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Looking for answers to this question , I found hundreds of discussions of the importance of magnet pole height / closeness with regard to the strings ( fairly obviously , close if you want it loud but not too close) but nothing about how close to the strings the coils themselves should be or the difference that changing coil distance makes on tone and volume. It seems it should be equally important , or more so. If you have adjustable polepieces and have moved the magnets as near the strings as you feel able without choking the vibrations , you could still increase (or decrease) output and alter tonal characteristics by changing their relative position.

marked as duplicate by Doktor Mayhem Feb 1 '18 at 19:08

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  • Not so sure about the "duplicate". The poster asked about the influence of the the height of the pole pieces w.r.t to the tone; not the distance of the pickup as total. Maybe a clarification of the original question might help. – cherub Feb 2 '18 at 13:41

It doesn't really matter. The coils produce voltage according to the magnetic flux changes through them, and the magnetic circuits are closed highly magnetically conductive material except for the part completed by poles and strings and the air between them. Just where on the closed part of the magnetic circuit the pickup coil sits is irrelevant.

  • But the theory as I read it says that the magnets affect the magnetism of the strings through their lines of flux , and the movement of the magnetised string creates varying flux through the coil which in turn produces a voltage. So that is the strings affecting the coils across the air gap rather than disturbing the flux within the body of the magnet. So the flux changes around the coil would be greater if the coil was nearer to the moving string. Or have I got that wrong? – Oli Senior Feb 1 '18 at 15:16

There are some sources that investigate the effect of different heights, strengths and string material when it comes to measuring the effect on the tone and volume [most namely M.Zollner "Die Physik der Elektrogitarre", although it's in German]. The relative positioning of the coil and and the magnets/the strings does not change anything in terms of physics. It's all about the change of magnetic flux inside the coil that will induce a voltage across the ends of the coil. The somewhat complex damping factors w.r.t to the input frequency relative to the output frequency are not affected. But in order to gain the same volume at a greater distance to strings [-- the same magnitude of the voltage oscillation at the coil ends] you'll probably need stronger magnets, which then will have a kind of feedback to the string oscillation, due to the stronger magnetic field strength.

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