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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Setup for Great Action

Step 5: Pickup Height

Pickup height is something that varies widely between guitarists. Overall you want to get the pickup as close to the string as possible without causing a lack of clarity and excess magnetic pull on the string. Too far away and the pickup will lose it's high output. I don't think many JEM users want low output pickups. Too close to the strings and the sound will lose clarity and the guitar can lose sustain, as the magnetic pull from the pickups slows the vibrating string. Loss of note clarity can be enhanced by low action due to slight buzzing but since you've all followed the above steps, this is not likely.

I always measure string clearance height off the pickup when the string is fretted at the 24th fret. This is so you can visualize clearance of the string when it's being played or fretted. I have all my JEMs set different in regard to pickup height, sometimes you can go strictly by ear, but should never be too close. The Evolution pickups are high output, so you can lower them a bit for sure and still get lots of crunch.

Pickup height is for much more than just getting high output. It is very useful for balancing the volume levels between the low wound strings and the plain steel strings high strings. Also you can get a more balanced 5-way sound by lowering the neck and middle pickups and raising the middle pickup to keep volume levels consistent between all pickup configurations. I don't do this however, as I prefer a slight volume drop in positions 2-3-4.

Step By Step: Tremolo Bridge Height Adjustment

Tools Needed

  • Small Flathead screwdriver for neck/bridge pickups
  • Small Phillips-head screwdriver for middle pickup


  1. Adjust the pickup height as necessary
    • Lower the pickups - loosen the pickup attachment screws by turning each screw counterclockwise
    • Raise the pickups - tighten the pickup attachment screws by turning each screw clockwise
  2. When finished jam out on your guitar!!!


  • Neck pickup - 1.6 to 2.0 mm minimum clearance between the string and pickup when the string is depressed at fret 24
  • Middle pickup - 1.6 to 2.0 mm minimum clearance when fret 24 is depressed
  • Bridge pickup: - 1.6 to 2.0 mm minimum clearance when fret 24 is depressed

Summary - Step 5
Setup the pickups to your personal preference. I like to use it to balance volume between low and high strings in addition t volume levels between different pickup combos on the 5-way switch. It is probably a good idea to not get them any closer to the strings than the reference measurements, but it's your guitar. Unless you're real anal and have loads of free time, don't bother with adjusting the individual pole pieces. Go by your ears.
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