I was wondering what the best height for my pickups would be if I wanted to play technical death metal. I looked around and so far it seems like raising the pickups gets a hotter tone, at the expense of some clarity/sustain (or maybe sustain is increased by higher pups? I found conflicting information), and lowering them is better for definition but takes away some low end, and some gain. However the impression I got was that most of the people recommending the pickups be lower seemed to be old-timers/guitar veterans, stubbornly believing higher pickups are for stupid kids who like making their tone as br00tal as possible. And yet, most of the people recommending the pups be higher seemed to be, well, stupid kids who like br00tal tones (e.g. I just raise my pickups as high as they'll go, and I get max distortion woohoo!)

So I'm not exactly sure who to believe. My gear is a Squier Stagemaster 7 and a peavey Vypyr 15. I like to play all kinds of metal, but I especially enjoy having definition in my sound and avoiding muddiness, because if I don't have clarity, then tech death/technical deathcore just sounds bad. (Necrophagist, Veil of Maya, Black Dahlia Murder (not exactly "technical" but you know)) Right now, whenever I try to play technical parts on the lower strings, the sounds blend together as a result of the muddiness. I thought it was just the guitar since it's kind of a rare-ish old model that I found in an obscure guitar shop, but then I noticed that I raised my pups really high. Like, the low E and B strings are 2mm off the bridge humbucker when fretted at the 24th fret, and the gap under the high E is even smaller.

So I figure that will make some difference for my clarity if I lower them - I just want to make sure that would actually be a good idea, according to you all. Everywhere I look seems to recommend raising the pups for metal, but I'm assuming that's because most metal these days is just as-heavy-as-possible deathcore consisting of mostly power chords on the low strings, instead of more technical riffs where clarity is necessary.
Honestly, just experiment with the pickup heights and see what sounds best to you. Keep in mind, the muddiness that you are experiencing could be due to a variety of factors (amp, eq, stock pickups, etc.)
You just need a new guitar and amp....that setup will never achieve clarity for tech death, heck, not even my setup would come close.

Raising the pickups makes them hotter and pushes the preamp harder, but you loose ALOT of clarity, lowering them brings out clarity(unless you lower them too much), but you loose some push, which is not a problem, if you have the gain on the amp to back it up.

The best option is to use high output pickups, so you can lower them for the clarity, but they are hot enough to drive your amp hard.
basically you want to put them high as possible with out putting them so high that the magnets start to interfere with string vibration which gives you less sustain/clarity. that being said, even a perfect height adjustment isn't going to make the clarity that much better with the gear you have. thats just the cold hard truth.
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schecter c-1+
ibanez rg3exfm1
schecter avenger 7-string with emgs
esp/ltd mh-50
peavey 6505+ 112 combo
tc electronic polytune
way huge green rhino
mxr micro flange
mxr smart gate
dunlop crybaby
When setting up pickups, from what I have learned, you want to hit that spot where the string vibrates in and out of the magnetic field as much as possible. Too close and it pulls the string like gravity does us, and you loose sustain (sounds a bit muddier as well)
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It depends on what kind of pickups you are using. The "higher pickup the kids are using" are probably active - which can be closer to the strings without compromising sustain.
Every setup is different - and requardless of style - what you want to do is get the levels of your pickups to where they have max volume and max sustain with the volume pot dimed.
Your bridge and neck pickups will be at different heights relative to the strings (depending on their outputs). You'll want to level them in such a way so that the volume stays about the same when switching between the two (or maybe a little louder for bridge if you need to boost solos)
Honestly, you are really thinking about this way too much.

1 -i t's not that much of a big deal
2 - it's way down on your personal list of priorities when it comes to getting a good tone.

Just play around with them so they're not too close to the strings that they're getting in the way of picking or pulling on the strings, but make sure the sound is still clear without mudding up or any of the frequencies spiking too much.
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