The Difference Between Humbucker Vs Single Coil Pickups: Which Should You Choose?

humbucker vs single coil
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The amazing thing about electric guitars is how much their personality can be changed with a single construction adjustment. Their pickups – those raised patches of plastic with metal circles that lay beneath your strings – are one element that lends them the greatest individuality. They’re what pick up the sounds from your strings and transfer them to your amp, allowing you to hear your epic shredding.

Doesn’t it appear to be rather straightforward? But those small workhorse bits of hardware do a lot more to tailor your sound than you would think. There are many different types of pickups, and we’ll explain the distinctions between humbuckers and single coils so you can figure out which sound you want to produce. Humbucker vs Single coil will be shown in detail in this post.

Single Coils

humbucker pickups vs single coil


What is Single Coils?

Single coil vs humbucker sound, what is the difference? The initial pickups for electric guitars were single coil pickups. They’re the ones you’ll find on the majority of Fenders and knockoffs. They’re long, thin ovals wrapped in plastic with magnetic circles that align with the position of your guitar’s strings on the body.

Magnetized steel or a magnetic alloy such as alnico, neodymium, or cobalt are used in their magnets. If you’re seeking a less expensive option, a ceramic magnet can be used.

Guitar makers in the 1920s and 1930s began experimenting with electricity in order to make their instruments louder than other popular instruments of the time, such as drums and horns.

They originally attempted utilizing microphones, but that didn’t work out as well as they hoped, so they looked into ways to magnify the sound produced by the instrument itself.

Single coils are normally positioned in the center of the body, but depending on the sound you’re after, you may put them anywhere the strings come into contact. Occasionally, two of them will be joined together for a louder bite — this is known as a twin coil pickup. The double coil design differs from the humbucker design in that it consists of two single coils placed next to each other.

Pros of Single Coils

The tone is bright

 The purity of tone that single coil pickups can generate is legendary. Because their vibration sensors aren’t contained, they pick up on the vibrations of your guitar strings and generate crisp, distinct sounds for you to play. Because the sound travels straight into the transmuter, there’s no time for it to build resonance or anything else that will make it sound different than the note you play, this is a terrific sound for anything you want to add a little of “bite” to.


 Except, of course, you want it to. It’s a little simpler to experiment with effects like distortion and delay when you’re using single coil pickups. You may certainly try similar methods with humbuckers, but single coils will let you hear the effects better.

The frequency response is higher

 Single coil pickups are more sensitive to the frequencies of your plucked strings than humbuckers because of the way they’re built. This makes them more responsive to the center tone of the notes you’re playing – it doesn’t go sharp or flat when you change the frequency, and it doesn’t muffle any of the tones. Your single coil pickups magnify everything you play, allowing you to hear every element of your playing in real time. Single coils catch every detail of your slides, bends, and heroic finger gymnastics as clearly as a bell, and maintain all of those nuances when your music is transmitted.

Cos of Single Coils


Single-coil pickups work like small antennas since their components are essentially exposed to the air. This is how they magnify the sound of your guitar, but it’s also how they pick up other noises. When you’re not plucking your strings and hear a hum from your amp or another transmuter, it’s because your single coil pickups are attracting other sound waves; this is called feedback, and it may get very irritating very quickly.

It’s what causes squeaks and shrieks when you hold a microphone too near to the speaker, and it’s the same thing with single-coil pickups — they function on the same physics principles and require the same level of caution to avoid damaging your eardrums.



single coil vs humbucker

What is Humbucker?

Seth Lover, a Gibson guitar tech, pioneered humbuckers in the 1950s. He put two single-coil pickups side by side, switched the polarity of one of the magnets, and wired the coils together in series. Humbuckers are simply doubled-up single-coil pickups with added noise-canceling features.

Pros of Humbucker

There is less intrusion from the outer world

 In the same way that balancing an audio cable muffles any outside sound vibrations that may be in the proximity of your pickups, the way humbuckers are built muffles any outside sound vibrations that may be in the vicinity of your pickups. This implies that there will be little to no irritating hum or distortion in the middle of your notes, which is ideal if the rest of your gear isn’t up to the task.

The sound has become warmer

The warm, rich sound of humbuckers is accomplished by picking up the vibrations of string plucks as they reverberate through the guitar’s body. That’s why humbuckers are so common on hollow-body Gibsons and the like; the little harmonies on either side of the tone are folded in, making the notes more rounded and rich. The middle focus on humbuckers makes them suitable for non-distortion based effects like overdriving a tube amp; jazz and heavy metal guitarists alike have enjoyed this broader tone reach.


Humbuckers combine the power of at least two single coil pickups; they’re created with double the pickup for double the power.

Controlling the volume

This also provides you with a high output to tune and, as a result, more total control over how you sound. Electric guitars normally feature volume settings for each pair of pickups – bridge, middle, and near neck – but humbuckers provide wider range per level adjustment. And having a broader range means having more control over the combination of inputs you can employ.

Because humbuckers block out outside interference, you can hear the difference between their input tones more clearly than single coils. This allows you to learn about the combinations that work best for your own particular preferences.

Cos of Humbucker

Sound clarity suffers as a result

Humbuckers are useful at keeping unwanted feedback at bay for the same reason that some guitar players dislike them more than single coils; the clarity and bite of tone are muted on a humbucker.

It won’t swallow your notes completely, but the architecture of a humbucker will make them sound less clear. Because the chime effect of a single coil pickup is deadened by a humbucker, these pickups aren’t for you if you want a lot of harmonics in your playing.

Main Differences Between Humbucker vs Single Coil

difference between single coil and humbucker

The following are the main differences between a humbucker and a single coil guitar:

  • Single Coils are brighter and sharper than Humbuckers, which have two coils and provide a broader, deeper, and smoother sound.
  • Jazz, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal guitarists use Humbuckers, whilst surf and country guitarists prefer Single Coils.
  • When you’re not playing, single coils have an irritating hum, but Humbuckers counteract the hum, hence the name.

What should you choose between humbucker vs single coil?

The most efficient technique to determine whether you should use humbucker or single coil pickups is to experiment with each in the performance situations in which you use your guitar the most. Do you sell out sports arenas every weekend ? Do you perform the open mic at the neighborhood coffee shop next to their espresso machine? Is your music instrumental, with your guitar taking center stage, or do you need to integrate into a group with many other sounds trying for cohesion?

Even more importantly, what does it sound like to you? That may appear to be wishy-washy, but in all seriousness, you know your guitar and the songs you like to play the best, therefore you’ll know your preferred pickup sound better than any advice we can offer out.

As previously said, some pickup approaches are better linked with specific musical genres, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with them. You’ll be well on your way to choosing whether single coils or humbuckers are more your paces once you’ve learned a little bit of physics and a lot about your personal tastes.

 Whoever says you have to limit yourself to just one type? Hotter magnetic powers have increased the power of single coils, and new materials like ceramics and metal alloys have increased the tone capabilities of humbuckers.

Plus, even if you discover a guitar you like but the pickups aren’t to your liking, changing them out is simple. Keep one of each type of pickup on there and use both at the same time, or swap out the pickups on an old guitar you don’t play much anymore to see if you can breathe new life into it. The options are truly limitless!

Finally, the process of determining which one to use is heavily influenced by the scenario and the objective of the clients. Single coils offer a pure sound advantage, however they still have some distortion weakness, whereas humbuckers have power but lack sound clarity. Difference between humbucker and single coil is truly informed in this post in order to help people consider their mind before choosing. Hope you got a great thought choosing the one you want.

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