignment isn't that critical. Pickups with single poles are far mores sensitive to string alignment. See vid below - if you jump to 3m 40s he demonstrates the effect of sideways displacement of the pickup which is quite significant.

 

Edited by ikay
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