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Old 05-25-2013, 12:00 PM   #1
David Stein
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Should the pickups on the Firebird be level with strings?

My new Firebird V's pickups are not level or parallel with the strings. They both sit at a slant with one edge nearest the string.

In a perfect world should these pickups be positioned parallel to the strings? How does one go about adjusting them so that they are parallel if this is the case?

TIA.
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #2
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There is no rule as to how pickup height is set.

Ideally you want the pickups to be slightly higher towards the bass strings because often the 6th string has a higher action than the 1st string, so the pickups are adjusted to account for that.
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:14 PM   #3
David Stein
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Originally Posted by T00DEEPBLUE
There is no rule as to how pickup height is set.

Ideally you want the pickups to be slightly higher towards the bass strings because often the 6th string has a higher action than the 1st string, so the pickups are adjusted to account for that.
Thank you for your response. That part I understand and it is set as such. What I'm wondering is whether the front back tilt\axis should be parallel to the strings. Hope that makes since. Maybe I'll post a picture to illustrate.

It's not the bass\treble height I'm referencing in my op, but the position\axis of the pickup as relates to its longest front\back edge and whether that should be level and parallel with the strings. As concerns each pickup now, only one edge (either front or back) of the pickup is closest to the strings and not the entire top cover as I think might be optimal.

EDIT: This isn't my Bird and my pickup position is more exaggerated than what you see here, but if you look closely you'll see that the Firebird pickups in this image tilt backward and are not level with the strings. That's what I'm asking about.



These pups on a Firebird X (arrgghh!) seem to be level with the strings and positioned nearer the base side as T00DEEPBLUE mentioned they should be. It would seem to me that this is the correct position for pups on a Firebird and not what is seen in the image above?



This is a '72 Firebird with pups level to strings and is how I think my pups should be positioned on my 2013 Firebird. I'll have to figure out how to level them since there is no adjustment for the front\back axis.



By the way, this is but one of the issues I was addressing in the thread regarding quality control issues on this new $1,700 2013 Gibson Firebird V guitar that I referenced in a thread that I subsequently deleted because I was getting flamed for bringing up these issues at all as though they were just my imagination and Gibson could do no wrong.

I was going over the guitar under a bright head lamp last night trying to take some images of the orange peel finish and found some sort of reddish\pink rubbing compound in the grooves between the plastic tuner cover on the head stock and the head stock itself. This in addition to the other issues I raised regarding the quality control on this specific instrument only.

Pup adjustment is not necessarily a QA issue as I'm well aware that every new guitar needs a good set up. That's been done to this one, but I've yet to decide whether I'll keep it.

Last edited by David Stein : 05-25-2013 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:28 PM   #4
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Just go with what sounds good to you, and adjust them so you get the same volume through both pickups. Apart from that, there is no other rule.
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Old 05-25-2013, 12:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by T00DEEPBLUE
Just go with what sounds good to you, and adjust them so you get the same volume through both pickups. Apart from that, there is no other rule.
Thanks again for your prompt response T00DEEPBLUE. I'm asking because I didn't know the answer. Wasn't sure if there might be some advantage or difference in sound if they were level as opposed to how they are positioned at this time.

Going to take the Firebird and amp over to my store as I can't crank it up here without disturbing the neighbors. Haven't really played it very loud so I don't have a good idea as to how it truly sounds out of the box. Sounds a bit thin at the levels I've been playing at here at home.

Was planning on replacing the pups with some hand wound models to get a closer vintage Firebird sound but I'm not in a hurry to do that and need to listen to some Youtube videos of various third party Firebird pups I've seen played in videos on that site before making those changes.

It's possible that I'm just being too picky and am expecting too much from Gibson these days. My previous Gibsons (1959 Les Paul Jr., 1988 335 Dot, 1991 Firebird V, and 1985 Les Paul Custom) had none of the issues of this 2013 Firebird V. As concerns fit and finish and not merely something that would normally be adjusted with a routine new guitar set up.

Again, my thanks, T00DEEPBLUE, for your helpful consideration.

Last edited by David Stein : 05-25-2013 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T00DEEPBLUE
Just go with what sounds good to you, and adjust them so you get the same volume through both pickups. Apart from that, there is no other rule.


+1

there may be "rule of thumb" measurements to use as a starting off point, but really if you adjust it until it sounds good (and you're not too close to the strings so you get ghost notes nor too far away so you don't get enough output) that should be all that's needed.
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Old 05-25-2013, 02:59 PM   #7
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Do the firebirds have quite an accentuated neck angle?

If thats the case your pups sound liek they are as they should be, though I have found Gibson pickups sometimes tend to lean forwards anyway.
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Old 05-25-2013, 03:10 PM   #8
David Stein
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Originally Posted by Tom 1.0
Do the firebirds have quite an accentuated neck angle?

If thats the case your pups sound liek they are as they should be, though I have found Gibson pickups sometimes tend to lean forwards anyway.
The pickups in the newer model Firebirds use ceramic magnets instead of the Alnico magnets used in earlier instruments. The ceramic pups measure twice as hot as the old pickups and do sound different to me than the older birds. Time will tell.
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Old 05-25-2013, 03:15 PM   #9
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eh?

I just meant it sounds like the "leaning" is possibly a result of the neck angle as a result of the thru neck and the TOM bridge.

My Explorer and LP both have a sharp neck angle as opposed to the flatter angle on my Suhr.
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Old 05-25-2013, 04:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Stein
My new Firebird V's pickups are not level or parallel with the strings. They both sit at a slant with one edge nearest the string.

In a perfect world should these pickups be positioned parallel to the strings? How does one go about adjusting them so that they are parallel if this is the case?

TIA.

I think I get you. I went thru the same thing with my SG. The pick ups are level with the body, but the angle of the strings cause the front (neck side) row of poles to be considerably closer to the strings than the back.

I got suggestions to bend the tabs of the covers to cause them to angle the pick ups even with the strings, which I tried, but the rout in the guard (batwing) was too tight to permit the pups to go on an angle. I thought about filing the angle in, but eventually decided to leave it. SG's are what they are.

Technically, I think they should be even with the strings, based mostly on the fact that most pick up rings I have and have seen are angled to make that happen.

That said, this is also part of what makes it sound like it does. It's just what it is. Like the Gibson TOM bridge design that has never changed, so you have to flip the saddles to get properly intonated, depending n the gauge. My Gotoh TOM style is not like this. Gibson won't change.

I'm not anti-Gibson by any means, I have the 2011 SG and a '72 L6. I love the SG, but I agree, QC falls by the wayside. I have several 'overseas' guitars that rival Gibson's fit and finish. The first thing I had to do with the SG was recut the treble slot in the nut because the stock one put the string right over the binding. The next thing was to rip out the circuit board electronics and wire in CTS pots. At least the overseas stuff comes handwired. (I read an article on that. Henry said it was in response to customer demand for more robust electronics. A fact I highly doubt.)

It's the world we permit. The whole Plek thing by Gibson is worthless after a bit of fret wear. It was really just a means to improve the bottom line.
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Old 05-25-2013, 05:20 PM   #11
David Stein
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Razbo
I think I get you. I went thru the same thing with my SG. The pick ups are level with the body,
The pickups on the Firebird aren't even level with the body. It's likely that if they were I wouldn't have posted.

Just finished adjusting the intonation on it after playing for a while and found some fret buzz on the low E and a strings. Raised the TOM bridge a bit and also the tailpiece as the angle of the strings from TOM to tailpiece after raising the former was a bit to steep.

Anyway, as concerns the original post I'll just live with it. Sounds ok as best I can tell. Will put more time in on it this weekend since I finally have some time off and can play and recreate instead of working as I usually do between normal M-F workdays.

Thanks for all of the replies and suggestions.
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:26 PM   #12
fulham50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Stein
Thank you for your response. That part I understand and it is set as such. What I'm wondering is whether the front back tilt\axis should be parallel to the strings. Hope that makes since. Maybe I'll post a picture to illustrate.

It's not the bass\treble height I'm referencing in my op, but the position\axis of the pickup as relates to its longest front\back edge and whether that should be level and parallel with the strings. As concerns each pickup now, only one edge (either front or back) of the pickup is closest to the strings and not the entire top cover as I think might be optimal.

EDIT: This isn't my Bird and my pickup position is more exaggerated than what you see here, but if you look closely you'll see that the Firebird pickups in this image tilt backward and are not level with the strings. That's what I'm asking about.



These pups on a Firebird X (arrgghh!) seem to be level with the strings and positioned nearer the base side as T00DEEPBLUE mentioned they should be. It would seem to me that this is the correct position for pups on a Firebird and not what is seen in the image above?



This is a '72 Firebird with pups level to strings and is how I think my pups should be positioned on my 2013 Firebird. I'll have to figure out how to level them since there is no adjustment for the front\back axis.



By the way, this is but one of the issues I was addressing in the thread regarding quality control issues on this new $1,700 2013 Gibson Firebird V guitar that I referenced in a thread that I subsequently deleted because I was getting flamed for bringing up these issues at all as though they were just my imagination and Gibson could do no wrong.

I was going over the guitar under a bright head lamp last night trying to take some images of the orange peel finish and found some sort of reddish\pink rubbing compound in the grooves between the plastic tuner cover on the head stock and the head stock itself. This in addition to the other issues I raised regarding the quality control on this specific instrument only.

Pup adjustment is not necessarily a QA issue as I'm well aware that every new guitar needs a good set up. That's been done to this one, but I've yet to decide whether I'll keep it.

My Gibson firebird pick ups sit at a slant.you need to remove the 4 screws from the pick up surround.
Take the 2 long screws out and where the long screws go into the small threaded plate
You will notice that the plate is crooked to the pick up body
Adjust with a pair of grips or pliers
And the pick ups will sit straight
Shame on you Gibson to send guitars out like this.!
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