Stratocaster pick location?

Just wondering if it’s just me or do other Stratocaster players have this issue? - When I play my Strat my pick sits almost directly above the centre pick-up so that when I play stuff I tend to hit the pick-up with my pick (plectrum). If I’m practising when not plugged in, there’s a definite tappy-tap noise going on as my pick grazes the pick-up. I guess I could move my right hand a bit but it seems to be in the right place for palm muting when needed and on my other guitars which don’t have a centre pick-up there’s no issue. It’ s not a huge problem but maybe I need to play shallower? or move my right hand a bit?

I’ve never really had this problem myself, but Ritchie Blackmore went as far as I think ripping his middle pickup out, and Yngwie used to (and I believe still does) set his middle pickup almost flush to the pickguard.

Does it interfere with your picking, or is it mostly that you can hear it unplugged?

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If you’re most comfortable playing where that middle pickup is causing some interference, I feel that you should simply lower the pickup and leave your technique alone. I have an old strat, but I’ve never learned how to adjust the pickups in such a way, but it’s absolutely possible - consult YouTube!

Hope this helps.

John Petrucci used to talk about this, too. I remember reading him state specifically that he didn’t use middle position pickups because it got in the way of his picking.

What really, really gets in the way is the placement of the volume knob on the vast majority of non Les Paul configuration guitars. I get why it’s there; so you can easily adjust the volume while playing and not have to fumble around for the control. If you’re playing with your hand sitting on the bridge or half on/half off the bridge, you’re going to smack right into it. Again, Petrucci came up with the solution, starting with the Ibanez JPMs that put the volume knob away from the bridge pickup lower on the guitar’s face and back toward the jack. The PGMs also had the volume control far away from the bridge and bridge pickup as well.

Thanks for replying - It’s good to know my playing has something in common with Ritchie and Yngwie :slight_smile: I’m more aware of it when unplugged as it doesn’t affect the sound through the amp . At least the pickups are ‘Fender Lace Sensor’ so they are completely smooth on top with no protruding pole pieces to jar the pick. I’ll try and lower it a bit to see if it makes much difference. I do use the centre p/u when plugged in so I hope that lowering it won’t be too detrimental, I like either the bridge+ centre or the bridge+ rear combinations ( possibly due to me coming from a humbucker background)

jfrega - your Vol knob issue is a surprise to me, but perhaps this highlights the fact that we’re using different hand placement positions, another thing I guess I need to work on as well as the actual picking techniques.

@Zoot This was a problem when after coming back to stratocasters after years to tele type guitars. But as with all things, I just got re accustomed to it, it was a phased process though, after the volume knob wasn’t an issue, the middle tone knob would move around, still does a bit! I’m now in the habit it turning it up as a reflex.

I’ve been doing the YJM thing for a while with the middle pickup, flush as much as it will go, the new fury pickups are tall and bottom out before going fully flush. Call me crazy but the other day I did put it back up and I found the strings get floppier than usual, put it right back down again. I’ve either become very sensitive to how my guitar has been setup in this phase of my journey or there is some truth to it or both!

I have the same problem with my strats and I I always lower the middle pickup nearly flush to the pickguard. Takes about 5 seconds with a screwdriver.
There is a small risk that the screws are not long enough and the pickup pops out of the thread in which case you’d have to take the pickguard off to put the screw back, but it’s only happened to me with humbuckers on a cheap guitar.

I mostly use the neck and bridge pickup so I’m not too fussy about how the middle pickup sounds, but honestly I don’t find the drop in volume to be an issue even if I try to listen for it.
In other words there’s almost no downside to doing it.

Well I lowered the centre p/u almost flush to the guitar which meant that I wasn’t hitting the p/u at all but this gave the sound a kind of hollowness which wasn’t great so I raised it a bit to about half the height of what it was originally. The sound is ok here and although I still sometimes hit it a bit with my pick, I’m going to leave it at this height and just work on adapting my technique. If I’m totally honest with myself I think that I may have been digging in too much with the pick and working on a shallower technique can only be a good thing.

What do famous SSS or HSH players like YJM, P. Gilbert, and S. Vai do? As mentioned above I recall YJM mounts flush.

There’s Paul’s answer at 3:00. I think the problem is somewhat mental, as in the more you focus on it the worse it tends to get, but there’s still a risk you’ll clip the pole or pickup itself so why not eliminate the risk entirely.

Mixed bag. Guys like Yngwie and, I believe, Blackmore run their middle pickups very low, SRV (who we don’t think of as much as a “shred” picker but still had a pretty staggeringly good right hand) clearly didn’t lower his middle pickup abnormally since he uses it so much, and then someone like Nick Johnston, who’s a more contemporary “shred” player who still relies on singlecoils, seems to favor a pretty high position for all his pickups. Andy Timmons (who is a monster picker even if he rarely shows it) sets both his singlecoils pretty low, so who knows if that’s a factor for him.

I’m not nearly in that illustrious company, but I’ll leave mine about as high as I can before magnetic pull becomes an issue, and it’s never bothered my picking.

I favor HSS guitars, and I typically lower the middle pickup flush with the pickguard not because my pick hits it, but because I like to use a supinated arm position with my ring finger gliding along the pickguard, and I don’t like when my finger hits the pickup.