How Are Guitar Pickups Meant to Move?

Electric guitar pickups are electromagnets which convert string vibration into electrical signals that are then transmitted to an amplifier, producing that familiar guitar sound.

Pickups are usually housed within their housings, yet can still move if pushed or the guitar is being played – this can cause issues that negatively affect tone.


A guitar’s pickup is a complicated piece of electronics with enormous effects on tone. It consists of bar or pole magnets (or both), an electromagnetic coil of wire, and structural elements to hold everything together. When strings vibrate, their vibration changes the magnetic field which then induces electrical current in its coil which then is amplified and amplified to produce sound – something which can happen with almost any type of string and configurations of pickup that have dramatic differences on tone.

One of the simplest adjustments you can make is raising or lowering your pickups relative to the strings. Raising a pickup will increase its output by getting closer to its target strings, while lowering a pickup will decrease it and alter its tonal balance of bass and treble; more raised pickups means bassier tones while further away pickups decrease its output as their distance from strings increases.

Sagging or low pickup height can cause magnets to fight against string, leading to warbling sounds on certain notes. A fix is simple – screw down both ends until your playing without interference; it is fully reversible modification, so worth doing if your tone needs some work.

Reversing your leads, which flips the phase of the pickup, is another effective way to make adjustments to your pickups. It may help with issues of intonation as well as intonation-based problems; but not for every type of pickups. If this method doesn’t appeal, use tape over one end of coil’s coil which strengthens magnetic attraction thus helping avoid low pickup height or sagging pickup height issues. Moreover, consider thicker gauge strings, loose screws, loose saddles, or any potential wolf tones on fretboard as these measures could further refine adjustments to be made as part of their tuning adjustments.

Strings touching

Electric guitar strings are ferromagnetic, which means that their vibration interacts with the magnetic field created by its pickups to produce its sound. Too close proximity of pickups to strings may interfere with this interaction and result in dull or unfocused sounds as well as interference from an amp’s output.

To prevent this, it is wise to keep the pickups as far from the strings as possible; however, this will reduce output significantly. To increase output of your guitar further, lower either bridge pickup or raise middle and neck pickups slightly for more mellow tone that might suit jazz players better.

If your guitar doesn’t sound quite right, there may be something amiss with its wiring. This could be caused by dust or other contaminants collecting in its jack. To fix this, clean the jack using cotton swabs soaked with disinfectant alcohol or ethanol; making sure not to use water or other solvents that could potentially damage it further.

Strings may also be touching pickups due to improper tuning; in order to prevent too much hum from the pickups and distort its sound, ideal spacing should be at least three inches from pole pieces of pickups. This will help stop strings from coming too close.

Adjust the height of your pickups easily by turning the screws located on either side. These are known as adjustment screws or height screws and allow you to easily change its height by turning either clockwise (to lower) or counterclockwise (to raise). To do so, just turn them clockwise or counterclockwise until desired result is reached.

While the height of your pickups will depend on the model of guitar you own, most should fall approximately at the same level. To establish an ideal height for your guitar, use a pocket ruler or machinist’s rule to measure from the lowest fret to the bottom of each pickup; using this measurement, adjust until they meet manufacturer-spec requirements.

The pick-ups are too close to the strings

Pickup height is one of the key elements to consider when evaluating how a guitar sounds. Too-high pickups won’t collect enough vibration to create an electric signal for your amplifier; in extreme cases, their pole pieces could even touch the strings and prevent them from ringing out, creating a warbly tone. Conversely, too-low pickups could produce dull sounds with weak output; typically though, an optimal pickup height lies somewhere in-between these extremes.

Ideal pick-up placement should be at least 1/16 inch away from the strings for optimal sound balance and fullness of tone. There may be exceptions to this rule, so listen carefully with an ear bud to determine the ideal height of pick-ups for your instrument.

Electric guitar pickups use magnetism to convert string vibrations into an electrical signal that can be played through your amplifier. The closer they are to the strings, the stronger their magnetic field and sound output will be. However, closer proximity also introduces more artifacts and wave-like volume as magnetic fields disrupt string vibration.

Unfortunately, most new electric guitars do not come equipped with perfectly calibrated pickups – even those that claim to have come from a factory setup! But don’t fret; pickups can easily be adjusted again for optimal sound!

Adjusting pickups requires two tools – a screwdriver and pocket ruler or machinist’s tape measure. Start by depressing the bass E string at its last fret nearest the pickups, placing your tape measure along its edge and measuring from it directly to its pole piece ridge – this will tell you how far away from each string each pickup is and provides a baseline for adjustments; always remeasure each pickup after making changes! Once your pickups have been adjusted to the ideal distances you can play around with different combinations of bass and treble strings until finding sound that suits you!

The pick-ups are too high

Too-high pick-ups on your guitar can create many issues. This may reduce overall output, cause fret buzz and interfere with string vibration. Furthermore, having overly-high pickups could give rise to unnatural overtones or feedback and even result in an erratic tuning when playing.

Unfortunately, this is a relatively common and easy problem to address. Just move your pickups lower – to do this simply turn clockwise the screw on each pickup’s baseplate until your desired tone has been reached. Checking back between changes for tone confirmation is ideal.

Once your height has been adjusted to your preference, tighten the screw. This will prevent it from moving during playback and allows you to make any necessary adjustments until achieving the sound you like. Plug in your guitar and test its sound; make adjustments until finding an ideal tone!

Conventional wisdom suggests that when fretting notes, pickups should be about 1/8 inch from the strings. Although this is a suitable starting point, each guitar and pickup setup may differ, meaning adjustments may need to be made closer or further away from strings in order to achieve optimal sound.

Your pickups should be close to the strings for optimal treble production and maximum output, but too close could result in excessive feedback, warbly notes or intonation problems that require adjustment or tuning issues to remedy.

Your pickups can easily be tested if they are too high by fretting the final fret on each string and listening to its tone. If there’s buzzing or overtones present, then lower them. But some overtones can actually enhance a guitar’s tone so experiment until you find what works for your specific instrument!