Single Coil vs Humbucking Pickups

There is a big difference between the sound of a single coil pickup versus a humbucking pickup.

First off the humbucker got it’s name because it was designed to “buck” hum. Where a single coil has one coil, a humbucker has two that work together to remove hum. That being said, the two types don’t sound the same with the humbucker having less hum.

To choose the right one for a beginning guitarist the music the guitar player will be performing should be considered. Generally single coil pickups, as in the Affinity Telecaster, seem to lend them selves to cleaner guitar sounds. They are often used in country, blues or rock.

Single Coil Pickup

Single Coil Pickup

 

For heavier types of rock or metal humbucker pickups, as in the Epiphone Les Paul, are most often used. When there is a lot of distortion coming from the amplifier or a pedal, humbucker pickups seem to sound more “together” or more focused and defined.

 

Humbucking Pickup

Humbucking Pickup

 

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. There are country players using humbuckers and metal players using single coils. As a players style evolves they will likely try all sorts of guitar pickups and will find the one that suits them best. Generally though, single coils for clean or lightly distorted and humbuckers for a lot of distortion is a decent plan to start with.