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Buckers: Direct Mount Vs. Floating

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Tone is such a relative word. There really isn't one good "tone." Different people like different sounds. A blues player likes a mildly overdriven warm sound. A lot of people would call that muddy. There are many examples of simular instances. Some people call crisp twangy, etc, etc. Ultimately, you can try both methods on your guitar and decide which you like best. However, best for you is not necessarily going to be best for everyone else. IMHO, I can't hear the difference between direct mounted and ring mounted.

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I also say do whatever LOOKS best, because that'll have more of an impact than whatever 'sounds' best.

I can't imagine anyone playing their guitar for the first time and thinking, "Man, this guitar doesn't have a tone I like. I really should have floated those pickups instead of direct mounting them!" (or vice versa)


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For what you are describing, I would say there is no tone difference, at least not a discernable one. But it is easier to change the height of the pickup with the float method.

Floating a pickup by attatching it to the pickguard of a hollowbody, however, does indeed have tonal benefits, as it allows the top to vibrate more freely than it could have if there was a chunk of metal screwed into it (other than the bridge :D )

Edited by JohnA
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I just bought this 2004 McNaught for a steal and I really don't like the zebra look on such an elegant looking guitar.


I called McNaught after I made the above post and he says the routes are done custom to match the exact pickup he's installing. According to him all buckers are not the same physical heights so I may have an issue dropping in another black/black pup.

And I don't feel like shipping it across the country for him to re-route the cavitys to accept a floating pup so I'm gonna have to get use to the zebra's I guess.

If there is no tonal difference I wonder why builders just don't float them all so that people have the option of adjusting the heights if they need to or swapping out pickups!


Edited by Donnie B.
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You can adjust the height of a direct mounted humbucker. You just use a different lenght of rubber tubing between the humbucker ears and the body. I'm guessing McNaught doesn't use the tubing and that's why they have to route different depths for humbuckers. If you buy the same buckers in all black, the physical dimensions should be the same. Humbuckers aren't all going to be the same, but most simular ones(in your case, all humbuckers w/o metal covers) are going to be pretty close to the same height. Most sites have specs on their humbuckers, including dimensions. So you could compare until you find something that works.



edit: I didn't see the picture originally. Why can't you just float the buckers you've got in there? You've already got the rings. Just unscrew the pickups from the body, get a set of mounting ring screws and screw the pickups to the rings.

Edited by thegarehanman
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He doesn't like the zebra look, that's why. I get the idea that this question is a 'just-in-case', as in, just in case he buys a new set of pickups and they end up being too tall for the route, can he screw them in directly.

If that's true, then it's always possible to route the pockets deeper. Or get shorter mounting rings --if it comes down to it, you could make your own flat set. But yeah, you can screw them in directly, and there probably will be no difference in tone.

Just don't forget to drip a little blood in the cavities :D

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Why can't you just float the buckers you've got in there? You've already got the rings. Just unscrew the pickups from the body, get a set of mounting ring screws and screw the pickups to the rings.

From what he says, he step routes the cavity so that it matches the underside profile of the pup exactly so there's simply no room for play unless I wanted the pickup to get closer to the strings and if anything I'd want to move them down a bit.

I'll just learn to like the white/black thing. I always thought they looked cool on a painted top where they'd provide some cosmetics but not on a nice flamed or quilted guitar where I think they distract from the top.

At the end of the day no biggie. Thanks guys.

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What would be the tonal difference between direct mounting a humbucking pickup vs. having mounted traditionally using the screw/spring float method?


I personally feel that a direct mounted pickup has more definition and sustained notes have more harmonics.

Depending on the sound you use, you could hear some of the subtleties. Its more than just a look thing. Its a small part of the tone equation, just like using good quality electrical wires, connectors, jacks etc...


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On that McNaught, if you really like the pickups you can either solder some nickel covers on 'em or swap 'em for a set of black Duncan Custom 5's. Yes, the notoriously un-sought-after Ed Roman "Black/Back" is really a Duncan Custom 5.

Those mounting rings are hideous, too. Either some natural wood rings or metal rings would look a LOT better. Either nickel rings with black bobbins or wood rings with nickel covers would look mighty fine.

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