View Poll Results: Single coils or humbuckers

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  • Single coils of the Gibson variety: P90s, CC etc.

    23 34.85%
  • Single coils of the Fender variety: Tele, Strat etc.

    19 28.79%
  • Full Size Humbuckers

    39 59.09%
  • Mini Humbuckers

    5 7.58%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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Posts 1 to 39 of 39
  1. #1

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    What are your favorite pickups and why? Please give some information on the style and the instrument, too.

    I found out that personally I like single coils (P90s and Fender Style) and Mini humbuckers – full size humbuckers are "not my cup of tea" – or I just didn't find "the right one" – I like clean and transparence more than "fat" tones.

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  3. #2

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    A nice P90 is a wonderful thing!

    (But I love a good humbucker too.)

    I dig both actually, and have both.

  4. #3

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    I love the tone and clarity a nice single coil provides. Even when crunchy, my P90s have a sweetness to them with a little bark. And while I do love a smooth sounding clean Strat in positions 1 & 4, I can get the 1, 3, & 5 positions close with two P90s and some volume and tone roll off. And for jazz, the Charlie Christian suits me perfectly. I’m not too into the tone at zero sound I hear a lot of jazz players use; I much prefer some bell-like chime, but not too much.

    I do hope to get something with mini-humbuckers in the future though. I love the way a Firebird sounds, but I don’t want something that large and cumbersome.

  5. #4

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    P-90s or a good PAF humbucker are my go-to pickups. Why? Because they sound good!

  6. #5

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    For most of my life I've preferred humbuckers. I liked full-size set pickups for the sound. Recently I installed a DeArmond Rhythm Chief on a carved top archtop, and fell in love with it. Now I don't like the sound of the humbuckers in my other guitars. I'm late to the party, but I expect I'll stay for the duration.

  7. #6

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    I like single coil for comping. And, I like single coil when some other players are soloing. I like the crystalline sound, for want of better descriptor. By comparison, HBs can sound muddy. That depends on a lot of factors, including the room, but whatever is causing the mud, you get less of it with a single coil.

    But, I usually prefer humbuckers (with the EQ deemphasizing lows) for my own soloing.

    I need the highest notes to have a certain thickness and weight, without any twang or sizzle. That requires turning down the highs, even with HBs, and is difficult with single coils.

    So, I usually play HBs and I occasionally split the coil for comping.

    I have a Lil 59 in a Strat copy that is less dark than the usual HB, possibly because it's narrow like a single coil (senses a shorter length of string, which can sound like an increase in highs). It can sound good.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 01-04-2020 at 05:42 PM.

  8. #7

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    I ended up not responding to the poll, because I like them both. For a long time (about 20 years), it was mainly humbuckers for me, but when I hit financial hard times in 2000, which forced me to sell off my pro gear, and I went into gear arsenal rebuilding mode, I decided to expand my horizons guitar-wise, and discovered in the process, that while I like the beefy, smooth sound of a humbucker, I also like the chiming quality that single coils can exhibit sound-wise.
    Last edited by EllenGtrGrl; 01-07-2020 at 10:30 PM.

  9. #8

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    Full size Humbuckers or DeArmond single coils for me....I like a warm, fat tone.

    Mini Humbuckers and Strat single coils are too bright and thin to my ears.

    P-90's are thick enough, but are a bit too bright for my taste.

  10. #9

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    I have both and like both. It's hard for me to compare, though, because the different pickup types I have are in very different guitars, and I haven't experimented with pickups in these guitars. The one thing I don't like about SC's is the buzz/noise (which can be pretty bad with P90s), and I definitely prefer that aspect of HB's.

    John

  11. #10

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    I like the full tone of a humbucker, but tend to like some of the more modern interpretations, like a Lollar Low Wind Imperial.

  12. #11

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    single coils for me...humbuckers buck hum by subtracting from the overall tone...single coils give it to you all..including hum!! haha


    i like dearmond dynasonics, jazzmaster and gibby alnico v's....all single coil with actual magnets for polepieces..rich full sound..& very responsive


    cheers

  13. #12

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    Can't answer, I like them both, two different voices.

  14. #13

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    I have commitment issues. I like Seymour Duncan P-Rails.

  15. #14

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    It's a multiple choice poll for a reason.

    Speaking of myself, different pickups work different in different contexts. For example I played my Eastman with a mini humbucker until I (re-) discovered the tele neck pickup – which went with a shift of style and eventually genre. Played telecasters for like 10 years. But in my organ trio (soul-jazz and funk) the tele did not quite cut it so I started using semis. The obvious thing was to use semis with buckers – an Ibanez JSM and eventually a Gibson 335 – but I wasn't totally happy, neither with the semi nor with the buckers. So I tried a Gibson 330 which is fully hollow and has the wonderful P90s which I like a lot better. Then my wonderful wife gifted me with an Ibanez GB with the mini humbuckers – which I love as much or even a bit more. I will try to put an underwound fullsize humbucker pickup into my Ibanez AG75 anyway – I just like that little cheap guitar. But I think that single coils (I still use a tele when playing blues) and the mini humbuckers are for me Maybe it's the narrow magnetic field which make them brighter and more precise?

  16. #15

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    Depends on the music I have to play, but for classic jazz tone I prefer a real Charlie Christian pick up.

    Cheers.

  17. #16

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    Humbuckers for sure. I do own some single coil semi and hollow guitars, but I'd not take them out to play. I think one has to have some special dedication to managing the nuances and drawbacks of vintage single coil archtops and tube amps to make it work in a contemporary live setting. For example, I have a lot of respect for campus five, he acutally plays out with equipment I just own for fun.


  18. #17

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    Different types of pick-ups are one of the way to justify to have more guitars in your shed

  19. #18

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    Single coils all the way for me - not a fan of humbuckers. Dynasonics, P90s, Charlie Christians are my favourites. I play more old school jazz so it's those vintage sounds of the 40's and 50's that I really like. The hum etc. can be a pain but it's a small price to pay for having the tone I want.

    I find humbuckers a bit muddy and bland sounding personally... some are better than others though. I really like the Bill Lawrence L-90, it has a lot more high-end content than the typical PAF so in some ways it's a bit more single coil-like... not harsh or anything, just clear sounding.

  20. #19

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    yeah original huge double magnet 3 body screw cc pup or the modern uk made ones are top stuff...

    (all others beware)

    classic and unique tone...thick wire, and huge magnetic aperture...



    cheers

  21. #20

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    There is this slight phase cancellation with humbuckers that I find just a little annoying when I use them, but I hear so many other people sound great with the same pickups. Don't know why I don't. I have found some stacked humbuckers that I like, though (Dimarzio Area Ts, Wilde LS280) which seem not to have as much of the phase cancellation problem. I also like P90s and my pseudo-CC pickups from Pete Biltoft, as well as standard Tele neck pickups. Strat single coils less so, though- the glassy tone is not quite my thing, but I've heard others sound just great with them. I might be too critical for my own good with my sound...

  22. #21

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    Humbuckers, they’re quiet.

  23. #22

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    I'm a both too. Actually, I couldn't imagine not having guitars with both options.

    I guess if I nitpicked, I'd lean slightly "single coil" in terms of tone, but performing with humbuckers is so much easier, and there's something to be said for that "hollowbody with a neck humbucker" jazz tone that's only been used, say, a billion times...because it sounds great.

  24. #23

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    I like humbuckers that can be split :-)

    e.g. Seymour Duncan Stag Mag on my Tele or P-Rails (someone already mentioned this)

  25. #24

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    They all sound good when you dial in the sweet spot.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    They all sound good when you dial in the sweet spot.
    very true...but then it becomes which give you the largest area of sweet spots!! haha

    cheers

  27. #26

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    HBs, CCs, and P90s. I’m a fan of all three.

    Single Coils or Humbuckers – what do you prefer and why?-a71910a5-4ab1-4a66-9ca3-1593362c6b9b-jpg

  28. #27

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    For playing with others I prefer single coils (CC) simply because they seem to work better (i.e. clearer) with my main amp (Henriksen Alfresco 12" open back) and preference for thick rounded picks as well as my picking technique. But the buzz can be kind of annoying sometimes for home practice so I prefer HBs for practicing.

  29. #28

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    I chose mini-humbuckers, which I recently discovered via the cumbersome Firebird, but I enjoy the bite of a single coil and the warmth of a humbucker.

  30. #29

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    P-90s. I like the clarity over HBs and the grit over most other single coils.

  31. #30

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    Single coils have a more open and 3D sound to me. More scooped perhaps. But they can also be thin and bright.
    Humbuckers tend to sound more congested and less articulate but they are fatter and less bright in general.
    I use both but if I could only have one, that would be single coils probably.

    You can get good results by using EQ to make single coils sound like humbuckers but not the other way around in my experience. I mean you can cut the mids and a humbucker will sound like a single coil but it won't be as sweet and multidimensional. You can't put the 6k+ frequencies back but you can filter them.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    ....
    You can get good results by using EQ to make single coils sound like humbuckers but not the other way around in my experience. I mean you can cut the mids and a humbucker will sound like a single coil but it won't be as sweet and multidimensional. You can't put the 6k+ frequencies back but you can filter them.
    According to this all you need is a 10 dB boost with an EQ pedal to bring 6K+ frequencies to the single coil level:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/re...-df-v3_WEB.jpg

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by medblues
    According to this all you need is a 10 dB boost with an EQ pedal to bring 6K+ frequencies to the single coil level:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/re...-df-v3_WEB.jpg
    That graph cannot be correct. You need to boost vintage Strat single coils to get to the signal level of hot humbuckers?
    Obviously it's the opposite. In fact many amps provide attenuated input for humbuckers.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    That graph cannot be correct. You need to boost vintage Strat single coils to get to the signal level of hot humbuckers?
    Obviously it's the opposite. In fact many amps provide attenuated input for humbuckers.
    You have a good point if the dB they have on the y axis is correlated with the voltage output of the pickup. I suspect they superimposed different graphs to demonstrate relative frequency content difference without standardizing for the voltage output of each pickup. Let's not forget however that there are low output humbuckers (many early ones including PAFs) and they have high frequency content that can be boosted so I don't think humbuckers are entirely devoid of 6K+ Hz frequencies and the upper limit is determined by probably the guitar speakers not the pickups.

  35. #34

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    I like them all and they all have their place....tele strat gibby, etc. Use them all where/when applicable!

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by medblues
    According to this all you need is a 10 dB boost with an EQ pedal to bring 6K+ frequencies to the single coil level:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/re...-df-v3_WEB.jpg
    yes, and an amplifier and speaker that will reproduce frequencies above 5kHz. Most guitar speakers cut off about there, so boosting 6kHz+ doesn't help very much.

  37. #36

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    Full size humbuckers for me, especially a good PAF or early Patent #.
    But also have a soft spot for original Charlie Christians

  38. #37

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    I am always smitten by the sound of the MHS neck pickup in my ES 175 ‘59 RI VOS. It has all the HB warmth but also the bite and clarity of a single coil. I don’t have a lot of technical knowledge about pickups, but I understand that these p/u’s have a lower wind than ‘57 Classics, for example. I definitely hear a difference when compared to the ‘57 in my L5CES.

  39. #38

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    Personally I use humbuckers to get clean mellow tones - fingerpicked solo arrangements or warm melody lines. Single coils goes for all kinds of overdriven sounds, even with high gain. However speaking of single coils I mean humbuckers in split coils mode. This split coil option is great for somebody, who wants to have both in one guitar. I know, that split coil humbucker is not the same as pure single coil, but I find it close enough. Today You can get even humbucker, typical single coil and P90 in one pickup (SD P-rails). New Godin Montreal Premiere is equiped with this pickups.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara
    yes, and an amplifier and speaker that will reproduce frequencies above 5kHz. Most guitar speakers cut off about there, so boosting 6kHz+ doesn't help very much.
    I fully agree with you (see my following comment above). In addition, people may hear very high or very low frequencies that are not physically produced by the speaker (e.g. missing fundamental) and attribute this to upstream components (correctly or incorrectly).