I have a couple of 4-string pups and would like to use at least one on a 3-string build.  Should I angle the pup to keep the magnets closer or just center it on the strings and go with it?  

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Either way will work fine Bob, do what you think looks best

Thank you Darryl. I hope the day comes when I have enough experience that I won't have to ask dumb questions.

Thank  you Wayfinder.  CBN is the premier site for my new passion.  I've been collecting the heck out of parts and other items for CBG's  I even found some decent Cigar Boxes the other day so I'm excited to get started building a few.  I've read quite a few of your posts and have seen that you readily share your expertise.  Thank you for that. We newbies need all the help we can get.  

Wayfinder, I just noticed that you live in Platte City.  I went to Platte City HS in 62/63.  We moved back to KC  so I lost touch with all my classmates.  Many fond memories of that area.  I've lived is several states since then and now live in Texas.

I ran a test with a 5.4K four pole single coil on a three string cbg, poles and strings both spaced 30mm, so that the middle string is situated between the middle poles of the pickup. A blade overneath the pickup has only one effect: it looses volume. So check carefully for a possibly positive effect before you superglue a nail onto the pickup...

Thank you Moritz.  I won't super glue it until I hear the difference.

P.S. Crucial for comparison is an equal distance between a blade or a nail from the strings, otherwise you just raise the pickup which in my tests possibly compensates for a loss of volume.

"(The closer a pickup is to the strings the louder the volume.) Perhaps I misunderstand what you're saying."

Not necessarily. Try an experiment with a pup that only adjusts the whole pup up and down, much less individual pole pieces. You get it too close to the strings, you can actually "choke" them, losing (not loosing) volume. Why? Because the mag field, and therefore its pull, is so strong at a certain close distance to the strings that it can affect the string's ability to vibrate freely. There is a definite sweet spot within a pup's mag field where strings sound their best.This phenomenon has been known amongst guitar techs for a very long time.

Try it and see...

No tests or data to back this up, but at some point the magnetic pull has to effect the strings ability to vibrate /oscillate i'd think, and effect volume less than sustain probably, as i say, just my thoughts.

Not to denigrate your own experience, which is well documented here, but I will equally respectfully agree to disagree to agree, through my own experimentation using both movable single coil pups with fixed pole pieces, and those with independently-movable pole pieces, as well as with a few humbuckers. I have myself done this test numerous times, and in all cases but one that I can think of, getting the pup too close to the strings did indeed choke them, due to increased magnetic pull on the strings. And in each of the above cases, there was also such a thing as getting the pups too far away, allowing for insufficient disturbance of the mag field by the strings. I could hear a discernible difference in tonal quality dependent on distance of pole piece to string, and there to my ears was a point at which the strings seemed to resonate "better." I'd did this by being as meticulous as I could, using feeler gauges, mm-scale rulers, as equally-applied1/4 turns of the adjustment screws, and my own two ears. I do not have SPL or voltage data, nor the handwritten distance data sheets to back this assertion up, and admit that it is a qualitative difference. But I continue to fine-tune my commercial gits this way, because I at least can hear "something" different. And not because I read of the myth in Guitar Player magazine; this experimentation was done when I didn't know diddley squat about pickups and pole positions, and figured "Hey, look! Adjustment screws! Wonder what these do?" It could be that this may just rank up there with people who think tonewoods are hooey, while others continue to unfulfillably desire Brazilian rosewood for their acoustics.

P.S. Adding a 0.15" blade, for comparison you would have to lower the pickup 0.15", otherwise you just raise the pickup for this amount which increases the volume.

Further experiments with my 5.4K four pole single coil alnico5 pickup with a plastic cover: I used a 10" piece of a very fine string to find the magnetically hot spots of the pickup. On the surface of the pickup hottest is the point between the middle poles, second the middle poles, third the outer poles, at a distance of 0.20" same results. With a 0.02" steel blade above the poles nearly same results, but with a better response for the outer poles.

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