Archtop problem

spirospiro Zagreb, CroatiaNew
edited January 2012 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 114
Hi guys,

I have installed a new pickup on my old archtop guitar. I have a problem with balance of pickup signal.

1st string gives lowest signal. 5th and 6th string give strongest and while playing its easiest to hear it over 7-12 fret. Also on 1st string 12th fret and higher sounds too natural, without that mellow jazzy tone.

I use 0.10 roundwounds for electric guitar and distance from pickup to string is 6mm.

Pickup is mini humbacker output 7.5k.

I need some advice, thanks.


  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 357
    Hard to give advice without more specifics about the guitar, pickup, and string set. From what I've read on jazz-guitar sites, "jazz" tone is largely a function of pickup and amp characteristics, though I would think that geometry and string gauge would fit in there somewhere. Does the pickup have adjustable pole-pieces? If not, how much room is there for vertical adjustment, via, say, shimming? Then there's the matter of what brand/model it is--I'm told these things matter. (My mag pickups are all single-coil, mostly from the 1960s or earlier.) And strings--I have to say that a set with a 10 high E is much, much lighter than I put on any acoustic archtop--that's Sel-Mac or Strat territory. My archtops are strung with mediums or heavier, though I'm not sure how much difference that would make for the pickups, as I've never experimented.
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    If you have individual pole pieces there is no harm in adjusting them closer to the strings in question. :wink:

    What brand mini 'bucker are you using?
  • spirospiro Zagreb, CroatiaNew
    Posts: 114
    This is 50yrs old guitar.its made in Yugoslavia.

    Humbacker is Artec, you can find them on ebay for cca 17 dollars. i did not put pots, its wired directly to output jack.

    I could shim the pickup, i just dont know what is the optimal distance between the pickup and the strings.
  • The optimal setting will depend on what strings and what gauge strings you use

    Only way I know is to use trial and error. That's why good pickups are adjustable

    I have a net old 50's Kay semi hollow body that can't quite adjust out string differences.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    Hi spiro - take no offense here as I do not know your level of understanding regarding pickups and wiring harnesses, etc. 8)

    You can try shimming the pup. There is no optimal distance from the string as its solely dependent on the sound produced - what you like. As long as the string can vibrate freely you are good. I've never had any need to get a pickup so very close but you may?

    Wiring it straight to an output jack is a-okay just obviously doesn't allow you any control over the tone. What you hear is what you have and directly controls by that Artec.

    Give shimming a go but I wouldn't stress over it too much as in the end it is just a $17 pup and I imagine doesn't have a high quality set of magnets, shielding, wire gauge, or craftsmanship. If its just a soap bar style bucker - smooth metal on the top - then adjustment is limited to tilting it via a shim.

    If you can't make it work just get yourself a better pickup. Something with adjustable pole pieces which you can raise closer to the string and you'll be set.


    In the end if you like that 50s jazz box and it has a great tone and groove look to eventually upgrade your electronics (pickup/wiring harness/jack) as a great guitar will be destroyed tonally by a lousy pickup and parts.
  • spirospiro Zagreb, CroatiaNew
    Posts: 114
    No offense, I really dont know much about electronics and archtop jazz guitars.

    This is a guitar my grandfather left me. It was hanged on the wall with two cracks and without tailpiece and bridge. Month ago i decided to give her a new chance.

    It is not such a good guitar and its not easy to play it, but it has charm and it fits me great. My violin player told me on last gig that I found myself with this guitar.

    Tomorrow ill post a video with it so youll hear. Guitar is maybe worth 200$, but i like it.

    Yeah its just smooth metal on top so ill have to shimm it a bit, and probably ill put one or two pots.

    Which pots should i put, 250 or 500?
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    Wow Spiro, nice story with your guitar! Have you taken it to a tech/luthier yet? You may be just a few adjustments away from something incredible.

    Now you are getting into the fun stuff! I asked the same question during a guitar build I was doing a few years back. :D

    1Meg = very bright sounding
    500K = bright sounding
    250K = warm, vintage sounding

    1Meg = bright Humbucker...shrill Single Coil
    500K = warm Humbucker...bright Single Coil
    250K = muddy Humbucker...warm Single Coil

    If you are not sure which way your guitar swings between bright and muddy then I'd go 500k. I recommend CTS pots and jacks.

    Play with shimming the pup first and decide whether you want it or not - I'd hold off buying a pot and soldering it into the wiring harness as if it ends up that you can't adjust this pup to your liking you can possibly save on shipping by ordering a new pup with adjustable pole pieces with your pot.
  • spirospiro Zagreb, CroatiaNew
    Posts: 114
    Hey all,

    Here's the video:
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    Love your playing! :D Nice nice. Guitar sounds good! This was playing through the pickup? Did you shim it? Not bad at all. Difficult to listen to any details as the guitar was so loud it distorted your mic but the pickup sounded decently balanced between the high, mid, and low end notes.
    Hang on to that guitar.
  • spirospiro Zagreb, CroatiaNew
    Posts: 114
    Thanks man...

    Yes, this was played through pickup, and Kustom 35W amp, low budget amp for acoustic instruments. My web cam has a crappy mic so the audio quality is bad.

    But the point is that i ignored this guitar for so long, and it didnt deserve it.

    Ill stick to it a bit, its fun to play non selmer-like guitar for change ;)
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