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Make ANY humbucker sound like a single coil in 2 minutes.

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by ITSGOTQUACK, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. sidney

    sidney Strat-Talk Member

    Jul 8, 2014
    Norfolk, England
    Why is he a fool? He took time out of his life to offer a simple mod that you may or may not like to try out, and you slap him down for it? This aint twitter you know.
  2. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Strat-Talker Vendor Member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Clever idea.

    Let's talk about what's really happening, because I haven't seen anyone get it right.

    The main difference between Strat-type single coils and humbuckers that contributes to the tonal response is not the geometry of the magnetic field, it's the pole piece material (I know this is probably a somewhat controversial statement and goes against a lot of accumulated, phenomenological interpretation, but it's true). Strat pickups use AlNiCo magnets as pole pieces, humbuckers use steel slugs and screws and utilize a magnet that is external to the core.

    The stuff that's in the core of the coil is the primary driver of the frequency response of the pickup.

    If you take the pole pieces out of a pickup, any pickup, the resonant frequency will rise, the resonant peak will get sharper and the inductance will drop significantly.

    When you take the screws out of a humbucker, you are effectively pushing the frequency response of the pickup more in the direction of a single coil (i.e. you are lowering the inductance, raising the resonance and sharpening the resonant peak). The screw coil, even thought it is contributing no signal (actually I believe it would now be contributing some anti-polarity string signal) is still part of the circuit.

    Your pickup will also be noisier. Removing the screws lowers the inductance of that coil. Inductance is a measure of the efficiency with which the coil picks up signal. This applies to both string signal and noise signal. Without the screws in place, the screw coil will pick up less anti-phase noise.

    Also, a side note on how hum-cancelling works. There was a convoluted description of this a page or two back. It's actually simpler than that.

    There are different types of noise that a pickup will detect. In terms of "hum" let's not talk about the pickup as an "antenna" but rather as a magnetic sensor. What we call 60 cycle hum (at least in the States) is the audible representation of the magnetic component of AC power. It radiates from the web of AC electrical power lines that typically surround any space that you happen to be playing in. Your pickups sense this 60 cycle magnetic pulse the same way they sense the string signal. But, as the 60 cycle magnetic pulse is external to the pickup, it is independent from the magnetic polarity of the pickup. Therefore, two coils wound in opposite directions (or even simply connected opposite to each other) will collect the magnetic pulse at opposite polarity relative to each other and when these anti-polarity signals are combined, the noise signal will cancel.

    "Buzz" now, is a different type of noise and comes from different sources. Buzz is more like broadcasted EMI. In this sense, you can think of the pickup as an antenna. Buzz will not be eliminated with hum-cancelling pickups and must be shielded against.

    You can tell them apart this way. The hum (magnetic) field has strong nodes and anti nodes and the magnitude of the hum signal will go up and down as you re-orient your coils relative to the field. Buzz (EMI) stays relatively constant with position. They sound different, too.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  3. Vindibona1

    Vindibona1 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Thanks Scott for a very concise and informative reply. I just have one question about clarifying one statement:

    Are you saying that the "reorientation" is a possibly a matter of possibly rotation one's position while holding the guitar (turning the guitar toward or away from the amp)so as to change the amount of hum that comes thru the amp? In my case, I have a tremendous amount of hum, but if I turn my guitar to a certain point it nearly goes away. If I turn it away from that point it becomes very loud, to the point where if I introduce distortion the hum is almost unbearable, except for that very small position facing the amp.

    Thanks again.
  4. Zexcoil

    Zexcoil Strat-Talker Vendor Member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Exactly. That's hum and it's magnetic in nature. Although I think it's more about your position in relation to the web of magnetic noise around you than the amp per se. You can think about the magnetic noise field like a standing wave. Often you can find that perfect position that makes it go away almost entirely, when you're in what's basically a trough in the field. Pickups with efficient hum-cancelling will make it go away as well. Shielding (at least the type used in guitars) will not make that type of noise go away.
  5. stratnutz

    stratnutz Senior Stratmaster

    Apr 10, 2011
    Dallas TX
    Yeah , he really drained it to the max, but Ive got a Tele to get that sound.
  6. church boy01

    church boy01 Strat-Talker

    Sep 30, 2012
    Am I the only shallow person here that thinks that with metal covered humbuckers taking the screws out wrecks the appearance of the pickup!
  7. metalgard

    metalgard New Member!

    Aug 27, 2015
    New York
    How would one go about doing this on a guitar with EMG's, or a guitar with pickup screws that seem to be unscrewable like for example on an Ibanez RG120?

  8. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jan 10, 2014
    Initech, Inc.
    Simple answer: you don't.
    You might be able to push the slugs out, but you'd have to disassemble the while thing to get it, pull the magnet off the back, and push the slugs out of the plastic bobbin by force. You really stand a high risk of wrecking the whole thing.
  9. Armour

    Armour Strat-Talker

    Nov 4, 2008
    If I met that guy in a bar I'd probably end up punching the boring git. 7 excrutiating minutes to get to the point. He's turned the humbucker into a single with a dummy coil. Nice. :rolleyes:
  10. firebirdguy72

    firebirdguy72 Strat-Talker

    Apr 19, 2015
    Bend Or.
    Somebody call the wambulance! Don't like him? Don't watch! No point in insulting the man because you don't like how long the video is...
  11. BarryR

    BarryR Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 18, 2014
    Southern California
    It is clever but the guitar cannot be changed back on the fly which is very desirable.

    I don't understand the negative criticism either. I watched a lot of Scott's videos and some of his ideas and views I agree with and some I don't. Buy I am not going to insult the guy just because I don't agree with him. Grow up people.
  12. metalgard

    metalgard New Member!

    Aug 27, 2015
    New York
    Fair enough, that guitar is ridiculously cheap. What about EMG's though?