How To Properly Set The Height Of Your Guitar Pickups.

How To Properly Set The Height Of Your Guitar Pickups.

How To Properly Set The Height Of Your Guitar Pickups.
Will Kelly, from the Hard Knocks Guitar Shop, shows how to properly set the heights of electric guitar pickups.

29 responses to “How To Properly Set The Height Of Your Guitar Pickups.”

  1. Uboat Militaria says:

    Hi man! Very nice tip! I have a stratocaster with CS69 and the strings B and E (high) are too much weak in relation to D and G strings. Can I hamer a little bit the poles to equalize de volume? LoL!!! Thanks brother. Rgds from Brazil.

  2. Terry Witzu says:

    Oh my God, thank you so much, Will. I have spent my day all over Google trying to find a simple answer to my question. I got a Burns Gold. I’m sure you’ve played one, but if you’ve ever owned a Burns I think you’ll know where I’m going. Crazy? No, already there.

    Best guitar I’ve ever owned, which I got in place of an SRV sig. after Fender unforgivably raised there prices hundreds of dollars for no good reason this year (Actually felt a lot like what makes the SRV so appealing). Anyway’s, Burns being Burns I’ve spent the last few months raising and lowering the strings, tweaking this and that and all the while making a mess of the pick-up to string distance.
    For the last 5 hours I’ve found nothing but calibrations, and even a sponsored blog on a Burns Duo Jet that tells me to “experiment with different positions” to set them properly. I’m not even kidding! No baseline measurement’s. What the fuck is .098, or 0.125. I’m assuming pretentious asshole for a 16th and an 8th

    Thank you! Thank you! You wonderful man for giving it to me in plain English. A few seconds into your vid, and suddenly my guitar sounds great! All of my problems have been solved by your video. Finally, I can surf porn in peace!

  3. VCMSound says:

    Thank you for posting this very helpful little video. Much appreciated.

  4. ron goldman says:

    Real good brother just what I needed to know.

  5. solara clarke says:

    Have you listened to what you said? at the start you say measure one sixteenth of an inch on the high E string from the top of the pole piece to the top of the string,then in the same breath you say measure from the top of the pole piece to the bottom of the string same string, same pole piece……DUH…….obvious you do not check what you say LOL

  6. Charles J Gartner says:

    The problem with this video if everyone was supposed to have 1/8th low strings, 1/16 higher strings… then they wouldn’t even allow you to adjust them. They’d just fix them into those spots. (I suppose action on the guitar will mess with that)… but POINT IS: pickup height is preference. I’ve set my pickups really low sometimes and really high. You need to find your own personal sweetspot… and some pickups are more magnetic than others. Every guitar will be different. I’d suggest play around with it. Let pickup height be a paintbrush… haha, dumb analogy, but ya, it should be a creative tool that’s personal.

  7. Gary Marra says:

    As others have stated, this is just a starting point. Strings vibration is wider at the neck position than at the bridge position. If the pickups have the same output and height spacing, the neck pickup will sound louder.

  8. David Ringo says:

    good info for the student…..when I started playing we had Mel Bay…..hahahaha remember him…?,..if not google him….

  9. Alan Jankowski says:

    A tire tread depth guage works great for pickup adjustment btw…I have a guitar with P90’s and even making them uniform, the bridge pickup is noticeably lower in volume. I’m considering swapping it out with a higher output P90, but that’s just a thought at the moment…

  10. Spike Wolters says:

    Too low will lose you dynamics , Will states . I don’t agree , it is the other way round . When the pu is very close to the strings it does not make a lot of difference how hard you hit the string .  When the pu is further from the strings you can change the dynamics and volume by hitting the string hard or soft . It’s all about expression , touch ….With humbuckers it’s even worse than single coils .

  11. dougbrownpee says:

    Many thanks,i just bought a new strat. i set pickups as you said sounds great thank you for this video

  12. LaroldC says:

    BELIEVE IT… Today I learned in real time how important pickup height on a Strat is. I’m a hobbyist guitar tech (a former tinkerer-destroyer who went out and got a clue – and the right tools). I own about 15 guitars and basses that I maintain on my own. They were all playing like a dream – until I installed Duncan Antiquity Texas Hots in my favorite MIM Strat. It always had some annoying “Strat jingle” going on, so yesterday I set out to resolve it for good. I leveled, crowned, and dressed the med/jumbo steel frets. Next I put on new strings and set the relief and action exactly to Fender spec for 9.25″ radius. I set the intonation. But there was still this annoying little mosquito buzz happening all the way up the fretboard, especially on the B, G, and D strings. So I re-did everything but the fretwork (which was dead on), but it was still happening. I started wondering if it was truss rod vibe, or some tiny bit of rattling hardware somewhere, but I could find nothing in the saddles, tuners, selector, trem, pickguard, knobs, or jack. I was exasperated. But then, when going over the axe for buzz causes I had noticed that the pickups were a tad high, very near the strings at some points. So I dropped the heights a bit… FIXED!!! So it’s true – PICKUP HEIGHT MATTERS, and not just to output. It affects playability too.

  13. Clint Vantroba says:


  14. StarryFour 12838 says:

    Is the same for Humbuckers ?

  15. Tyler B says:

    Do you know what I should expect TOUPÉ for a pickup adjustment? lol

  16. terry o'keefe says:

    HI Will, Why don’t you use feeler gauges, it will be more accurate, the way you are doing it is guess work I don’t” mean to offend you, there are four more parts to achieve the setup of pickups if you are interested, contact me if you want to and I can send you the information, cheers Terry.GRAMS (guitar repairs & music sales)

  17. Peter West says:

    Back in the day Bert Weedon published a book called Play in a day.That book got thousands of boys and girls started on playing the guitar.The sad thing was it’s release clashed with other things going on in the world.slogans appeared on walls etc.’K B W’ .He wasn’t that bad ,haha.

  18. Bleikr Sound says:

    Pickups too high will reduce sustain, I use this as well as my ears to set height, never used measuring tools, however they can be useful to a new player.

  19. sirshibboleth says:

    first you say to measure from the top of the pole piece to the bottom of the string. 5 seconds later you say to measure from the top of the pole piece to the top of the string. which is correct? (about 2:20 in)

  20. hardyharhar9 says:

    Umm I just use a quarter.

  21. Duane Nelson says:

    you have six strings and six magnetic posts what is the raise or lower between E= 1/16  1.6mm and   BASS  E= 1/8  3.2 mm.. what are the length of the other post to the string height  is there a difference or because of the arch they have to be lowered  or risen by pulling them up to match the string   Are all the posts level with the Plastic Pickup cover???????

  22. MOTORHEAD8835 says:

    Very helpful vid!! 👍🏻👍🏻🎸

  23. Aaron Mifsud says:

    Finally someone else mentions matching your pole pieces to the fretboard radius!!

  24. Curtis Newton says:

    it does make much sense since all strings/guitars/pickups are not equal, pretending that the same distance should apply is ludicrous to me

  25. Felipe Montero says:

    what if the pole pieces are very uneven? (strat)

  26. Outcast Outdoors says:

    A butter knife and eyeball, got it!

  27. Odin Runes says:

    A screwdriver and your ears is all you need. No measurements! That’s a bunch of crap!

  28. Dave Powell says:

    Thanks for the posting I often wondered why my strat wasn’t as loud as some others
    I’ve adjusted it accordingly and it’s given my guitar a new lease of life

  29. leftymadrid says:

    Well, all pick ups are different to start with so…
    I can tell you that if you plug in to simply hear your guitar, press at the the 12th fret and use only the E,A,D strings you can start with pick up height a tad high, then just strike the string and listen to the sound. If it wavers it is too close! As you repeat this and lower the pickup on the bass side you will finally reach a point where the string sounds off without any wavering, just a nice straight note sound, that’s THE BEST way of gauging it and getting rid of that unwanted osolating/wavering sound!!!! Trust me, try it and see for your self!!!

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