Fix your tilted pickups..

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by 73Fender, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. 73Fender

    73Fender New Member

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    Full disclosure: I am an amateur, not a pro tech (I have spent years fixing other equipment though FWIW) so this is stuff that works for me..pros feel free to add or correct here.

    I recently got a P90 SG (this will work for humbuckers too) and noticed the pickups were not parallel with the strings. In the past I have resolved this problem in a few ways; in one case when I installed new pickups and rings, the new rings, after I shaped them made the pickups parallel. In another case, I used some foam rubber under one end of the pickup..that was on a P90 that screwed into the body directly.

    Anyhow, got this 2006 SG Classic, the P90s were not parallel with the strings and when I removed the pick guard I was surprised to find that the P90s were in a frame and not mounted to the body with screws and springs. A new one to me. The frame had arms on both sides with the height adjustment / mounting screws and springs, like you average humbucker mount.

    So I bent the mounting arms as I have done on a humbucker guitar or two.

    I would advise to reinstall the screw mounting clips on the frame arms "right side up". The screw makes an outward flare on the bottom side of the clip so if they are up side down the screw will not screw into the clip. You will see what I mean if you look at your clips.

    So just bend the arms the opposite way of your desired tilt.

    Here is a good image I found on the LP forum that shows both the bent arm and foam methods:
    [​IMG]

    Here's my SG..after bending the arms with a large needle nose, they are more parallel to the strings..the bridge pickup may need a little more of a bend at the next string change. It is already at quite an angle may be all it has..much better then before though.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
  2. CHall1525

    CHall1525 Active Member

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    Nice post. I just did the bent tabs last week to all of my SGs and I highly recommend it. I may have to file a little on the back side of the pickguard route for the bridge as i believe it is keeping it from angling enough. Looks like yours may need it as well since that much of a bend on the tab should have a greater effect on the angle. Might be worth a shot at least.
     
  3. mikeystool

    mikeystool Well-Known Member

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    i did that on my humbuckered Faded, didnt with my Classic.. i tend to believe sound wise its not necessary due to them being single coils. unless its for the looks.. i did hear an improvement after doing it to my Faded for sure
     
  4. donepearce

    donepearce Well-Known Member

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    In these photos the tilting doesn't seem to have achieved anything, the screws are still at pretty much their original angle.
     
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  5. jammers5

    jammers5 Member

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    Is this purely cosmetic? Can't see this affecting the tone....

    J5
     
  6. mikeystool

    mikeystool Well-Known Member

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    i think with humbuckers it does..it levels both to be even with the strings..i noticed a difference when i did it.. like i said, with p-90's, i didnt do it, i can't see it making a difference, being single coil..i may be wrong.
     
  7. 73Fender

    73Fender New Member

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    Good idea, I'll try that, it should have had more of an effect on the bridge pickup and I really can't bend it much more then it is.

    The screw may appear to be at the same angle but the pickups are now much more parallel with the strings. Note the downward slant toward the headstock. Should have taken before and after pics, they were really slanted in the opposite direction.

    As someone said it maight not matter much tone-wise with P90s but not having them parallel just bugs me..just doesn't look right to me.
     
  8. Col Mustard

    Col Mustard Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Mikey... with humbuckers it does make a difference (though not on all pickups). The humbuckers I'm most familiar with are the Gibson 490R and 490T. Those
    definitely sound better when leveled with the strings.

    Also I did it with my '57 Classic and Classic plus. I don't have any experience with these p'ups when they're not string levelled. But I can say that mine, being level with the strings, are the best sounding and most stunning pickups I've ever used.

    So especially in the case of these pickups, I'd recommend the effort to level them.
    With P-90s, I don't think it would make so much difference, because the single coil isn't
    affected by the angle the way the double coils of the humbuckers can be. So I'm not trying to argue with the OP, just stating a humble opinion so others can make up their own minds. I enjoy tinkering with my guitars, and imagine this post is the work of a
    kindred spirit.
     
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  9. jammers5

    jammers5 Member

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    OK, thanks...did not know that!

    J5
     
  10. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    Actually, it does make a difference with P90s. You want the body of the pickup close to the strings. Even though the poles are adjustable, P90s benefit from the body being close to the strings, with the poles low. Tilting can help with that.

    P.
     
  11. 73Fender

    73Fender New Member

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    FWIW, when I installed Wolfetone P90s (awesome BTY) in another guitar not too long ago, I asked Wolfe about where to start with spacing from the strings..he said start at 1/8" and go from there. I have heard that it is fine to have them very close, no adverse affects like other pickups.

    And in my case, when I got the guitar and saw the pickups not close to parallel to the strings it bugged me..so yes, cosmetics in that case.

    Now they are nice and parallel with the strings (which looks like they have a downward slant relative to the pickguard) and no longer bug me YMMV etc. Funny, I could care less about scratches and dings on a guitar as long as I don't feel them on the neck. I actually like to buy dinged up pieces on CL. But some things do bother me like non parallel pickups..go figure.
     
  12. papersoul

    papersoul Active Member

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    A lot of people don't realize what a large impact leveling the pickups does to volume and tone. Before, my SG Standard sounded thin and more like I had cheap single coils in the SG. After using foam to level, the tone was beefier and louder, more full with greater punch. Before, my other guitars were louder and fuller. Now the SG is too.
    Just think about much difference it makes to raise and lower pickups.
     
  13. DPaulCustom

    DPaulCustom Active Member

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    Pretty simple logic, when it comes to humbuckers. If one coil is farther from the strings, the signal will be weaker, & the pickup won't be working as efficently. If you happen to have a humB with offset coils, this will have a dramatic effect.
    I've done the foam trick on a few different flat tops, & that's the method I prefer.
     
  14. papersoul

    papersoul Active Member

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    I agree DPaulCustom. I just did the foam method on my SG Dtandard. How do you guys do it on a Standard? Looks like the best way is to remove the bridge and pick guard to get under the pickups. I only took the screws out of the pick guard but it was a pain in the neck to get under the bridge pickup.
    I got the neck pickup perfect but because the bridge pickup is hard to get under, it was a sloppy job and had trouble getting any more foam in there, so it is not perfect but a heck of a lot better than before, almost there but I don't feel like trying to get under there again.

    What and where do you get your foam?

    I may want to change the pickups after I try 500k pots with my stock pickups, so is the best or only way to replace pickups on a Standard is to lift off the bridge and guard?

    Thanks!
     
  15. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    I don't see any other way. That's the bummer with these batwing pickguards. They look awsome but you have to deal with the bridge everytime you want to peek inside. Fortunatly, action height is not the hardest adjustment on a guitar.
     
  16. iblive

    iblive Well-Known Member

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    I went low tech to square up the pickup to the strings. Small cardboard shim. Can't see it. Worked like a charm.
     
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  17. Gibsg

    Gibsg Well-Known Member

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    The best is to use some kind of washers Under the pickups.

    You can use a pickup ring like this, not bad looking


    [​IMG]
     
  18. papersoul

    papersoul Active Member

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    Thanks so much all!

    Not sure I want to bother with adding a pickup ring and having to trill holes. The pickup, may stilt anyway. But I believe you mean, that with the ring, I won't have to remove the pick guard to adjust the pickup or replace it. True?

    For the tilt, I had to jam a lot of foam in there. It was rough getting under the guard and then under the pickup. I wish Gibson came up with a factory fix for this before leaves thr factory.

    After adjustments, this SG sounds great.

    Thanks again.
     
  19. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    Your tone man, you gonna loose Da Tonez !
    Actually, anything could do. Bubble gum. Bag of coke. Garden hose. Rolled up toilet paper. Baby sock. Baby pacifier rubber nipple. A few condoms. Tennis ball sliver. Anything, as long as it's maleable.
     
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  20. Gibsg

    Gibsg Well-Known Member

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    I' m thinking about washers like this, easy to do in a part of composite tube :


    [​IMG]
     

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