Set your perfect pickup height with Pickup Clearance Gauges

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Simple and fast way to consistently set the gap between strings and pickups.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Pickup Clearance Gauges - Aaron Smiley StewMac Tech Advisor]

When pickups are farther from the strings

Aaron Smiley: Your pickup height is important for your tone. If your pickups are farther from your strings, they're going to have less output and generally sound warmer. But if they're too far from your strings, it might be too quiet, or you might miss some important fundamentals that your strings are creating.

When pickups are closer to the strings

On the other hand, if your pickups are closer to your strings, they're going to have more output and generally sound brighter. But if they're too close, the magnetic pull of the pickups might pull the strings out of tune. Or as you play up the fretboard, your strings might actually buzz against the top of the pickup.

Finding your preferred pickup height

So now you might wonder what pickup height is going to be best for me. We came up with a tool that makes finding your preferred pickup height consistent and easy. It comes in four gauges that have common pickup heights separated by 32nd of an inch increments. These gauges are made of non-magnetic brass, so you're not going to be fighting the pole of the pickups when you're working on them.

Now on my neck pickup, I like the distance to be about 3/32nds for this guitar. And I just like that because it's a little bit less output, and I like my neck pickup to be a little bit warmer. What I'm going to do is take the 3/32nds gauge, press down the string on the final fret and try to slide that gauge under there. And you want the gauge to touch the bottom of the string and the top of the pole piece.

On the base side of this pickup, we're there, we're already set, but on the treble side, I can already see that we need to make some adjustment. So we're going to get it a little bit closer. All right. And that one looks pretty good.

On my bridge pickups, I like to use the 1/16th of an inch because when I kick on my bridge pickup, I like it to be just a little bit louder and have some more treble, especially when I'm playing with distortion. And for the bridge pickup, I can't even slide it underneath there, so it's already too close. I'm going to go ahead and lower that a little bit.

Yeah. Now I can get in there. So I'm happy with that. And on the treble side, I'm much too close as well. I can't slide it underneath there. And that's perfect. I can slide the gauge in and out easily and it's touching the bottom of the string and the top of the magnet. That's exactly what I'm looking for. Whatever settings you like in your guitar, these will get you there in a hurry.



Aaron Smiley

StewMac Technical Advisor

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