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The Neck Pickup Sweet Spot

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


its good, but what it is essentially saying is that the best way to get a vintage strat sound is copy a vintage strat accuratly.

Its not really explaining how this is all still so important when playing in different positions but it it does mention it as a variable

This is the source of the Stratocaster® sound had with the 5-way switching (more detail below). The filtering occurs in humbuckers, too, but at a much higher frequency because the two pickup coils are much closer together. That's partly why humbuckers have a more mellow sound with less high end than single coil pickups -- the higher harmonics are canceling.

with this quote, i do agree that the distance between the pickups affects the strats 'quack' but i dont agree that it has much to do with the difference between SC's & HB's

Firstly because two single coils next to each other do not always sound like a humbucker, but also because a humbucker wired in parallel can sound quite similar to a single coil. Its not always true, but for me the construction and wiring of the pickups has far more to do with this than the position. I have put quite a few series/split/parallel switches in guitars over the last couple of years and it has become clear that with some humbuckers the split setting is redundant as the parallel setting is so similar but still humcancelling. With other pickups, and even the same pickup wired in reverse its still noticably different, this seems to depend a lot on the mismatch between the two coils.

i am saying split/parallel can sound very similar to each other, and both can even get close to the single coil sound... but its never quite there, never quite like a true single coil. For me this is largly due to magnet position in the construction and how this affects the magnetic field. for example, with a split humbucker i can get one coil sensing the string in the exact same position as a single coil - but that other coil and the construction differences still seems to influence the sound enough to stop it ever sounding like the single coil

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I did write a return but the fates or the power company thought that shutting down the island momentarily (not that uncommon lately) should delete it...

I did sense a bit of entrapment to go back to something with diminished returns and you further post seems to reinforce that...

You are really going to get more depth than these kinds of articles and superficial analysis than this, interesting as it is and true at a surface level, perhaps this is where you are getting your ideas from and not seeing further...ed roman was worse, but even here he's saying the same thing as the rest of us have...

Adding another layer of complexity, there are actually two of these filters on each string, one determined by the bridge-pickup distance, and the other determined by the distance from the pickup to the fretted position on the string, which of course moves constantly as you play. For every string, at every fret, there is a pair of filters that determine with the pickups how the string sounds.

Yes, complexity, changes with every fretted note...

And there are some interesting if superficial overviews in such an article, but it too disputes your theories about there being a "sweet spot" and that even if one were to subjectively prefer a 'sweet spot' location for a pickup, the relative sweet spot would move with the length of the string.

I use combined pickups a lot if not most of the time for various reasons. This is where some of this is relevant, but along with numerous other factors.

On strat quack, this is the position 2 or 4 strat sound, a filtering effect that is related to the pickup positions, but plenty of other factors including the qualities of the pickups for example. This article doesn't really talk about it in any depth and I am surprised that you would not be aware of this term and phenomenon as it gets so much debate.

When one puts in "strat quack" into google, the first thing I get is def eddies article...

what is quack, anyway???

The tone that is generally referred to as "quack" - the classic Strat 5-way throw #2 and #4 spot tones - is created by a pair (or more) of pups, parallel IN PHASE - NOT out of phase.

And yes, the "quack" is caused by "filtering' between two pickups...and it will alter in quality with the distance between the pickups, and the length of the string. Quack will be different in different locations on a strat, even if it sounds quacky all over.

The specific frequency response (tone) that we have come to call "quack" is what happens to the tone when you play two pickups with the same tonal characteristics mounted in CLOSE PROXIMITY to one another. Actually, it's quite simlar to what happens when you play two pickups with one out of phase - not as dramatic, certainly but it is the same principle at work. The "quack" happens as frequencies produced by one pickup are emphasized or cancelled out but the output of the other pickup, leaving a notchy, quirky tone. Change the location of one pickup or the other, and you change the sound/frequencies that pickup produces, and that changes which frequencies are cancelled between the pair - changing the "quack factor."

The classic Strat quack is, I BELIEVE, caused in equal parts by the fact that (A) the pups are close together and (:D the pups are so similar in frequency response and output (the combo of all three Strat pups on, in parallel, also is a nice quack). If you unmatch yer Strat pups - that is, swap ONE pup out for something dis-similar - it will have a distinct effect on the quack factor. That's why home-built H-S-S Strats lose some of the sweet quack in throw #4, unless you have a coil-shunt happening (like the Fender Fat Strats have).

But def eddies half a page also doesn't go into a lot of detail, but it is enough to get a feel for things and how it might appear in other guitars.

While the pickups are not "out of phase" via the wiring, it does have an 'out of phase' quality, a cancellation of frequencies because they are in part 'out of phase' buy virtue of their location. So, as you would know, the wave in the string may be going on an up swing over the bridge pickup, and a down swing over the neck potentially, so physically "out of phase". But this is only touching on the complexities that can occur and need to be considered...and alters with the changing length of string.

There are lots of things that determine a pickups character, certainly design. Splitting a coil as wes points out on an HB will not produce an SC sound because the magnet fields shape and qualities will alter. You won't be getting stratitis from an HB even if split for instance, because the two opposite and attracting fields have less "throw". (It's one of the reasons I still favour the simpler single coil sustainer driver much to the chagrin of those who seek more complexity, but I don't want to open that can of worms :D ) Some have proposed or tried to get a 'true single coil" split by mounting two actual strat pickups next to each other as an HB, but this too will have it's magnetic field completely altered by the nearby other pickups field regardless of it's electrical connection.

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)

This kind of thing just indicates that you seem wedded to the idea regardless of the logic or the facts, let alone the opinions experiences or understanding of others. I realize you mean well, but there is some logical flaws, particularly with the length of string and reinforced in the article that you cited...again...

For every string, at every fret, there is a pair of filters that determine with the pickups how the string sounds.

But regardless. I've shown you that I have a guitar for years for the express purpose of being able to mount pickups, locations and other devices and do wiring remotely from a host instrument...does that not indicate that I have done the kinds of things you are playing with in a similar way for years...do you really think you are the 'first'? But, one need not have that, many here make many many guitars and have built 24 fret and 22 fret and all kinds of combinations and pickups, some make their pickups and many have played with wiring and locations of pickups. This is effectively the same thing, not to mention playing existing guitars....do you really think that people have not made these observations.

I literally have my amp and guitars set up here at all times, often I'm just taking a break from playing to type these kinds of things to take a break. It was not that I resisted making your observations, I've made such things for years...and at one time perhaps I did have a naive understanding of things. That I and WezV say get different results, me with an actual LP as suggested, is a testament to all the variables involved and that there can't be such hard and fast rules. This LP will sound differently from the '69 original under the bed though the pickups are in the same place too. When you suggested your ideas, even though I could see some logical problems, of course I tried a few things to see.

No one is disputing that location is an important factor in the sound of a pickup. Even more so with combined pickups which will involve string length, relative location of a the pickups along it, relative location to each other, plus the cancellation and reinforcement resonances of the instrument (alterable say by my neck plate thing, or just construction and materials, neck joint, etc), the qualities and similarities between the pickups and many other factors...and, the wave cancellation that occurs as a result. As the string length alters dramatically with fretting, the location of the pickups by ratio too will move so I feel that such a factor is of lessor importance than some of these other factors that affects every note. Putting all your eggs in one basket would be ill advised.


Interestingly, I have been considering adding a middle pickup to my blue tele that you may be familiar with...

psw's tele


I'm not sure that I want to do this yet, but it was interesting that this conversation should turn to ideas about 'quack' and I might do some experiments to test this out to see if the results would be worth altering this guitar that is already a little complicated.

Now, bear in mind that I have done some experiments over the years, but this is how I might go about this on this unusual guitar.

I like my guitars quiet, but I happen to have a noiseless fender sc floating around. The guitar is complex enough and not really wanting to add more switches to it, plus like something a bit "different" as a rule.

So, my proposal would be to mount a strat pickup between the HB and tele neck pickup in the hope of getting some interesting, perhaps quacky sounds. I'd be proposing to operate the middle pickup with its own volume in place of the tone pot...so, you could dial in the amount of "quack" or middle pickup into any selection. I've done this before on a strat...

Tempting to call it "dial a duck "...however...

What a lot of people don't realize is this. The locations of the pickups in combination will produce a filtering effect, and the quack is because in these locations there is some 'physical our of phase-ness" (altering in quality with the pickup qualities and the varying positions of the guitar, etc). So, there is cancellations and reinforcement producing the effect. However, if you put one pickup wired out of phase with the other, you reverse the effect. So, instead of a hollowed out acoustic like quality typical of the 'strat quack positions' you get the reverse, a warmer almost HB like midrange-y kind of sound...what was canceled is now reinforced and vs-a-v. Fortunately, this guitar already has a phase switch to reverse the neck pickup and create such an effect between a middle and neck pickup if I chose, plus even more complexity with all three pickups and combinations of phase.

OK...tempting. But, what location for this pickup and pickup combinations on this guitar for the kinds of music and effect I want to achieve. After all, it means some wiring (the sustainer in it is a bit complex), loss of the tone control (I wouldn't mind on this guitar) scratch plate alteration and some minor routing into the guitar for the middle pickup.

Well, as is typical, and showing that people do do such experiments. I could wire the middle pickup directly and test it over the strings, perhaps mounting it over the strings on a stand that could be taped in place and moved around and played before making any commitment to the idea.

So, yes, there may be a 'sweet spot' for me on this guitar, with these pickups...and for the kind of music and tone I want to achieve and location is a part of that. But, there are ways to find such a "sweet spot". However, I would not be so arrogant or wrong to assume that this would be the right position with different pickups, a different guitar, or a different combination of pickups...or indeed a different player.

The problem with your hypothesis is not just that there seems to be things that your resist (the relative position of the pickup in relation to the changing length of string primarily) or that there are so many other factors, it's the notion that your 'sweet spot' is a given regardless of all these other influences and the perception of another player.

The problem with it is that this will hold you back and commit your to false premises that prevent finding and experimenting with a whole world of variables and influences that would help you in developing your craft of guitar making. I'm hoping that you can see that there is more and that your thoughts and experiments are not unique, nor the logical traps that people fall into. What would be of benefit would be if you can see the veracity of these things and make use of these ideas that you have explored. You don't want to become the laughing stock that someone like ed roman is fairly universally seen to be. A 'grain of truth' is not enough, and you really can't ignore something as obvious as the lenght of sting being a huge variable in the data.

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… two single coils next to each other do not always sound like a humbucker, but also because a humbucker wired in parallel can sound quite similar to a single coil. Its not always true, but for me the construction and wiring of the pickups has far more to do with this than the position …
The results of my experimenting has been much the same as what you have talked about here but I wouldn’t say the construction of a pickup has more to do with the sound than the position, they are two separate issues. No matter how the pickup is constructed it can’t read a different harmonic mix than the magnetic field will allow

its good, but what it is essentially saying is that the best way to get a vintage strat sound is copy a vintage strat accurately…
But do modern strats have the bridge and middle pickups in a different place now? I know some have a humbucker in the bridge position and from my experimenting it doesn’t affect the quack too much. But the main point I’m trying to make is I’ve never heard such a debate about the position of the middle pickup yet it involves all the same things

This is my experience on the “quack factor”

When I made the white strat copy pictured in my first post it had 25 frets and three single coils. I put the middle pickup half way between the bridge and neck so it looked good but it only had the “quack” from the 4th fret to the 13th fret (something like that I can’t remember exactly) So I went through and did all sorts of experimenting and to get the “quack” sound over the largest area of the fretboard I had to have the bridge and middle pickups in exact placings as a strat. So it meant the middle pickup was closer to the neck pu which looked a bit odd

Now when that website says a humbucker filters harmonics of a much higher order, I don’t think its 100% accurate. A humbucker will cancel harmonics that have a node half way between the coils, almost as completely as a single coil will in that spot. So a regular Les Paul will cancel the fourth harmonic when playing the 1st fret. I mentioned this before and it can be proven by using a cappo on the first fret and playing the harmonic which is now over the 6th fret and this is quite a low-order harmonic

I’ve seen various inaccuracies on websites such as the confusion between harmonics and overtones. The 1st overtone is the 2nd harmonic, the 2nd overtone is the 3rd harmonic and so on. But some people get the numbering mixed up

I did write a return but the fates or the power company thought that shutting down the island momentarily (not that uncommon lately) should delete it...
Why do you think we need to know about your power cut-outs? Your posts are unnecessarily long with all this trivia and therefore rather meaningless. You change the topic and repeat things over and over. I cut and pasted your post into a WORD document and it took up three pages and you mentioned the changing length of string no less than eight times

I dealt with this issue in my first post but you continue to imply that I have ignored it. When I get the time I will make more diagrams to show which harmonics go over the 24th fret node when playing above the 5th fret but they take time. But it seems to me that no matter what I say or do will have no impact on you

Any scientist would simply run the guitar through a scope and spectrum analyzer and produce hard data…I haven't done it, but really, these tools are available free with software
That’s right, you haven’t done it but if you were genuinely interested you would have done so years ago along with much other research including the experiments I have done. You seem to be saying now that you have done the tests that I did but it wasn’t mentioned in your first post. If you really knew anything about this you would be able to make your point with greater clarity

In any case where you are concerned this discussion has taken a back seat. I thought you were much younger but when you said you were at university in 1984 I realised you must be about the same age as I am. So I was prompted to re-view everything you have said and I have more than just a few issues because when someone your own age says something it has quite a different “slant”

Starting at the beginning

I'm a little suspect of this theory I have to say...every fretted note will obviously change all the nodes along a string. All the harmonic nodes 'gather' at the ends of strings (so the nut or the fretted note and bridge end of a string). So, for a natural harmonic you will find it easier to pluck them and they get closer together and have a more complex relationship with the "fundamental" mode of vibration

…you seem to have missed mentioning the most important thing, which is the "mix' of harmonics...the stuff that makes the more complex "tone" that people are looking towards

I didn't look at your sources, except in additive synthesis perhaps, I've not hear the lowest node of vibration being termed as anything but the fundamental. It is perhaps a loaded term that implies it is "better" or "pure" and so necessarily desirable

In your opening paragraph you are just stating the obvious but your wording leaves a person completely baffled as to what you are talking about. You admit you didn’t look at my sources in fact it seems you took no notice of anything I said because I did address the issue of harmonic mix and fretted notes – which you have now mentioned more than thirty times. You continued to use this type of repetitive dialogue and introduce irrelevant topics using very large diagrams which make your posts very lengthy

Some of my references are from University physics lecturers but you refuted and dismissed them as “superficial science” “mojo” and “unreleased information” then accused me of “citing authority” and “playing a card”

I'm just a bit resistance to call in superficial "science" to support an argument…

hard questions get responded by mojo…personal slurs…unreleased information

…you are citing "authority", I've not played that "card" nor have others

In fact you have made a string of accusations

…questions raised should be addressed not dodged nor shrouded in dogma

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've repeatedly pointed out the apparent "flaw"… glaring irregularities yet to answer

…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

You have said all these things and yet you had the audacity to say I was making a personal slur when I suggested you were just trying to prove me wrong. But this is now obvious because you chose to do an experiment you knew wouldn’t work. A regular Les Paul will produce those harmonics at the open string but the experiment I suggeste was to cappo the first fret. I think you’ve had ample time and used enough thread-space to make a point but I can’t see that you have any other than you disagree and you dont' have to keep saying it

I take offence to your barrage of insults and accusations. It is nothing less than slander and I have made a complaint about you to the forum administrator

In any case I don’t know what other people do for a crust but I have a business to run and its tax time so I have my hands full with other things for a while

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I don’t like to double post but there are various other aspects of this topic that I would like to put forward which don’t include cancellation of harmonics and might better define the way I see it. Diagrams would help but I don’t have the time. Perhaps I should have said these things at the beginning but I didn’t want the first post to be too long

The sweet spot for the neck pickup is not like the sweet spot on a cricket bat because there is the variable of fretted notes. Because it is fixed it can’t be at the sweet spot for every fretted note played, it is more of a “best can do” spot. However I think what is the sweet spot for the open string is not necessarily the sweet spot for fretted notes

If the pickup moved for every fretted note and stayed at a quarter of each fundamental, as you play up the fretboard it would get closer to the bridge. Also the string gets shorter and therefore brighter and to maintain a warmer tone there would be a benefit from the pickup getting closer to the antinode (the middle) of the fundamental, which is what happens as you play up to the 12th fret anyway

Above the 12th fret the antinode of the fundamental goes past the pickup so at some point the middle pickup should sound warmer. However I don’t hear a huge difference between bridge middle or neck when playing at the very highest notes, its all just bright

So I would not say that you get the warmest tone over the whole fretboard. I think there have probably been misconceptions arising from people trying to put forward simple explanations, not necessarily from ominous motives

I hope that clarifies the way I see it and I know its just my opinion

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Before I continue… I thought I may have been heavy-handed with my actions in my second-last post and I showed this thread to someone and they said it sounds like I was really “going off” but I have just plainly stated my case and I’m not “yelling” But the other day I decided to see what this sustainer gadget is all about and when I looked at the thread I noticed it was closed. Then skimming through it I found other people had similar complaints to mine so I don’t know, I think I may be well justified

And in general I feel that I am being told I am wrong by people who have done little research or experimenting and it’s like I can’t say I’m right, but you can say I’m wrong, it just doesn’t add-up

Now to continue

In my previous post I said the sweet spot for the open string is not necessarily the sweet spot for fretted notes. I forgot to mention I would also say the sweet spot for a guitar is not necessarily so for a baritone or bass guitar. If you had a pickup at the 24th fret on a bass it would probably sound too ‘boomy’ All three bass guitars I owned over the years only had one pickup and they were somewhere in the middle

So it starts to sound like its just distance from the bridge but lets look into that a bit further. People say things like “It has nothing to do with nodes and antinodes its just distance from the bridge” But this statement contradicts itself because the bridge is a nodal point and the further you get from it is closer to the antinode of the Fundamental

The antinode is where the string has maximum displacement so the closer you get to it is louder. The node has no displacement so the closer you get to it is softer


But why is it also warmer and brighter? If I may quote someone from another thread we see part of the answer

…The bridge is brighter because the higher harmonics have a larger relative amplitude on the string compared to the lower-order harmonics. In the neck position, the opposite is true

But to explain it in more detail the reason a neck pickup is warmer and a bridge pickup brighter is because of the overtones. Without them you would only have a single frequency, a pure tone and it would just be louder and softer and once again it involves nodes and antinodes

A Neck pickup is warmer because its closer to the antinodes of the Fundamental and Lower-order harmonics where they have much greater displacement and amplitude than the higher harmonics

The Bridge pickup is brighter because the Fundamental and Lower-order harmonics are close to the node and have much less displacement and amplitude while the Upper-order harmonics are still at their antinode and achieve maximum displacement and amplitude


So the sound you get has everything to do with nodes and antinodes when talking about warm/bright soft/loud and it has everything to do with what I am talking about here. Looking again at what I said in my first post

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

This means you never hear the octaves of the fundamental so it is closest to a Pure Tone and sounds the best

To explain it better I made this diagram

All those missing harmonics must have a great influence on the sound. The numbers down the right hand side show how many times the harmonics go from the bridge to pickup and notice how mathematical they are


And for the open string

At the open string every fourth harmonic is cancelled

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


Now surely these missing harmonics would give you a unique tone at the 12th fret and open string but as you play up the fretboard you get close to the same thing. Starting at the first fret again


At the 8th fret the third and second harmonics nodes are fairly close to the pickup but the fifth node is right over it so you still get a full cancellation of a fairly low-order harmonic. In any case the antinode of the fundamental is closer to the pickup


I haven’t made a diagram above the 12th fret but I have these charts which show the whole lot and this is why I put the numbers down the right, they indicate how close the nodes are to the pickup

These charts show how it would be for a Fender Telecaster. The numbers in red are where you get most cancellation





If you look at Tillmans demonstration applet that Fresh Fizz brought up you will eventually see that the numbers from my chart correspond to it

Donald Tillman's java applet is a great tool: here.


With a 24 fret guitar you might have the pickup where the 26th fret would be and all these numbers would be the same except two frets up, and the cancellations would occur for slightly higher harmonics. You get a warmer, sweeter sound by canceling harmonics of a lower-order

But for example if you had the pickup at the 19th fret it would cancel every third harmonic at the open string and that would not sound quite as nice because it won’t cancel the octaves of the Fundamental. I think its important to get the sound you want at the open string because it sets a “precedent” for what the guitar sounds like

To help explain about Traveling and Standing waves have a look at this

PhET string-wave simulator

Can be used Manual, Oscillate, or Pulse

With Fixed End, Loose End, or No End

In manual mode you grasp the “Wiggle wrench” with the mouse and move up and down


More about harmonic series etc


Linear Superposition of Waves


I hope that explains what I’m trying to say a bit better but I could still go into more detail on certain points

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Something most important I forgot to mention. The further the pickup is from the bridge the sound is warmer but at the 24th fret node it is EXTRA warm and not just warmer its "sweeter" You might need to do the first experiment I did - moving the pickup between middle and neck to really believe it. And when I did my experimenting I spent a lot of time on it. Some days I got home from work and couldn't tell the difference between a neck and bridge pickup. The sound of power-saws and buzzers ringing in my ears renders me tone-deaf for a while

I'm not out to prove this to the whole world and I don't see how I can. If you really want to find out if what I'm saying is true, like I said you would probably have to do some research and experimenting of your own. Or you could just take peoples word for it. Here is yet another person who says the same thing I am saying, but he's made a few mistakes by saying "overtones" when he means "harmonics"

Post 4 and 13


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Have you thought about an explanation of the sweet spot in a more dynamic way?

An electromagnetic pickup causes a comb filter effect. The notches and peaks of the comb filter depend on where the pickup is positioned. At the sweet spot you've found there are 6 comb filters tuned to their respective open strings. Maybe you should compare it to tuning the carrier frequency of a ring modulator to the key you're playing in.


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Mmmm.....you're making me stay up late again, ha ha, but its good to have your response

I'll have to research that one but I have been thinking along the lines of how bagpipes have that continuous tone. All the notes it plays are in harmony with that tone. And is it anything like what I'm saying in this diagram?

I mentioned this before and I think I'm going into too much "nitty gritty" but when you play fretted notes that don't have a node directly over the pickup there is really not much difference between the harmonic mix if you move the pickup away from the 24th fret node, yet it still sounds that little bit sweeter if its on the node. The diagram could require more explanation but I hope it will give the idea of my theory


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Well a ring modulator is electronic so it’s not what I thought, but the circuitry seems similar to what they use for Equalisers in stereo equipment which is a kind of ‘filter’ after all. One of my brothers is a technician who also plays keyboards and he knows a lot about synthesizers so I’ll ask him about it if/when I see him again

Looking at my last diagram, to add further explanation; also look at the “Linear Superposition of Waves” demo


When two antinodes coincide they “join forces” and when two nodes coincide they do much the same…except the opposite. Diagram 16 depicts two wavelengths which have a node quite close to each other and I believe would still have some of this effect

A couple of other things that I hope will clarify what I’m saying

When playing the white strat-copy pictured in my first post there is a constant ringing which sounds quite horrible. After some investigating I found three of the strings from nut to tuning peg just happen to have the same pitch, the second octave of the first string E 1320Hz. The headstock has 12 degrees angle which is about the same as my Washburn acoustic so it has nothing to do with that

After studying my Washburn and Gibson I found the pitch of these string lengths flatter or sharper to each other and some of them nearly match harmonics but much higher like the sixth, ninth or eleventh. Obviously it’s a slightly different issue but it’s still “string behind a fretted note” nonetheless


Now the only other thing is the baritone guitar

This red guitar has a scale of 27 ¾ inches so it’s 24 ¾ inches to the second fret (same as a Les Paul) I originally made it with 27 frets which correlates to the 25th of the white guitar and as you can see I also gave it the chop-chop


I did all my experimenting with a cappo on the second fret and on the right you can see I left the 25th fret. This kept the pickup 4mm away from the 26th fret node. Later on I chopped it out and got the pickup right on that spot and I tell you I could hear the difference. When I took the cappo off there was a slight change in sound just like when I did the cappo experiment with the white guitar. This is why I am so adamant that the string behind a fretted note affects the sound, and that the pickup sounds better when it’s at the 24th fret node

I have no doubt that you would hear a big change in tone if the pickup was moved to the 24th fret on this guitar. However that would be quite impossible and I am happy with the sound so there you have it, a 24 fret guitar with the neck pickup on the sweet spot!

One of the things I think should be discussed is the definition of “sweet spot” The way I see it there are two distinct meanings in this scenario

1. The pickup produces a very unique sound in a certain spot

2. The pickup is in a position where it sounds good to a particular person and/or for a certain style of music

After all this experimenting I have learnt to understand so much more about pickup placement. Consider the pickup placements of the Telecaster Strat Les Paul and SG. The Tele has a single coil right on the second octave. The Strat has a single coil about 6mm closer to the bridge. A Les Paul has one coil of a humbucker right under the node, while the single coil version has the pickup about 9mm closer to the bridge, right in the middle of the humbucker…where the 25th fret would be. And the SG has a humbucker with one coil under the 26th fret node

Each guitar has the pickup placed where it sounds good for a particular reason. I believe you could say the neck pickup is in the sweet spot on the LP for lead and the SG for rhythm. Other people might have different ideas but they’re the conclusions I came to from my experimenting. But still it’s not just distance from the bridge; let me put forward my explanation for the position of the Les Paul pickup

If a P90 or the centre of the humbucker was right on the node the sound would be much warmer at the open string and 12th fret, but might lack in-between these points. Moving the pickup a little closer to the bridge “diffuses” the sound – and - the guitar is made with such warm-sounding timber that you could afford to sacrifice some warmth at the open string - so –you gain a better balance of tone over the fretboard

When I type-up a post I go over it and make sure it’s as concise as possible. Sometimes I think I could explain myself better but it all takes so much time. There are still a million things that could be discussed I’m sure, but in any case I probably don’t have all the answers. The main thing is I heard a difference when the pickup was at quarter of the scale (24th fret) and I know it’s to do with cancelled and muted harmonics

I hope all this has made sense to someone and anyway folks my internet connection is about to expire again and I want to stop talking about guitars and actually make some (a couple at least) so I won’t be on here for a while


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I didn't want to bring this back up but I found I made an error here

If you look at Tillmans demonstration applet that Fresh Fizz brought up you will eventually see that the numbers from my chart correspond to it

Donald Tillman's java applet is a great tool: here.


I put up the wrong charts which don't include Freqencies, which is what matches up to the Demonstration Aplett

Tillmans Demonstration Applet


Here is a chart with Frequencies up to the 5th fret

The lists in blue are the Frequencies and the ones in purple are where the nulls are


When you open the aplett it should show

Number of frets 24

Open String Frequency 110Hz

Scale Length (Inches) 25.5

You have to change the Position (Inches) to 6.375 then you're in business

I find the Demo Aplett a little hard to understand because the fequencies are shown

2 5 100Hz 2 5 1KHz 2 5 10KHz 2

The first null comes up just to the left of 500Hz and the next is just to the left of 1KHz

These are 440Hz and 880Hz shown in my charts in purple

And they are the 4th and 8th Harmonics of the Open string

I'm not sure if the aplett is working properly because when I move up the fretboard the frequencies don't change it just moves the yellow line which indicates the frequency of the first harmonic

As I said I didn't really want to bring this up again. If I could edit the post with the charts I would have just done that. This topic is not for everyone it can take a lot to understand what I'm going on-about and I regret the way I have said some things

I was totally skeptical when I first heard about this and when I started making guitars I just avoided the issue by not having a neck pickup. It was 33 years after I first heard about it when I bought my second Les Paul, as soon as I played on the neck pickup I was convinced, I thought "that old guy was right" Then I did a ton of experimenting with two of my guitars and I was totally converted

The trouble is I don't see how I can prove anything here on an internet forum. If I recorded the difference it would rely on your computers ability to reproduce the sound accurately. And all the diagrams charts and scientific explanations really mean nothing. Its what you can hear with your own ears



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When you open the aplett it should show

Number of frets 24

Open String Frequency 110Hz

Scale Length (Inches) 25.5

You have to change the Position (Inches) to 6.375 then you're in business

I find the Demo Aplett a little hard to understand because the fequencies are shown

2 5 100Hz 2 5 1KHz 2 5 10KHz 2

The first null comes up just to the left of 500Hz and the next is just to the left of 1KHz

These are 440Hz and 880Hz shown in my charts in purple

And they are the 4th and 8th Harmonics of the Open string

I'm not sure if the aplett is working properly because when I move up the fretboard the frequencies don't change it just moves the yellow line which indicates the frequency of the first harmonic

The applet is correct as long as you don't use a bottleneck from the bridge side of the string to change the pitch. Or screwdriver in a Sonic Youth fashion :D

For ease of use you should 'detune' a bit, use 125 Hz instead of 110 Hz.



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