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Balancing volume of a Humbucker with single-coils

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by lightningflash, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. lightningflash

    lightningflash Strat-O-Master

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    I was thinking about adding a humbucker to the bridge and was wondering if I'll have any issues with the volume difference when switching pickups while playing?

    What can be done to increase the volume output of the single coils so I don't have to turn-up the amp?

    Does Fender do anything to balance these pickups in their stock strats with humbuckers?
     
  2. EAllen

    EAllen Strat-Talker

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    The key is the right humbucker. Many try to throw any old humbucker that is mega hot in with a single and wonder why they won't balance or why the HB is almost below the pickguard and still way too loud.

    I regularly use a 2.0 henry Bill Lawrence Wilde L90 with single coils and the mix is amazing. Don't expect a high output one to do so.

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
  3. fezz parka

    fezz parka The Return of the Red Helmet Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Like Eric said....it's picking one that's not overpowering. Any decent vintage wind humbucker will sound fine with standard Fender type singles.
     
  4. slowesthand

    slowesthand Senior Stratmaster

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    A hot single coil that has a modern stagger is what I have found balances best.
    The Fender Deluxe Drive ( 2nd generation HWY 1 pickups) work well.
    Of course the other approach is to accept the bridge pickup being hotter as the whole reason to have it there.
     
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  5. esseff

    esseff Strat-O-Master

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    Doh...
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  6. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    I want my humbucker to be hotter. Not Slam-your-face hotter, but enough of a difference to act like a lead boost. Otherwise, no point to it for me. If I’m playing rhythm part with it, then my little finger better be ready on knob (or foot on volume pedal). Sure, you can pick and choose your pickups to minimize the difference, but if your not careful, you can end up with single coils and a HB that you didn’t really want in the first place.
     
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  7. Swampash

    Swampash Senior Stratmaster

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    EMG pa-2
     
  8. Textele

    Textele Senior Stratmaster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Unless you are paring an Invader with CS 69's, you should be able to match volume fairly close with heights of the pickups.

    If you are intent on running your guitars volume at 10 all the time you will need a fairly vintage wind humbucker.

    I run Fat 50's (n+m) and a Duncan JB with 250k pots and have zero issues with volume differences. Yes the humbucker is slightly louder, but I've learned to use the volume knob on the guitar to get what I want, when I want it.

    I actually like it better, because by controlling the guitar with the knobs I have way more range at my disposal, and even better, it's all at my fingertips. And I like all the range a guitar will provide me, without tap dancing on pedals.

    Maybe try looking and working your volume knob more like a "dynamics" knob. And it is right in the perfect position for that on a Stratocaster.
     
  9. dirocyn

    dirocyn Senior Stratmaster

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    Not all humbuckers, and not all single coils, are created equal. There are single coils that are high output and humbuckers that are low output--my Squier Affinity Strat came with a humbucker that's lower output than the single coils--which is probably related to why I couldn't ever get that set to quack. Anybody looking to decide about pickups using actual fact instead of opinion would be well served to look at some actual fact. A pickup's volume is directly related to its inductance (measured in Henries). A pickup with more Henries makes more signal. A database with actual measured information about many pickups is here: echoesofmars.com/pickup_data/viewer/

    In the bridge position there is less string excursion--if you want volume balance between pickups, the bridge pickup needs to be a little hotter than the neck and middle. Note how most of the balanced sets have a few more Henries in the middle and a few more in the bridge--about 0.25 to 0.4 hotter for each, give or take. This was done to achieve balance between pickups, just like you're looking for.

    Other posts about actually using the volume control--how crazy is that? If the volume isn't where you want it, just make an adjustment. Not all guitarists play with the guitar's volume all the way up all the time, you're allowed to adjust. And maybe you want a little more distortion when you switch to the bridge pup?
     
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  10. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

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    PAF style humdingers (7 - 9 k) seem to balance well with single coils.
     
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  11. Seymour Duncan

    Seymour Duncan Senior Stratmaster

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    You can usually find a humbucker that is close to the same volume. You can also use a boost pedal like the Pickup Booster if the single coil pickups are too quiet for you.
     
  12. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Senior Stratmaster

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    I suppose if you have pickups you like, but they have very different output levels, you could add a series resistor to the loud one, and by experiment get the output to match. Of course the tone might change slightly, or may not be noticeably different.

    Two resistors could be added in a voltage divider configuration to keep the impedance about the same, and the tone probably wouldn't change noticeably.
     
  13. jwj1701

    jwj1701 Strat-Talker

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    Hate to sound like a cliche but could be a set up issue. My HSS levels are pretty much even until you engage the passing lane button for a real boost (Elite model).
     
  14. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I always had success balancing them by raising or lowering pickups
     
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  15. JohnDH

    JohnDH Senior Stratmaster

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    My HSS Am Sp seems to be about right. Slightly hotter 6.2k Tx special singles, and an 8.4k PAF-ish HB. With these, by adjusting heights, I can choose anywhere from a volume match, to (more usefully), a boost from the HB.

    Also, the setting of a decent amp has a role to play. If its fully driven, all volumes are the same, just with more or less saturation. But you can also set up a cleanish, edge of breakup tone for the singles, then the HB will overdrive it and add punch, but not be massively louder.
     
  16. lightningflash

    lightningflash Strat-O-Master

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    Ok, thanks for all your input. These were all things I had thought about or considered.

    The humbucker I wanted to use was a Doug Aldrich, Suhr pickup, which is quite hot at 17.4 ohms. So maybe that wouldn't be the best choice in this application.

    Maybe I should find a lower output humbucker.
     
  17. funkysoul

    funkysoul Strat-Talker

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    that's it.....from what pickup i have heard till now everything under 9K's will do
     
  18. CFFF

    CFFF Strat-Talk Member

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    It is a little like looking for a elephant to balance with a butterfly.
     
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