So I recieved my DiMarzio D- Activator/Red Velvet/ Liquifire pickups today. I need to route the single coil pickup slots off my 24 fret solid body guitar to install them.

Question 1

Is there an ideal distance the bridge and neck humbuckers should be from the bridge and fretboard respectively for optimum tone? If so, is there any guide to it?

Seems like most pro guitars I've seen have the neck humbucker almost hugging the fretboard, except when the truss rod is at the bottom of the neck.

Question 2

My guitar has a standard Fender style tremolo system that I've done mods to in order for it to stay almost perfectly in tune despite heavy whammy abuse. Will it function well if I route out the wood from behind bridge so that it becomes a true free floating trem?

Thank you, fellow UGers!
1- "Optimum tone" is completely subjective. Sure, putting the neck pup as close as possible to the fretboard will give the most "neck pickup-like" sound, but we're talking about differences of only a few mm here... Contrary to popular opinion, human ears are not spectrum analyzers.

2- Given that you haven't said what you actually did to mod the trem, there's really no way we could answer that. But knowing Strat-style trems, I'd say probably not. You'll have to set it so the strings and springs are in equilibrium and, given the bridge's design, I don't think it'll hold a tune under such increased stress of use. A Strat trem is not a Floyd Rose. That's just my opinion though.
Thanks for taking time to answer that, Invader Jim. I suppose its true that a few mm wound not matter much for the neck pickup, but with regard to the bridge pup, will the amplitude of the string vibration be too small if I place it too close to the bridge? The output will be lowered, and the tone too bright, methinks.

The modsI did are that I replaced the stock plastic nut with a camel bone nut that i slotted myself (it really does wonders to the tone!). I then polished the slots with sand paper in increasing grades upto 3000 grit. I use a home- made lube of graphite(from a lead pencil) mixed with vaseline at the nut slots, the bridge saddles, and the bridge pivot. This eliminated most of the friction at the contact points. I then setup the tremolo using Carl Verheyen's method, and now I can really abuse the trem the tuning is, say, 95% intact Btw, a typical Fender trem has 6 body screws. I only use the outermost 2 screws like in FR's, and it works pretty well.

The Verheyen method allows me to pull the whammy up so that my high E increases in pitch by 1 semitone, the B by 2, and the G 3 semitones. I'm confident that I can balance the string/spring tension, so what do you think? Will I mess things up by routing off some wood behind the bridge?
The string deflection at the bridge is already pretty low so bridge pickups have more wire to compensate. All the guitars I've seen have the polepieces of the bridge pup about an inch or so away from the contact points of the bridge saddles. The positioning of the bridge pup is slightly more important because string deflection drops off rapidly as you move closer to the saddles. Even though bridge pups have more wire to compensate for the lower voltage induced, you'll still lose bass response because the strings just aren't moving as much.

I haven't done any woodworking stuff with guitars in a very long time so I can't offer firsthand experience with routing the bridge area, but I can say it will change the tone of the guitar to a degree. Personally I wouldn't do this with a strat trem but it's your guitar so do what you feel.
Quote by Invader Jim
Contrary to popular opinion, human ears are not spectrum analyzers.

One thing to bear in mind is that bridge pickups are generally 'hotter' to counter the lower resonance of the strings at the bridge. Furthermore, a number of middle pickups are designed for the neck position anyway. There's no "law" about pickup placement. In fact, 24 fret guitars extend the fretboard over the usual placement of neck pickups on 22 fret models. This is why they're "hugging the fretboard".
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