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  1. #1

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    I remember in the mists of Time hearing why humbuckers are almost always installed with the adjustable pole pieces opposite, towards the outside so to speak.

    I don't remember the why, however ... so, why are they always reversed?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    historically, by most major guitar manufacturers..i.e. gibson, fender etc etc..the adj. polepieces are placed at the harmonic nodes... virtual 24th fret..29th fret... 31st fret etc etc

    there are those that argue against that logic, but the proof is in the pudding...the manufacturers follow the rule...


    cheers

  4. #3

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    my Guess is that being father apart you get more of a tone difference, But that would mean Buckers with both coils with adjustable poles would make it redundant

  5. #4

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    Pure fashion.

    There is no measurable proof.

    Pure fashion.

    To some it looks nice.

    Nothing wrong with looking nice to some.

    Lots wrong with attributing function to simple fashion.

  6. #5

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    ^ hahaha..70 years of standard electric guitar pickup placement tech reduced to "pure fashion"

    cause "it looks nice"...hahaha

    u gotta be kiddin...dream on

    but glad you aint designing guitars!!



    cheers

  7. #6

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    Yawn

  8. #7

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    If someone wants to (with reasonably objective ears) flip a PU around and see what difference is measurable...

    Fashion is great. Love it.

    But not to be mistaken with actual function.

  9. #8

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    Neatomic,

    You are an endless supply of vaporous summation with little to no actual knowledge or experience.

    Perfect creature of the inter web.

    Carry on.

  10. #9

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    let the ignorant have their field day-

    cheers

  11. #10

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    The only difference in tone is that the polepieces can often be closer to the strings, so having the neck pickup with the polepieces closer to the nut, could theoretically result in a slightly darker tone. I've had pickups installed both ways, and turned them around, and I can hear no difference at all. If the guitar is designed so that the neck polepieces are under the harmonic, then turning it around will just put the other coil there, no difference.

  12. #11

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    whenever you can adjust the screw polepieces at the harmonic nodes you have an advantage, over non threaded polepieces

    why all the major manufacturers have positioned pups just that way... since the cc pickup!! pre screws!!! blade!!

    oh thats right...they just wanted it to look fashionable for charlie!!!..hah



    cheers

  13. #12

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    Uh-huh.

  14. #13

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    ps- and even if you don't think it matters that screws or non screw polepieces are under 24th fret node...that's superfluous to fact that, one set of polepieces is indeed at the node spot!!!!...and if you look at bridge pups they are under specific nodes as well..its not random!!!



    cheers

  15. #14

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    I am not arguing about the frigging harmonic nodes, just that the center of one of the coils is there no matter which way the pickup is turned. Polepieces do not make enough difference in tone for me to hear, they are for equalizing string volume.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    I am not arguing about the frigging harmonic nodes, just that the center of one of the coils is there no matter which way the pickup is turned. Polepieces do not make enough difference in tone for me to hear, they are for equalizing string volume.
    i wasn't arguing with you at all!

    but your:

    "Polepieces do not make enough difference in tone for me to hear, they are for equalizing string volume."

    that's exactly it!!! if you cant hear. why are you adjusting??..it's for those that can hear that the screw polepieces under the nodes are important...and probably why most guitars come stock like that!!

    cheers

  17. #16

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    The humbuckers were designed by Seth Lover. Seymour Duncan had a detailed interview with him and there SL tells about this too.

    Seymour W. Duncan's Interview With Seth Lover | Seymour Duncan

    Here he is talking about the pole screws (Lover didn’t want them at the beginning!) and the sales men in Gibson:

    so they finally decided they wanted screws in there, so I put adjusting screws in it for them, then the question they asked me then was which way should those screws set? Should they set up or down? Well you’ve got to give them an answer so I decided to take the one closest to the fingerboard and put the screws facing it and the one closest to the bridge towards the bridge! [Laugh] that made them happy, they had a set way that it should be set…”

  18. #17

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    At this point it just looks wrong the other way round

  19. #18

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    My thoughts, specifically regarding my ES-175. First, if you are tweaking humbucker screws, it's mainly about leveling out volume between strings -- especially the top 3 strings. At least for me. If you want to reduce bass, slanting the whole pickup works better.

    Regarding the neck pickup, my ES-175 has the infamous tilt, which puts the screws closer to the strings. I think that since the adjustment screws are closer to the strings they are more effective for adjustment.

    Regarding the bridge pickup, it also makes sense to me that the adjustment screws are closer to the bridge, because the closer you get to the bridge, the more twang in the sound, and that twang is what differentiates the bridge from the neck. So once again the screws are placed for more effective adjustment.

    I think it's a solid design.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longways to Go
    My thoughts, specifically regarding my ES-175. First, if you are tweaking humbucker screws, it's mainly about leveling out volume between strings -- especially the top 3 strings. At least for me. If you want to reduce bass, slanting the whole pickup works better.

    Regarding the neck pickup, my ES-175 has the infamous tilt, which puts the screws closer to the strings. I think that since the adjustment screws are closer to the strings they are more effective for adjustment.

    Regarding the bridge pickup, it also makes sense to me that the adjustment screws are closer to the bridge, because the closer you get to the bridge, the more twang in the sound, and that twang is what differentiates the bridge from the neck. So once again the screws are placed for more effective adjustment.

    I think it's a solid design.
    This sounds right to me. Makes most sense to have the screws where they can make the most difference--closer to nut for neck pickup and closer to bridge for bridge pickup.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    historically, by most major guitar manufacturers..i.e. gibson, fender etc etc..the adj. polepieces are placed at the harmonic nodes... virtual 24th fret..29th fret... 31st fret etc etc

    there are those that argue against that logic, but the proof is in the pudding...the manufacturers follow the rule...


    cheers
    So you mean that Gibson, Fender etc etc etc .. have to be played with only open strings ? Because once you fret a string, harmonic nodes positions will change !

    The "Cos' it's nice here" answer looks as legit as another to me.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by 339 in june
    So you mean that Gibson, Fender etc etc etc .. have to be played with only open strings ? Because once you fret a string, harmonic nodes positions will change !

    Seems like people keep forgetting that all the time....

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by 339 in june
    So you mean that Gibson, Fender etc etc etc .. have to be played with only open strings ? Because once you fret a string, harmonic nodes positions will change !

    The "Cos' it's nice here" answer looks as legit as another to me.
    I can think of one functional reason for placing the neck pickup near the open string node. If the neck pickup is placed at the end of the fretboard the very high notes will be fretted so close to the neck pickup that it will get very bright as if it were a bridge pickup. Placing the neck pickup near the open string node moves it away from the high frets enough to reduce that effect. But this effect has nothing to do with a harmonic node—it’s simply a coincidence that happens to be where most people prefer the tone of the pickup.

  24. #23

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    This has been an interesting and thought provoking thread. My guess is that early pickup inventors and tinkerers were more experimenters than they were experts in music or acoustics theory. They moved their pickups around to find where they sounded best for a particular tone. Since tone is subjective, we ended up with multiple pickup location options. My favorites are the mellower virtual 22nd fret (L-4 CES and L-5 CES) and the thunkier virtual 24th (ES-175). Nice to have choices!

  25. #24

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    Don't be hatin' on neatomic! He's helpful and well-intentioned, IME


    (.....even if I don't get what this is all about)

  26. #25

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    [QUOTE=Peter C;1016530]Don't be hatin' on neatomic! He's helpful and well-intentioned, IME


    /QUOTE]

    haha...thanks for the support bud...but given the conditions the world finds itself in at the present moment a little 24th fret node hate is not gonna bother me!!! haha

    the fact is that every guitar manufacturer not just fender or gibson uses the nodes as pup placement guides

    dont confuse the sounding of harmonics at certain points with pickup placement...the pup is fixed according to string length..the fret ratios are constant with their placement

    anyways, really not worth anyone gettin their dander up...myself especially

    cheers

  27. #26

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    b-b-but Wes....


  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    b-b-but Wes....


    Good point!

    And did Wes turn only the pickup or did he turn the ring too?!?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    Don't be hatin' on neatomic! He's helpful and well-intentioned, IME


    (.....even if I don't get what this is all about)
    I hope my contribution wasn't interpreted as hating' on our neatomic. I enjoy his wealth of info and have been a fan of his for years on this forum. Be safe, everyone! And all the best to you neatomic!

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    I hope my contribution wasn't interpreted as hating' on our neatomic. I enjoy his wealth of info and have been a fan of his for years on this forum. Be safe, everyone! And all the best to you neatomic!
    appreciate the kind words brother!! thank you so much...i don't let forum disagreements get the better of me..we are all trying to put forth what we (think) we know best...no animosity...but always nice to hear from those who get it..most appreciated..be safe everyone, indeed!

    cheers

  31. #30

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    Honestly when I saw "Humbucker Positions" after just coming from the brazilian boobie-shaking thread, I thought, "Kama Sutra for pickups????"

    A thread of pictures with pickups in unnatural positions... no... don't even go there

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    I hope my contribution wasn't interpreted as hating' on our neatomic.
    Oh, definitely!

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie
    Good point!

    And did Wes turn only the pickup or did he turn the ring too?!?
    Wes left the pickup where it was
    He sure turned the Guitar round tho


  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    whenever you can adjust the screw polepieces at the harmonic nodes you have an advantage, over non threaded polepieces

    why all the major manufacturers have positioned pups just that way... since the cc pickup!!
    They're only under the harmonic node with open strings. Jazz doesn't use open strings very much. As soon as you're playing at, say, the fourth fret in E flat the pickup is no longer under the harmonic node. So that theory is BS. Try again.

    And your theory also does not account for the millions of guitars where the pickup is not under a harmonic node.

  35. #34

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    For the reason the pickups are oriented the way they are, see post #16. Sometimes things are simpler than they seem.

  36. #35

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    So I wonder why on the L4ces they have moved the pickup to the end of the fingerboard on otherwise the same scale?

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    b-b-but Wes....


    Many years ago, I tried to turn around the neck PU of my 175, inspired by Wes' example. To be frank, I couldn't hear any change in tone - and I was young and had good hearing back then.

    And Wes - why did he (or who it was) do it? Many jazz guitarists strive for a darker tone, but it is said that Wes went the other way, given that his thumb picking softened down his attack. On some of his early records (Wes' tune, Old folks etc.) his sound is indeed very dark and muffled, not very projecting. Maybe the reversed PU was also an attempt to brighten the tone and give it more projection on top of his amp settings. Whether it worked or not is an open question.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    They're only under the harmonic node with open strings. Jazz doesn't use open strings very much. As soon as you're playing at, say, the fourth fret in E flat the pickup is no longer under the harmonic node. So that theory is BS. Try again.

    And your theory also does not account for the millions of guitars where the pickup is not under a harmonic node.
    It's not that the PU under the 24th fret is some magic position and I agree that the string node is not important, but it's farther up than on say the 175. The closer the PU is to the fretboard, the more spread (scooped?) and lush the tone. The closer to the bridge, the more compact and midrangy the tone. A mm more or less probably isn't detected and neither is turning around the PU. But there's a clear difference in sound between a neck and a bridge PU. There's also a difference in sound between our "normal" archtops and the Ibanez Joe Pass (old 1970s model). An an L4 sounds less compact than an 175. Joe Pass' last (custom 175) had the PU in the same place as on an L4 and it did sound more like an L4 than an 175.
    Last edited by oldane; 03-23-2020 at 11:17 AM. Reason: typo

  39. #38

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    The question for me is why cover the other poles with a metal cover. is it to just get a diffrent type of sound/tone like the diffrence between a under wound to a over wound pickup.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by JaxJaxon
    The question for me is why cover the other poles with a metal cover. is it to just get a diffrent type of sound/tone like the diffrence between a under wound to a over wound pickup.
    Back in my rock days it was common to remove pickup covers in order to get a bit brighter, hotter tone. IDK whether it really works, but everybody did it.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine
    Back in my rock days it was common to remove pickup covers in order to get a bit brighter, hotter tone. IDK whether it really works, but everybody did it.
    I once did the opposite: a guitar I purchased had the covers removed and I replaced them with nickel silver covers - couldn't hear any difference - another myth in guitar lore...

  42. #41

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    Indeed TOMMO, staggeringly myth-driven.

    And hilarious when one takes a given accident or fashion (like pole piece or “node” location) and reverse-engineers an imaginary cause and (unobserved) effect.

    The particular (but purely incidental) nut-wad on this thread (and many others) could have just as well postulated that flared jeans created a back-wash airflow over the testicles of the greats of early rock - thus affecting their “tone”.

    Then post a compendium of pics of 1968 rockers in their flared jeans (and aerated testicles) as “proof”.

    ************

    Of course PU placement generally affects amplified sound as “oldane” describes.

    And of course there is no magic whatsoever to open-string “node” placement, as many here have noted.

    ”Jeez-Louise” as my 4 year old grandson would say. Surely this forum can move past the gas-bag mythos?

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    They're only under the harmonic node with open strings. Jazz doesn't use open strings very much. As soon as you're playing at, say, the fourth fret in E flat the pickup is no longer under the harmonic node. So that theory is BS. Try again.

    And your theory also does not account for the millions of guitars where the pickup is not under a harmonic node.
    What about harmonics? Pickups placed at the 24th fret are typically at the 5th fret string node and therefore no string vibrations at the node. Thus the lack of a 5th fret harmonic on Tele’s (and some Strats). You can verify this by playing an un-amplified harmonic at the 5th fret and then directly above the 24th fret pickup. Same harmonic note; both points are nodes.

    Also, in a typical humbucker the slugs are larger in diameter and have more mass than do the screws. This is going to have a direct impact on the magnetic field and the resulting signal that is generated by the vibrating string.

    So these things do matter . . .

  44. #43

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    And yet, they do not when making actual music.

  45. #44

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    Here, grab a Stratocaster - since it focusses the issue very clearly, and has a characteristic sound most will know.

    Select the neck PU.

    Now play for a while - whilst picking more or less over the neck PU and fretting around the 12th fret.

    The classic tone will be overwhelming. You know this sound.

    This tone (and I will avoid the word used by a famous blues-rocker in flared jeans to describe it) is recognizable and definitely a measurable and repeatable artifact of a very suppressed first order harmonic (the octave harmonic of notes played around the 12th fret).

    But note that this “tone” is not intensely stronger at the exact location of the 12th fret. One can noodle around in the general vicinity of the 12th and retain this classic sound.

    There is no actual measurable and observable magic to the EXACT location of a sensor at a given location along a string.

    There is no actual and measurable difference in the sound of a slug vs a screw at a given distance from a string.

    There is a clear and measurable difference in the harmonic content of a plucked string based on the general distance of the PU from the bridge AND from the fret location. There is also a clear and measurable difference in the harmonic content based on the location of your pick or finger when you play the note.

    *******

    String vibration is a complex mix of fixed (standing) wave patterns, moving wave patterns, and transient atonal vibrations.

    If one only considers the standing wave content and ignores the rest - and ignores the location of the pick/finger - and ignores the location of the fret used - and ignores actual measurable and observable things - then one can embrace the mythos.

    Which is fine I suppose.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker

    There is no actual measurable and observable magic to the EXACT location of a sensor at a given location along a string.

    There is a clear and measurable difference in the harmonic content of a plucked string based on the general distance of the PU from the bridge AND from the fret location.
    Sounds like a contradiction to me.

  47. #46

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    And yet it is not. Both in principle and in practice.

    Oldane described the general principle regarding distance from the bridge.

    I will check on the person that noted the oft-ignored concept of the distance from the fretted note.

    EDIT: It was KirkP who noted the idea of the PU location relative to the fretted note coming into play. This is both conceptually and empirically true - KirkP being given to accuracy in both regards. (Plus he can play, which is immaterial maybe , but fun to note.)

  48. #47

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    String vibration is a complex mix of fixed (standing) wave patterns, moving wave patterns, and transient atonal vibrations.”

    I suspect that this part is often ignored or not understood - and where many go sideways and begin to imagine precisions and effects that are simply not there in practice (nor in theory for that matter).