Post Number: 1331
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 2:50 pm: |
My luthier commented that he thought the neck "pickup" (activator) on my new Series I was set way to low. It is much lower than the bridge "pickup". What is the approx. heights of the activators on a Series when it leaves the factory?
Post Number: 272
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 2:56 pm: |
here's a useful link on height adjustments//http://www.alembic.com/support/care.html
Post Number: 273
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 2:56 pm: |
(Message edited by serialnumber12 on November 30, 2005)
Post Number: 2840
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 3:11 pm: |
Fromt the factory, the neck pickup is rather low, the bridge is rather high. We don't measure it, as we fully expect each player to figure out the best height for their playing. The gain is set at the factory so the pickups are of equal volume.
Since you don't have to worry about a difference in height in relation to the output (those handy trim pots) my position is that there is no such thing as too low or too high.
For instance, you can set the height for comfort, as in a low neck pickup for lots of slapping room. Or for subtle tonal changes - go ahead and play around with the pickup height yourself and while ignoring the volume change, listen carefully to the differences in tone when you experiment with pickup height. If you find one you're fond of, go ahead and adjust the gain trimmer on the backplate. You'll probably change your mind someday, so just adjust again when the whim strikes.
The Series I doesn't use Activators. The pickups are SC-1 model (Single Coil).
Post Number: 1333
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 3:17 pm: |
Understood. I can adjust the height, but I'm wondering where they should be approximately, RE: the original factory set-up.
Post Number: 1337
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 4:05 pm: |
I was responding to the previous post, but Mica got in there first.
I wasn't sure about the height given the active electronics. My luthier is so anal about set-up...he spends lots of time trying to get the proper P/U balance, and has not seen many Alembics, despite his 35+ years in the business. Ever see someone adjust not only the individual P/U height/tilt, but the individual polepiece heights on a Gibson PAF humbucker? He does!
I'm so confused...activator?...pick-up? Oy Vey!
Thanks for the help, Mica.
(Message edited by kmh364 on November 30, 2005)
Post Number: 488
|Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - 10:01 pm: |
A little 'back story' to amplify on what Mica said:
Their 'generic' setup heights of the neck pickup being rather low and bridge pickup notably higher (and remember she did NOT quote the fractions-of-an-inch clearances as you'd see from Fender or most other people) hinge on two things:
First is the mechanics of the vibrating string in as much as the width of its oscillation is much bigger over the bridge pickup, so the pickup gnerally doesn't need to be as close: It's exciting the magnetic field much more so than the much narrower range of motion over the bridge pickup, cause that string is just choked down so close to the bridge saddle. It's moving in a much more narrow oscillation, so it excites the magnetic field less, so the bridge pickup needs to be closer to be as loud.
Second, the little gain pots in the back cavity for the pickups change the rules of the game completely:
Virtually all other electric guitars/basses lack this feature, and hamstring you somewhat in that pickup tone changes with their relative height/proximity to the strings. More noticeable with passive pickups (especially hot passive pickups), but all pickups will gain some output and lose lows the closer their height/gap to the strings. Now Alembics, EMGs, Barts, all 'low'impedance pickups reduce this quite a bit as there are fewer windings on the coil and are generally weaker magnetically (hence the onboard preamp to make up for that), but even they will sound different over their range of adjustments. So you ultimately have to strike a balance between tone and relative output that may not be what you'd like best.
On an Alembic however, the low impedance pickups can allow the pickups to be quite close if that's YOUR tone, and then you use the gain pots to set your relative output to YOUR taste, regardless of what your repairman says . . . just another stroke of genius that Ron built into these things.
Basically, you carefully adjust your pickup heights one at a time 'till you find YOUR tone.
Then set your two gain pots for the relative loudness to each other when both are on to get the mix of the two that's YOUR tone, and you're done. Want more beef? Run more neck gain. Want more attack and articulation? More brdige. Or WHATEVER mix you want.
Your repairman rightfully was expecting a set of numbers as Gibson, Fender, and most manufacturers will quote a set of values in inch fractions for the neck relief, height over the last fret, pickup clearance, etc., and yes, even the adjustable polepiece values for humbuckers with the screw pole pieces.
An Alembic just doesn't need it. It was built with lower action than most off the rack basses, the entire bridge (and all the saddles) adjusts as one piece with just the two height screws (just like a Gibson TuneOMatic), and the adjustable nut eliminates recutting the notches on a standard nut for height adjustments at that end. And the laminated neck with that slab ebony fingerboard is mighty strong and you probably won't need to 'touch up' your action near as often as most other axes. I set the BigRedBass' neck relief with feeler guages (.015") and it hasn't moved in the year and a half I've been checking it. The pickups use a blade polepiece so they also adjust as one piece, no polepieces to worry with.
You can also laugh at other basses running @ 18 volts (2 batteries): The offboard power supply is 48 volts, so you will NEVER run out of headroom.
I never fail to be amazed at the practical genius built into these axes.
J o e y
Post Number: 544
|Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 12:40 am: |
Hey Kev - I used to adjust the individual pole pieces on my Gibson humbuckers, back when I was playing guitar. So now that I'm on the deep side, I adjust the height, side-to-side angle, and even the tilt along the strings (tilt is excessive... though I can hear it, I can also easily overwhelm the difference by plucking in a slightly different position).
Like the others are saying here, there is no right or wrong or standard. If you (or your luthier) are sensitive enough to care, adjust the height until you get the tone you want, then adjust the trims to balance.
The height adjustment is a pretty sensitive thing - meaning it's hard to describe, or even hear, exactly what the difference is, and it depends somewhat on your playing style.
In practical terms, my suggestion would be to let your luthier set it where he thinks it looks, or sounds, right. Make note of that, then play with it yourself a little (noting up/down screw turns), and see whether it matters to you.
Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But if it does, then eventually you need to learn how to do it yourself. No big deal.
Post Number: 1339
|Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 4:51 am: |
Thanks for all the help.
I did have an ulterior motive with my question. My new bass was handled roughly by FedEx Ground. So much so that when I took it out of it's case, the neck pick-up nearly fell out of it's pocket as the two hold-down screws were nearly backed completely out. I wasn't sure if the loose pick-up caused the two height adjustment screws to move as well (much like the bridge saddle action set screws back out of a Fender Strat when the strings are removed).
I personally noticed that, once tightened the neck P/U seems very low compared to the bridge P/U. This is not an archtop, like my CS LP or my Heritage GE, so my luthier and I both questioned the height. I knew the pre-amps would cloud the issue, but didn't know to what extent.
As far as the height specs. go, I was just looking for ballpark from the Alembic set-up room. I realize that height is completely dependent on string guage, action, playing style etc. My guy doesn't care about anyone else's numbers, he'll set it right depending on the above factors.
The way I figure, he's so anal, he'll either love the thing or hate it, LOL! All that adjustability can be great but can also be a liability. He's a nitpicker to the nth degree...the perfect person to work on your axes. You should see how well my Heritage 17" jazz box plays (think poor man's L-5 dressed-up more like a Citation) with a long-scale neck and roundwound nickle 12's with his set-up. I don't think he's ever found a new guitar he didn't have to re-cut the nut and bridge saddles, and totally rework the frets and fingerboard. When he's done, the FB is like glass, the action/intonation and string/pick-up balance is perfect and it plays like a dream.
Post Number: 1349
|Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 7:04 am: |
Another in an endless line of stupid questions, from the ridiculous to the sublime:
What is the difference between an "Activator" and a "Pick-up"?
Post Number: 2144
|Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2005 - 7:24 am: |
When you buy an "Alembic Activator" package this includes Pick-ups PLUS the electronics. For instance, I bought an Alembic Activator package about 10 years ago and it was a "PJ/V-B-F-Q"* setup.
*okokok : Precision - Jazzbass/Volume-Balance - Filter - Q switch