Why humbuckers sound great in guitars?

Last Summer I decided that my Mexican Fender Stratocaster needed an upgrade, so I asked my brother-in-law to give my guitar an upgrade and to fit Seymour Duncan humbuckers.

I choose Seymour Duncan JB pickups because I wanted my guitar to sound better and they were best suited to the style of music that I play.

Gibson engineer, Seth Lover first invented Humbuckers in the 1950s. They consisted of a pair of single-coil pickups mounted side by side with the second magnets polarity reversed and the coils connected in series.

The two coils are connected out of phase, but inverting the magnet in one puts the signal back in phase. As a result, any hum picked up is cancelled out in a similar fashion to balanced audio cable.

What are humbuckers?

Most guitars come with single coil pickups which give off a less authoritative tone when playing. A humbucker is a double coil which uses two coils to cancel out the interference which is made by coil pickups. They sound much darker and fuller than single coils. Jazz and Blues players were the first to play with them, and Gibson Les Paul guitars were the first to be fitted with humbuckers in 1957.

Single coil vs. humbuckers

Which musicians used humbuckers

Humbuckers are usually used by musicians who play heavy rock music and metal and are found in Gibson guitars such as Les Paul and Gibson SG. You can also find them on Gretch guitars, Fenders and Yamahas.

  • Robert Plant
  • Dave Grohl
  • Kurt Cobain – He had Seymour Duncan JB’s fitted to some of his Fender guitars
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Billie Joe Armstong from Greenday plays a Fender Stratocaster with a humbucker on the bridge
  • Jimmy Page whose instrument of choice was a black Gibson Les Paul Custom equipped with three humbucker pickups and a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.
  • Eddie Van Halen

Which humbuckers can you buy?

On Gear4music popular pickups include Seymour Duncan, Di Marzio, EMG, and Gibson. Prices range from £9.99 for Belcat humbucker pickups to £93.57 for Gibson 57 humbuckers.

Here are five reasons why humbuckers sound great:

1: They have a deeper, punchier sound than single coils

2: They give you a louder distortion sound without the hum that single coils give when turned up loud

3: When they were first invented they were previously used by a lot of Blues guitar players

4: Players have a choice as there are different ones to suit different music styles

5: They aren’t expensive to buy.


If need advice on buying Humbuckers for your guitar take a look at this guide or for advice on fitting them contact admin@digitalclassic.co.uk.

Join in our social media discussions on Single Coils Vs Humbuckers.

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