Guitar, Bass, Pickup, and Effects Resources

Guitar Pickup Height


Adjustable Pole Pieces



Guitar Pickup Height | Adjustable Pole Pieces Guitar Pickups

Page Update 3/7/2016


Pickup adjustments are usually a quick way to get a little or a lot more pickup tone out of your guitar.  You're probably visiting this web page because your guitar tone is not hot enough or what is should be.  Guitar Pickup Adjustments are usually a quick way to get more tone or hotness out of your pickups.  One word of caution is not to overdue the pickup adjustment.  Sometimes if you over adjust pickup height or poles pieces this can affect the intonation and tonality of your guitar.  Basically, you will know if you over adjust due to the sound of your guitar for the most part.   You would hear an out of phase type sound. Remember to unplug your guitar from your amplifier before making any adjustment to guitar electronics.

Pickup Height Adjustment

How to adjust guitar pickup height? There are basically two ways to adjust a guitar pickups tone or hotness.  The first way to adjust the pickup is to either tighten or loosen the screws on either side of the pickup.  Most people think these screws just hold the pickup in place, but they also adjust the height of the pickup.  Sometimes these screws are located on the pickup cover.  Now it depends on the pickup, but for the most part if you tighten the screws you'll lower the pickup and if you loosen the screws you'll raise the pickup.   If you want more tone or a hotter sound raise the pickup closer to the strings.   If you want less tone lower the pickup away from the guitar strings.  Pretty simple right.  Make small adjustments and then plug in the guitar and check out the sound.  You don't even have to take the strings off to do this adjustment.  Just lower or raise the pickup with screws on either side of the pickup.  Try to turn the screws with equal turns for each side of the pickup.  Small adjustments can make a big difference.  As we talked about earlier, do not over adjust because this will negatively affect the tone of your pickup.

Adjustable Pole Pieces On Guitar Pickups

How to adjust guitar pickup pole pieces? Another pickup adjustment is to raise or lower your pickup pole pieces on your guitar pickup itself.  Let's say you've already raised your pickup height, but still want a little more tone.  Try raising the pole pieces.  Pole pieces are the 6 metal magnetic rods or pieces on a single coil pickup or 12 metal pole pieces on a humbucker.  If you need more info on guitar terms please visit our guitar glossary.  Not all guitar pickups are able to have their pole pieces adjusted.  You will need to check your guitar pickup to see if there are small screws or hex adjustment pole pieces.  If this is the case, you can adjust the pole pieces on the pickup.  You would either need a screwdriver or hex wrench to do the procedure.

To raise your pole pieces try loosening the screw or hex adjustment in very small increments so that you can see the pieces rise a bit.  Raising the pole pieces in not recommended for some pickups or guitars so check your guitar manual or check the pickup manufacturer.  Adjustable pole pieces are mostly on humbucker pickups.  You don't see to many adjustable pole pieces on single coil pickups.   On some hotter single coil pickups you may see staggered pole pieces.  This means that the pole pieces are raised to different heights from the factory settings.  For Example, Fender Texas Special pickups have staggered pole pieces in the bridge position.

Adjusting Pole Pieces is a trial and error process. It is best to make a small adjustment while the guitar is unplugged, then plug in and try the guitar.  You should notice a hotter tone the more you raise the pole pieces toward the guitar strings.  Do not raise the guitar pickup pole pieces to far as this will negatively affect tone or the tonality of your guitar.  If you happen to raise the pole pieces to far, start tightening the screw or hex adjustment to lower the pieces.

You should notice a nice difference in tone after doing these pickup adjustments.   Basically, adjust your guitar pickups to your specific preferences.  For example, do you want your pickup tone to be either hot, fat, or thin sounding.  The tips above should help anyone improve his or her guitar tone.  Most guitar technicians can make these adjustments at a fairly low price.   If you don't want to try pickup adjustments yourself, take your guitar to a professional guitar technician.

Always remember to unplug your guitar from your amplifier before making any adjustment to guitar electronics