Staggered or Flat Single Coils

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I'm fairly set on getting some fancy dancy Bare Knuckle Mother's Milk (terrible name) single coils. They offer vintage staggered or flat magnet poles and this guitar has a modern 9.5" radius so I've seen that it's more suited to flat magnets as the strings are more of a uniform height than rounder radii. What do you guys think?
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  • timmypixtimmypix Frets: 399
    Flat radius, unless you like the vintage sound of unbalanced strings.

    Staggered radius was introduced at a time where there was a wound G string so the string outputs were slightly different, but it just stuck after that.

    I've got flat pole Mother's Milks in my Strat (9.5") and I love 'em! Baseplate on the bridge tames harshness and adds a bit of oomph, too.
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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2676
    Staggered will have the strings have varying levels of volume, flat will have the strings roughly the same level.

    The last straw for me swapping to flat was when I had the amp set so it was just on the verge of breakup then when I moved up to a note on the G string it went all distorted - I didn't want the sound changing arbitrarily like that.

    P.S. how come you think it's a terrible name? BK's are all named after artists to give you a rough idea of the sound they're going for - Mother's Milk being a RHCP album.
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  • Flush magnets with 9.5" or wider.

    The imbalance of the original rod magnet length "stagger" pattern gets worse as the fingerboard gets flatter. If your Es are good, your G and D poles will be almost touching the strings.
    Be seeing you.
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  • the increase in volume I get when I move form the d to g string on my strat is really annoying, wasn't til recently I realised it was the stagger that was doing it, before that I just assumed I got a bit over-excited whenever I play the g string.
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4947
    tFB Trader
    charlola said:
    I'm fairly set on getting some fancy dancy Bare Knuckle Mother's Milk (terrible name) single coils. They offer vintage staggered or flat magnet poles and this guitar has a modern 9.5" radius so I've seen that it's more suited to flat magnets as the strings are more of a uniform height than rounder radii. What do you guys think?

    Personally I would always fit either flush poles or just a shallow radius 'modern' pole curve to any Strat of my own these days ... the stagger is really only to maintain a vintage look.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 2001
    I've had the flat pole Mothers Milks for over a decade on my Strat and they are fab. 
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • JD50JD50 Frets: 428
    ....can you just tap down the magnets to make them flush? Or to match a radius which give a more even volume balance?

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 44048
    Flat or modern stagger - less variation and the D highest. The vintage high G stagger is easily the worst, both for string balance and for catching and breaking your pick or fingernails - I have no idea why anyone would want it on any guitar now, it's not even right with a vintage-radius neck.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4947
    tFB Trader
    JD50 said:
    ....can you just tap down the magnets to make them flush? Or to match a radius which give a more even volume balance?


    Only if you want to break the pickup
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • Thank you for all the help. I'm going to order some flat magnet poles...
    @thegummy =) Reminds me of babies being breast-fed
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  • JD50JD50 Frets: 428
    JD50 said:
    ....can you just tap down the magnets to make them flush? Or to match a radius which give a more even volume balance?


    Only if you want to break the pickup
    Some pickups are adjustable, so should these really be set flat or to the radius of the strings?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 44048
    JD50 said:

    Some pickups are adjustable, so should these really be set flat or to the radius of the strings?
    In my experience they should be set flat or with the D pole raised slightly and the A even more slightly, with both Es, the G and B being left flat. That seems to give the most even response, as the greater height of the G and B strings over the pickup compensates for their stronger signal.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 5541
    edited December 2019
    JD50 said:
    JD50 said:
    ....can you just tap down the magnets to make them flush? Or to match a radius which give a more even volume balance?


    Only if you want to break the pickup
    Some pickups are adjustable, so should these really be set flat or to the radius of the strings?

    The only single coil pickups on which it is possible to adjust the rod magnet polepieces are those with a moulded plastic bobbin. (e.g. DiMarzio, some Fender, Duncan YJM Fury.) On these, each rod magnet section is entirely contained within a "tube" of plastic. This permits it to be pushed upwards or downwards with impunity. There is no possibility of damaging the copper coil.

    Some single coil pickups come with an underslung bar magnet and either steel stud or threaded polepieces with Allen key heads. The latter are intended to be adjusted. 

    a shallow radius 'modern' pole curve 
    This is the sensible solution.




    One caveat:
    I invariably find that Fender style single coil pickups, constructed using plastic bobbins, always sound ever so slightly wrong. In other tFB Discussions, it has been suggested that the proximity of the copper wire to the rod magnets is a factor. By definition, the thickness of plastic bobbin obliges the coil to begin further away.

    Be seeing you.
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  • JD50JD50 Frets: 428
    Do any of you know much about the construction of the Fender WRHB, I have an original in my Musicmaster & wonder if the rods are housed in plastic or how they are shielded from disturbing the copper wire when adjusting the height? I'd hate to break it.
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  • I shall leave Ash of Oil City Pickups to explain the WRHB. (There may already be an existing Discussion in which this information is presented with illustrative photographs.)

    JD50 said:
    I'd hate to break it.
    Punishable by death.  :o
    Be seeing you.
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 4947
    tFB Trader
    JD50 said:
    Do any of you know much about the construction of the Fender WRHB, I have an original in my Musicmaster & wonder if the rods are housed in plastic or how they are shielded from disturbing the copper wire when adjusting the height? I'd hate to break it.
    Wide Range humbuckers have a normal bobbin with the copper nickel ferrite threaded magnets running in the plastic of the bobbin, so no issues adjusting them up or down with with an ordinary screwdriver.
    Modern Fender reissues use a bar magnet like a Gibson humbucker ... and can also be adjusted ... though whatever you do they will still sound crap ;-)
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • JD50JD50 Frets: 428
    JD50 said:
    Do any of you know much about the construction of the Fender WRHB, I have an original in my Musicmaster & wonder if the rods are housed in plastic or how they are shielded from disturbing the copper wire when adjusting the height? I'd hate to break it.
    Wide Range humbuckers have a normal bobbin with the copper nickel ferrite threaded magnets running in the plastic of the bobbin, so no issues adjusting them up or down with with an ordinary screwdriver.
    Modern Fender reissues use a bar magnet like a Gibson humbucker ... and can also be adjusted ... though whatever you do they will still sound crap ;-)

    Thanks for the info!
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  • nonesuchnonesuch Frets: 120
    edited December 2019

    I have a set of @OilCityPickups Caliber 5/3 on my MIM Strat. Presumably these are vintage staggered?

    To be honest I hadn’t really thought about the concept before I bought them (although I wish I had).

    But saying that, I don’t really notice any major volume difference between the G and B strings. But the trouble is, once you start thinking about it…


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  • thegummythegummy Frets: 2676
    If you're playing chords with 5/6 strings then you could look at using a vintage staggered pickup with a flatter radius and plain G string as similar to drawbar settings on a Hammond organ (for those who get that reference) - as in it really just changes the tone of the chord by making certain harmonics of the complete chord louder than others.

    Don't know if anyone's ever done this but for soloing you could even learn to make conscious decisions about which strings you play notes on - deliberately going to the G string to make the note distorted or playing it on the B string if you want it to be cleaner.
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  • I see the new Edge Strat has custom flat stagger Fat 50’s
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  • RolandRoland Frets: 3211
    thegummy said:

    Don't know if anyone's ever done this but for soloing you could even learn to make conscious decisions about which strings you play notes on ...
    Lots of people
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  • ICBM said:
    The vintage high G stagger is easily the worst, both for string balance and for catching and breaking your pick or fingernails - I have no idea why anyone would want it on any guitar now
    Users of big, ol' string sets with a wound G, maybe?

    Retentive collectors for whom even present day replicas must look exactly like the original design.
    Be seeing you.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 44048
    edited December 2019

    Users of big, ol' string sets with a wound G, maybe?
    I do actually use a wound G on many guitars - although not Strats - and I’ve never had a problem with a weak signal from it without needing such an extreme stagger. Halfway between the height of the B and D seems about right usually. (Bearing in mind that I set the D string physically higher than the G over the fingerboard too.)


    Retentive collectors for whom even present day replicas must look exactly like the original design.
    Bingo!

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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