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Thread: LP Pup Heights

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    LP Pup Heights

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    Hey everyone with a Les Paul. I have a "76 Blond LP Custom. I use 9's and I originally set it up for those many years ago. A couple of questions please:

    1. What do you set your pup heights to? I have always had mine set at 3/32" for the neck and 1/16" for the bridge. Those measurements are for both the bass and treble sides.

    2. Of late......my high E string (and occasionally / rarely my B string) have developed a slight "rattle" when played both open and fretted. It seems to happen no matter where they're fretted and no matter the velocity of the strum / pick. Raising the string heights doesn't change it either.....so it's not fret noise. Can this be from a worn nut or bridge saddle? I've never changed the nut or any bridge component in 43 years. This guitar is by no measure extremely used........but who knows what that means right?

    Your help is welcome.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    If it happens when you fret a note, then it can't involve the nut in any way.

    Does the noise get amplified? If not, then its mechanical rattling which means you might have a loose part somewhere (bridge, pickup cover, switch, knob, etc) that is vibrating at the string's frequency.

    If its in a pickup, then you might hear it through an amp. Are they wax potted? Checked the pole screws?

    As for heights, 1/16 and 3/32 are the recommended starting points, but you can adjust based on your preferences.

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    Thanks TalismanRich. The noise does get amplified but I think I can hear it un-amped as well. Not 100% sure about that. As I mentioned....it's not a loud rattle.....but more of a low volume subtle rattle. I do think it could be a sympathetic vibration as you suggest. I'll check out the pickups. How about the bridge? Could the saddle for the high E and maybe the B string be worn? I know....grasping at straws here.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    Can you film it on your phone and post it?
    There are a ton of noises.

    An easy way to check a worn nut is fret the 3rd string, then tap behind it on the 1st fret. There should be a very small gap and you'll hear a ping. If so it's good still. What type of bridge is it, tune-o-matic? Maybe tighten any part you can on that. My guess is it's a high fret. Many times raising the action won't matter if it's just one high fret. Use a fret rocker (or if you don't have one something flatish like a credit card) and fret rock them all.

    Also check your relief. It's summer so things move...if you developed a backbow the strings could be hitting on that curve. If it's only two strings it could be warped to that side, too. I think both are unlikely, but I'd look for them. If you film it it would be easier to figure out. I'd use .10s on a LP because the short scale makes them feel like .9s. That lack of tension could be resulting in the strings hitting frets, too.

    As to pickup height. It's preference. I like mine really low like 4mm from the strings with humbuckers. Since the bridge is bright I sometimes lower that more. You have to do all that by ear and it varies guitar to guitar, but I find this setup pleasing and less harsh pick attack. It does lack power but you can just turn up the amp. Pickup height shouldn't cause this issue you're describing, tho.
    Last edited by Nola; 07-27-2019 at 14:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickster View Post
    1. What do you set your pup heights to? I have always had mine set at 3/32" for the neck and 1/16" for the bridge. Those measurements are for both the bass and treble sides.
    That seems pretty low....but how do you measure that?
    Is that with the strings fretted...and at what fret...or is that without fretting them?

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    Hey miro.....that's with the strings fretted at the last fret.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickster View Post
    Hey miro.....that's with the strings fretted at the last fret.
    Oh...ok.
    I measure mine differently than that. I have a set height that I do with no strings fretted, which is derived after setting the action height, again, no strings fretted.
    There's a small ruler I use where the two heights are marked, for action and pups...and then I just do a small deviation for each pup. Been using it for years.
    I just find it less awkward then trying to fret and measure....so I found my correct height, and then marked on the ruler with no strings fretted.

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    Simple general formulas for buzz type noises

    1) low nut= buzz at the first fret
    Solution: Replace or shim nut or add more relief

    2) buzzes from the nut to appx 5th fret
    Solution: Add relief (loosen truss rod)

    3) buzzes at certain locations= high fret (s)
    Solution Fret dress or refret
    4) buzzes all over = action too low
    Solution raise action....or use heavier strings.....or.......

    In scenario 4 your bridge saddles could be shot. All Norlin era guitars used a Nashville tunamatic, they're made out of potmetal. The saddles can wear out to where your string is rattling in the saddle groove itself.
    They way to check this is to fret the very last fret. The string won't be hitting anything unless your pups are too high

    Another issue with a Nashville bridge is the body starts to collapse under years of tension.
    This condition however usually involves your D and G strings being too low. The bridge is collapsing fron a 12 inch radius to a 13 or 14.

    As to pickup heights, I don't follow any particular measurement. Pup height adjustment is done to taste by ear.
    You'll generally find though, that them being lower gives more articulation.

    Not seeing an instument in person makes it hard to accurately diagnose what's causing your problems. So don't be shy about taking it to a good repair person.
    30 seconds of looking at a guitar will reveal more than all the typing in the world will.
    But the earlier formulas will get you started.
    Hope this is of some help.

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    Thanks RFR. Last night I put an 011 B string in the high E position and.......yup......the rattle / buzz went away. Guess it's time to replace the bridge. I know I can replace the saddles but why take a chance? Do you agree?

    About the Norlin era Gibsons. Maybe you can fill me in. I've been told several things over the years. One thing I've heard that seems to be fairly consistent is that standard LP's of that era were not affected / changed much and that most of them were fine. I'm told that Norlin tried to alter some Gibson models and create new ones that were not popular. Apparently there were some 3 piece necks that were horrible? As I said....I'm no expert so can you elaborate maybe?

    As you can probably guess by now.....I love my '76. What a neck!! And what tone!! Until now the only issue I think I've faced is some fret wear and now this bridge problem.
    Just A Song Writer..........

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    @Mickster Norlins are hit and miss.
    Some good, some crap. But usually after they've had an owner for a while the bugs have been worked out.
    I have a 76 deluxe I'm fond of and it's a good guitar.

    Now, your 76 should be like the others, 3 piece neck with a smallish volute, and pancake body. Being a custom, you just don't see it.
    My only complaint with 70s les pauls (like so many other people ) is the weight.
    Its just not very comfortable after you've strapped it on for a few hour rehearsal or gig.

    Replacing saddles on a nashville is a royal PIA. The clips are a nightmare.
    Better to just get a tone pros nashville replacement and stick the original in the case for originality.

    Do the intonation, set action and you're good to go.
    Last edited by RFR; 07-28-2019 at 18:20.

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