For a 'testbed'-type steel, for ease of parts (mainly pups) swap, would hookup with alligator clips work? This is temp, not long term.

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As long as the clips don't touch each other. A single layer of electrical tape would help. Make a tab at the end of the tape. That way you wont have to dig or look for the end when taking the tape back off the clips. 

Cool. Thx.

So if one is testing pup placement (distance from bridge) what size increments" 1/8th, 1/4th, 1/2?

I built a test rig for testing pickups, tone pots and caps.

It has a 250 k audio pot, a 500k audio pot, two 0.047 u/f caps and one 0.022 uf cap. It uses alligator clips throughout to allow selection of the pot and cap for any pickup.

Notice that the pickup being tested can be slid closer or farther from the bridge. I usually deal in "% of Scale" instead of inches. I can go from 10% of scale to about 20%. That is a good bit more than you'll see on an actual guitar (even with three pickups). It is a nice way to evaluate your pickup and tone circuit without having to cut holes in things.

Also notice that the bridge screw can be moved to allow testing of different scale lengths from around 22" to about 26".

Tome T. I REALLY like this! Going to use your idea. But with one modification. Have the nut position move instead of the bridge. That way you'd be able to get as close to the bridge as possible in any scale. 

Nether Gibson or Fender used any real math to make their pickup positions. Gibson's is nothing more than as far up to the neck as we can get and as close to the bridge as we can go. Fender just added one pickup in the middle of all of that. The pickup design and not how it sounds is why a Fender bridge pickup is at an angle. There's no sweet spot for pickups. 

So if your only using one pickup you can get five of that same pickup. Make five guitars with a single one of those pickups in a different position. You'll have five different sounding guitars. Even more fun. If you only make three guitars. One with the pickups as far apart as you can get. One with both pickups moved an inch or so more toward the center. And finally the third guitar with a pickup right in the middle. You would end up with two guitars with different sounding pickup positions. And different sounding pickup combinations. And one that would still sound different than the other two. 

There's a lot of really cool vintage guitars with this idea in mind. They slapped as many pickups in a guitar as they could. Knowing every combination would give a different sound.

Like the idea of moving the scale at the nut end. That would allow me to put the pickup as close to the nut as I want. Good catch. Thanks

Only problem with moving the nut is putting all the frets out of place, unless you have a fretless, then your okay.

Whoa, chief.

I'm just talking about moving the nut on the test rig which is frett-less.

Gottcha

The moving nut is only for the testbed, which in my mind (and skill set) is not even a musical instrument meant to be played. It's for test only.

Awesome. That's pretty much the idea I came up with, the electronics in a box. I'm probably going to use a cigar box...

Do you vary string height with different bolts, or do you have different height pickup 'sleds'?

Hi James.

I definitely vary the distance of the strings from a test pickup. It gives me the setup information I need.

Also note that there is an audio jack on the far right of the front panel. That is an input for a guitar. It allows me to try different pot/cap combinations with and existing guitar. Helps with planning.

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