Friday, July 22, 2011

Word of the Day: humbucker

Sentence: “Even if [Marc] Ribot has a Greenwich Village folksy vibe to him, in contrast with [Nels] Cline’s surfer-rock looks, they are actually two coils of the same humbucker.” - Andrey Henkin, The New York City Jazz Record, July 2011

Noun (1)
1. A pickup, on an electric guitar, that has a pair of coils of reverse polarity connected in series - to "buck" the "hum".

• “The pickups on the bottom humbucker have pop-jet fountains in them.” Guitar Fridays: the Gibson Les Paul
• “The two humbucker pickups help give it the range it needs to go from thick, weeping solos to crunchy rhythm instantly.” Guitar Fridays: Gibson ES-335
• “This guitar sports an alder body, 24 frets with a rosewood fingerboard, an Edge Pro locking bridge system, DiMarzio pickups in a HSH configuration humbucker, single coil, humbucker, and a look that beckons to be touched.” Guitar Fridays: Ibanez JEM Series
• “September 10th, 2006 at 11:32 am rupert humbucker says:” Think Progress » Cheney Ignores Senate Intel Report, Cites Zarqawi As Evidence of Iraq/Al Qaeda Connection
• “Sounds like a humbucker would be good for rockarama, which the Pacifica has along with single coils for Keef heaven.” Word Magazine - Comments
• “Some have even started building solid-body guitars, filling the cigar boxes with snugly fit pieces of wood and installing humbucker pickups.” Chicago Reader
• “It has one volume control, one tone control, a 5 way switch, two coil tap switches for the humbucker and a phase switch.” All Updates @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
• “I've yet to hear a coil split bridge humbucker tone I thought was reasonable, so oh well.” All Updates @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
• “Features: Is a 24-fret, double humbucker, push-pull-coil-tap, babe of a guitar that was made in Indonesia 2009 and I've purchased it recently (Nov 2009). 24-3/4 in.” All Updates @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
• “It has PP-1 humbucker pickups, specially made for the darkstone.” All Updates @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com
A type of guitar pickup where two coils of wire and two magnets are used, as opposed to a "single coil" pickup. The humbucker is made so the two coils of wire are out of polarity with each other and each is wound around a magnet of opposite polarity. The humbucking pickup has two distinct advantages over standard single coil pickups. They are higher output and less hum and noise. The higher output occurs simply by having two pickups working in conjunction with one another, even though the two coils and magnets are of opposite polarity. This works because it's sort of a double reversal (like two negatives make a positive), which leaves the two voltages created by the string's vibration over each coil in polarity with each other. The backwards magnet throws it out of polarity, but the coil being wound backwards as well reverses it again, leaving it in phase with the voltage on the other coil. But hum and noise that can be induced into the coil of wire through electromagnetic radiation (EMI) -- as opposed to moving a string through the magnetic field created by the magnet -- get canceled when the two signals are combined because the two coils are out of polarity with each other. Humbucking pickups are known for a certain type of "thicker," heavier sound and aren't preferred by guitarists in all situations.

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