The Showdown: Humbucker V. Single Coil

In: Film and Music

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The showdown: Humbucker v. Single coil
Michael Heinerth
Eng 220-university academic writing
March 16, 2015
Jennifer Malia

The showdown: Humbucker v. Single coil While it’s important to some people, mostly guitar geeks, most folks can’t tell the difference in tone--that is, the subtle nuances that make up the overall sound that an electric guitar makes. The average listener could tell you if the sound is “thick” or “twangy”—but what makes those differences? Dispelling with differences in effects, amplification, etc, the root of tone is in the pickups. “What is a pickup?” you may ask. In the 40’s, a few people (notably Leo Fender, Les Paul, and Seth Lover) were working on a technology that would change the face of music permanently. By wrapping thin, coated, copper wire around magnets, and applying a current, a new means of “hearing” the guitar was born. This construction is not entirely from the concept of an electro magnet. The substitution of a magnet for a steel bar changes the device into somewhat of a magnetic sensor. In essence, the pickup “feels” the vibrations of the strings disrupting its magnetic field, and translates that into an electrical charge [ (Henshall, 2011) ]. “The basic science behind pickup function is Faraday's Law of Induction. It states that a changing magnetic field causes an electric field to be set up in a nearby wire, causing a current to flow if the wire is part of a closed circuit (a loop of wire for example)” [ (Wallace, 2004) ].
The first design that everyone used was later referred to as a “single coil pickup”. While designs varied slightly from one manufacturer to another, the basic construction was the same. Typically, several small magnets, stood on end, are wrapped with a coil of wire. This construction accomplishes the task well, creating an open sound due to more pronounced high frequencies. Many…...

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