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the classic debate... Single Coil vs. Humbucker

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  • the classic debate... Single Coil vs. Humbucker

    Hey folks... I wanna poke the sleeping giant here lol! I know that among all of my guitarist friends there is a huge debate over which is more toneful - single coils or humbuckers?

    I am bringing this up cause at the moment I am torn. I am traditionally a Humbucker guy cause of the punch and balance. I find that single coils have a very hard time cutting through the mix, but on their own (and in certain band situations) they are more transparent and CAN have a better tone when they're not humming out of control.

    I have a gibson flying v (gorgeous!) and a stratocaster (currently in pieces, being rebuilt)

    Which do you guys prefer?

  • #2
    I like both but my goto is a Strat with Single Coils. I am going to start building a guitar with Dual P90s so I might switch to that depending on the tone. I like the HB for the thick distortion you can get out of them but in my limited use of them I think the singles give more tone control well maybe more varied tone, but again that's just my opinion and I see the need for both of them really.



    Originally posted by RefineryWorship View Post
    Hey folks... I wanna poke the sleeping giant here lol! I know that among all of my guitarist friends there is a huge debate over which is more toneful - single coils or humbuckers?

    I am bringing this up cause at the moment I am torn. I am traditionally a Humbucker guy cause of the punch and balance. I find that single coils have a very hard time cutting through the mix, but on their own (and in certain band situations) they are more transparent and CAN have a better tone when they're not humming out of control.

    I have a gibson flying v (gorgeous!) and a stratocaster (currently in pieces, being rebuilt)

    Which do you guys prefer?

    Comment


    • #3
      Why not have both? I have a HWY1 Strat with the HSS upgrade. That tail 'bucker has a monstrous mid boost and just slices right through everything, and I get to use my neck single coil for some sweeter kinda jangly stuff. Because of how hot the Atomic humbucker is, the middle single coil acts as my more country twang pickup...really well rounded pickup layout in terms of versatility.

      To be honest, I've got a thing for single coils. For me, nothing beats them for really sweet cleans. The guitar I had before this was a G-400...that thing could get downright nasty if you wanted it to, but I really dig the versatility of this particular Strat.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RefineryWorship View Post
        Hey folks... I wanna poke the sleeping giant here lol! I know that among all of my guitarist friends there is a huge debate over which is more toneful - single coils or humbuckers?

        Which do you guys prefer?
        I like single coils because of the string seperation. Humbuckers tend to blend all the strings together. However, I only use humbuckers because I find the humm of single coils distracting in a live setting. If I did recording in a studio I would probably go back to using single coils.

        Comment


        • #5
          I am still undecided. I play a strat and recently made an even trade with a guy my Texas Special pickups (which had some crazy hum) for an Dimarzio Area setup (58,67,Heavy Blues 2). I love it for clarity but I'm also looking to pickup an LP style for punch and warmth, then I'll just use whichever fits best.

          I was told and almost agree, "You can add effects to make a SC thick like a HB, but you can't do the opposite."
          I need pictures of your drummer in his booth/cage/room http://drummersbehindglass.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by travisvwright View Post
            I was told and almost agree, "You can add effects to make a SC thick like a HB, but you can't do the opposite."
            What effects make a singlecoil sound like a humbucker?

            Comment


            • #7
              Travis, how do you like the Dimarzio's?

              I have traditionally been a fan of the brand, but haven't tried the Area set ups. I am really wanting one to drop in to my mexistrat and upgrade the quality a little, but my bank account is telling me I sound fine the way I am.

              anyway, I have both HB's and SC's in different guitars, but there is something about the SC's that I love. I think Strats are good, and Tele's are Great. I really want to get the Semi Hollow Dual HB tele though because that has immeasurably nice tone. but since tone is subjective its a hard question to answer.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Edwin View Post
                What effects make a singlecoil sound like a humbucker?
                Yeah I totally want to know what can do this, it would possibly put my personal end of the debate to rest!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Edwin View Post
                  What effects make a singlecoil sound like a humbucker?
                  I've found that I can ballpark it on my Strat just by running through a tri-chorus with everything set very low, mixed waaay in. Not quite the real thing, but it really adds a lot of juice to a SC.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That almost sounds like the effect you get from overwound pickups. I think you can get a humbucker likness from playing 2 single coils at the same time with one of them reversed. Still has the hiss though. Also a humbucker can sound kind of like a single coil with a coil tap but lacks the string seperation. It seems to me adding a noisy pedal to a single coil would just make it sound more like a single coil.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      YouTube - Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster SFX-01

                      You be the judge. Although now that I think about it nearly every HB has made today is splittable so I guess the versatility arguement is "Moo".
                      Last edited by travisvwright; 10-15-2010, 10:29 AM.
                      I need pictures of your drummer in his booth/cage/room http://drummersbehindglass.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by matreames View Post
                        Travis, how do you like the Dimarzio's?

                        I have traditionally been a fan of the brand, but haven't tried the Area set ups. I am really wanting one to drop in to my mexistrat and upgrade the quality a little, but my bank account is telling me I sound fine the way I am.

                        anyway, I have both HB's and SC's in different guitars, but there is something about the SC's that I love. I think Strats are good, and Tele's are Great. I really want to get the Semi Hollow Dual HB tele though because that has immeasurably nice tone. but since tone is subjective its a hard question to answer.
                        I was very surprised how much I like them. About the most opposite sound you can get from the Texas Specials I was using. Very "Chimey" is probably the best I can describe and perfectly silent. One of hte reason I made the trade is every time I wanted considered installing a bridge HB I thought about how bad of an idea it was to split up my set. Now that I've got three independant pickups I'm trying to decide what to trade out for a HB.
                        I need pictures of your drummer in his booth/cage/room http://drummersbehindglass.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by travisvwright View Post
                          YouTube - Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster SFX-01

                          You be the judge. Although now that I think about it nearly every HB has made today is splittable so I guess the versatility arguement is "Moo".
                          The name "humbucker" is just that. It dosen't hum. Giving a single coil a stronger signal dosen't make it sound like a humbucker.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Edwin View Post
                            The name "humbucker" is just that. It dosen't hum. Giving a single coil a stronger signal dosen't make it sound like a humbucker.
                            That's why I said "you decide". It works for some but won't for all. As far as 60 cycle hum (50 if in europe) that's something that has been removed from a lot of SC pickups for a while now. While a nice techinical definition, when most people refer to HBs they are refering to a particular sound not to whether or not the pickup has been wound to cancel out certain currents.
                            I need pictures of your drummer in his booth/cage/room http://drummersbehindglass.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by travisvwright View Post
                              60 cycle hum (50 if in europe) that's something that has been removed from a lot of SC pickups for a while now.
                              I bought two 2009 Fender Telecasters with "modern" single coils that were noisy.I also have a 2006 Strat that is noisy. Single coils used to react with stage lighting in the past.I replaced them with humbuckers to get rid of the hum. It wasn't a freak thing because I have 2 of them in the same year that had identical hum problems. Single coils hum.

                              Comment

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