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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Humbucker setup question - Bonamassa content

mfitz804
Contributing Member
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Staten Island, NY

"Insert witty saying here"
Apr 1st, 2012 07:38 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Was watching a Joe Bonamassa concert on TV and noted that the height of the pickups on his Les Pauls was especially low. The bridge pickup was flush with the mounting ring, and the neck seemed to be a few millimeters below it.

I am not very experienced with humbuckers...any of you employ such a setup?

FunkyKikuchiyo
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New England

Apr 1st, 2012 09:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It could be an optic illusion. If the neck angle is shallower on his guitar, then their distance to the strings will be about the same, but won't be as jacked up to REACH the strings... so basically, the strings themselves are closer to the body.

My experience has been that vintage Gibsons had shallower neck angles than current ones. Gibson gets this correct in their Custom Shop models, but in standard production models the neck angle is pretty dramatic. Often the bridge is pretty darn close to as low as it'll go on vintage LPs, SGs and thinlines.

I don't know Bonamassa well enough to comment on his gear, but if he is playing something more vintage correct than the average off the wall Gibson, then this very well may be the case.

GP
Contributing Member
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SW Burbs of Chitown

ILL, where our Gov's make our plates
Apr 1st, 2012 09:28 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Maybe his bridge PU is high output and it balances out when switched to bridge/neck Not sure.

I have seen HB's setup like strat PU's tilted up at the high E string.

Peegoo
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That chicken

is WRONG, baby.
Apr 1st, 2012 10:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Totally depends on the pickup--and the tone the player wants.

Duncan specifies something like 3/32" from polepiece to string for the bridge pickup. But that is merely a starting point, really.

Fiddle with pickup heights, and you may be quite surprised at the tonal variations available from a pickup.

91Stratplayer

NW of Chicago

Have fun, this is the only life you get
Apr 2nd, 2012 06:03 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

He plays a real 59 LP, he has 2 of them. "Vintage correct" is right on the money.

EDIT to add from Gibson's Website:

"Hi I'm David the final inspector at Gibson Memphis. I can give you the factory spec info on our setups. You will need a mechanics rule to do this properly.

To check neck relief: fret the low E at the first and 15th fret (not 12th) reach to the 7th fret and tap string. There should be a small space between string and fret no thicker than a piece of paper. Do the same with the high E.

ACTION: Fret low E at first fret and measure the distance from the bottom of the to the top of the 15th fret. It should be 5/64". Do the same with the high E, measurement should be 3/64".

Now measure the string height at the nut; underside of the string to the top of the fret. Low E and A should measure 2/64", D and G =1.5/64" and B and high E = 1/64". If string height at nut is correct, recheck string height at 12th fret with strings open. Measurement for low and high E's should be the same as measurement taken at the 15th.

PICKUPS: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32".

Play test: Play every string at every fret checking for buzzes. Bend High E string 1 and 1/2 steps, beginning at the sixth fret and ending at 22nd, checking for "choking" and to make sure string stays in nut notch."

(This message was last edited by 91Stratplayer at 06:10 AM, Apr 2nd, 2012)

FunkyKikuchiyo
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New England

Apr 2nd, 2012 07:22 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"He plays a real 59 LP, he has 2 of them. "Vintage correct" is right on the money."

Ah, there we go! Of course it is just one element. IMO, Gibson "spec" for pickup heights is too high and usually causes string pull. I don't like them super low, but I do try to get them a safe distance away from the strings and I get a much cleaner sound.

If you look at other players on the vintage instruments, you'll notice the same thing much of the time.

wrnchbndr
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New Jersey

The otters threw me out
Apr 2nd, 2012 07:27 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It totally depends on the pickup itself to where you find the sweet spot and then it depends on what you want to get from the pickup. Another thing that can matter is that if a pickup is too close, it can interfere with some picking styles. Humbuckers rarely disrupt the vibration of the strings from excessive magnetic strength like some single coil pickups can.
Most players want to get a near match of output between neck and bridge. Some like to adjust their pickups to get a boost of output in one position or the other. By concentrating on the output level alone, you might inadvertantly depart from what might be a tonal sweet spot of one pickup or the other so its worth putting in a little time checking out the tonal charactoristics of pickups at different heights.
I tend to be very conservative and put pickups a bit lower. However, I just had a '70s Gibson SG with the stamped Gibson logo on chrome covers and discovered that the pickups totally bloomed when I put them real close to the strings. Often these pickups are snubbed as being inferior but they became everything they should be when I put them as close as my client could tolerate. They became wonderfully articulate and acquired that beautiful bell tone around the 10th fret and above. Lowering them made them sterile and boring. If these were PAFs, they typically could have been much lower and achieved the same result.
But I'm not saying that all Gibson pickups like these will act the same. There are good one and there are better ones and then there are ones that ought to be replaced. The subject of pickups and how they should be employed is always spoken in generalities.

mfitz804
Contributing Member
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Staten Island, NY

"Insert witty saying here"
Apr 2nd, 2012 09:05 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

They showed the guitars close up a number of times, and it really looked like they were way down. I suppose if it were an optical illusion, I wouldn't know , that's the illusion.

But hey, its something to talk about other than his plagarism of Peegoo's "Fivehead".

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
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New England

Apr 2nd, 2012 09:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Here are some pictures I found of an Eric Clapton Les Paul that Gibson apparently made last year. The pickups look pretty low on that too. If you also look at the bridge and tailpiece, they also look a lot lower too, because they are a lot lower. Unfortunately there aren't good pictures of the neck joint itself, but if there were you'd see that the fingerboard extension doesn't sit really high off of the top like it does on newer models, but is right in there close.

The way you're describing the Bonamassa guitars make it sound like he likes the pickups low as well, but it probably is within a normal range.

Eric Clapton Les Paul

ndngary
Contributing Member
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US / Florida

Below Me
Apr 6th, 2012 10:09 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"PICKUPS: Fret low E at 22nd fret and measure pickup height from underside of string to point on pickup closest to string. Bridge pickup should be 3/64", neck pickup should be 4/32". Fret high E at 22nd fret, distance for both pickups should be 3/32"."

I read this over + over and sumtin aint right. If I set the (bridge pup) low E side at 3/64 and the high E side at 3/32 the low E string would be closer to the pup than the high E string.This cant be right,someone please tell me what im missing.

zeedawg
Contributing Member
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USA

Praise him with the strings
Apr 6th, 2012 11:24 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I just bought a '59 50th Anniv LTD, #59 of 59 (new in the box). Yep, pretty vintage correct. 91Stratplayers reference to David's comments at the Gibson site, spot on. Well, actually the Low E neck was off by 1/64". They are very low, but I LOVE this guitar, and I'm a Strat guy. It plays like butter, and when low it just chimes, when you crank it up, well lets just say I need to replace a few shingles on my roof. The cool thing is I can hear "HEAR" the tone, not just a lot of loud noise, very defined.

Cost me a small fortune, and would do it all over again!
-Z

91Stratplayer

NW of Chicago

Have fun, this is the only life you get
Apr 7th, 2012 05:16 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

ndngary, I found that to be funny myself. I would have thought the neck low E should be lower than the high E string. It's on the Gibson site on a "sticky".

Neck pickups are notoriously bassy. I usually lower mine by 1/32 over the high side.

Maybe Gibsons final inspector had a bit to much when he replied.

I should have really read the info before I posted it. My fault for not doing that in the first place.

(This message was last edited by 91Stratplayer at 05:34 AM, Apr 7th, 2012)

FunkyKikuchiyo
Contributing Member
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New England

Apr 7th, 2012 11:14 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

ndngary - my best guess is that when you fret it at the 22nd fret it negates that difference.

Factory measurements (or measurements at all) on pickup heights are a tad bit silly, anyway. They are adjustable precisely so that you can set them to taste and by your ear. As I've said, I find Gibson factory setup to be too high on the pickups and I frequently get string pull on the bass strings when playing up the neck, and they open up much better when you drop them down a bit.

Also, the last time I checked, they weren't bothering to set individual string heights at the factory. It may seem like nitpicking, but the pickups clean up a lot when you take the time to do those.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Humbucker setup question - Bonamassa content




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