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Electric Guitar Pickup Height Adjustment

By now we have checked the guitar headstock, nut, string tees and tuning keys.

The strings have been replaced and the neck curvature has been checked  


and adjusted with the truss rod. The guitar action and intonation have been set. The next step is adjusting the electric guitar pickups.

What Is A Guitar Pickup

Before adjusting the electric guitar pickups, it will be beneficial to understand their characteristics. Basically, the guitar magnetic pickup consists of a bar magnet or a series of  


humbucker wiring

windings, produce a brighter sound. Guitar pickups that have larger gauge wire and more coil windings create a richer, fatter tone. The windings around the magnets produce a magnetic field, similar to that of the field coils of an electric motor. In the case of the electric motor, the electrical energy produced by the armature magnets passing through the field coils is transformed into motion.

Setting Pickup Height

To raise the guitar pickups, turn the adjustment screws in a clockwise direction. To lower the pickups, turn the adjustment screws in a counter clockwise direction. Using a small scale, measure the distance from the bottom of the guitar string to the top of the pickup while the string is fretted. We recommend using the manufacturer’s guitar specifications. If this information is  

not available, a good rule of thumb is to set the clearance on the low E string at 8/64th (1/8th) of an inch, 6/64th of an inch on the high E string and fine tune from there. Once again, if your guitar’s settings vary from the recommended measurements and you are happy with the way it plays and sounds, don’t change it! Your satisfaction with the guitar is what matters, not specifications.

Now that the electric guitar pickups are properly adjusted for your playing style, it’s time to move to the next section of Electric Guitar Setup .com; Guitar Maintenance: Cleaning, Polishing and Storage of Your Electric Guitar.

adjust guitar pickup height pickup height

the instrument is played aggressively, the pickups need to be set low (more clearance) to allow enough clearance between the pickup pole and the string. The pickup height adjustment measurements are taken from the lower edge of the string to the top of the pickup cover, or the pickup pole, while the string is fretted at the last fret on the neck.

to a speaker or set of speakers.

Humbucker And Single Coil Pickups

The two most common electric guitar pickup types are the single coil (single pole) and the humbucker units. With a single coil pickup, the background noise of the power supply, referred to as a 60 cycle hum, is often prevalent. To solve this problem the humbucker pickup was developed. The humbucker consists of two single coil pickups mounted side by side which are wired in opposite polarity. This diverse polarity factor cancels out the 60 cycle hum noise and loud volumes are crisp and clear.

single coil pickup

Guitar Pickup Height Adjustment

Electric guitar pickups are mounted on the pickguard or the body. There are adjustment screws on each side of the pickup. The adjustment screws not only set the pickup height, but isolate the pickup from harmonic vibrations by allowing it to float on springs, polymer, or rubber bumpers. If the pickup height is too low, the guitar will sound dull and muddy. Guitar pickups that are too high will contact the strings and buzz.

String gauge, playing style, the type of pickup and the magnetic field strength of the pickup directly affect the guitar pickup adjustment. If

humbucker guitar pickup diagram

Conversely, guitar magnetic pickups convert the motion of the vibrating strings passing through the field coils into electrical energy. This low voltage electric current is then channeled to an electric guitar amplifier, which then sends the amplified current

magnets, wrapped with thousands of turns of fine gauge wire. As a rule of thumb, guitar pickups with smaller gauge wire and less