Which electric guitars are good under 180
The difference between a single coil and a humbucker
The so-called single coil is a pickup with one coil and in most cases it is constructed like the Strat and Tele pickups described here. So a few thousand turns of wire wrapped around six permanent magnets. But also the P-90, with a slightly different magnetic field guidance, is a thoroughbred single spooler with all the advantages and disadvantages of this type of construction.
At the beginning of the transmission there is the permanent magnetic field of the pickup, which magnetizes the ferromagnetic string. If this magnetized string is now set in motion, it generates an alternating magnetic field, which in turn generates an electrical voltage in the coil, which is further amplified as a useful signal.
But there is not only the desired magnetic field of the string, but also other magnetic fields, such as the interference fields generated by transformers in the range of 50 Hz and their harmonics. These magnetic fields do exactly the same thing as the vibrating string: They generate an alternating magnetic field and thus a frequency-dependent voltage, which is further amplified as a uniform low tone, just like the desired useful signal. That is the annoying "humming sound" that sometimes spoils our fun with the single coil.
Seth Lover and Walter Fuller from Gibson developed a new type of pickup in the mid-1950s that was supposed to eliminate this annoying hum. The basis for the new development was the P-90, which Gibson had used as the standard pickup since 1946. This had a large coil with 10,000 turns of wire type AWG 42 with plain enamel insulation, which was only about half as high as that of a Strat or Tele pickup, but wider and longer.
Gibson distributed the 10,000 turns of the P-90 to two smaller coils with 5000 turns each and constructed the new pickup so that one of the two coils pointed north and the other south facing up. In addition, the two coils were wired with opposite winding directions, so that north and left winding coincided as well as south and right winding. In practice, however, both coils are wound to the left, except that the beginning and end of the wire are reversed on one coil in order to change the direction of the winding.
Because of the different magnetic alignment of the two coils, the vibrating string induces two useful signals out of phase (rotated by 180 °). If the two useful signals are now switched together in antiphase (right-hand winding / left-hand winding), the phase reversal is canceled; Or to put it another way: the phase of the signal from one of the two coils is rotated twice by 180 ° (once the magnetic direction, and the other the winding direction) and a double 180 ° rotation brings the phase back to the 0 ° starting position, so that the useful signals of the both coils can be added. So far, it's nothing special, because you could have worked with two in-phase coils to achieve this result.
But now comes the ingenious trick: Every external alternating magnetic field (e.g. the transformer of the amp) that induces a voltage in one of the two coils automatically generates the same voltage in the other coil. Because the two coils are wired in antiphase (phase rotated by 180 °), these (undesired) signals largely cancel each other out. Gibson calls this pickup "humbucking" pickup, hum = hum and buck = resist.
You can find more basics about your guitar in our Guitar ABC!
Humbucker or single coil? You can form your own opinion at the Guitar Summit in Mannheim. More information is available here!
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