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I recently bought my first stratocaster and after messing around with the heights of the pickups I've been having problems getting all three pickups to have the same volume.

I'm having trouble finding the sweet spot between equal volume & acceptable treble levels. As soon as I move the pickups closer to the strings the treble becomes quite problematic. Moving them further away results in a weaker and muddier sound.

Are there any best practices / commonly accepted rules on how single-coil pickups should be set as far as volume is concerned?

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How to make better tone? / Pickup height secret!

1.3k upvote/45 downvote

Basically start at 2-3mm gap on bass side; 2mm gap on treble side.

ADDDENDUM ....

FENDER SAYS:

Set too high, pickups can cause myriad inexplicable phenomena. Depress all the strings at the last fret. Using a 6" (150 mm) ruler, measure the distance from the bottom of the first and sixth strings to the top of the pole piece. A good rule of thumb is that the distance should be greatest at the sixth-string neck pickup position, and closest at the first-string bridge pickup position. Follow the measurement guidelines in the chart below as starting points. The distance will vary according to the amount of magnetic pull from the pickup.

Bass Side Treble Side

Texas Specials 8/64" (3.2 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)

Vintage style 6/64" (2.4 mm) 5/64" (2 mm)

Noiseless™ Series 8/64" (3.2 mm) 6/64" (2.4 mm)

Standard Single-Coil 5/64" (2 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)

Humbuckers 4/64" (1.6 mm) 4/64" (1.6 mm)

Lace Sensors As close as desired (allowing for string vibration)

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    I’ve had problems with the middle pickup being too close to the strings for my picking style. I need more than 2mm on the treble side. Point being, this is good starting guidance but each player should work to figure out what is best for them. – Todd Wilcox Aug 15 at 3:24
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I've always thought Strats sound best with a good gap. Too close & you can really hear the magnets getting in the way; strings will over-pitch more if you get too close at the low end - you hear the pitch fall slightly after the initial attack.

I've always gone with "If it falls off the thread you went half a turn too far, otherwise you're good to go" at the bass side. I balance the treble up to "same volume, by ear" after that.

Pretty much what the guy in the video on Randy's answer does, though I'd go even further. The further back, the sweeter it gets.
I do use heavy strings though, 10 - 52. I'd guess if you use skinny strings, you'd need to come a bit closer.

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