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Pickup Location And Placement

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After a layoff from building I've just started building my next guitar. I'm now at a crossroad and want your opinions on an idea.

About a year ago I started thinking about pickup placement and the sound the different positions could give you. I'm not talking about neck, middle, bridge, what I am talking about is the location of the neck, the location of the middle, and the location of the bridge pickups.

If you could move each pickup around in its location to find the sweet spot or best position or whatever you want to call it, would it be worth the time and trouble?

My idea is pretty simple; back route a swimming pool, and instead of loading the pickups from the front as on a strat., load them from the back. The cover they would be loaded onto would have grooves instead of holes to mount them in. Once the guitar was finished with tuning, intonation, the whole thing, you could loosen the mounting screws just enough to slide the pickup, (lets work with the neck position first), and play it until you found the best spot for that pickup in that guitar. Once you found that spot, lock it down with the mounting screws and move to the pickup in the middle, then to the bridge pickup. Once they are all right where you want them, mark then transfer their locations onto the real cover, drill the holes and then mount it in the guitar.


You could insure that the guitar would sound its very best by being able to lock in the best tones with everything together on the guitar.

Three pickups would not be in your way while strumming/playing.


Since the pickups would be behind the wood on the front of the guitar, they would be further from the string and adjustment as to the height would be limited. By cutting, (routing), the wood very thin on the front under the strings but above the pickups, you could get them very close to the "normal" height position.

It may look odd. An electric guitar with no pickups showing from under the strings. From the end of the neck to the bridge there would be just wood and strings, nothing more.

What do all of you think? Is it a feasable idea? Is it worth the time and trouble? Do you think the placement would make that big of a difference?

I guess worst case scenario would be if I try it, and it works out well, but the pickups still sound weak, once I had them locked into thier respective locations, I could route through the front and move them up through the wood into position under the strings. It would be more work, and the idea of having a guitar with no pickups showing is kind of interesting. So is the idea of being able to move the pickups around until I find the perfect location for each.

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definately worth experimenting with pickup position- you can see previous examples of moving pickups like the westone rail

but i dont think there is any point trying to establish the best position with them so far away from the strings... and dont forget that 'perfect' is a very subjective thing - especially when it comes to tone. my feeling is that a few minutes in a guitar shop with a ruler will give you similar ideas and measurements

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Vinnie! You da man!

That is what I was trying to figure out all along. Where along the points of interests are the best places to install pickups. I'll mess with that some more and figure out where to mount.... from the front!

Thank you so much for that. BTW... Where did you find that?

Edited by J_48_Johnson
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That site is crazy Vinnie. Thank you for posting that.

If you follow the link at the bottom of the page;

Response Effects of Guitar Pickup Position and Width

And from there go to the patent;

US Patent: 3,911,777

You'll see that Gibson is years ahead of me. Oct. 4, 1975 is when they applied for the patent to do what I was looking to do. Oh well.

An intersting thought though... A Fender Stratocaster pickups are (neck) 6.375, (mid.) 3.875, (bridge) 1.625 from the bridge. The bridge pickup distance is averaged or to the center with a 25.5 scale length. By using the page you gave me with the application and comb filter, and using a 24.75 scale length, (what I'm using), my distances came up at (n) 6.321, (m) 3.841, (B)1.19. How I came up with it is by using the application on the page you have provided, changing the frequency of each string, and choosing each pickup. Moved the pickup up and down the body until it landed on or closest to the higher points along the line staying away from the "comb points".

Once each string was done with each pickup I crunched the numbers and found the "sweet spot" for each pickup in its own location. Since the magnetic field of a single coil pickup is 1", (humbuckers are 2.5"), the numbers I came up with don't have to be exact, but closer the better.

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some one posted a pic awhile back of a guitar that had a single pickup that though a lever on the guitar could be moved from the bridge to the neck much like you described.

th only thing i see that could give you problems on your design is the pickup may end up too far from the strings to sound good.

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My experience is to stick to standard positions

but here is another movable pickup setup thats out there. Got a little computer in it to move the pickup to pre-selected positions!


Great idea, but to me a guitar has to look desireable aswell as play nice, that looks sh**te!

(Disclaimer: above statement is just my opinion)

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What I was thinking of doing until Vinny posted that was to mount the pickups from behind leaving nothing on the front at all. Would it look a bit odd to have nothing between the neck and bridge? Maybe, but not as bad as the picture above. That looks all mechanical, not organic at all. Like the body wood is there just to support the electronics. Not my cup O tea.

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Who is Vinny?

But yeah I also agree that the guitar with the computerised movable pickup is not the best-looking on the market, but

that's not the issue

All I am saying is the idea of moving pickups from bridge to middle to neck is out there

Just for the record what I forgot to mention is that guitar is called "Sweet Spot Select" Look it up in your search engine

Hey maybe I just made a few sales for them

I would buy one if I had a rich uncle with a credit card....LOLOLOLOL

Always laughing I am don't you know?

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not to mention the variation in magnetic fields between different pickups and the heights they are from the strings

my wide range has more magnetic pull on the strings and is a lot wider than most pickups - height adjustment has a massive affect on how it sounds

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