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I'm not sure this is in the right forum section but I'm curious as to how many people tweak the pole piece screws in their humbucker/P90 pickups?
Is everybody doing it or do they rarely get touched?
 

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I rarely adjust the slugs on the pickup. I use the height adjustment screws all the time, but very rarely touch the individual pole pieces.
 

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I do it to balance the output on my strings. I raise the wound "G" and the high "E" and drop the "B", low "E" and "A" a bit. Similar to the pic below.
This is Herb Ellis's 1953 ES 175
 

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Whenever I install a HB pickup (or a new guitar with HB pickups), I would adjust the pole pieces for even output. I would also use the height adjustment screws to match the volume with the other pickup. Pretty much set and forget from then on, unless I wanted to play with different string gauges.

Not sure if this makes a difference, but I always make these HB adjustments with the guitar plugged straight to a clean sounding amp.
 

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Part of the reason why the adjustable screws are there is to adapt to both string gauge and fingerboard radius. Some fingerboards (and their corresponding bridges) are flatter than others. Some strings are louder than others.

Did Herb Ellis adjust his pickup screws after he came home drunk one night? Or after mistakenly putting on an acoustic guitar string to replace a broken electric one?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Like the video that laristotle added I thought the rule of thumb is to match the fretboard radius and then maybe tweak to taste from there.
 
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Is there a difference between adjusting the whole pickup up or down vs the pole pieces up or down? I get that the individual screws allow individual adjustments, but does adjusting the screws do something different than adjusting the pickup height?
 

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Did Herb Ellis adjust his pickup screws after he came home drunk one night? Or after mistakenly putting on an acoustic guitar string to replace a broken electric one?
I don't know but it seemed to work well for him. I know of others that also do this.
 

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I thought there was a interview that I once read a few years ago with Seth Lover, he mentioned the screws were more of a cosmetic look to the design of a PAF, and raising and lowering individual screws had no effect to the overall magnetic field and output of a PAF humbucker?
 

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Is there a difference between adjusting the whole pickup up or down vs the pole pieces up or down? I get that the individual screws allow individual adjustments, but does adjusting the screws do something different than adjusting the pickup height?
I have a DeArmond magnetic pickup that I installed to one of my acoustic guitars. The factory setting has the pole screws at a different height for each string and there is a blurb in the instructions about adjusting from the factory setting if needed. I just left them stock but the manufacturer seems to think they can be dialed in if necessary.
 

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De Armond pickups are weird beasts. I've been restoring a 1948 DeArmond pickup that uses two different magnet sections, separated by a non-conductive brass spacer, with three different conductive "tongues" to distribute the field and adjust sensitivity such that the strings are sensed equivalently.


But the comments about adjustable screws being largely "cosmetic" has a modicum of truth to it. They're not entirely cosmetic, but one should consider that the sensing area is between the screws and the slugs in the other coil, and the slugs are NOT adjustable.

Some HBs have adjustable screws for both coils, and I suspect that the "cosmetic only" argument would fall to the wayside if one was to adjust the screws for a given string in both coils. But that doesn't refute the "cosmetic only" argument. It would merely provide evidence that adjusting only one screw doesn't do a great deal. A little, but not a lot.

The original Fender Wide-Range Humbuckers (I used to have one in the mid-1970's) had adjustable threaded polepieces (NOT slugs) in each coil. Three of the polepieces in each coil had their heads poking up through the pickup cover, and three were "facing" downwards. I can't confirm it, but I seem to recall Jeff Beck rumoured to have removed the three downward-facing polepieces in each coil so that the bridge pickup was essentially transformed into an "angled" humbucker, similar in functioning to a Telecaster bridge pickup, but hum-rejecting. Like I say, while technically feasible, merely my fuzzy recollection of a rumour from 40+ years ago.
 

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I thought there was a interview that I once read a few years ago with Seth Lover, he mentioned the screws were more of a cosmetic look to the design of a PAF, and raising and lowering individual screws had no effect to the overall magnetic field and output of a PAF humbucker?
Now that you mentioned this, I think I read the same comment by Seth Lover.
 

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I remember doing that with my LP copy when I first got it--didn't notice anything, but it did seem a bit louder without the covers
(I remember reading something by Seth Lover that the covers Gibson used didn't affect volume or tone, but some types of metal could do that.)
 

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I’ve pulled single coils out of a guitar for the purpose of pushing a magnet up or down with pliers so yah, if there are adjustment screws I will use them if I have a string that seems out of balance with the others.
 

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I remember doing that with my LP copy when I first got it--didn't notice anything, but it did seem a bit louder without the covers
(I remember reading something by Seth Lover that the covers Gibson used didn't affect volume or tone, but some types of metal could do that.)
There is much voodoo regarding both the design and composition of covers and baseplates, a lot of it having to do with "eddy currents", that are well above my pay grade. I don't say "voodoo" to dismiss or cheapen it. Rather, the phenomena are so complex as to make straightforward descriptions, explanations, and predictions nigh impossible, . It's a bit like the state of brain research before we had CAT scans, MRIs, or radioactive tracer-labelling. In those days, we had people and animals with relatively localized brain damage, and could say from observation that this part looks like it's sorta important in that function. Pickup-makers are in a similar position. They know eddy currents and flux patterns exist, the same way that neuroscientists knew how neurons worked, and pickup-makers each have their experience with sonic differences arising from baseplates and/or covers made out of this or that, but being able to say how all those things operate systematically in the whole-pickup context is still beyond us.
 

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Yes. I find some strings my be ever so slightly louder or not loud enough. I find raising/lower the pole pieces tends to balance things out.
 
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Yes. I find some strings my be ever so slightly louder or not loud enough. I find raising/lower the pole pieces tends to balance things out.
I also raise and lower the pole pieces to try and achieve a better balance. However, given this thread, I wonder if I just hearing what I want to hear...LOL
 

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I also raise and lower the pole pieces to try and achieve a better balance. However, given this thread, I wonder if I just hearing what I want to hear...LOL
If I can hear that a string is very slightly out of turn, I can correct it by ear. So I don't think my ear is too bad. I can balance out tone and volume fairly well (to may taste anyway) But my playing,... :eek:
 
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