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FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Strings don't line up with pick up


United States

May 24th, 2017 11:04 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Hi, I just put a new bridge and set of pick ups on a custom guitar I am building and the strings do not line up across the pick ups. The 5th string (on my five sting bass) lines up perfectly, but the 1st string is off by 1/8". Did I get the wrong combo (bridge and pick ups) or do I need to slant the pick ups so they match up?

Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

May 24th, 2017 11:20 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Can you give us some more data?

What brand pickups?

There is such a thing as "F-spaced" pickups.

Honestly, an eighth of an inch isn't much.

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Te 52

Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 24th, 2017 11:24 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It may be aesthetically unpleasing, but it probably doesn't make any difference to the sound. The magnetic field around the pickups is very diffuse, the strings can be quite a way off center before any volume loss is noticeable.

(This message was last edited by Te 52 at 02:50 PM, May 24th, 2017)



May 24th, 2017 08:00 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

To put what Te 52 says in other words, science ain't an exact science. Pole piece height and placement has been kinda loose and free all along and is only rarely dealt with any great diligence. There is something to be said for nailing the line up, but take a look at instruments next time you're at a music store and you'll see that very, very few look ideal.

Fun/useful fact: the polepiece doesn't sense the string. It puts the string into a magnetic field, and when the string vibrates it works with the coil to create an inductance, so more accurately the coil senses the string. The is a big part of why you can get varying sounds on something like a p-90 by experimenting with raising just the poles vs. raising the whole pickup.

And, are we talking about a guitar or a bass? You seem to mention two, but I don't know if they are in fact the same instrument. If more is known, there maybe tricks to better equalize the line up, like shifting a neck over, or whatever.


World Traveler

Wood, magnetic coil and strings.
May 24th, 2017 10:11 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Unclear what you are building but if you changed bridges, are the mounting holes of the new bridge the same as the old bridge ? Usually narrow spaced saddle bridges and wider spaced saddle bridges are not similar when it comes to mounting holes.

If you are talking about 5-string bass, one solution is to use an adjustable side-to-side string spacing bridge like the ones made by Schaller or Hipshot 5-string bass bridge.

(This message was last edited by hotblooze at 12:15 AM, May 25th, 2017)

Contributing Member

I've got my own

double-cross to bear
May 25th, 2017 11:02 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

The best way to tell if the bridge on an existing guitar is too far one way or the other is to check the strings' distance from the edge of the fingerboard at the neck heel.

If both distances are equal at the heel, and the strings are not centered (or 'averaged') over the pickups' poles, then the bridge is in the wrong place or the pickups are in the wrong place.

If both distances are not equal at the heel, and you're using a screw-on neck, loosen the string tension, slightly loosen the neck screws, and nudge the headstock (just a bit) in the direction you need to move the strings' positions at the heel until the strings are centered equally at the neck heel.

Click on the link below.

Here's an original PeegooPicasso to show what's what

Contributing Member

New Jersey

I'm back with the otters again
May 30th, 2017 10:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I've had clients approach me with misaligned pickups and were willing to spend comparatively huge cost estimates to get their strings to cross perfectly over the pole pieces via modifying the pickup route or making a modified pickguard. It was hard in some cases to talk them out of the idea.

Unless you have a real truly perceptible string response problem, the location of the pole piece doesn't matter. I've built 4-string basses using six pole guitar pickups and a fair quantity of off the wall weirdo instruments using god knows uber-mismatched pickup alignment and there is a ton of latitude. It ain't a problem unless you actually hear one.

Contributing Member


May 31st, 2017 11:04 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

In built a Strat from Warmoth parts. Since I wanted a beefy/wide neck my E strings are a bit wide on the poles. The guitar sounds great.

FDP Forum / Guitar Mods, Repairs, and Projects / Strings don't line up with pick up

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