The importance of pickup height

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,683
Location
washington iowa
I have mentioned a few trimes how much I really love my CE22 with dragon 1s. Those pickups are high output but produce a very pleasing tone that I just dig. When I got this guitar, the trem was pulled down tight to the body so I fixed that and put ph2 tuners on it. So really, I haven't done much to this guitar since I've had it.

For some reason the trem wasn't level though, bass side about 1/16 higher than treble side. I didn't fool with it but it was something that kind of bugged me so last string change I leveled it. Fine, that's done! Well two weeks ago I plugged it in at a gig and the first chord I noticed tone was off. I made some adjustments but no dice. The following weekend, same thing. Something isn't right.

What I suspect is that lowering the bass side by only 1/16 of an inch has caused my pickups to fall out of their sweet spot. I think I'm out of screw length so I don't think I can go 1/16 lower. It's due for a string change so I will see what I can do. Isn't it crazy that 1/16 would make that much difference?

The guitar I just got back from PTC is killer! I put 5708 squabbins in it but with fret issues I wasn't able to get that guitar really dialed in. The guitar is about as perfect as can be now. I have to be careful with tone controls on my amp as this guitar seems to be very picky about settings. Small adjustments seem to move the tone great distances. Rolling back vol pot to about 8 produces some incredible tones. I am very happy.

I would love to have more PRS guitars and I will have for sure but what I have now really covers anything I need to do. I've been playing for about 30 years and I'm finally happy with my tone. It's about time!
 

gball

New Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2014
Messages
505
Location
Southern California
Yeah, 1/16 is definitely a big jump. When I adjust my pickups I do it 1/4 of turn on the height screws at a time and even that is too much sometimes.

Did the height of the bridge bug you because of how it looked or how it made the guitar play? Maybe bring the bridge back up a hair and take the pickup down a hair?
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,683
Location
washington iowa
Well I thought the guitar stays in tune and plays well so leave it alone BUT couldn't stop thinking about it so there you go. I have two gigs with it so it needs new strings. That will give me a chance to check the screw length. It will go back one way or another tone wise.
 

NomadMike

New Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2014
Messages
888
The way it was explained to me many years ago was a Les Paul will sound like a Les Paul no matter the pickup heights, but it is the difference between an OK sounding Les Paul and a great sounding Les Paul. (This was pre-PRS days).
Of course the bridge comes into play too.
 

vchizzle

Zomb!e Nine, DFZ
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
7,990
Location
WI
1/64" makes a noticeable difference, 1/32" is a big difference. A 1/16"??? That's like a whole new pickup! :D
Get some neck pickup screws. Might have to cut them off a bit. Dremel cutting wheel zips em off pretty nicely.
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,683
Location
washington iowa
I was digging through my stash and found a pair of thin metal chrome pickup rings. I put them on my Ce22 and that got my pickups down where I want them. Kind of gives it a Ibanez JS look.

I was never able to lower neck pickup before and as it turns out somebody switched one of the long neck screws around and it was hitting neck pickup. Got that fixed too.

We play in town sat night and it should be fun. Can't wait!
 

DennisMiller

New Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2015
Messages
4
Location
Miami, Florida
I've had a bunch of electrics over the years, but I've rarely had one with pickups so sensitive to pickup height as those on my SE. Is that a characteristic of all PRS guitars?
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,683
Location
washington iowa
All mine seem to be. I hear a lot of guys complain about dragon 2s being too muddy. I bought my cu22 new and the dragon 2s in it have never been muddy. I've never changed the factory setup.
 
Last edited:

tokairic

tokairic
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
16
Location
Derbyshire UK
How about someone out there in the know giving us all a bit of insight on how to adjust the PRS pickups to get the sound/tone we want?
For example where to start with the pickup position, what effect lowering the pickup has, what effect raising the pickup has..........etc

I have tinkered with pickup heights but not with any knowledge or insight, just played about till it sounds good to me. The way I read it, if a pickup is too bright and loud, lower it and it the picup is too dark and quiet, raise it - but thats as far as I know.......perhaps someone can put me right on this.
 

gush

She said "huge bag of dibs".
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
5,683
Location
washington iowa
How about someone out there in the know giving us all a bit of insight on how to adjust the PRS pickups to get the sound/tone we want?
For example where to start with the pickup position, what effect lowering the pickup has, what effect raising the pickup has..........etc

I have tinkered with pickup heights but not with any knowledge or insight, just played about till it sounds good to me. The way I read it, if a pickup is too bright and loud, lower it and it the picup is too dark and quiet, raise it - but thats as far as I know.......perhaps someone can put me right on this.

When my pickups are too close to the strings it creates more output but it also makes it less clear or muddy as some put it. I don't like that. I try to find a nice balance between good output and clarity. Once I have done that with the bridge I put it in middle position and adjust neck pickup to make that position sound good. However, that doesn't work on my Ce22 with dragon 1s. On that guitar I have to adjust neck pickup so that is clear sounding so all my in between positions are clear enough.

There is the method of one nickel between bridge pickup and strings, two nickels for neck pickup.
 

vchizzle

Zomb!e Nine, DFZ
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
7,990
Location
WI
How about someone out there in the know giving us all a bit of insight on how to adjust the PRS pickups to get the sound/tone we want?
For example where to start with the pickup position, what effect lowering the pickup has, what effect raising the pickup has..........etc

I have tinkered with pickup heights but not with any knowledge or insight, just played about till it sounds good to me. The way I read it, if a pickup is too bright and loud, lower it and it the picup is too dark and quiet, raise it - but thats as far as I know.......perhaps someone can put me right on this.
There's a good starting point here: http://prsguitars.com/csc/setup.html
I find with lower output pickups I like them closer to the strings than a high output pickup like the \m/. Using your ears is the right way to go. I usually go a 1/2 turn at a time on the adjustment screws to and listen to the difference. In my band, I play at pretty good volume, so I also need to factor in whether the pickup will start squealing under high gain when I stop playing. There's not really right or wrong, it's balance and season to taste. What works for me, may not suit you. I start with my bridge pickup because I spend the most time there, then I balance the neck pickup height to get the proper volume balance that I want to hear when switching between pickups.
 

alantig

Zombie Four, DFZ
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
13,353
I just adjusted the neck pup on my Tremonti last night (finally got to it). I've been tweaking this pretty much since I got it. I will say this - it's pretty sensitive to changes. I was going in quarter turns and hearing a difference. In the end, I dropped the bass side somewhere around half a turn and raised the treble a quarter turn. Lost a lot of the mud I'd had before. Now the question is will I be as happy with it the next time I play it?
 
Top