and Guitar Pickup Technical Information


Q:  How close should pickups be to the strings?

A: The string is the signal source for the pickup.  You will get the best and fullest tone by setting your pickups as close to the strings(signal source) as possible without physical or sonic interference.

  1. Physical interference happens when the string hits the pickup.  The string colliding with the pickup wiill cause a popping sound.  Your pickup should be lowered just far enough to eliminate  that "popping" sound that may occur during aggressive playing.
  2. Sonic interference also tells you that the string is too close to the pickup. "Stratitis" is a made up term to describe the "warbling" sound that is produced when a single coil pickup is set to close to a string(s).  Stratitis is most commonly produced by the neck position pickup on the low E string because the the string will move/vibrate the most close to the neck. In addition the Low E string contains the most "steel" and will be most affected  by magnetic pull.  Once you get the  stratitis of the Low e string taken care of on each pickup , the other strings will probably be fine (as long as they are low enough to prevent popping).

You may hear this multi-tone or warbling sound if the pickup is too close to the string.  Fret the low E string at the 15th fret and listen for it. If you do not hear it raise the pickup till you do. Then lower the pickup slowly until it just  disappears and you get a clean , pure single tone. That is where you want it.

Your middle pickup can be closer to the string than the neck pickup and the bridge pickup can be closer still. That is because the string gets tighter towards the bridge and is less affected by magnetic pull.

"Most" humbuckings and P-90's with bar magnets under the coils do not have stratitis. It mainly applies to single coils with actual magnet polepieces.  However it is these magnet polepiece type pickups that produce the clear, natural and glassy tones that we all love so much.

Rio Grande also offers many "true splitting" humbuckings with magnet polepieces.  These include the Muy Grande, Halfbreed, Tallboy, and Babybucker.



Q: Will standard pickup covers fit on Rio Grande Strat pickups?

A: Depending on how old the pickup is and which model it is will determine the cover/color situation.

Vintage Tallboys…YES.

Halfbreeds…….YES…but the magnet holes will need to be slightly enlarged.

Muy Grandes….Ones made since Spring of 2005…YES…but the magnet holes will need to be enlarged to just a bit more than 1/4".

The early Muy Grande had a large top that was the size of a cover so a cover would not fit over it. It was available in either a white, black, or crème top to match the two other pickups.

In 2005 we improved the Muy Grandes so that they will accept covers.

We sell all our pickups with covers so it is no longer a problem.

If buying used pickups or pickups without covers you must inspect the Muy Grande top to see if it is the same size as a cover or will just barely fit through a pickguard. If so you will not be able to install a cover. Any pre 2005 Muy Grande Strat pickup will not fit into a cover. All pickups are dated on the bottom.

If it is considerably smaller a cover will fit but you will have to enlarge the magnet holes to do so. We also supply covers if necessary.

Rio Grande pickups are available in many other colors including White Pearl, Crème Pearl, Brown Tortoiseshell, and six different colors of sparkle. See this website for more info and photos

All fancy topped (pearloid, tortoise etc) Rio Grandes will not accept a cover.



Q: What is F spacing?

"Spacing” as relates to pickups generally refers to the polepiece or magnet pole spacing on a pickup or coil. 

It is somewhat based in the history of electric guitar building as defined by the major producers of the 50’s…those being Fender and Gibson. 

The first time I remember hearing of spacing issues was in reference to "F” spacing as it applied to Floyd Rose tremolos. The reason being that most humbuckings had the narrower spacing (because Gibson was the proverbial producer of humbuckers), and people were beginning to install Gibson style humbuckers on their Fender guitars (which had a wider spacing at the bridge saddles) 

Sonically a "G” spaced pickup still sounded good on a Strat in the bridge (listen to Eruption by Van Halen…), but there were a few complaints here and there about losing something during string bends and visually the strings and polepieces did not line up together. People just won’t stand for that sometimes…:) 

So, pickup manufacturers began to accommodate the new craze of HB’s on Strats and Teles, and the new generation of "heavy metal” guitars with "F” spaced pickups. 

Now, most pickups are available in both spacings so everything is properly aligned physically and visually. 

The basic fact is that the string spread is widest at the bridge and tapers down towards the nut.While Gibson uses the same spacing for both neck and bridge pickups most of the time, they do offer some variations. 

Most USA Les Pauls, 335’s, SG’s, V’s, Explorers, usually have the same spacing for neck and bridge. 

Some Epihones, imported Casinos for example, have a narrower spaced neck P-9-0 

Tele neck pickups have always had a narrower spaced neck pickup….Strats do not, one size fits all……. 

So, "F” spacing = Fender or Floyd spacing, and "G” spacing refers to the classic Gibson Humbucking spacing 

This is the simple explanation and will suffice for most people. You can get into exact measurements in millimeters or inches if desired. There is plenty of material available on the web.