Pickup location?

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by Rmccamey, Mar 30, 2021.

  1. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey Electromatic

    88
    Aug 28, 2020
    Texas
    Not sure how to ask the question, but hope it makes sense. And, yes, it is somewhat theoretical, so I understand that "it depends". Given that, generally speaking...

    I want an electric guitar with a good overall tone/sound - a lot of mids and not too bright or bass'y - a good, full-bodied sound - that would be used to play lead/rhythm about 75/25. If I only want a single pickup, what would be the optimum location for the pickup? Near the bridge, near the fretboard, in the middle???

    I appreciate all the guitars and players among us but sometimes things get overwhelming and, for me, a single pickup with a single volume and a single tone control is the way to go. So, I'm hoping to get some input on this topic to help me decide if it is reasonable to build or buy a really great single pickup solid or semi-hollow body guitar.
     
    hcsterg, T-Bawler and jakjar123 like this.
  2. jakjar123

    jakjar123 Electromatic

    93
    Feb 14, 2021
    UK
    Well that depends on many things. Not only the pickup position but also the pickup type. If you don't want brightness then maybe not near the bridge. What type of music are you gonna play? Jazz/clean blues? Go neck.

    D'angelico do single pickup archtops. They are good but obviously if you want to add a lot of overdrive then they are probably not the correct choice, and they are full on hollowbody jazz guitars. So single pickup guitars are a reasonable thing to get. But it all depends on what you want to do with the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2021
    CaliforniaSlim and Rmccamey like this.
  3. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    We need more information to answer your question. You say you play lead 75% of the time. Ok, which pickup position, what sort of pickup, what sounds or tonalities are you using or aiming for etc.

    FWIW many had the same idea before you. Esquires, LP juniors, jazz boxes with a single neck pickup have proven themselves as favourites for many.

    And of course:
    265CC48A-55CA-4028-B5DF-401B9D7CB588.jpeg
     
  4. nickurso

    nickurso Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Dec 24, 2012
    New Orleans la.
    What type of music do you play abs currently when you play do you use one position more than another?
     
  5. Mojoman

    Mojoman Electromatic

    Age:
    65
    26
    Jan 14, 2019
    Gardena, ca.
    Good advise so far, what kind of music is huge for all equipment you choose. I dig single pickup guitars too. Jr's are a great choice, and my favorite gretsch of all - the old single pickup corvette. Placement is good if not too close to the bridge, 2 or 3 inches is fine for rock, country, hard blues. The same for the neck side, for jazz, smoother blues or ? Pickups themselves are a pick- humbucker, strat, hilo or filters, P90, gold foil dearmond.
     
    Rmccamey likes this.
  6. Rmccamey

    Rmccamey Electromatic

    88
    Aug 28, 2020
    Texas
    Light rock, light country. Yes, I know they exist, just wondering if a custom was built, the pickup position is mine for the choosing.
     
  7. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    Age:
    38
    May 11, 2017
    Germany
    If you are free to chose ... kind of between a usual bridge position and a usual middle position. Like, the row of poles/magnets that is closer to the bridge should be where a bridge pickup's other row is located.

    The more you move away from the bridge, the less bright and more dark it will sound, given nothing else changes. And also, the louder it will be.

    If you compare similar guitars which have slightly different pickup positions, you'll notice that 1" movement of the bridge pickup is huge, while 1" of the neck pickup is almost to completely neglectable.

    Do you plan on getting a custom made guitar? A lot of this also may be solved electronically ... by pretty simple means - too bright? Add a small cap in parallel, somewhere in the 1 nF region (= a lot smaller than your usual tone cap, therefore doing the same, but a lot less of it). Add a switch and you have two modes to be designed and wired for your demands only. One pickup often is exactly right!
     
    wabash slim and Rmccamey like this.
  8. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Petaluma
    Imo a bridge pickup sounds, for lack of a better word, compressed compare to the neck - there is simply a lesser range of sting movement. I actually prefer bridge for rhythm and neck for single notes. My favorite thing to play now is a neck pickup with a treble boost.
     
  9. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    It's complex , but for 75% leads and you want "a lot of mids and not too bright or bass'y" I would put it about midpoint between neck and bridge locations. It won't be muddy there on the lows, the lead work will be well defined and it will be mid enhanced.
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  10. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    I agree : for a custom single pickup guitar, I would choose a middle position.

    There is a possible inconvenience about that choice : interference with the pick... o_O

    A slanted position of the middle-placed pickup was the solution for me :

    [​IMG]

    A+!
     
    new6659 and swivel like this.
  11. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    The way I see it, more bridge than neck position.
    You can tame a sparkly bridge sound to become dark, warm and woolly with basic traditional guitar circuitry. The reverse is much more complicated without going active.
     
    DennisC and new6659 like this.
  12. swivel

    swivel Country Gent

    May 13, 2018
    PNW
    Good point about picking interference... depends on what you are used to.
    Also, remember that a mid location (+/-) will NOT be the same as selecting the mid position on a 2 pickup guitar. It will be strong and clean like a Strat mid position, because a single pickup sounds a lot different than two combined.

    You need s single pickup on a track you can slide and change position!
     
    DennisC likes this.
  13. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    Age:
    38
    May 11, 2017
    Germany
    The sliding pickup ... has been done a few times now I think. I played one guitar of that kind on a fair once, and was a bit disappointed - the movement was limited, you couldn't reach the usual neck or bridge positions due to mechanical equipment being in the way. Well, the neck position was close enough at least. The idea sounds a lot cooler than the actual outcome is I fear ... often is that way...

    The reverse even requires being active! You can't add, just take away and shift, with a passive circuit. But, the active part may be outside the guitar (treble boost, EQ, linear boost, combination thereof, ...) itself, of course.

    Accepting something worth being taken away, if taking it away is easy and doesn't come with any bad side effects would be my way to go - an intermedieate between bridge and middle position. Can deliver all you need.

    The difference between this (or any other non-extreme position of a single pickup) and a dual pickup guitar in middle position should be clearly audible to anyone caring, at least when no overdrive or other severely processing of the signal is current ... you have certain ranges that are weaker, others that are stronger, if you use two pickups, for them not only picking up different spectrums, but also being a bit shifted in phase to each other.
     
  14. Howitt

    Howitt Electromatic

    Age:
    69
    69
    Oct 16, 2020
    Huntington Station, NY
    If I had to own a single pickup guitar that already existed I would get a first issue Gibson ES-330 primarily because they had a P-90 pickup and a decently wide neck at 1 & 11/16" at the nut. They were completely hollow, also, so they were very light. The location of the pickup works pretty well for what you're describing, as nebulous as that is in the scheme of things. Check out some demos of these guitars on Youtube.

    zvnkguvunseksreqqnnb.jpg
     
    Rmccamey and new6659 like this.
  15. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    I used to own this vintage 6119:
    IMG_0497.JPG
    The positioning of the single pickup is quite interesting. In comparison the pickup of my FMI era model is much closer to the bridge.
    So the tone of the vintage 6119 was mellower, less aggressive and more delicate.
    What I want to explain is: There are more possible options than bridge- middle- or neck-position for a pickup.
     
    Rmccamey and new6659 like this.
  16. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Yes, that is what I hinted at. You could tune the stock circuit to have a passive bass roll off, and with a direct/hot/bypass switch give it the full load(a boost) but it’s cheating a bit.
     
  17. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    Age:
    38
    May 11, 2017
    Germany
    That for sure!

    I tried out bass cuts in passive electronics a bit in the last year ... it works, yeah, but the other way round - too much treble in original signal, taking off just the icepicky earhurtery of it - delivers better results easier. Caps and resistors are pretty cheap, and if one's not after the coolness of anciently built ones (like PIO from a shelf in the USSR that collected a foot of dust over the decades or so...), if it is only about function, a simple ceramic disk will work flawlessly and costs next to nothing. Messing around with values therefore is as cheap as it is easily done.

    My next guitar will be an Esquire with minimal electronics. Although I enjoyed planning and building my current Tele's wiring, it is pretty crammed and, no matter what, most of the time it's unrestricted bridge pickup anyway... I haven't worked out much yet, as it is just a rough plan so far, but ... Volume and Tone will be present, and maybe a switch. The tone, however, will be a twoway, rolling off treble in one direction, bass in the other.
     
  18. Outlaw

    Outlaw Country Gent

    Jul 13, 2011
    UK
  19. DennisC

    DennisC Country Gent

    Age:
    38
    May 11, 2017
    Germany
  20. Ricochet

    Ricochet I Bleed Orange

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.