Reviewing the differences between Single coil guitar pickups and the humbucker guitar pickups


The Design and manufacture of guitars that were powered and amplified electrically which began in the 1930s transformed the art of guitar playing. Introduction of electric guitars into the music industry had a huge impact on the history of the music industry by enabling the introduction of new genres of music like rock, jazz, metal, pop, reggae and punk.

Unlike the acoustic guitars that rely on their chamber to produce the tones, which can sometimes bring out unwanted vibration sounds from the strings, the electric guitars make use of an electric amplifier.

Electric guitars that are today widely used by modern guitar players are all as a result of the invention of the magnetic pickups.  The initial pickups only had a single coil that was centrally placed but pickups that had a single magnet placed under every string was later introduced into the market. Although single coil pick ups produce a sound that was quite clean, they are known to pick up unwanted sound from the surrounding referred to as mains hums.

While the pickups with single coils produce a brighter sound with a tone that is crispy, the tone produced by humbuckers can be described as thicker and warmer. Due to the chiming, glassy tones produced by the single coil pick up guitars, they were very popular with the classic pop guitarists of the 1960s while metal, heavy rock, and jazz players are more inclined to guitars that have the humbucker pickups.

Humbucker pickups were designed and manufactured in the 1950s mainly to counter the effects of the unwanted sounds that were picked by the single coil pick ups. The humbucker pickups consist of two single coil pickups that are placed beside each other. The humbucker pick up is now widely used on many models of modern guitars including the fender starcaster guitar.

Most electric guitar manufacturers can sometimes compromise on the quality of pickups in order to keep the price of the guitar low. For this reason it is possible to upgrade the pickup on your guitar by installing a step up pickup. This upgrade is an easy procedure that can be undertaken by every guitarist and the sound produced thereafter has more articulation, power and depth.

Modern pickups like the humbucker pickups on the fender starcaster guitar have also incorporated volume and tone control knobs and would not require step up upgrades.

The humbucker fitted electric guitar is known to distort the sound and produce a tone that has more punch hence its popularity with the modern day players of blues and jazz.

Although most of the above characteristics of single coil and humbucker pickups still stand, technology used to produce the two types of pickups has greatly improved over the years. New magnetic and ceramic alloys of metal that are currently used in humbucker amps produce signals that are high in energy which is demanded by new genres of music like thrash metal. There are also guitar pickups which have incorporated preamps in their design.