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Why Radius Each Pole Piece On Adjustable Humbucker Guitar Pickups?

Why Radius Each Pole Piece On Adjustable Humbucker Guitar Pickups?

Haywire Signature Guitars – The F-335 Custom

image Haywire Custom Guitars F-335 Semi Hollw guitar with pole piece under each string

Radius Pole Pieces On Guitar Pickups

Because, they’re adjustable for a reason. Take advantage of it. It’s much better to radius each guitar pickup pole piece in your guitar pickups than leave them flat if they’re adjustable. Why is this done? There are several reasons for doing this. Think of the poles as an EQ.  Why do you use an EQ?  Think about it for a while. First, guitars are almost never set up when sent from the factory to the music store.

Guitars Are Almost Never Set Up When Sent From The Factory To The Music Store

A complete set up is part of the process performed in a good custom guitar shop. In order to complete a guitar set-up, it is necessary to radius each adjustable pole piece to the string above it. Second, each guitar neck on an electric guitar has a radius. In a proper set up the strings will have the same radius as the neck. Where sound and frequencies are an important issue to the player, we’ll use guitar pickups with adjustable pole pieces. The third and most important reason is that if the strings and neck have a radius and so should the guitars pickups to reproduce accurate tone because each string is now the same distance from the pole piece for perfect reproduction of tone.

Guitar sound consistency is important in setup as well as playing. Just as it is necessary to keep the same distance from the fret to the bottom of the string, it is just as important to maintain an equal distance from the string to the top of each pole piece. Why? Equal distance of strings to pickups gives equal volume and therefore a more consistent volume level for each note played. The results are more even frequencies, more consistent sound, better tone, less unwanted feedback, even volume, more responsive pick up control, better sustain and more clarity in the overall sound.

Guitar Pickup Poles Must Follow The Neck Radius Just The Same As The Strings

All that’s needed to accomplish this is a set of  guitar pick ups that are adjustable. How can you tell? A visual inspection will tell you instantly if they are. A good example is a typical humbucker pick up. Let’s take the one that Seth Lover first introduced. Seth’s most famous humbucker design (U.S. Patent 2,896,491) was the P.A.F. (Patent Applied For) designed while he worked at the Gibson guitar manufacturing site in 1955. This pickup was used in a wide range of Gibson guitars, most notably the Les Paul guitar model. If you notice and look closely- you’ll see that the humbucker is adjustable.

The Humbucker Has Adjustable Pole Pieces

Most Humbuckers have six poles, therefore you’ll adjust each one. You can see there are six pole pieces visible through the metal cover. One under each guitar string. They have slotted tops for a screwdriver blade. The guitar pole piece is actually a long machine screw. There is one per string on a single coil pickup. Two per string on a humbucker pickup. When the screws are turned clockwise they travel away from the strings.  As a result, if turned counter-clockwise they will rise closer to the strings. This is most noteworthy because the neck has a radius. Therefore the poles must follow that radius the same as the strings.

Adjusting Pole Pieces

All that is necessary is to adjust the guitar pickup pole piece screws so that the are about 1/8 inch from the bottom of each string. In a good set up this is the last step performed. You’ll find the guitar sound will be enhanced from this small detail that makes a big difference to a discerning player.

Haywire Custom Guitars profile image Rick Mariner

Radius a pole piece with the strings

About the Author:

Mr. Rick Mariner Owner and Founder and CEO of Haywire Custom Guitars Inc. He is a member of The Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (A.S.I.A.) as well as a guitar player. Rick holds a bachelors degree from University of Md. and a Masters degree from George Washington University. Rick developed his exclusive 8 – Point “Gig- Ready” guitar process that allows for Custom Guitars that are “GIG-READY”. With Rick’s many years of development and guitar set-up experience, Haywire Guitar shop “Builds satisfied players… one Haywire guitar at a time”.

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