This is a time-old question we get asked all the time – 49.2mm, 49.5mm, 50mm, 52mm – which one is right for my guitar? Today, we’ll talk about how to check your string spacing, and answer some basic questions you might have about string spacing in general.
How Important Is it?
Pretty important. The pickup’s magnets or pole pieces act as a conductor for the magnetic field of the pickup – and if your strings are not in line with the pole pieces or magnets, you could have a loss in string balance. That being said, your strings don’t have to be 100% dead-on with the pole piece. See below for do’s and don’ts:
The first two examples will work fine. Most guitar players won’t be able to tell the difference between the two. However, the third example will be definitely noticeable. The string is on the outside of the pole piece, and out of the effective magnetic field. You will definitely notice a drop in volume and a general lack of response with this third example.
How Do I MEasure My Spacing?
Easy. Just have your guitar handy, and a ruler that clearly depicts the millimeter section. You want to measure from the center of each of the outer pole pieces. For an example, see below:
Each of the above examples are correct ways to measure your string spacing on your guitar. As you can see, each of the humbuckers above are the same physical size, but their spacing is different.
Conversion to Inches:
- 49.2mm = 1-15/16″
- 50mm = 1-31/32″
- 52mm = 2-1/16″
If you don’t have the pickup in the guitar:
If you don’t have the pickup already installed to see what string spacing you’re trying to replace, just measure the strings. Slide the ruler under the strings and see where they fall in the approximate location of the pickup. You will see where the strings fall, and can determine your string spacing from there.
Measure both pickups.
This is very important. depending on your bridge and nut, your pickup spacings may be different. Now that you know how easy it is to measure, just take a quick measurement of your bridge pickup as well as your neck pickup. On Fender-style instruments, most of the time you will have a 52mm Bridge and a 50mm neck, as the strings “taper in” the closer you get the headstock.