How to adjust the string and pickup height

Pictures of David’s Black Strat and the new Signature models seems to stir up some confusion regarding what the correct string and pickup height might be. I get a lot of questions about this so I’ll try to clear up some misconceptions.

If you look closely at David’s Black Strat or the new Signatures you’ll see that his pickups appears to have been set fairly low. The neck pickup is barely above the pickguard and the middle and bridge pickups seem to be lower than what’s recommended by Fender. The reason for this is that David’s pickguard is .120 of an inch, which is roughly twice as thick as the 1-ply plates on 50s Strats and slightly thicker than the 3-plys featured on 70’s models and newer. In other words, – using David’s setup as a reference for your 50’s Strat with a thin 1-ply plate may give you a completely different result than what you intended. - pickupsKeep in mind that David might prefer a slightly different setup than what you’re used to or prefer. In an interview with Guitarist magazine (June 1986) he reveals: “I often have the nuts lowered on my guitars, because I like the action as low as possible without buzzes and rattles“. As a rule, the pickup height is fixed to the string height but within this rule, there are many nuances based to personal taste, playing style and how you want the pickups to interact with the effects and amp. David also have different pickups on his Black Strat with different output that requires slightly different height. Personally I prefer the action a bit higher than what’s recommended.

String height
Fender recommends that on a vintage style neck with a 7.25” radius, the bass strings should be 2mm off the neck (about 5/64 inch) and the treble strings 1.6mm (about 4/64 inch). Tune to pitch and measure the height between each string and the fret (not wood) on the 17th fret. Adjust the height if needed by fine tuning the height on each bridge sadle. This setup might be too low for some but it’s a good starting point for making your own adjustments. Do one string at a time and be sure to retune it between each adjustment so that you’ll see and feel the correct height. Here’s a tutorial showing the proceedure. - pickupsHaving the strings too low might cause some fret buzz (this might also be caused by worn frets or a curved neck, or lack of curve) and you might find it hard to do bends etc. An action that’s too high might make it hard to play properly and the strings might also ring and vibrate too much. Find the setup that you’re comfortable with.

Every now and then you need to check the curvature of the neck. Inside each neck there’s a metal bar – the truss rod. This makes sure that the neck has the right preasure and curve. If this is out of balance you’ll get bad intonation and fret buzz. This is common and caused by temeprature changes, humidity, presure changes (going from 09 to 010 adds about 6 kilos to your neck) and it’s easy to adjust. Here’s a tutorial showing the proceedure.

Pickup height
Fender recommends that vintage style pickups (CS54, Fat 50s, CS69, SSL1, SSL5 etc) should be set slightly tilted with 2.4mm between the pole piece and the bass strings and 2mm between the pole piece and the treble strings. Measure the height by pushing down the strings on the very last fret next to the body.

However, this method only works if you prefer the standard string height suggested by Fender. If you want a higher action the only way to set the correct pickup height is to use your ears. Too low and you’ll loose much of the lower frequencies and attack. Too high and the tone gets too boomy and slightly “punctured” like you’ve added too much compression. You’ll also notice ringing overtones caused by magnetic interference.

When you’ve found the sweetspot, you need to balance the output volume between all three pickups. Use a clean tone on your amp and switch between all pickups until you’ve matched the volume. Be careful that you don’t loose your self here and adjust the height too much and need to start all over again.

60 thoughts on “How to adjust the string and pickup height”

  1. Hi folks, used to be on this forum some years back and nice to rediscover it. On the subject of black strat pickguars and thickness – does any one know where you can buy the bevelled edge gloss black pickguard that is on Dave’s blackie? I’ve searched for a while but nothing other than standard black 1 ply’s that down have that shape or gloss shine. I’m based in the UK.

    1. Christopher Dees

      OverDrive Custom Guitar Works had been a parts source for me during my build, including the elusive RWRP SSL-1 DG. The pickup is awesome and the website is also very informative like Bjorns’s. Specifically in regards to the pickguard, YES. They are in the states, so you will have to deal with customs, but it is the nicest I’ve found. I order stuff from your side of the pond periodically, including recently from phil robinson and northwest guitars. If allowed, Ill post a direct link to the part, however a quick google search reference the above is a more polite way to handle it me thinks.

      1. I would like to try the parts from OverDrive Custom guitar works. But sadly they are not shipping to germany right now due to Covid restrictions.

  2. Philip Tamimi-Sarnikowski

    Hej Bjorn

    I noticed in some of your demo videos, that your string bending on your (black mij strat with the rosewood neck), seems incredibly easy. Is there any trick to making string bending easier, mine seem quite tight compared to what i see in your videos. I can imagine it is a combination of many things, but maybe you could give me some ideas on how to achieve a better setup. I own a fender strat, with a 21 fret 9.5 C profile neck, and it has medium jumbo fret size. :) Let me know if you need any more info, to make a proper assesment. Thank you in advance !


    1. Hm… difficult question. I think it’s a matter of comfort and the guitar being set up to match your preferences. I don’t notice any difference between my black Strat and my other guitars but I spend a lot of time making sure they’re all perefctly setup when I’m recording and playing. Make sure that your neck isn’t curved, that all strings has the same height to the neck and that the bridge is balanced and doesn’t feel too loose or too tight. Hope this helped.

      1. Philip Tamimi-Sarnikowski

        I realise the question is kind of impossible to answer, since it is truly a combination of many things :) I own both a strat and a PRS se 22 semi-hollow, and there is a huge difference in how easy it is to bend. I did notice a curve on my strat neck, so i might need to readjust the truss rod, and set the strings a tad higher. Thanks for the tips :)

    2. One hint: The tighter your tremolo is set, the more difficult you will find it to do big bends. Step-and-half and two-step bends get comparatively very difficult with a blocked trem. Float your trem and try two springs only.

  3. Hi Bjorn,

    My strat is scheduled to go into a local guitar tech here in a week or so for a full set up and cavity shielding. I was wondering if you could share with me how you get your black strat set up (string heights, etc). I have a Jimmie Vaughan Strat – V shaped maple neck with 9.5 radius. Pick up include fender custom shop 69’s in middle and neck and a seymour duncan ssl-5 in the bridge. Thanks!

    1. What do you want to know? I like the neck dead straight, the strings high enough to avoid fret buzz when I bend and the pickups set accordingly, with about 2mm on the treble side and 2.2mm on the bass side (when holding down the strings on the last fret). The bridge is flush with the body, with the claw screws tight and the four middle plate screws loosened half a turn. Keep in mind that this is what suits my guitar and my playing style. You might find this to be way off for your guitar and taste.

      1. Hey bjorn,

        Ive had 2 cs 69’s and a SDSSL-1cDG installed on my American strat for a couple of months now. Really diggin em, they sound very clear and open to my ears, like a sonic film was taken off. Anyways, I’ve heard a few people recommend having 5 springs in the back for those 69s, that it makes them sound even better. I use 3 springs and before I go buy more to test the theory, I was wondering if you’ve experimented with this and what we’re your thoughts?

  4. Hello Bjørn,
    I´d like to add a point to all the good tips and discussion above: remember to adjust your pickups to the output of your main amplifier, i.e. the one you use for recording or at a gig. In other words, if you normally use a smaller amp for rehearsal/bedroom practice and you adjust the pickup height to this amp, well, do not expect they will sound right when you`ll then plug your guitar into a cranked 50 or 100 watt beast! Maybe it works okay for some, definitively not for me, and the devil is in the details….. Glad to hear your view on this. Cheers, Marcello

    [Good point. Although I think the difference is minimal you should at least be aware that pickups and their height will sound different from amp to amp. I also recommend to consider using different pickups live and at home. Hotter pickups will compensate for the tone loss you get on low volume. – Bjorn]

  5. I have spent much of my time trying to figure out the pickup height on the Black Strat. I wrote Fender and they confirmed the data mentioned by stephenc (above in the comments). However, I can only warn everyone to go by these measurements. The pickups are MUCH too close to the strings if you set it up like Fender recommends. (Or I have a problem calculating from inches to millimeters). But just look at the recommended space between the high e-string and the pole piece on the neck pickup: It’s 1/64 of an inch – that’s (according to my maths) 0,39 millimeters (fretted at the last fret). Believe me – when you hit the string then, it’s almost touching the pole piece of the pickup.
    Well, finally, what I did is: I adjusted the pickups to what my ears tell me (much, much, much lower than what’s recommended). Finally, I have watched many videos on youtube (for example this one: ) and in some scenes you can clearly see that David Gilmour’s pickups are set much lower than what’s recommended by Fender. The middle pickup is also set even or if anything the treble side of the pickup seems to be lower than the bass side and the middle pickup is very, very low. Thing is: When I adjust the pickup similarly, suddenly the middle position (bridge and middle) sounds very spacy, open. And funnily, the volume drop is less noticeable than with the middle pickup much higher.
    Well, I could go on for hours … but I just want to warn anyone: Before you keep your pickups the way they are set or recommended on your Black Strats, try to lower them considerably and see what the guitar sounds like. With my Black Strat – suddenly it has much more sustain, and more natural harmonics – it’s a totally different guitar now. I always felt that when playing my Black NOS without the amp, the sound of the guitar is tremendous. When I plugged it into the amp, the magic was los. The strings were apparently so close to the pole pieces before I lowered the pickups, that they were held too tight by the magnets and couldn’t vibrate freely.
    I wish I had had the guts to do my own set up of the pickups earlier. But I always thought: If this it what Fender recommends, they must be right. Believe me, they are not! The videos of David Gilmour playing his Black Strat are a proof of that – might be that his string action is lower than what most of us prefer – but we’re talking about nuances here!

    [Indeed. Thanks for your post, Joerch. You should never set the action and pickup height based on a schematic, recommendation, picture or whatever. Action and how the strings are affected by the pickup magnets, is very individual and it all depends on your playing style and ultimately what tones you want. Obviously, having them too close or too far away will cause some problems but within a usable measurement there are lots of different way to set them up. I don’t think David’s using that low action. If fact, from what I can see, it looks pretty standard with about 2.5mm off at the bass side and 2mm off at the treble side… aprox anyway. Keep in mind too that his pickguard is slightly thicker than normal so a picture can fool your eyes. As you’ve discovered, the slightest adjustment can make a huge difference and either make your pickups sound too dark or too bright or just very dynamic and open. Cheers! – Bjorn]

    1. Hi Bjorn,
      When you wrote about David’s action being about 2-2.5mm, at which fret would that be?
      Thanks in advance,

      1. Fender recommends 2mm on the treble side and 2.5mm on the bass side. Push down the strings on the last fret and measure the height between the string and pole piece on the pickups.

  6. Hi Bjorn – this afternoon, I finished modifying my 2012 American Standard swapping out the neck and bridge p/up’s with Custom Shop ’69 / SD SSL-5 respectively. Using 0.10 gauge strings and a slightly higher action (which I prefer). It took a while to get used to the warmer tones of the SSL-5 but after a few tweaks and using StephenC’s guide above re. pick-up heights, I was able to dial-in the sound I love.

    Thanks so much – this forum has been a HUGE help!


    [Glad to hear! Congrats! – Bjorn]

  7. Hi Bjorn, I was going to commend on the Guitar’s guide but there’s no comments there.

    First of, congratulations for this site, that’s an amazing source of information!

    I think it would be nice if you update your guitar guide to inform that the Stratocaster 2012 American Standard is comming with the fat ’50s custom shop, I’ve got one and they sound really nice.

    Also I would like to know what are the disadvantages of the 2-point synchronized bridge, should I consider replacing it with the 6-point one?

    Thanks a lot!

    [Thanks for your kind words, Flavio! I’m working on updating the Buyer’s Guide and hope to have them finished soon. A lot of research… :) How you want the bridge depends on what you’re used to I guess. I prefer to do my own setups but for someone who doesn’t I think the 2-point would be a better choice. The idea is that the 6-point vintage setup is very sensitive to wild tremolo operation. If you do a lot of those Hendrix whammy kind of stuff the system will easily get out of tune because it nearly impossible for all the six screws to get back into place. A 2-point is much more stable and the designs are based on the Floyd Rose system which is very stable. So why aren’t all Fenders equipped with this? Again, it comes down to preference. – Bjorn]

  8. I found this information online at

    Custom Shop Gilmour Signature Strat Setup Info


    Just thought some of you owners or folks building there own Gilmour Replica Strat would find this setup info useful. It was provided to me directly by Mike Eldred from Fender’s Custom Shop. Enjoy:

    We are setting the Gilmour’s up to David’s spec…at the time. That means that weather, shipping, store personnel, etc., will influence the specs.
    Low E 5/64
    A 4/64
    D 4/64
    G 4/64
    B 4/64
    E 5/64 that is measured at the 15th fret.

    There is about .008 or.009 under bow.

    The bridge is not as pitched as stock; it is only 3/64 off of the body measured at the front of the angled part
    that holds the intonation screws.
    Fretted at the 21st fret the PU’s are:

    L.E. 6/64
    H.E 1/64

    L.E. 6/64
    H.E. 5/64

    L.E. 5/64
    H.E. 2/64…you have to lower some of the PU’s depending on the

    Hope this helps,


    Pretty interesting.

    [Cool! Thanks! – Bjorn]

  9. Hi Bjorn,
    Not sure if you can help me on this, but here it is anyway:

    I have a CIJ Strat with synchronized trem. I bought it second hand a few months ago and it came with bridge flat on the body. The trem bridge worked fine, but left hand bends were really hard to do. Took the guitar to a tech shop here in Melbourne for new strings setup and intonation. I was recommended to leave the bridge flat to keep tuning stability and so I did. Got the tech to install Gilmour’s GHS strings and lower the action a bit. The guitar sounds fine, the trem works, no buzzing and keeps tuning. However, when I try to make bends as in Time or Shine On intro I really struggle to bend the strings a full tone. Bettern than before but still feels like I need The Hulk’s strength … especially on the first frets.
    I am new to electrics and have mostly a nylon classic background. I would have expected to be on the heavy handed side of things with electrics.
    Would it help to have the bridge floating a bit? Would it make bends easier?
    I read somewhere here that Gilmour keeps the bridge flat all the way down. How can he manage to bend that easily? Is it a matter of finger technique/strength or guitar setup?
    I know there are too many elements in the equation so I hope this is not an impossible question.
    Cheers and thanks anyway for your great tips!

    [It’s mainly a matter of technique and strength but also the setup it self. Having the bridge flat on the body will make it tighter. How many springs do you use? I recommend 3. I also recommend that you keep the bridge slightly off the body… 2-3mm. Tighten the two outer screws on the bridge plate all the way down and loosen the four middle screws by a quarter of a turn. Adjust the springs in the back so that the bridge is floating by 2-3mm. This will make it easier to do bends and it will also help your guitar stay in tune even better than keeping it flat. – Bjorn]

  10. hi mate got a candy apple red strat with emg pickups if i set the pickups to high as emg recomend i get nasty overtones on low e string when overdriven any suggestions ….thanks

    [I don’t really have that much experience with the EMGs. You should always trust your ears. The setups recommended by guitar and pickup makers are just guidelines and a default setup but there’s always nuances based on the individual guitar, strings and your style and technique. It’s always wise to start with the recommended setup and then go from there. Be careful though and don’t wander too far off the suggested setup. – Bjorn]

  11. One correction to the otherwise great article: AlNiCo II (2) is less magnetic than AlNiCo V (5) (or these rarer varieties: AlNiCo III (3), AlNiCo IV (4), AlNiCo VI (6), AlNiCo VIII (8) or ceramic) and therefore makes for a less powerful pickup, so AlNiCo II needs to be (or rather it should be) set closer to strings.

    [Thanks! – Bjorn]

  12. Also,
    How is the airbag’s cd and tour thing going on???/

    Liking it???
    I really hope u r and get big time success with your hard work

    [The album is going very well! We’re receiving great reviews almost every day and we’re enjoying it very much! We’re not touring or playing that many shows to support the album because we’re already working on the next album but we’ll be playing a couple of shows this autumn and one or two in Europe early next year. News will be posted on our website. Thanks! – Bjorn]

  13. Hey Bjorn,

    Well u said tht the string height David uses is higher than usualsl for all the bending…..but here in the reference to the guitar magazine interview,he said he prefers low action….i m confused……
    Help brother…..And i m gonna be playing time in like 20 days for an audience of around 100+ people…wish luck …hope they don’t boo me oof the stage….

    [I said that as an example. Perhaps easy to misunderstand but the quote from the interview, although a bit old, tells how David prefers his action. My point was that you should always set your guitar up based on what’s recommended for your model, then do your own adjustments. Doesn’t really matter what David or anyone else prefer if it doesn’t suit your guitar or playing. Good luck with the gig! – Bjorn]

  14. Hi Bjorn!

    Thank you for these articles about guitar maintenance. They have helped me immensely when setting up my Stratocaster.

    I play a 50’s Classic Player Stratocaster and had problems at first because the bass strings were too boomy and the higher strings were too piercing when I really went for the top notes in some solos. Have now adjusted the bridge saddles for an overall softer sound but with a fair amount of punch so there is no trace of the sound issues I used to get.

    Many thanks for the great site again and for Airbag as well. Love the Identity album and I hope there may be some UK gigs in the near future.

    Take care :)

    [Thanks Chris! Glad you find the site useful! Thanks for supporting Airbag as well :) Cheers! – Bjorn]

  15. hi
    wonderful article, i have just finished my own black strat , based on a 90,s mexican strat , it has a c shaped maple neck , vintage frets,and is very close to the neck used on the custom shop version, i used 2 cs69 pups, 1 in neck position, 1 in middle , and a ssl-5 in bridge, i also have completly stripped finish on both body and neck , and refinished in nitro,fully shielded and added mini toggle switch, and a callaham vintage bridge with short tremelo (which i prefer).
    your site has been a wealth of info , which helped me .
    i am vey pleased with my guitar , it sound fantastic, however 1 thing is bugging me , i get string buzz on g sting between 5th and 9th positions when i dig in hard , had neck levelled and recrowned by a tech, this only happens on g string , and only when i play note hard, is this normal, as it is driving me mad


    [Sounds like a very cool guitar! I think you need to expect some fret buzz. This is wood and wood isn’t perfect and there will always be some tension and misbalance. The neck and string height can be fine tuned by adjusting the trus rod, filing the frets (or replacing the frets if needed), making sure that the saddle slots on the headstock isn’t too deep and by adjusting the height of the bridge/bridge saddles. – Bjorn]

  16. Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for the great site !
    I just received my CS Fender NOS Gilmour Strat, It’s my first custom shop ever and I can tell that I’m not impressed at all with the factory setup of the guitar. Even if this is a hand made guitar. My main concern is about the pickup height. They are too close of the strings (1-2mm) and produce warbling sound (stratitis). I have now raised the pickups and the sound is way better. But the pickups looks to me very low to me, almost at the pickguard level.

    I’m just wondering if you have a close up photograph of the original black strat pickup ?

    Thanks !

    [Congratulations Chris! I don’t think you should pay much attention to whether the factory setup is perfect or not… even if it’s a custom shop. If it is it’s a bonus but a good rule is to give the guitar some time, play with it and get the feel and then make the required adjustments to fit your style and playing. Keep in mind that David’s pickguard is thicker than the normal 3-plys so the pickups will be closer to it. David’s neck pickup is barely off teh plate. The important thing here is to find the right balance between the string action you prefer and the distance bwteeen the pickups and the strings. Adjust the strings first, then – if needed – adjust the pickups. Hope this helped. – Bjorn]

  17. Hi Bjorn. Your site is wonderfull and your band is really good to. I have a question. I just bought a set of two ssl-1 for neck and middle position and a ssl-5 for bridge position. How high should I set them. I tried with the suggested hight but it is just not working. Thank you for the answer and for the great job you are doing with your music and with this site.

    [Thanks for your kind words! I don’t have much to add over what’s in the article. I think you just need to find the height and string action that suits your playing. I’d set the string action first, then adjust the pickups. Start with the suggested measurements and do small adjustments until you find the right setup for you. I can’t be more specific than that I’m afraid. – Bjorn]

  18. You got it my friend,static hum,grounding i suppose, to be honest i dont think theres any grounding in the house apart from the kitchen hehe,old place in stockholm. Absolutley the main problem is going to be my technique thats a given,as for to many gain effects definantly not…..YET….,in chain dyna comp, rat, maxon 808, electric mistress delux, and dd20,as i improve day by day more pedals are on the way hehe. i have a few others but not using them so no need to be on the board at this time.things are gona change once the tube amp arrives thats another given hehe.Im gonna get some shielding for the inside,thats gotta be easy enough for a DIY job.i will have to make the effort to dive over to norway and catch a show of yours,perhaps we will take a beer one day,that if you dont leave straight after the show in a blacked out ambulance,but in the meantime many thanks for your online time bjorn.whats the next in depth song on the agenda,they make great reading.

    [Cheers Dave! The next article will be Time. Hope to see you at one of our shows :) – Bjorn]

  19. blimey thats quick have i caught you online bjorn hehe,okay the noise,to be honest i only have to touch the string lighty and i mean lightly and i get a clicking noise,i literally just brush my finger on the top of the string not playing a chord or holding a note and i get the noise,its as if its all to sensetive if you can get what i mean,is this right mate…….cheers

    [Hmm… sort of a static hum? Like a radio buzz? Does it appear on clean tones as well? Sound very much a ground fault. If it’s only on distortions and higher gain effects you need to roll the gain off on your pedals. Try turning off the compressor or use milder settings on everything. Make sure that you use the clean channel on your amp and don’t combine too many overdrives, distortions, EQs and compressors at once. – Bjorn]

  20. hey bjorn hows things,im with what MRK says about the release of a bend and the noise,im getting unwanted notes,infact unwanted noise,well im the master i recon,with the distortion its magnified to the extreme,is raising the action thus taking the string further away from the pickup the answer,well a help, or could i try to keep a low action and lower the pickups,or am i wrong in my thinking,but to me it sounds logical am i up for some 69s soon so that will be a set up from the shop as my strat must be a mess as ive messed about with it without a clue to what im doing really,its a learning curve.any advice is most welcome

    [What kind of noise are we talking about her? Fret buzz is caused by strings that are too close to the neck. You will experience some fret buzz when you press down the strings for a chord or note but it should be minimal and there should be no buzz at all when the strings are open. Some guitarists like their action just above buzzing while others like it much higher. I’m somewhere between with the treble strings quite high and the bass strings barely off the neck, which is kind of the opposite of what’s normally recommended. If you get noise from touching the other strings when you play, if you slip a string or something like that, then it’s a matter of technique and practice. Finding the right action is crucial for both the tone and playing. As I’ve said before you must also make sure that the neck isn’t bent or that there’s anything wrong with the frets. If you think it is or if you see any evidence of this you need to take the guitar to a tech and let him look at it. It’s a pretty easy job to adjust it. – Bjorn]

  21. hey bjorn, great article, just wondering, i just set up my strat, and alot of times when i release a bend, the strings above the string i’m bending are noisy at the release, now obiviously its because i’m touching them, but does string height affect this, is there something i can do with the height to correct it, or do i need to refine the way i bend??? thanks for your input…

    [It might be the way you bend the strings but more likely that the action is too low. Try heightening the strings a little and see if it helps. Make sure that the neck is straight too. – Bjorn]

  22. Hi Bjorn, this is just to inform you that the pickup height setting on my immaculated Fender custom Shop DG NOS is really different.
    I don’t have a thickness-meter (horrible translation for the italian “spessimetro”, the tool used to precisely measure very small distances), but what I can see is that for the 1st (treble) string the height is about 1 mm for both the neck and bridge pickup (the height for the middle pickup is higher), while for the 6th (bass) string we are at about 2.9 mm. This last is measured with a caliber, but take into account that this tool is not ideal since strings bends,
    All these with string pressed on the last fret.
    As you see these are different from the recommended Fender setting…
    I think gdkzen is right, Fender recommended setting is just a guideline, too many variables to be taken into account.

    Thanks for the great article,

    [Yes, it’s a guideline and so is the factory set up on the guitars. The setup on the DG Strat is probably not how David has his setup and I recommend that you make your own adjustments to fit your preferences and style. – Bjorn]

  23. hi friend
    i sent 2 pics of my equipment weeks ago.
    the large rack inspired at gilmour’ one
    i wouldl ike to know if you got it and if you like to show in the page.
    thanks a lot

    [Sorry for the delay. I’ll update the gallery this weekend. – Bjorn]

  24. Just a note – I saw a decent number of DG strats on ebay- many under list price if anyone is interested – I was just curious since I have my own custom assembled but I looked at a “relic” at Guitar Center and it was quite nice, but looks like fair value for a “new” NOS may be around $2500-$3000 on ebay which is under retail…a decent scoop under $3,000 for those who waited I guess – Happy Holidays!!!

  25. I agree with frank it sounded brillinat!!! Can you tell us you set up for that song? And, why not a Bjornish webpage?
    cheers mate and thake care.

    [Thanks! There will be more about my Airbag setup on our site… It’s pretty basic – just the TD with delay adding the Large Beaver for leads and Vox wah wah. I think I’m using the Mistress on the opening chords as well. Please leave us a comment on the Airbag site… much appreciated! – Bjorn]

  26. Ok… I know it’s totally off-topic… but Bjorn, I’d love to hear your version of the opening to ‘Have a Cigar’ from the Animals tour.

    I keep listening to the version from the Oakland Coliseum in May ’77… I just love the edgy sound the intro has.

    Just a thought.


    [Thanks for the suggestion. – Bjorn]

  27. It is not the correct place to put this comment but….
    I listen and relisten to your Airbag Homesick_Live tune.
    Three words : A-MA-ZING !!
    Your chorus in the middle section, starting around 9 minutes is fantastic. Your tone, your feeling, your choice of notes, … Whaaoouu !! I can just imagine what great pleasure it would be to play like this live within a band which drive so well.
    David Gilmour might be jealous.
    You have a big Airbag fan in France.
    Have a nice and happy new year.

    [Thanks Franck! Glad you enjoy our music. Please leave a comment on our site too! Cheers! – Bjorn]

  28. Do you know where can I find the complete Brighton 1972 video? the one i got is only two songs. by the way the fenders sound very good in that gig.
    thxs mate.

    [I’m not it’s ever been available. The whole show was filmed but I’ve never seen anything on the bootleg market other than the two official releases, Careful and Set the Controls. – Bjorn]

  29. great site the info you provide is out of this world i have a pod xt live having trouble getting pulse era sounds any ideas cheers kc

    [Thanks! I don’t have much more than what’s already posted. Don’t really use the POD for Floyd stuff. Anyone else? – Bjorn]

  30. I looked close i reckon there are superverbs, I saw the video of that concert (giving the grapevine ) and the sound is pretty good, do you know more about that set up? I guess dave is using the fuzz face and the rare ´caused he is so atached to the hiwatts that you don´t belvie there are fenders.


    [He has always been known to experiment with his setups and the Brighton show was sort of a homecoming gig after the Japanese and US tour so it’s natural to think that he would have used the show as an opportunity to try different setups before they headed out on the second leg of the tour. You can see the WEMs under the Fenders but I don’t if these are hooked up to Hiwatts or the Fenders. He didn’t have a pedal board at this time but the effects included: Vox wah wah, Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, Colorsound Power Boost, Univox Univibe, DeArmond volume pedal and a Binson Echorec. – Bjorn]

  31. I was reading one of my old guitar player magazineS and I saw this pic with gilmour playing and in the back of him two fender amps (maybe twins) in stead of the web cabinets. Is the seame gig that you see on the dvd classic albums where the band is performing early dsotm tracks and set the controls of the heart of the sun.
    I dunno may be is just my imagination. LOL.

    [The picture is from Brighton in June 1972. David used two Fender Twin Reverb blackface amps. – Bjorn]

  32. Great research on this article. I never would have guessed about the pickguard thickness.

    I personally don’t think that Fender’s specs on pickup height have every been worth the ink they’re written in. There are so many variables that I just don’t think publishing a measurement works. You have to at least consider the gauge of the strings, the left and right hand habits of the player and the strength of the magnets in the pickup. Then you have the whole treble/bass balance issue.

    I’ve always found one thing to be more important than any others before you start making adjustments. Use an amp with the flattest response possible. I think that this is one of the few things that solid-state amps are great at.

    [The specs recommended by Fender is a good strating point but you should always make your own adjustments. – Bjorn]

  33. Hello Bjorn.

    I don’t know if this is of any interest, but I remember once reading that DG prefer very low action, just above the “fret buzz-limit”. He said this in an interview, but I can’t remember where I read it of course.

    Great article by the way. As usual! Cheers.


    [I would imagine that he prefered a higher action to be able to do all the bends but then again I’m only speculating. Let me know if you find the interview. Cheers! – Bjorn]

  34. Hi Bjorn

    Thanks for another great article.

    If i could add a small tip that might help others. I use 1.5 and 2.0 mm drillbits to set my string height and pup height spacings. The drillbits are glued into a small block of wood so that only the plain shaft is left visible. Much easier than using a ruler!

    Thanks again and seasons greetings Bjorn


    [Thanks for the input Paul! – Bjorn]

  35. Hi Bjorn

    The reason of placing pickups very low is pretty simple – lower then less hum, higher then more hum and stronger signal. I mean single coils. But there is similar story with humbackers too.



    [Well, yes… but you can also adjust the pickup height for different sounds. A properly shielded guitar shouldn’t give you any problems with noise. – Bjorn]

  36. Hey again

    I figured out the problem. I belive it was some of the cables and some other small stuff, but it’s all good now.

  37. Hi Bjorn

    I used to be able to turn up my volume and gain on the clean channel on my amp and it would barely break up, but now it distorts alot. what should i replace because i know something is wrong, and what do you recomend.


  38. I have built 2 Gilmour strats in the past year, and have struggled with his string height & pickup set-up on the black strat. This is mainly due to the fact that, yes, his pickplate is slightly thicker but mainly because his neck is so thin. I didn’t realize just how thin it was until I had the chance to try out an NOS version at one of our local guitar shops. The guitar is very light and oddly small, feeling not sure why. This automatically drops the string height and therfore the pickup heights. Gilmours actual pickup heights seem to be set lower than that of the custom shop version as it is set from the factoy.

    Really enjoy your site.


  39. Useful and informative article as always Bjorn, Thanks my friend!!!

    As for question on how to measure string height, you can use feeler gauges or as I do use a pick, I have a fair collection of different grades that cover the sort of heights needed (2mm > 2.5mm)



  40. Interesting article. These kinda things are so simple they slip my mind most of the time.
    One thing I’m wondering, has David changed his pickup height and his string height over the years so that it would effect the tone he might have on one recording to another? If that makes any sense.

    [I have no idea really. I guess he experiments with these things things as most guitarists but there’s very little info available on this matter. The Black Strat has had the same pickups since 1980 and there doesn’t seem to be much variation on the pickup height since then. The bridge and middle pickup was installed in 1972 and if you look at closeups of the guitar on the Pompeii DVD you can see that the original pickups were set much higher but then again he used a different pickguard so it’s hard to tell the difference. There’s also a couple of pictures from 1975 that suggests that the pickups were much higher. – Bjorn]

  41. Great timing, I recieved my CS69’s earlier this week. I am planning on installing them Sunday. Also upgraded my DM-2 to a T-Rex Replica last week. Can’t wait to hear them together. As always, thanks for providing this quality information available to everyone.

  42. Thanks a lot for the article Bjorn! What a coincidence! Today I just bought Custom Fat 50s and I was wondering how much spacing should I set, really useful!

    BTW the pups aree great!!


    [Congrats Leandro! – Bjorn]

  43. great insight and help, bjorn, thanks a lot. I’ve been experimenting with the cs69’s on my eric johnson strat lately, trying to set them very low in the hope to get a little more high end out of them, and therefore get them closer to the emg’s. it was successful only to a certain extent. using your ears is crucial, as you say. I found a very nice way to give them a slight hollow edge w/out loosing too much low end. sounds very sweet.

    btw, my NOS model arrived last week, and I was also wondering about the pickup settings, as my impression from various pics in phil taylor’s book suggest a lower setting.

    needless to say it’s a gorgeous perfectly balanced insrtument. I will send you a review if you like. did you have the chance to try one yet, and if so, what do you reckon?


    [Congratulations Bernhard! I haven’t been able to try the guitar yet. There’s no dealer here in Oslo that wants to order them… too bad. – Bjorn]

  44. João J. Francisco

    So many things…
    I never thought much about it… I always follow my ears…
    Great article! Very useful!

    Thank you!

  45. I know I suck, but how do you mesure precisely the height between the strings and the neck?

    another question: I have the DG-20 kit, and it is recommended to have the pups as close to the strings as possible since they’re active, but it kinda bothers me when I play arpeggios or try to go for pinched harmonics with my right hand… what’s your thought on that? thanks!

    [Use a ruler and trust your ears. Set the pickups in the position where you think they sound their best. I’m not that familiar with EMGs so I really can’t tell but again – trust your ears. – Bjorn]

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