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The 2 Major Types of Guitar Pickups

You’ve probably heard the names before:

Single Coil & Humbuckers

These are the two most common pickups that you’ll see on guitars. Without them your guitar would be about as useful as a wet match in a cave. You can strike it all you want, but you aint’ gonna be startin any fires with it. And naturally as guitarists, we like fire. So let’s look at what these puppies can do.

 

What they look like:

Single_coil

SINGLE COIL

The picture above is a single coil pickup. Why did I choose the only photo with an obscure wooden background? IDK. But, It has six magnets in it that “Pick up” the vibrations from your guitar strings. And its wrapped in copper wire about 8,000 times (no seriously..it is).

Sound Characteristics:

Bright
Twangy’
Crisp
Defined

Don’t let that word twangy’ steer you away. You won’t automatically sound like a country western star with these on. Single coil pickups come stock on every Fender Stratocaster, and they haven’t changed much for over 60 years because clearly, they work.

People who have used single coil pickups:

David Gilmour

David Gilmour

Jimi

Jimi Hendrix

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Just to name a few…

 

Humbuckers

Humbuckers

Sorry guys no wooden background on this one, but if you think this looks like just two single coil pickups taped together, you’re absolutely right! Single coil pickups are very sensitive, and they “Hum” a lot (background static). So naturally Gibson invented the “Hum”bucker, to  cancel out those unwanted sound waves. The magnets are simply installed at opposite polarities to get it’s distinctive tones.

Sound Characteristics:

Loud
Dark
Heavy
Smooth

These pickups defined that heavy rock & roll sound.

People who have used Humbuckers:

Slash

Slash

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page

 

Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana

 

 

Which should I use?

I know what your probably thinking. Humbuckers are the obvious choice because of the noise cancellation. Plus they are the definition of rock! clearly no contest…But single coil pickups are just as good. With limitless combinations of amps and effects, you can get almost identical sounds out of either pickup. There is no clear winner… Its all up to you.

Which ones do you use? Comment below.

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-Happy shredding

 

 

 

 

Phillip Dahir

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