Hi folks.

Just trying to get my head around pickups and wondering about the benefits of a three-string guitar using a three pole pickup. Am I wrong in believing that each pole of a pickup reads to the side too? Do strings HAVE TO run dead centre of the poles? What happens if they don't and is it/why is it better if they do? What about rail type pickups? How do they differ from the others? Are they generally better or worse? Genuinely just trying to learn.

Bear.

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Looks complicated but it would definitely help having the diagram. Thanks Paul. No excuses now I own a soldering iron, though it might help if I knew how to use it lol. Much appreciated, as always.

I've put a piece of stainless steel cotter pin over the poles on 6 pole pickups before and it works, but there is a slight drop in volume because it actually weakens the magnets some. So angling the pickup is better, but as long as you have one pole under each string you'll be fine. 6 pole pickups will most likely be hotter than the 3 or 4 pole pups.

Well it was labeled "stainless steel", but it did magnetically stick to the poles, which is why it did weaken the magnet and drop the volume slightly. Anything that will attract the magnet and attach will take away the magnets overall strength. 

I was trying a DIY hack for the Railhammer type pickups to test their ideas about pole types. Don't think it matters much.

Now if you attached a flat magnet rail or magnetized steel rail across the poles, maybe that would be better.

Of course that might mess up the pickups magnetic polarity.

A rail pup has one metal pole(rail) that has a magnet attached on the bottom or some of the older designs like the Firbird and mini-buckers used the magnet on it's edge in the bobbin as a rail pole.

6 pole pickups with magnet poles like original Fender pups would most likely be fine, but would be hard to do since they usually have staggered heights.

 6 metal poles on top of a single magnet will lose strength if more metal is stuck across the poles. The magnet will attract the added metal and lessen it's overall strength.

The later is the type of pickups I used to do my test with. Yes it will distribute the magnetic field over a larger area, but it will draw more strength from the source resulting in loss of output. The enlarged field will offset some of the loss of output which is why my test resulted in a slight loss of volume.

If you rob Peter to pay Paul it cost you more in the long run kinda thing.

Lots of great info from you both. Just sitting back and getting edumacated! Really helpful so thanks muchly chaps. 

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