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# The Neck Pickup Sweet Spot

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Thanks for doing this! It's great to see someone actually undertaking a little research project like this to come up with some empirical data, rather than simply continuing to spout the same myths that get recycled over and over.

The whole "pickup under a harmonic node" idea makes me laugh. My Tele has its neck pickup under the 24th fret harmonic node, and as a result, open-string 5th-fret natural harmonics are inaudible when played through the neck pickup. At first, i thought the guitar had dead spots, but then it occurred to me that it was the "harmonic node" in action.

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I see your point, but a guitar string is not an ideal string. The simplest representation of it requires a differential equation that requires an initial condition, such as pick placement, string displacement, etc. Any other representation is entirely too simplistic. In physics, we have a joke referred to as the "spherical cow" which pokes fun at our habit of simplifying problems as much as possible in order to make the math nice. Using a purely ideal string is much like modeling a cow as a sphere. Pick placement is not merely a technique or some "other" factor. Pickup placement and an analysis of the spectral output simply cannot be looked at independently of where the string is plucked (or struck, which is a totally different initial condition). I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just think that a lot of the people who talk about strings vibrating simply don't know (usually because it gets very mathematical) about the interdependence between the two.

Right... all I'm saying is, perhaps this factor can be considered separately and then considered in light of pick placement. But I'm not a scientist, so I don't know.

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But, what I am having trouble getting my head around is how these diagrams relate to fretting on any string. To me it looks as if even fretted on the 5th fret, the '4 wave harmonic' is going to condense up and be somewhat opposite to the open string. This is pretty much as I would expect, that when a note is fretted, the string length changes and so then all the harmonics must move along with it...however, the neck pickup, where ever it is positioned is stationary, therefore, it would seem obvious that as soon as you start fretting notes, the relative position of the pickup in relation to the string length and all the harmonics must move. It was brought up last time this conjecture was put forward but I don't see a convincing explanation of why it wouldn't do what seems obvious as the string shortens with fretting.

So a comprehensive understanding has to take EVERYTHING into consideration:

-nodes of all harmonics of significant amplitude, on each string and each fret

-harmonic bias from pick position

-amplitude of initial attack (since it will affect the frequency of the fundamental and, I assume, the frequencies of the harmonics)

-width of node (do nodes have width, or is it just apparent because of the low amplitude around the node?)

-width and height and shape of pickup sensing field

-and probably a whole lot more!

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PAF HB's will often be intentionally wound with one coil louder than the other...I suppose a test would be to reverse the pickup...
That's the obvious thing to do and your comment made me get off my butt and you were correct, the louder coil was still louder

Getting back on topic once again I will state that I am only talking about how the position of the pickup affects the sound. If we start talking about other factors lets turn the volume control all the way down and then we have no sound at all! (ha ha) And if you strum across the 12th fret while using a Bridge pickup it will sound very warm but still have the characteristics of the Bridge pickup, would it not?

Anyhow its good to see a few others chiming in, thanks for your input. At this point I will like to say I am still learning as I go along and I find it is not actually desirable to have a single coil right on the second octave. The sound is a bit dull and having the pickup a little closer to the bridge adds back a bit of “sparkle” A humbucker with one coil right on the node however sounds okay to my ears. And when you think about it the first Les Pauls with the P90's could not have had the pole pieces right under the node because the pickukp is too wide...just an observation

The main objective here is to explain why having the pickup at the second octave node is not just good for the open string. It also affects the fretted notes. Btw I find it hard to decide how to describe all this so I hope my explanations are not too complicated

Before I continue I will add some more explanation to Diagram 5 in my first post

I figure a Harmonic produces its loudest sound in the middle half and decreases rapidly in the last quarter at each end. We know the Bridge pu has less output than the Neck with identical pickups

Diagram 7 shows some points of full cancellation and Diagram 5 shows that as you play between these points the nodes of lower order harmonics are always less than a quarter of their length from the second octave node. I have studied this in great detail and this occurs all the way up the fretboard

Looking again at Diagram 7

Another factor which attributes to the “clean” sound with Coil A is that the full cancellations occur at major harmonic points of the open string

And when playing the 12th and 19th frets the Fundamentals themselves are Harmonics of the open string

With Coil B Harmonics that are fully canceled are not at harmonic points of the open string

Having cancellations at harmonic points is good for two reasons. You are canceling lower-order harmonics than Coil B and when playing fretted notes you don’t get interference from vibrations of the open string. Vibrations of the open string are still present when playing fretted notes because what we call Standing Waves are actually Traveling Waves which recur at the same point and just appear to be standing still

To further understand this you have to look at the basics of guitar-building. The reason you have an angle at the headstock is to create a boundary which keeps most of the vibrations within the nut and bridge. When you play a fretted note you don’t want to press too hard or you will be out of tune. So a lot of vibrations still travel between the nut and bridge and the two sets of vibrations exist together

I don’t know the full extent of this but obviously with your finger in the way the traveling waves of the open string are not able to propagate into transverse waves. So they are not heard but as far as I can figure out they have an effect on what you do hear

I experimented by putting a cappo on the 2nd fret when using the coil closer to the bridge and it sounded much better. It was like listening to a radio tuned-in properly and with it off it was like someone had bumped the dial and there was interference and noise getting in

Okay so that just about wraps it up but I know at the end of the day anything can be subjective. Here and there I have said things like “this is better” but it just hard to decide on how to phrase things. I am not saying there is anything wrong with the sound of a Neck pickup on a 24 fret guitar, it’s just different and is good for various styles of music. Just as much as single coil guitars are better suited for some types of music and humbuckers for others

I think people like Chet Atkins and Les Paul would have said this is a better sound while younger generations might think otherwise. I suppose it’s just that the idea of a neck pickup is to get a warm sound and you can’t get any warmer than having it at the second octave. With more modern techniques of building you could probably have 24 frets and still have a pickup close enough to capture the effects of the cancellations. I have managed to keep the 23rd fret and the pickup is right on the node

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and that it makes sense. This last post has taken me about seven hours straight, so it better!

cheers

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Hmmm...well this is more of the kind of thing I needed visualized and appreciate the work you have put into it...will give it more thought perhaps...

Diagram 7 shows some points of full cancellation and Diagram 5 shows that as you play between these points the nodes of lower order harmonics are always less than a quarter of their length from the second octave node. I have studied this in great detail and this occurs all the way up the fretboard

I know how long these things can take to draw out and wrap one's head around and I applaud your perseverance and how I can often come off as perhaps oppositional for the sake of it.

...

There are some interesting ideas, some are incredibly subtle and more things are being introduced.

Recently I added a thick (3mm) aluminum plate to the headstock of my trem equipped LP and added these rollers which in many ways work similar to string trees (only sideways) and it had an interesting effect on the sound of the guitar...subtle but there. Such a mass provides strength and stiffness to the headstock, significant support behind the nut and mass to the head as well as making the length of string behind the nut much 'shorter' than normal. All these factors have a positive effect on the sound and makes the "vibrations" seem a little more "true" if that makes sense.

But I don't like to create some mythic mojo about these things. There is a positive effect on things and on this guitar in many ways for this simple mod. You can hear these things like adding mass to a head by adding a sizable clamp to the thing or pushing a head against something solid. The headstock is often a place where there is flexibility and highly susceptible to vibrations and can effect the way a string vibrates. More so than at the other end of a solid body guitar, trems also have these kinds of effects. But, you know I resist endorsing hard and fast rules as there is still some subjectivity in things. Some people actually like the noise associated with single coils and that this is 'part of their sound' for instance, I can't say that that is "wrong" (though I love a really super quiet guitar these days).

How a string vibrates is complex but some of this complexity is stripped away by things like simple magnetic pickups.

The sustainer in harmonic mode gives an interesting perspective as you can hear how the string driven at this point will produce different harmonics (say an octave+5th or 3rd or other subdivision) and kind of predictable and be ever higher, but then revert back to those of the first series from the open fret at the twelfth fret.

Another thing that I had been discussing elsewhere is that the harmonic series is of course at odds with equal temperament tuning and the guitar worse than some instruments. A sound high in higher order harmonics will produce tones within a note that are 'out of tune' with the note being played. It is even worse with chords and combinations of notes. I am kind of resistant to things like 'pure tone" and the mojo surrounding some of this kind of thing...

I think the main thing about the neck pickup is that generally it is in a position that will sense overwhelmingly the fundamental far outweighing the subtle harmonics underneath it, despite any cancellation effects. Locating the pickup closer to the bridge will lessen this effect, creating perhaps more higher harmonic content (not necessarily because of cancellation effects, but because the fundamental is less overwhelming to them). So, more distance between the bridge and the neck pickup will have this effect more. I don't know that the 24th fret is a sweet spot, perhaps the 22nd is even more, or the 20th, remember a lot of jazz guitars had less frets and had their pickups located in this kind of region for good effect.

The danger is that such conjecture is used as a marketing tool as if conclusive and that is something I try to resist.

There are a lot of factors that can go into things, pickups themselves can be fascinating. I'm glad you did an experiment to see that in a PAF say, one coil may be remarkably different to another and really skew results. But one of the 'smoothest' pickups I've had is a tele chrome covered skinny single coil...designed for this kind of 'jazz' like response and built deep and thin and has particular qualities unlike other types. A P-90 has an unusual magnetic array that is extremely wide as another example despite being a single coil. HB's will ahve different response from either coil generally, the screws being quite different from the core in the slug coil for a start and are often designed now so that one coil and the other mix to a great cohesive sound. Some old PAF's had this kind of magic because of the imperfections of the day and may have contributed to the mojo thing. Now we get mojo in aging of magnets and all manner of things. My natural tendency in such things is to ask more difficult questions to test such claims for validity, but there is only so far an amateur can go.

Anyway...I appreciate the effort, it is time consuming I know...

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I ran out of credit there for a while, isn’t prepaid broadband a wonderful thing? but before this thread gets too old…

...this is more of the kind of thing I needed visualized...
In hindsight I may have presented all this quite differently but it's hard to anticipate what readers will find too long and boring. I hoped people would ask questions then I would only provide necessary information and keep it short, clear and concise. There are still diagrams I am making up to clarify a couple of things but they take so long

Recently I added a thick (3mm) aluminum plate to the headstock of my trem equipped LP…these factors have a positive effect on the sound and makes the "vibrations" seem a little more "true" if that makes sense
Yes it makes sense to me, would you say it is like the difference between a fretted note and the open string?

But I don't like to create some mythic mojo about these things…The danger is that such conjecture is used as a marketing tool as if conclusive…
I think I know what you are talking about. Just before my credit ran out I discovered this

I actually agree with some of what he says but I don’t like his attitude and I certainly hope I don’t come across like that. My aim is to arrive at a logical and sensible conclusion to this topic and you might notice I have not bad-mouthed anyone. And I certainly have not been put off buying a 24 fret guitar in fact I have come to a better understanding of pickup placement. I think when 24 fret guitars came on the market in the 1970’s instead of saying the Neck pickup issue was just distance from the bridge, salesmen should have promoted it as sounding better, because it actually does sound better in certain ways

What I am talking about is not rocket science and it’s really not necessary to got so deep into the physics of it all. You just have to do the simple experiment of moving the pickup and let your ears be the judge. You will find there is quite a different sound with a pickup on or near the second octave and it suits certain types of music, from Lester to Guns and beyond

Still working on a couple of more diagrams

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I read as much as I could from Ed Roman but frankly, never seen so much BS and manufactured mojo and misinformation...plus absolutely not real support, appeals to higher authorities, name dropping and unsupported "science" followed by contradictory stuff...oh, but it doesn't apply to "my" stratocasters because people like the sound of the pickup located there (not that those pearl scratchplates come made conveniently with such thing) PRS changed fro their 24 fret guitars to make an inferior instrument that I now copy because by doing so they will sell more guitars (the illogical conspiracies) and wheeled out a "name", unknown, untraceable and with no published research with the same superficial hand drawn open string wave form scenarios as if this is "science" and not simply conjecture.

This in support of the idea that a 24 fret guitar is better and that everyone out here is dumb and blind to this overwhelming evidence, the artists, the builders of guitars...everyone but JJ and ed...astonishing.

Any scientist would simply run the guitar through a scope and spectrum analyzer and produce hard data from every fret. Any depth would take into account that the whole system of equal temperament tuning and is at odds with the overtone series and that many of these overtones will be out of tune with the notes played and their function in western music....

I haven't done it, but really, these tools are available free with software. The problem is that logically, with every note played, the waveforms shorten with the length of the string, what holds true for the open strings and strategic divisions like the 5,7,12 fret for instance, must be different perhaps radically, from those of the fretted notes between. Just as it may be argued simplistically that an open string will have an "advantageous" wave form, then so too must if be that between the open string and the next occurrence of this advantageous condition, there must be a place in which the opposite occurs, perhaps the third fret for instance, or a # or b note perhaps. But the reality is that there is very little if any real radical difference other than the character of the guitar itself...a subjective thing in most respects.

It's this kind of "fool the kids" misuse of science and namedropping self serving self aggrandizing mojo that makes people like me require much more than more mojo to support it.

I think the 'facts' more support the idea that 24 fret guitars came to dominance and appeal in the shredding, turn it up to 11 philosophy of the 80's. That PRS used it as a point of difference, "2 frets more" than the competition as a marketing tool. That the distance between the pickups is important and that 24 fret guitars pushed the pickups closer with less variation and that with a lot, the structural join between body and neck were made weaker by this join and pickup placement to some degree. I hardly think it likely that PRS produce a lessor product (as Ed actually suggests) at the height of their acceptance, retool and everything and go back on their already strong 2 frets more thing, to sell more guitars to a conservative audience that had already accepted the product wholeheartedly a making PRS a third force against the "big two". Ed is going to have to come up with more than highlighted texts and self quoting to make that fly I'm afraid!

...

Ok...well, enough of that for now...

The plate thing...here's what I put on my new LP guitar...

This plate is 3mm aluminium plus 1mm of decorative plastic. It comes to within a 1mm of the strings exiting the nut and butts up hard to it with a bevel. The side rollers guide the strings straight across the teflon nut to aid with the full floating kahler tremolos action. These also reduce the vibrations of the strings behind the nut. The LP has no volute to strengthen the very flexible and vulnerable neck/head scarf, this plate adds considerable stiffness to this very flexible area of the neck. There is a slight increase in 'mass' at the headstock end, mainly a change in stiffness and resonance.

The end result as has been demonstrated in products and can easily be replicated, is that the neck is stiffer and the resonance of it is altered and so changing the character of the 'tone' not just in open strings, but on the whole guitar. But, it is subtle and the reason for it is primarily for tuning stability and strength which it does achieve on this guitar.

...

See, Ed Roman is using the same diagrams and arguments you appear to be putting forward, to argue something of the opposite. 24 fret guitars "sound better' even though by having 24 frets it prohibits putting the pickup at the 24th fret. You argue for 23 frets on your model, a product differentiation and use the same arguments that ya pickup be placed at the 24th fret. Neither account for the idea of the fretting of a note will shorten the string and so completely alter the waveform in relation to a fixed sensing position. And it looks at the thing in isolation, I use both pickups at once and the distances between them and the pickup qualities are by far the more important factors that affect things. He contradicts his arguments with "the strat" saying people prefer the traditional placement for a particular sound, but in reality the strats combined pickups are what creates the "quack" and it is the distances between the middle pickup and the other two that are more crucial to this effect. So, you could get a similar effect by moving both the middle and neck pickups or come up with his own intriguing take on the strat "quack", but then he'd need to make his own pick guards and we can't be admitting that, better to undermine ones own unsupported theory and use rail pickups that themselves are likely to have radically different characteristics that undermine the effect anyway!

There is a danger that this conjecture is really just falling into the same trap. There may well be a subjective preferred location for the neck pickup, but I can't see it being supported by this wave form theory.

Much of this can be 'corrected for' anyway with the radically different qualities of pickups and the fact that they don't sense string vibrations from a concise point. You found this for instance in the PAF thing, it is common for coils in such pickups to be radially different and just the basic construction of an HB with screw and slug coils typically creates a difference in induction (not measure by the resistance measurements of the coils) for a start.

I'm just a bit resistance to call in superficial "science" to support an argument without addressing the logical consequence of it. If the 24th fret location is important, does it not then follow that as the string is shortened by fretting, none of this theory then applies?

"lester to guns and beyond"...now you are starting to sound like ed...you know that 'lester' did all kinds of experiments in building guitars and designing the apparently flawed LP, dropped his association with Gibson when the design changed, and played the guitar that bears his name his entire career. Slash and his ilk traded on the 'iconic' image of the LP and it's association with guy's like page. Page found it to be a great stage guitar, quiet and bullet proof and versatile and had the "looks', but for his classic sounds favored other instruments.

But if it's "not rocket science" and there is a real difference other than subjective, do you not think that others would have already done such experiments or more than moving the pickup around? Is it plausible that such a long standing 'theory' was not put to the test more conclusively and that only the likes of yourself or ed roman know the "truth" of the matter when it is apparently so simple? For me the problem is with the simplistic use and co-opting of the scientific method and the ignoring of something that seems to be a logical fact related to the fretting of notes shortening the string and undermining the theory, and that just smacks of marketing mojo that people like Ed are renown for and simply don't stand any kind of scrutiny.

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I thought you must have known about Ed Roman from what you were saying before. I’m sorry I should have left it out but I agree he’s nuts

There may well be a subjective preferred location for the neck pickup, but I can't see it being supported by this wave form theory
I will go over it quickly again with a few details I may have left out before. And if you tell me what part you don’t understand I will clarify it for you

The white guitar in the first post originally had 25 frets and I was never happy with the neck pickup. It sounded okay above the 4th fret but lacked at the open string. I chopped out the neck and got the pickup on the node and now it sounds like the Les Paul except with a brighter tone due to the timber etc.

Before all this was completed I did a ton of research and experimenting and came to the conclusion that the unique sound was due to cancellation of harmonics. A pickup in any position will cancel overtones but the neck pickup gets down to the lower-order harmonics. And it doesn’t just cancel that one harmonic but every one above it that has a node over the pickup. It scoops out a whole range of overtones

With a pickup at the second octave you cancel lower harmonics than you can with a 24 fret guitar and let me explain further what this means. I am using the 5th string as an example

At the open string it cancels every fourth harmonic

A A E A C# E G A B C# D E F# G G# A

You get the Fundamental and the first octave but above that all octaves are cancelled along with others

At the 12th fret every second harmonic is cancelled

A A E A C# E G A B C# D E F# G G# A

You only get the Fundamental because all the octaves of it are cancelled. And it’s the same for other harmonics up the series

Of course in other areas of the fretboard you don’t get this in fact at the 5th fret none of the octaves of the Fundamental are lost, because it is every third harmonic cancelled

D D A D F# A C D E F# G A B C C# D

If you listen carefully you can hear it is kind of “inverted” from the sound you get at the 12th fret or open string

Above the 12th fret you go into the higher-order harmonics

As you play in-between all these points you get partial cancellation

With all these missing harmonics the Fundamental is heard closer to a “Pure Tone” which is pleasing to the ear. This is a term used in physics

Pure Tone

Pure tone is a single frequency tone with no harmonic content (no overtones)

Ironically however if you removed all the overtones and achieved a real Pure Tone it actually sounds boring!

With the white guitar before I got the pickup on the second octave I chopped it out and got it where the 26th fret would be. And it actually sounded quite good in the quest for the elusive neck pickup sound like the Les Paul. Its just that with it right on the second octave it was a lot more “there” if you can follow what I mean

Now

Here’s a little test you can do with your Les Paul to prove that these cancellations actually occur just the way I have described in my diagrams

First play the fourth harmonic at the 5th fret using the neck pickup and compare it with the bridge pickup. Also compare it with the 12th and 7th fret harmonics…and do this every time

Now put a cappo on the 1st fret and play the fourth harmonic which is now at the 6th fret

You should hear almost nothing

Now put the cappo on the 2nd fret and play the fourth harmonic which is now at the 7th fret

The sound will be a little louder just like the open string

This shows just how large the harmonic dead spot area is

Now to add to this you can put the cappo on every fret up the board and play the fourth, third and second harmonics. You will find they are faint – at the appropriate places - just as I have described in my first post and shown in the diagrams

I know this is all very scientific and it sometimes takes a while to sink-in but if you look into it as deep as I have you can say “I know” instead of “I believe”

Ed Roman’s scientist friend brags that he has studied the harmonic series up to the fifth harmonic. I have several excel documents going as far as the 128th harmonic up to the 22nd fret. I can type in the scale length and the position of the pickup and determine where cancellations and partial cancellations occur. It shows much the same results as Donald Tillman’s demonstration applet

Talking about the harmonic series, yes I know it is not in tune with Western tempered systems

The Harmonic Series of a Vibrating String

“Any note, as produced by any of the instruments, is accompanied by a varying number of attendant notes, called ‘harmonics’ ‘overtones’ or ‘upper partials’…Not all of these are perfectly in tune, however, according to any scale in actual use”

[The Oxford Companion To Music by Percy A. Scholes]

This along with the fact that frets are placed with equal temperament tuning has little to do with what I am talking about and still holds true even if you use a slide or have a fretless instrument

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I know this is all very scientific and it sometimes takes a while to sink-in but if you look into it as deep as I have you can say “I know” instead of “I believe”

i am sorry to be an ass about it, but at most its still only vaguely scientific (i.e. still at the early stages of being very scientific). the thing we are still lacking is quantifiable evidence with all other variables eliminated. i wouldnt go calling it scientific till you can offer that. This is where you get into experiments with machine plucked strings, same pickup and materials at one end, with frequency analysis, output measurements and maybe even clips and surveys of preference at the other end. all of which takes us away from playing the bloody things and still means very little in terms of a real guitar where the slightest change in any number of variable could change the effect the harmonic nodes may or may not be creating

you have a scientific hypothesis... it needs testing empirically before it becomes a scientific theory.

and being scientific means allowing for the fact you can be wrong.. which is why most scientists would not dare say "I know...", much preferring the ever ambigous but more accurate " Based on the currently available evidence I believe..."

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I agree, it's a hypothesis and simplistic. For one there is no "data" as such and a lot of assumptions.

Two, you again use the 5th fret, a harmonic division, and the 12th fret, the octave division and avoid the crucial questions put again and again, and a year ago...

The problem is that logically, with every note played, the waveforms shorten with the length of the string, what holds true for the open strings and strategic divisions like the 5,7,12 fret for instance, must be different perhaps radically, from those of the fretted notes between. Just as it may be argued simplistically that an open string will have an "advantageous" wave form, then so too must if be that between the open string and the next occurrence of this advantageous condition, there must be a place in which the opposite occurs, perhaps the third fret for instance, or a # or b note perhaps. But the reality is that there is very little if any real radical difference other than the character of the guitar itself...a subjective thing in most respects.

You have not gone about this scientifically, as WezV has pointed out, you have come to a conclusion it would seem and gone about looking for the answers, dodged the questions which are crucial to anything even approaching "a theory". You can't "know" but you can't get a consensus if you are not prepared to have the ideas 'peer reviewed'. I'm not a scientist either, but I can think of other reasons for many of you 'impressions' that have lead you to this impression, but it would seem that you have sought out this 'conclusion' for a very very long time and wedded to it.

I agree that of course a lot of higher order harmonics are 'faint' when sensed further along the string than an end point, but do they suddenly reappear if you move your pickup 1/2" one way or the other. But you seem also to be treating these harmonic modes of vibration as if they are equal in amplitude and 'weight' where in reality they are not.

Your citations of "pure tones" and additive synthesis theory is not directly analogous to the "real world" of a vibrating string, but I would be content to put aside a lot of these other factors, but that need not lead to the reasons you are citing for your research. The string does not move in all these different modes of vibration and resonance, by plucking a harmonic and damping a fundamental or other vibrationalary modes, you are significantly altering the manner in which a string vibrates. The reality is that the string moves in a complex wave of these forms "combined" not all these waves independently that together may synthesize a note.

Lets just say, there seems to be a logical flaw in the hypothesis and I am open to it being explained, but have as yet not seen anything conclusive or 'scientific. You didn't need to evoke "Ed Roman" to show how these kinds of things have been put before and as an example of bad science and self aggrandizement. You surely must have known (as any scientist would have done an exhaustive research before attempting experiments in earnest and picked it apart for obvious flaws) that such 'voodoo' existed, you as much as said so from the beginning. You also did know many of the issues and questions that would inevitably be raised even in a forum like this and be prepared to answer these things after discussing them a year ago.

I in fact own a 'test bed' guitar, a strat that has an open rout and capable of mounting pickups at any of these places pretty much and have done so in order to replicate conditions of other guitars for the sustainer project (a device that electromagnetically dampens strings and drives harmonics from the neck pickup position or there abouts). However, it is not necessary at this stage for me to repeat you experiments looking for evidence to support your hypothesis.

What you seem to be suggesting with things like the "capo/harmonic" experiment is that there is no difference in the harmonic being heard no matter how short the string is. So, this huge variable makes no difference? But, there is a significant variable when a pickup is moved ever so slightly from your 'preferred location'. If so, then surely moving the pickup just a little away would surely magically make all these attributes reappear and cancel out others. Your task is to rigorously try and 'disprove' your hypothesis by doing such tests and presenting such evidence that showed that this is true, not in a hypothetical way to be conclusive (which is to set up real world experiments) but just at the surface level as you are touching on here.

There may be something to your hypothesis, but it needs more, far more and questions raised should be addressed not dodged nor shrouded in dogma.

As for the equal temperament thing, I raised this as it is this that to some extent, I believe, that makes for the 'preference' of canceling out some harmonics and favoring others in the real world of marrying these things. The neck pickup is often given the term "rhythm pickup" because it lacks the complex harmonic content generally and so chords that combine notes and the resultant complex of harmonics are limited and so less jarring in a chordal context.

But, yes the idea of additive waveforms as a model for a single vibrating string is very well established, and content to work with you on this, but the question is still again posed...

Is it not logical, that as a sting is shortened (by fretting a note) that all the waveforms are shortened and so move in respect to the fixed pickup regardless of where it is placed? And, that as a result, what is true for the open string or convenient subdivisions, surely these effects (cancellations, nodal points, etc) move in respect to where the pickup is located. Does moving the pickup ever so slightly suddenly reverse things like the 4th harmonic/capo experiment? These kinds of things would give actual physical weight to your argument and encourage others perhaps to repeat your experiments and so give you the status of a cohesive 'theory' and consensus that seems to me is sorely lacking.

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It seems really important to you to prove me wrong

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No...I in fact have a genuine interest in these things...plus I may well be "wrong"...

All I am saying as so many have here and a year ago when you last brought this up is that as the length of a string changes with fretting, so too must these waveforms you present and as a result of the pickup position being fixed, surely the harmonic mix will therefore change...

Now you say you have data to prove that this is apparently not the case, yet the moving of the pickup a 1/2" either way does make a difference and am engaging in the scientific process which is to "test a theory" till destruction...

If you are right such a simple question, put to you for at least a year now, and the most obvious potential flaw in this long running "argument" in the guitar mojo thing should not be hard to at least show to be misguided, on my part...

It seems really important to you to prove me wrong

Are you suggesting that there is something "wrong" or just shooting a personal slur? Really, as put earlier, it is the scientific method and you claim not to believe or have an idea or theory now, but to conclusively "know"...

It's not "rocket science", though put a big enough engine on a house brick you'd get it into orbit. The question is kind of simple, yet the answers are not forthcoming...

I do believe that there are preferential positions of pickups and that there are reasons for some of the effects you describe, but I don't think the tact you have decided accounts for them is wholly legitimate for this reason...string length variable, relative placement of pickup effectively changes, theory of fixed pickup position would at first assessment be therefore flawed. If not so, there must be a way of demonstrating it, and I have suggested ways in which to do that. If you can actually show a conclusive 'theory' that holds water and addresses these questions, then I am even prepared to independently take my test guitar and any of a number of pickups and replicate your work and publicly prove you right...

I have this test bed guitar as I mentioned specifically for this kind of thing...

Plus, if you are right, it would have significant implications for the sustainer driver in which such questions as you have posed by your hypothesis has had some discussion over a number of years. Just the idea that there is a conclusive "best" placed scientifically proven location for a pickup would be of great benefit and I'm offering what I can to either prove or dispel any myths about it...there have certainly been enough around...

And surely, that's why you posted this stuff on this forum, for scrutiny and feedback from people who are going to actually put time and energy into really looking at it? No need to take it "personally" or to suggest it of me, all I have posed is a fundamental question that would on face value be a flaw in the logic and I simply have not been able to see why this isn't the case. You say it is, but instead of showing how the shortening of the string does not undermine the relative location of the pickup and so undermine your theory, you dodge the simple question and suggest that by me taking your ideas seriously that I have personal motives against you...what possible reason would I have for that?

You could well be right, but I have not seen conclusive answers is all...but I'll leave it if that's what you wish and the whole thread can be left inconclusive and fade away...

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It seems really important to you to prove me wrong

i dont think thats it crusader.

Your work so far is good, but from it you are making claims which cannot be supported yet and claiming 'to know' answers.

I quoted a sentence from you in my last post because it came across as egotistical and condescending. I am guessing it was not meant that way but read it back to yourself and see what you think.

As far as i can tell (really not my area of expertise) the maths is good, but sentences like this are a problem for me:

I chopped out the neck and got the pickup on the node and now it sounds like the Les Paul except with a brighter tone due to the timber etc.

1. We could spend years arguing what a les paul sounds like. I am sure we all have an idea in our head but i bet very few of us would agree. This causes problems with your 'results' as they are based on your observations and your understanding of tone. This makes it impossible to be scientific, which is why i was making suggestions about frequency & output anaysis in a controlled environment if you did truly want to take this in a scientific direction.

2. The same for the woods influence on tone. First we could debate that, and often do. But what i really want to know is how you have eliminated the changes you made to the model as the cause of that increased brightness. I agree its probably the wood. But being scientific would mean that anomalous result could not simple be written off in that way, thats a major form of bias within scientific research*. I think this is a case of you being focused on proving something true and ignoring anything else. Frequency analysis would allow us to see exact changes from moving the pickup... backed up with an opinion survey you could actually start to say things like 'People prefer the sound when the pickup is placed.....' All you need is the methods of frequency analysis - not sure whats actually needed there but i am sure someone else will have a suggestion. but you could always use the forum for a blind survey.

3. also we should consider the neck join here, which may have been changed significantly when you chopped it out. same points as above really

* i often use the challenger space shuttle disaster to explain this kind of bias to my students. the disaster occured because of theway an O-ring expands at very low temperatures, so we look at how that may have got past nasa. I give the students two sets of data that they need to work out a correlation co-effiecient for, see if its statistically significant and make a recommendation. One set of data includes all the data from all O-ring tests including O-rings that did not fail, the other only includes the failed ones. the group with all the results produces a statistically significant correlation between heat and O-ring failure and the students advise that the shuttle should not launch as low temperature is correlated with O-ring failure. The group with data just from failed O-rings do not get a statistically significant correlation, therefore they advise its safe to launch as there is no correlation between the low temperature and O-ring failure. Hopefully at the end of the lesson students have learnt something about correlations, but also know the importance of not ignoring results just because they think they might not be important. Then we watch this as most are too young to remember

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...instead of showing how the shortening of the string does not undermine the relative location of the pickup...

With all due respects your posts are always so long and any point you are trying to make is lost in a sea of words. And you keep bringing up the same issue “the waveforms shorten with the length of the string…” etc. You mentioned this three times in your last post and four times in the one before

I addressed this right at the beginning with the help of diagrams (see diagram 5) There are always nodes of lower-order harmonics right over or close to the pickup so they are fully or partially cancelled. I believe this is the reason for the unique sound and I supplied references which say the same thing, although they only mention the fourth harmonic

I acknowledged there are fluctuations in the harmonic mix as you play up the fretboard when I pointed out that the 5th fret doesn’t sound as sweet as the open string. I described how there is a different sequence of harmonics cancelled and this is reflected in the tone. Some people may try to kid you that the tone is exactly the same for every note you play but I have been realistic

...Frequency analysis would allow us to see exact changes from moving the pickup... backed up with an opinion survey you could actually start to say things like 'People prefer the sound when the pickup is placed.....' All you need is the methods of frequency analysis...

Frequency analysis. Isn't that what the Donald Tillman demonstration applet is all about?

I never intended this to be overly scientific and the diagrams make it easy to see what I am talking about. I have suggested ways of proving that cancellations occur and you can do any of the experiments I did which involve nothing more than your own guitar & ears and it’s up to the individual to try these experiments if they are interested

Now here is another diagram which some people might find interesting. I found a pickup on the second octave node seems to have its warmest sound between the open string and 19th fret and this is the two extremes of the middle half of the Fundamental, between the antinodes of the second harmonics

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...Frequency analysis would allow us to see exact changes from moving the pickup... backed up with an opinion survey you could actually start to say things like 'People prefer the sound when the pickup is placed.....' All you need is the methods of frequency analysis...

Frequency analysis. Isn't that what the Donald Tillman demonstration applet is all about?

indeed it is, it give us a theoretical frequency spectrum, based on some damn good maths and incorporating a lot of variables. Its very good, but it is not a real world example. If you look at his articles he has some interesting points to make about pickup width and the effect of other pickups and the mix between them which is still missing from your analysis.

What i would really be interested in seeing is real world frequency analysis of the output with the pickup at different positions.. i.e do exactly what you have done but dont give biased tonal descriptions of the changes, give a frequency spectrum showing those changes - which i would fully expect to see!

even doing it just with the neck pickup and one string to simplify things would be interesting and may very well offer a lot of evidence to support your point of view

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With a pickup at the second octave you cancel lower harmonics than you can with a 24 fret guitar and let me explain further what this means. I am using the 5th string as an example

At the open string it cancels every fourth harmonic

A A E A C# E G A B C# D E F# G G# A

You get the Fundamental and the first octave but above that all octaves are cancelled along with others

At the 12th fret every second harmonic is cancelled

A A E A C# E G A B C# D E F# G G# A

You only get the Fundamental because all the octaves of it are cancelled. And it’s the same for other harmonics up the series

Of course in other areas of the fretboard you don’t get this in fact at the 5th fret none of the octaves of the Fundamental are lost, because it is every third harmonic cancelled

D D A D F# A C D E F# G A B C C# D

If you listen carefully you can hear it is kind of “inverted” from the sound you get at the 12th fret or open string

Do you have a table that applies this kind of analysis to every fret on every string? Or maybe a graphic representation would be better than text.

I see what PSW is saying, and I at least would like to see all the data for the entire fingerboard.

Thinking out loud here...

It doesn't really matter which harmonics are canceled at the neck pickup node; the main thing is that many of them are, and string lengths at different frets will have different harmonics canceled over the neck pickup. This hunch is borne out in my ear too: the neck pickup seems to have a much greater variety of timbre across the fingerboard than the bridge pickup does.

Can we see your data for every fret? Probably don't need it for every string, because (ignoring intonation adjustment for the moment) all the strings have the same scale length, so it's only the harmonic numbers for a given length of string that matter--we can translate that into intervals or note names.

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String length changes with fretting = relative position of neck pickup changes in relation to every waveform of the string

Move the pickup slightly from the crusader/roman hypothesis = a significant difference to harmonic cancellation tests

Supporting Data = hand drawn hypotheticals in support of argument

More conclusive data = real waveforms and a comparison of such things as suggested by the fretting of notes with a slight movement of the neck pickup

I've repeatedly pointed out the apparent "flaw" and you have read it multiple times, yet have not addressed it adequately in my opinion. But then, I didn't, twice in a year, put forward this theory nor am I saying it is necessarily "wrong" just that there is no hard data and some glaring irregularities yet to answer.

As usual, hard questions get responded by mojo supported by "lester" and "guns" and "les paul sound" and "I know" and personal slurs against anyone who dares ask the obvious, even when these same questions were raised, and not only by me, a year back and have been consistent with this subject whenever raised...

By not doing the tests or addressing these things sensibly with people who actively engage with your ideas, at your invitation by posting them on a public forum, it only makes one question them more. Especially if the only reply to such things are hand drawn diagrams in support of your theories, unreleased information and method of extracting such data, and subjective ideas based only on your own analysis.

But the red flags for most of these kinds of things, is of course to point to psw personally...hardly credible evidence of anything and intellectually bankrupt

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String length changes with fretting = relative position of neck pickup changes in relation to every waveform of the string

Taking this a little bit further....

You play the open string with the pickup at the 24th fret position.

You play the 2nd fret with the pickup at the 26th fret position.

In both of these examples, the pickup is sensing the exact same mix of harmonics, correct? You've shortened your scale length by two frets and moved the pickup in the same direction by two after-the-octave frets, thereby maintaining the pickup's position relative to the string's waveform.

So a 24-fret guitar should play "at the sweet spot" on the 2nd fret.

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I really shouldn't be doing this. I have work tomorrow and its waaaay past midnight, but...

...What i would really be interested in seeing is real world frequency analysis...
I think each individual has a different level of what will convince or satisfy them. I am satisfied with what I found with nodes over the pickup, the sound tests and the references I put up

Here is one of the references I put up in my first post and part of what it says

There are several websites with this type of info but they only talk about the fourth harmonic

They're not out to prove the whole concept, they just touch on the topic while they're talking about various general things

“The single coil strat neck pickup reads the string at a single point exactly 1/4 the length of the string from the bridge (where the 24th fret would be), although some more recent 22-fret strats have the pickup a fraction closer to the bridge

So the 2nd harmonic component of the string vibration has its node (the "dead spot") over the 12th fret, the same as if you played a harmonic by damping the string over the 12th fret

This 2nd harmonic has its largest string vibration at 1/4 the length of the string from both the nut and bridge - that's over the 5th fret, and the neck pickup. Hence the strong 2nd harmonic

Now consider the 4th harmonic which has nodes at the 5th fret, the 12th fret and the neck pickup - there is no 4th harmonic vibration over the neck pickup. This strong difference in harmonic levels plays a major part in the unique character, or timbre of this pickup”

Here is another reference I found today

(Some parts are a bit confusing but you should get it)

“The location of pickups on an electric guitar is not “mindless”. The neck PU’s of the Fender Strat and Tele and pole-adjustment screws of the humbucking neck PU of the Gibson Les Paul are located near the 2nd anti-node (from the nut) of the n = 2 harmonic, and therefore are simultaneously near the 3rd node (from the nut) of the n = 4 harmonic. The middle PU of the Strat is located near the 3rd anti-node (from the nut) of the n = 3 harmonic, and therefore is

simultaneously near the 5th node (from the nut) of the n = 6 harmonic

Thus, when playing open strings on the Strat, Tele or Les Paul with the pickup selector switched to the neck pickup, the 2nd harmonic (4th harmonic) will be enhanced (suppressed), respectively. When playing open strings on the middle pickup of the Strat, the 3rd harmonic (6th harmonic) will be enhanced (suppressed), respectively. The bridge PU on the Strat, Tele or Les Paul is not located near any anti-nodes or nodes associated with the low-order harmonics of the open strings”

If you search around the forums you will find people here and there saying the same thing as I am but we don't know each other and have never talked. I have figured this all out on my own with just a few clues like someone in the previous thread mentioned the word "Cancellation"

...As usual, hard questions get responded by mojo..
I'm sorry but to my mind you haven't asked any actual questions, you have just said a whole bunch of things. And I think you have taken me the wrong way, I don't see how I have made any personal "slurs" Have a read of this to understand what I mean Tone Blind

...You play the open string with the pickup at the 24th fret position. You play the 2nd fret with the pickup at the 26th fret position...In both of these examples, the pickup is sensing the exact same mix of harmonics, correct? ...So a 24-fret guitar should play "at the sweet spot" on the 2nd fret
Now this is an actual question

This is something that baffled me for a while and what you're saying is true in a "relative" way. Except that the harmonics cancelled with a 24 fret guitar are of a slightly higher-order

And yes I found the 2nd fret actually sounded better than with the pickup on the 24th fret. But it was all on its own, the nice tone did not "carry over" to nearby frets. But when I put the cappo on it all changed and it had the same characteristics as the coil on the second octave. There was a similar "sweet tone" but a bit more "sparkly" - I will talk more about this if you like

Do you have a table that applies this kind of analysis to every fret on every string?
I have an Excel document which you can type in the scale length + compensation and position of the pickup and it will indicate the positoin of nodes at that point up to the 22nd fret. It goes up to the 128th harmonic which is overkill but it's good to know more than you need to. It doesn't indicate actaul "notes" though

I agree that diagrams are very helpful and can make up more to show the whole fretboard

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Actually, by your own theory, if one were to have a guitar with 24 frets and the neck pickup at the 26th fret position (not saying that is where it is on most guitars, as it likely is off a bit), then if you capoed the guitar at the 2nd fret, you should have the exact same harmonic mix as a 22 fret guitar with a neck pickup at the 24th fret. By your same argument, that 24 fret guitar should have the exact same tonal progression (since, by your own admission, the tone changes from fret to fret up the fretboard) as long as it is capoed at the 2nd fret. Therefore, the guitar would have all the same tonal progressions with the addition of slight tonal variations to the open string and 1st fret. Now, the open string of the 24 fret guitar will have a different tone than the open string on the 22 fret guitar, but the 2nd fret on the 24 fret guitar should have the exact same harmonic mixture as the open string on the 22 fret guitar. This all follows from your own analysis.

As a side note I find it funny how you claim to not be a scientist, but at the same moment make a remark saying this is all very scientific. While an accurate analysis is very scientific, what you have done is not. I'm a physicist who researched acoustics and has done a lot with strings, and you have not even ventured outside the realm to the absolute simplest representation of a string, which is not particularly accurate. Of course, I am always lead to believe the data, so if you provide solid data that supports the use of an ideal string model, then I would be happy to say "close enough", but there still is not any real scientific substance to this beyond what has been conjectured (and not scientifically shown) by thousands of others.

Anyway, I always appreciate someone trying to share their findings, but my academic nature always leads to me to question any statement not backed up by hard evidence. I don't dispute that you have found a pickup location that you like, which is really the whole point of changing pickup locations. Just be aware that blanket statements not supported by solid data is not likely to be accepted without a lot of questions.

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Well, a power outage saved you from a more detailed "sea of words"...however

# I have a Les Paul plugged in next to my computer. It has identical pickups, both coils slug coils, and wound in series. It easily reproduces harmonics at the 12,7,5,4,3,2 frets on any open string with the HB pickup alone...so, disproving your "theory"...

# I also have a telecaster with an electromagnetic driver that is located at the 23rd fret, and in "harmonic mode" dampens the fundamental and drives the harmonics...this too disproves your thesis

# I also have had for some years a test-bed guitar which has allowed me to locate pickups of all types at most locations, so I have done much of what you have put forward in support of your ideas...

# I have heard opinions, flawed generally, from the "internet forums" and I don't believe that these at all support your argument or are of value. I have not seen real data that holds up to scrutiny or even ideas that are credible on a superfical level...

I saw your unattributed powerpoint presentation, not sure of the relevance there or how it supports your ideas in any particular way. However, these things are pretty basic and superficial and seems to just be put forward like "internet opinion" to give a veneer of science to proceedings.

Notwithstanding that I have an LP and several guitars that demonstrate differently, and a logic flaw in your argument that obviously I am not the only one who shares, put many times to you in this thread and the previous one...

String length changes with fretting = relative position of neck pickup changes in relation to every waveform of the string

"the question" is, how is this "not true"? If so, how does your theory stand?

Now, since you are citing "authority", I've not played that "card" nor have others, but in addition to the kinds of "research" you have done and having seen plenty of physical evidence to the contrary, and I think shown something of a logical flaw that obviously you and Roman and obviously others are not alone in taking on wholesale...

I studied the "physics and psycho-acoustics" of sound in 1984 at LaTrobe University in the physics department as a part of my music degree that also included a lot to do with things like additive wave form synthesis. With a score of 99%, you can be assured that I studied these things diligently and with great interest and my ideas were also treated with the same diligence that I apply to yours.

I'm treating your hypothesis in the same way as I would any other claims and looking for errors and counting down the logical fallacies that are all "red flags" while still giving you the benefit of the doubt and not entering into a war of "qualifications" as a "reason" but reason alone.

So, in short, I am not out to "prove you wrong" but to engage honestly with this idea, an idea that has been put forward many times as something of a "lore" or "mojo" or "myth" as I would have thought that was the intention of publicly airing such things. While I never claimed any "right", I certainly have not set out to "prove you wrong", anymore than I can see the ravings of Ed Roman that PRS is in a conspiracy to make substandard guitars by relocating the neck pickup.

There are a lot of "influences" about such things, and we have been saved from me expanding on the things you haven't perhaps considered as alternative hypothesis and tests that categorically disprove your ideas. Like most things, there is a "kernel of truth" in these ideas, but not in this application and not in such simplicity. Such a discussion could profitably be put into why and how one might go about producing a preferable outcome regardless of pickup position or a pickup position that is preferable for a certain kind of sound, or perhaps the kind of pickup quality that might have a preferable outcome for a 24 fret guitar. Or, some more depth about how pickups are sensing the string and why they have the qualities that they have. Such work can not proceed though while holding faulty beliefs such as what would appear to be the case.

It was quite simply pointed out years back to me on this forum for instance, that once you start fretting notes high up the neck, you have a string that is fixed in a location (fret) much like the bridge pickup is to the bridge end of the string permanently, and so exhibits many of the same qualities of that pickups location. Unlike the bridge pickup, across the range of the guitar, the neck pickup has more tonal variation because of the effective mobile sensing location relative to the strings length, while the bridge pickup is permanently at the tail end of the strings vibration. That the bridge pickup has a consistent higher "harmonic content", meaning that the amplitudes of the waves relative to each other are more even, because of this and that the neck pickup too will exhibit such qualities as a string is shortened.

But the reality of the tests that you suggest contradict your findings on the superficial level, the fact is that my LP does produce the 4th and other higher harmonics well, they are not canceled out, and there is more to it than you suggest and your "data" may well be wrong because it is based on a "theoretical model" of additive wave form synthesis which is not a direct analog of the real world nor takes into account the complexities that overwhelm such ideas as you propose and many others based on these ideas alone.

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I haven't read anything new tonight because I have a meeting to go to but I can quickly comment on this factor, which is very pertinent to the whole issue, and a good question

...there is no difference in the harmonic being heard no matter how short the string is. So, this huge variable makes no difference? But, there is a significant variable when a pickup is moved ever so slightly from your 'preferred location'...

This is my experience and the way I see it

To say the pickup is in a "sweet spot" could be put the other way round. The position of the pickup creates sweet spots, or areas on the fretboard

A pickup right on the second octave node creates sweet spots at the open string and 12th fret and moving it from that place greatly affects the sound at those points

Playing in-between these areas I found only a slight difference between Coil A and Coil B

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# I have a Les Paul plugged in next to my computer. It has identical pickups, both coils slug coils, and wound in series. It easily reproduces harmonics at the 12,7,5,4,3,2 frets on any open string with the HB pickup alone...so, disproving your "theory

i do get silent harmonics at the 5th fret on a number of my guitars. Thats not something i am disputing. I am also not disputing that pickup position affects this effect. I would dispute that it can be used to justify anything other than a sweet spot for somebody that uses a lot of 5th fret harmonics and wants to do so with a neck humbucker.

anyway, in the spirit of adventure and discussion (not science) i just tested the dissapearing 5th fret harmonic on 4 of my guitar that were close by, knowing that it does happen on some, but i havnt bothered to actually test for it on some of these. All have humbuckers as the neck pickup (just whats in at the moment), 1 is a wide range, all but one has a humbucker as the bridge pickup, none have middle pickups. they are all made from very different materials, one is a through neck, the rest bolt on

1st guitar is a korina body with maple (Real)bolt on neck, tele 3 saddle bridge, WRHB in neck, BKP tele pickup in bridge. 25.5" scale with 22 frets. This one would have the 24th fret close to the edge of the humbucker, maybe halfway between the edge and the polepiece. There is a drop in the volume of the harmonic when using the neck but its still audible

2nd guitar is a westone thunder 1A. ash/maple body, laminated maple bolt on neck, brass hardtail bridge. Dual matsumoko humbuckers, 24 3/4" scale with 22 frets. On this the

neck pickup is probably the closes to a Les Paul position (which does not make the guitar sound like a les paul!). This also had a noticeable drop in 5th harmonic volume when using the neck pickup

3rd guitar is solid paduak bolt on neck, RestorationAD A5 Neck/A8 Bridge diablo pickups, tom bridge. 25" scale with 21 frets, putting the edge of the humbucker pretty much bang on the 22 fret mark. On this one the 5th fret harmonic is almost silent when using the neck pickup, quite loud on the bridge. So does that make its pickup in the perfect sweet spot or not?

4th is my fanned fret prototype. Its a through neck with 25-26" scales, perhaps importantly the pickups are not angled (which makes them act like an angled pickup would on a normal guitar). BKP humbuckers. On the bass side the humbucker edge is just about on the 23rd fret, closer to 25th on the treble side. Interestingly, on this one the 5th fret harmonic is actually louder with the neck than bridge on some points, but more than usable on both.

since guitar 3 showed the most drop out i decided to get the capo out and test this one some more. with capo first fret the harmonic over the 6th was still lower with neck pickup but not so much... things started evening out by the time i had the capo at the 3rd fret

There is one surprising part of this for me... all these are humbuckers, even a rather large wide range. The rather small node is clearly affecting the rather large pickups output even though they are sensing a large area of string either side of the node

But it hasnt changed my outlook on the other points yet. All this still changes when actually playing the guitar and changing the length of the string. All 4 guitars sound pretty damn good in the neck position - none sound exactly like what i think a les paul neck position sounds like... infact the closest would be the 3rd which definately does not have the pickup in a les paul position or les paul style construction in the guitar... but the pickup is actually constructed most like a les paul neck pickup. i would describe a les paul neck pickup sound as noticably plummy and full - which means nothing really

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...I find it funny how you claim to not be a scientist, but at the same moment make a remark saying this is all very scientific...
Well I'm not a scientist by occupation but I know a few things. Some people know more than me and others know less

I studied the "physics and psycho-acoustics" of sound in 1984...
This is a revelation you must be about the same age as I am. And btw I appreciate that you did some of the experimenting I suggested

i do get silent harmonics at the 5th fret on a number of my guitars. Thats not something i am disputing. I am also not disputing that pickup position affects this effect. I would dispute that it can be used to justify anything other than a sweet spot for somebody that uses a lot of 5th fret harmonics and wants to do so with a neck humbucker.

anyway, in the spirit of adventure and discussion (not science) i just tested the dissapearing 5th fret harmonic on 4 of my guitar that were close by...

You have had different results to psw and this is always going to be the case. Unless we are all in the same room it's very difficult to describe to another person accurately what we can actually hear. I appreciate that you have done some experimenting and I don't hold it against you to have a different opinion

…More important, and where position matters a lot, is the the combination of coils...this can be demonstrated in Tillmans other applet...and this is where some real 'magic' can be had. I almost always play in the combined pickup combinations to get the kind of sound I generally require. I play very clean as a rule so I need some complexity, I also use a lot of harmonics and require the neck pickup for the "body" and the high end of the bridge pickup for harmonics...but just generally, you get moe flexibility with combining multiple pickups, so this is perhaps where there might be a "sweet' spot, at least to my ears and on a particular guitar.
The combination of coils is of great interest to me and I was wondering if you could explain anything about the “Strat quack”

cheers

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Well I did a search on the “Strat quack” and found an explanation which I remember seeing before

They use very simple diagrams and don’t elaborate how the effect still occurs as you play up the fretboard but I am satisfied with their explanation. I used to have a strat and know you get the quack sound over most of the fretboard so who needs to know every scientific detail? I experimented a great deal with this and found the position of the middle pickup to be quite critical. It involves the same thing (nodes and antinodes) so why is it such an issue with the neck pickup?

It just seems to me that it became an issue when lots of 24-fret guitars came on the market, even though for many years there was the SG and perhaps other guitars around with this pickup placement. I saw a semi-acoustic Gretsch not long ago which had the neck pickup set back, though it didn’t have 24 frets

I’m not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes and I don’t have anything to lose or gain. I was completely skeptical when I first heard about this but I didn’t make a conclusion until I actually heard it for myself, and that was a span of about 32 years. So I understand that people have reservations but I don’t understand how their opinion can be firm without doing the experiments (no offence)

At first I thought it must involve some kind of “deep science” like the Butterfly Effect, and that btw is something I have reservations about to be honest. But this is just the cancellation of harmonics and if I could show someone in person I’m sure I could explain it clearly and I am confident that person would walk away laughing “Is that all it is?”

It really is no big deal

People always say that it’s subjective and I say yes-and-no. Whether you like the sound or not there is a distinctive tone when you have a pickup on or near the second octave node. If you move the pickup towards the bridge a little too far the sound changes quite a lot, then if you move the pickup the same distance again the sound hardly changes at all

But maybe you have to hear it to believe it, I did

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