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  1. #1

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    I'd be interested to read experiences people have had, good or bad, with pickups without height-adjustable pole pieces. Please state type of pickup (obviously including blade or CC-type), string type and gauge.

    Thanks ahead.

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  3. #2

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    Humans are funny. Just read some of the tin-foil hat views anywhere.

    But...,

    and it is a big butt...

    There is some advantage (on rare occasion) to that.

    We adjust.

    Adapt, improvise, overcome...

    so to speak.

    So yes, string response is often staggeringly uneven on a given guitar/string set/PU. Yet many/most players just adjust to that and can sound great.

    I love the KA 12-pole floater. I can get dialed in like I have never experienced on any other PU ever.

    But in actual use, other PU’s seem to be perfectly fine despite the initial uneven response.

    The only PU I have found to be completely unworkable is the Benedetto S6. There the fixed blades are absurdly over compensated (deeply scooped under the B) and the B string is far too soft. No, seriously. Having a B string that is too loud is usually the problem. With the extremely scooped blades of the S6 (under the B), it is extremely difficult to adjust to this odd situation of too quiet a B string vs. too loud.

    Good experiences:

    Benedetto B6 - flat (and way-fat) fixed blades from the high E to the D, then a sharp cutaway from the A to the Low E. Works great.

    ANY Gibbo-style hum bucker - Drop the B down and leave the rest alone. A half-fixed, half-adjustable PU.

    Tele Texas specials - No explanation, they just sound great and balanced for no apparent reason. Probably just a matter of being used to them.

    All used with various string sets always nickel wound and a wound G. T-I JS-112. GHS Nickel Rockers. DR Pure Blues heavy with a wound G substituted. T-I Be-bop 12 with a wound G substituted.

    *********

    It is possible that the Benedetto S6 might sound OK with bronze wound strings. I have never tried it. I took the S6 off the one guitar I used it on after a week and went with the KA 12-pole “PAF” floater. The best PU ever made in my single opinion.

  4. #3

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    Benedetto S6- completely and utterly hopeless.
    B string is extremely quiet and the high E is too loud.
    Bad with nickel plated strings, pure nickel strings, and even worse with bronze strings. I'm usually using 12-50 or 13-53 Thomastik Jazz Swings.

    The actual tone of the S6 is okay but the string balance problems make it unusable. Honestly I can't understand why Bob Benedetto would put his name on a pickup that is so flawed.

    I've had good experiences with the Vintage Vibe Charlie Christian style pickups. String balance has been pretty much perfect when using pure nickel strings.

    Bill Lawrence L90 humbucker - great sounding pickup- has non adjustable blades - again - great string balance - no issues at all with string balance.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bezoeker
    Humans are funny. Just read some of the tin-foil hat views anywhere.

    But...,

    and it is a big butt...
    really don't understand why you always feel compelled to attack other peoples (or the internet in general) views as dumbass, before you give your own usually very one sided /my way or the highway viewpoint...it's tiring...this is a forum where ideas are tossed around..why make forum members feel bad about speaking up?

    enough of that bs already...if you are too hip for the room go somewhere else...they are landing on mars these days

    and to the op- just about every fender pickup made has non adjustable polepieces..since they use actual magnets not screw polepieces...and fender seems to be doing just fine! hah

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by entresz
    Benedetto S6- completely and utterly hopeless.
    B string is extremely quiet and the high E is too loud.
    Bad with nickel plated strings, pure nickel strings, and even worse with bronze strings. I'm usually using 12-50 or 13-53 Thomastik Jazz Swings.

    The actual tone of the S6 is okay but the string balance problems make it unusable. Honestly I can't understand why Bob Benedetto would put his name on a pickup that is so flawed.

    I've had good experiences with the Vintage Vibe Charlie Christian style pickups. String balance has been pretty much perfect when using pure nickel strings.

    Bill Lawrence L90 humbucker - great sounding pickup- has non adjustable blades - again - great string balance - no issues at all with string balance.
    So indeed not too amazing even with bronze strings.

    Thanks for the input.

    Like you, I thought the tone was quite good.

    Oh well...

  7. #6

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    as per benedetto s6...if B string amplified volume is too low compared to high E string..then the type of string used for the wound strings is basically meaningless...as the high e and b on all string sets are unwrapped steel...whether one uses nps, pure nickel, ss, cobalt. bronze wound sets doesn't change the b and e strings...they are always steel

    the only (non invasive) "fix " would be a ridiculously heavy b string to even amplified volume out with the high E...

    but there are plenty of pickups out there without going down that road

    cheers

  8. #7

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    Summary of experiences so far:
    -Players can get round uneven string response and sound good
    -(Pure) nickel strings tend to achieve good string to string balance
    -The Vintage Vibe CC pickup is balanced (very interested to read this)

    Other stuff: I had a pre-CBS Strat (62 or 63 I think the store said) as a teen and a plain G I remember was LOUD, so probably perfectly staggered for a wound string there. I have also always had to lower the 2nd string pole on a HB, at least in the .015-.017 gauge range.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    as per benedetto s6...if B string amplified volume is too low compared to high E string..then the type of string used for the wound strings is basically meaningless...as the high e and b on all string sets are unwrapped steel...whether one uses nps, pure nickel, ss, cobalt. bronze wound sets doesn't change the b and e strings...they are always steel

    the only (non invasive) "fix " would be a ridiculously heavy b string to even amplified volume out with the high E...

    but there are plenty of pickups out there without going down that road

    cheers
    Yeah I was hoping the bronze strings would make the difference between the wound strings and the plain B less apparent. Which it did actually - strings E-B were balanced pretty well - but the high E was extremely loud! Just as unusable as with nickels ,just in a different way

  10. #9

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    exactly e...so then the only fix with bronze strings becomes an extremely light 09-08? high E string

    and the bronze strings are not best with magnetic pickups anyway...so really, why bother?..time to move on to a different pup..

    what did u replace it with?

    cheers

  11. #10

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    I've also used the VVG CC, like entresz, as a floater in my archtop and the regular ring-mounted style in a Tele. Great pickup, with a wound G it has good string balance. With a plain G I find that string too loud, but I generally don't get along with plain Gs and any pickup. The CC is hummy in a lot of situations; LED lights are one culprit. I have a Hum Debugger which helps a lot.

    I've got the Wilde L90 in one guitar, maybe my favorite humbucker. Fat and clear, hum-free. Balance is easy.

    I've also got Wile L280 TN and N pickups; non-staggered polepieces and balance is fine. There's a Dimarzio AreaT bridge pickup in my Tele, also non-staggered polepieces and no problems with string balance.

    As you can tell, I like Bill Lawrence's pickup designs. I also like Larry Dimarzio's designs, probably no surprise that he learned the trade from Bill.

  12. #11

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    I’ve owned a large number of guitars with Gibson BJB pickups. They all sounded fine with T-I Benson .012” rounds. All my current guitars have adjustable pole pieces, but most are probably as they came from the factory.

    Danny W.

  13. #12

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    kent armstrong was the original bill lawrence disciple...bill was the pickup scientist...worked with kents dad, the great dan armstrong in nyc's first mod shop...kent was there to learn..and that he did

    bill lawrence!! he's tied to so many innovations in guitar electronics...from framus zoller to dan armstrong to gibson to his own great pups..wilde... etc etc...a true great!

    cheers

  14. #13

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    There are two types of *real* CC pickups. One of them has a notch under the B string. One of them doesn't. Mine doesn't. I use pure nickel strings and it's ok. It might balance better with nickel wrapped steel but at the cost of acoustic warmth, so I adjust. Traditionalists use monel on these and adjust technique according to string response. That's more hardcore.

    Vintage DeArmond pickups like FHC and 1000. Most 1000s should work well with bronze or monel strings. Some FHCs I've played work with bronze and some don't. Those that don't work great with pure nickel.

    OG Telecaster pickups. I play with a wound 3rd even on a tele. This works best if I've got nickel-wrapped steel. My high E string is quieter than the B. There is no solution. I adjust.


    TLDR the solution for most pickups is: Start with Bronze or Monel for nicest acoustic tone. That rarely works unless you have a pickup designed for them, so try Nickel next. If that doesn't work try nickel wrapped steel. If that doesn't work, change the pickups.

  15. #14

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    I have an American Standard Strat with the stock (non-staggered pole-pieces) pickups. I generally use D'Addario round wounds (nickel plated windings), gauge 10-46 set. I had a heavier set on at some point, but didn't stick with them. Getting the pick-up height right is crucial. If they're set too close to the strings the magnets affect the strings' vibration and cause weird fluttery overtones; too far and the overall sound is too weak. I've never found string to string balance to be a problem.

    John

  16. #15

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    A 1946 ES-300 with an original P90 with slugs was one of the best sounding guitars I have ever heard. It had amazing balance also.
    Last edited by ThatRhythmMan; 03-09-2021 at 02:04 PM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    I have an American Standard Strat with the stock (non-staggered pole-pieces) pickups. I generally use D'Addario round wounds (nickel plated windings), gauge 10-46 set. I had a heavier set on at some point, but didn't stick with them. Getting the pick-up height right is crucial. If they're set too close to the strings the magnets affect the strings' vibration and cause weird fluttery overtones; too far and the overall sound is too weak. I've never found string to string balance to be a problem.

    John
    The overtone phenomenon you're dsecribing I believe is referred to as "Stratitis". As a kid I could never figure out why my bottom string sounded so wobbly higher up the neck. My current Strat has 2 standard single coils with flat poles and a twin blade in the neck position and the strings on that now are a custom 12 gauge set with a plain (.019) G because a .022 wound unit ultimately lacked output. Stagger can be a good thing.

  18. #17

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    For me, string-to-string balance on an electric guitar should closely match what I experience on an acoustic guitar. My technique will adjust to minor string imbalances, but large imbalances are a deal killer.

    Below are my thoughts on pickups in archtops. My Teles and Strats are different beasts with different needs. Also, I go for a bright, cutting sound all the time. I'm not one of those roll all the treble off kinda guys. I don't like standard design humbuckers at all. I like p90's and Tele neck pickups.

    Strings are always D'Addario round wound 11's with a 12 on top.

    Lollar goldfoil floater
    No pole pieces, just wire around a rubber magnet. I modded an Eastman Vignola with this, the balance was great. I love the Lollar goldfoils, but they really are their own sound. I'm considering getting one of the new humbucker size ones. Kinda just because.

    Lollar CC
    Single blade pole piece. I've had this in several guitars, longest in an Eastman 403. Never could get it to balance the way I like. I even had a serious notch made under the B string -- i.e. the blade under the B string was ground down to the top of the pickup. There was still imbalance. While I could adjust my touch, I decided I just didn't care for the overall voice that much. Also, noisier than a p90 so it's currently in the giant spare pickups pile.

    Fralin Twangmaster
    Alnico slug pole pieces, like a strat pup. I had this in my Comins GCS-16. It balanced really well, even with a plain 3rd. Partially I think it's because the pickup on that guitar sits at a slant -- the side closer to the neck is higher than the side closer to the bridge. Extremely bright, hard pickup. It really is like a noiseless Strat pickup.

    Fralin Big Single
    Another rubber magnet with no pole pieces, as far as I understand. Also lived in the Comins for a while. Sorta goldfoilish, but not really. Darker than the Twangmaster, but still really bright. Same kind of string-to-string balance as the Twangmaster. Maybe a bit hot on the unwound 3rd. Think I'll try it next in my Godin Montreal.

    My current favorite archtop neck pickup is the Fralin p92. Course, it has adjustable pole-pieces, which is one of the reasons I like 'em.

  19. #18

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    My Eastman AR905 (now sold to a friend) has a Kent Armstrong Floating Mini Humbucker without adjustable pole pieces. No problems – neither with roundwound or flatwound strings.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    exactly e...so then the only fix with bronze strings becomes an extremely light 09-08? high E string

    and the bronze strings are not best with magnetic pickups anyway...so really, why bother?..time to move on to a different pup..

    what did u replace it with?

    cheers
    So true. It's a badly designed pickup.

    I've got a beautiful Biltoft floating single coil... with adjustable poles! I haven't fitted it yet... my luthier has a significant workload problem at the moment, so I have to wait. It's annoying because I have a couple guitars that need work at the moment!

  21. #20

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    Strat and tele players... darn fools have no idea what they're missing.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic
    kent armstrong was the original bill lawrence disciple...bill was the pickup scientist...worked with kents dad, the great dan armstrong in nyc's first mod shop...kent was there to learn..and that he did

    bill lawrence!! he's tied to so many innovations in guitar electronics...from framus zoller to dan armstrong to gibson to his own great pups..wilde... etc etc...a true great!

    cheers
    I couldn't get on with the Zoller pickup both in terms of sound and balance - awfully quiet high E string.
    Surprisingly good stop gap - an Artec ceramic no pole mini!!!
    I have an Alnico version with pole screws to experiment with sometime.