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Thread: Silent single coil

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    ...

    So on this offset poles idea you have ferrite poles topped with steel slugs, I'm not quite understanding what you did there. I think you're probably getting pretty low guass at the poles which is probably why they are less bright than just alnico alone. cool idea...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    So on this offset poles idea you have ferrite poles topped with steel slugs, I'm not quite understanding what you did there. I think you're probably getting pretty low guass at the poles which is probably why they are less bright than just alnico alone. cool idea...
    No, this is ferrite poles topped with small neo magnets. I use magnets somewhat smaller than jbf uses, and the field strength is between a humbucker and an alnico single coil. (This is my six coil pickups where the field direction alternates from pole to pole.)

    I use a material with a pretty high permeability; I do not know what jbf is using. The permeability should affect the field strength, but I have not made measurements with different types of ferrite.

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    Hi Possum/Mike,

    I'm much indebted to Mike for the details on the ferrite cores. I think it works well.

    This is just a hobby to me, I'm not in the pickup-making business.

    Attached is a picture of the parts of the pickup I made. The base material is from an old CD cover ... easy to score, snap, and file down. The ferrites cores are #73, like Mike described. The neo's are 3/16" by 1/16" (not 3/16 as said earlier)" #42 grade.

    Here is is a test recording I made with the neck pickup. If you can detect any hum on the recording, it comes from my audio chain, not from the pickup.
    http://www.johanforrer.net/Guitars/E..._recording.mp3

    Thanks.

    JB.
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    Last edited by jbforrer; 11-19-2009 at 05:46 PM. Reason: corrected dimensions

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    Senior Member Old Tele man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbforrer View Post
    Here is is a test recording I made with the neck pickup. http://www.johanforrer.net/Guitars/E..._recording.mp3
    ...got a 'clean' clip without all the reverb and echo? I'd really like to hear what just the pickup alone can do.

    ...small (tiny?) pole pieces should be VERY harmonic sensitive, that is, not smeared nor "averaging" of the string vibrations, as occurs with larger diameter pole pieces.

    ...I'm guessing almost "hollow-body" like tonality...but also "picky" against large lateral (string bending) movements.

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    Last edited by Old Tele man; 11-20-2009 at 02:26 PM. Reason: corrected misspelling of "pieces"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Tele man View Post
    ...small (tiny?) pole pieces
    The magnets on top are 3/16" in diameter. The ferrite pole pieces below are about .2" diameter if they are the same ones I use. Were you looking at those nails that I think might have been used for alignment?

    If anyone is wondering, the ferrite is not a permanent magnet; it has high permeability, that is, it responds to magnetic fields by becoming magnetized while the field is applied, but the magnetization disappears when the field is removed. This is similar to steel, but the permeability is higher. This ferrite material is somewhat conductive, much less so than steel. Thus the coils tend to come out higher in Q than with steel or alnico. Thus, it might be necessary to load the pickup with a smaller resistor to get a particular sound. One can use a lower value of vol pot, or just add a resistor in parallel with the pickup. The resonant frequency might also be a bit high with these slender coils. It can be lowered with some parallel capacitance if necessary.

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    Senior Member Old Tele man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Sulzer View Post
    Were you looking at those nails that I think might have been used for alignment?
    ...guilty! I thought those 'alignment/assembly nails' were the actual pole pieces that would be positioned under the strings...duh!

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    You have good ears Old Tele man. I left you a PM to try out a loaner in your own environment and take your time to explore it.

    Thanks Mike for clarifying the bit about the magnets. Attached is a picture of the ferrite/magnet assembly next to a 0.710" long, 0.185" dia, Alnico magnet.

    Regards.

    JB.
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    And the side winder designs?
    They sounds like real single coils but without the hum, as some manufacturers says?

    I still has not tried this kind.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artur pickupmaker View Post
    And the side winder designs?
    They sounds like real single coils but without the hum, as some manufacturers says?

    I still has not tried this kind.
    Yes, they do. I have some Lawrence L-250s in a guitar, and they sound very much like single coils. Not exactly like Strat pickups, due to the difference in wire gauge and all, but a nice bright single coil tone. Some of the old Firebird guitars had sidewinders too.

    I've recently started making some sidewinder bass pickups, and they sound really good.

    I think the thing to keep in mind is the only thing that makes a single coil and a humbucker sound different, is how many places it senses the string.

    Side winders and split coil pickups sense the string at a single location, so even if they have two coils, they sound like a single coil. The differences in tone is due to coil geometry, and maybe wire gauge, if it's a small pickup, like the L-250.

    But if you aren't limited by trying to fit a certain pickup shape, you can certainly make a noiseless pickup that sounds like a typical single coil.

    I don't know how these sound, but it looks pretty cool. It's a Fralin P-90 sidewinder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Schwab View Post
    Side winders and split coil pickups sense the string at a single location, so even if they have two coils, they sound like a single coil. The differences in tone is due to coil geometry, and maybe wire gauge, if it's a small pickup, like the L-250
    I can only tell my experience using single coil sidewinder p'ups; and it's about the Lace "Holy Grail" strat set.

    They sounded quite nicely and very single-coil like, just they didn't behave like single-coils at all! All the dynamic response from the picking was lost, but in a studio setting it could be considered like a FEATURE!

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    ...

    There's more than just just string sensing area that defines difference between single coil and humbucker. I make a single coil that senses the strings in almost the same area as a bucker does and they don't sound the same. The reason is a humbucker if they are using equally wound coils don't just cancel 60 cycle hum, they cancel alot of other frequences in "notches" along the audio spectrum. I'm doing some experimenting now with equal wound coils and variations of mismatch. The thing I don't like about equally wound coils is that when you turn the volume pot down the pickup sounds really flat sounding. With a certain amount of offset this problem goes away. Question is how MUCH offset, where is the sweet spot? On a neck bucker a certain mismatch can actually make the pickup muddier than equal wound coils.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    There's more than just just string sensing area that defines difference between single coil and humbucker. I make a single coil that senses the strings in almost the same area as a bucker does and they don't sound the same. The reason is a humbucker if they are using equally wound coils don't just cancel 60 cycle hum, they cancel alot of other frequences in "notches" along the audio spectrum. I'm doing some experimenting now with equal wound coils and variations of mismatch. The thing I don't like about equally wound coils is that when you turn the volume pot down the pickup sounds really flat sounding. With a certain amount of offset this problem goes away. Question is how MUCH offset, where is the sweet spot? On a neck bucker a certain mismatch can actually make the pickup muddier than equal wound coils.
    A pickup senses the part of the string over the pole piece. The sensitivity falls of rapidy away from the pole piece. Thus, a humbucker senses two areas of the string, one for each pole piece. This leads to the cancellation of certain harmonics where the string motion is opposite over the two pole pieces. This can be thought of a comb notch filter, but remember that the frequencies canceled are different for each string since they are determined by the harmonics of each string.

    Humbuckers are also different from single coils because they have lower resonant frequencies and Qs.

    A pickup does not sense uniformly over the width of the whole coil as is sometimes stated.

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    ...

    I don't hear this string cancellation you're talking about, don't forget those two sets of poles aren' very far apart so I doubt the string could be opposite the other poles position. I"ve done prototype humbuckers using unique processes where you could actually hear double notes from both coils at the same time. Now if you're talking a single neck vs. bridge single coil I could buy that theory more easily and that is plainly heard. the cancellation I'm talking about is from both coils being wound the same number of turns. I am in the process right now of unwinding one of the coils 50 turns at a time and listening and recording the results of it fully being reassembled and installed into a guitar. Taking off only 50 turns you can hear other frequencies starting to open back up for fuller tone. the equal wound coils sounds great and very definied until you roll the volume pot down some, then it sounds flat and lifeless because too many frequencies just aren't there; which is probably why alot of these noiseless single coil ideas are lackluster.

    The single coil that I designed that senses the string from 3 places doesn't sound at all like its missing frequencies due to any kind of cancellation and is very fat sounding.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    I don't hear this string cancellation you're talking about, don't forget those two sets of poles aren' very far apart so I doubt the string could be opposite the other poles position.

    Sure you do. Humbuckers have reduced high end partly as a result of the phase cancelation. As you move the two coils farther apart, the notch shifts until you get the 2 and 4 positions on a Strat, for example.

    Don't forget that humbuckers have the coils wires up out-of-phase. The only reason they don't sound that way is the reverse magnets. So think of it as the waveform on one coil is going up, the other is going down. And the string is not vibrating the same over each coil because they not sensing the string at one location. Each one hears a slightly different portion of the harmonics on that string. So the higher harmonics "fall in the space" between the two coils, and miss the one side up the other side down effect, and get canceled out.

    And then the lows and mids are reinforced when the two waveforms are summed.

    The single coil that I designed that senses the string from 3 places doesn't sound at all like its missing frequencies due to any kind of cancellation and is very fat sounding.
    The single coil doesn't have another reverse polarity coil hooked up to it. A single coil can't cancel out itself. If it senses the string in two locations, both are in phase with each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    I don't hear this string cancellation you're talking about, don't forget those two sets of poles aren' very far apart so I doubt the string could be opposite the other poles position.
    The fundamental component results in the entire strong vibrating in the same direction with the maximum velocity and displacement in the middle.

    The 2nd harmonic (or first overtone) has the two halves moving in the opposite directions with a null in the middle.

    And so on.

    A humbucker senses the string at two spaced points with the same polarity, or phase. (Both electrical and magnetic polarities are reversed.) The spacing between the poles of a humbucker is about 3/4 inch. If the scale is 25.5 inches, and we can get full cancellation with a wavelength of twice the spacing, then with an open string we can get strong cancellation from the 17th harmonic and above.

    I can easily measure the 56th harmonic on an open E string (6). So there is plenty of frequency range where partial cancellation can occur. The higher harmonics are mostly picking transients, and so we expect the initial sounds of the string to be different when using a SC or a humbucker.

    This degree of cancellation can be affected at the very high frequencies by using different numbers of turns, but you really are not changing things very much.

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    ...

    Well I agree with David, but its because there are two coils, the cancellation is happening in the coils not from the string. The cancellation is happening because they wired to do that, the more hum you kill the more other frequencies you're killing too. Read the Lemme thing again. How could the string in the space of actually slightly less than 3/4 inch have one section vibrating in one direction and the other going in the opposite direction, that quite a twist there. If that kind of cancellation were happening then a single coil with two wide spaced pole sets would make it sound like a humbucker, well it doesn't. What I'm experiencing in these experiments is that equal wound coils actually sounds brighter because alot of frequencies are chopped out, but the resonant frequency is actually low. Start to mismatch the winds and those frequencies are reintroduced so the pickup starts to sound darker. I've only taken off 50 winds so the rez freq really hasn't changed much. The way you're describing string vibration it sounds like the string is divided up into very tiny little sine wave segments, I don't think its doing that, the waves are much longer than could be split over such a small space on a bucker pole set spacings. I could be wrong but if this effect is there its really insignificant. Somewhere there's a website that shows pickup place effects and how the strings vibrate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Well I agree with David, but its because there are two coils, the cancellation is happening in the coils not from the string. The cancellation is happening because they wired to do that, the more hum you kill the more other frequencies you're killing too. Read the Lemme thing again. How could the string in the space of actually slightly less than 3/4 inch have one section vibrating in one direction and the other going in the opposite direction, that quite a twist there. If that kind of cancellation were happening then a single coil with two wide spaced pole sets would make it sound like a humbucker, well it doesn't.
    The string vibrates as I described; view this animation to see the first four modes: The Vibration of a Fixed-Fixed String. Scroll down to find the animation. If you accept that it works that way for the the first four modes, then if you establish that higher harmonics exist by measuring them, then they work in a similar way.

    Suppose that you connect the coils of a humbucker in the reverse of the correct way. What do you hear (and I do not mean the hum)? Why?

    Humbuckers cancel hum but if the signals are the same in the two coils they add. The coils do not cause cancellation as you are saying. Canceling more hum does not cancel more signal.

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    ....

    Well maybe there is some string cancellation, it seems a bit far fetched to me. That would mean that every different note on the fretboard would have different amounts of cancellation? Hum cancelling though does not perfectly select extraneous hum and knock that out only. Read the Lemme document, he's done alot of work on this stuff and says that the coils are notching out other frequencies and thats what I believe. Whatever the cause this does happen. I've not listened to a bucker hooked up non-hum cancelling but am guessing it would sound alot fatter because frequencies aren't being notched out of the signal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    That would mean that every different note on the fretboard would have different amounts of cancellation?
    In terms of harmonics, yes, that is exacty right. But in terms of frequency, the response is the same for all fretted locations on a string, but different for each string. In effect, each string has its own filter that controls the response. That is why a string has a consistent sound: the frequency response of each fretted note is the same.


    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Read the Lemme document, he's done alot of work on this stuff and says that the coils are notching out other frequencies and thats what I believe.
    Read it yourself.

    Lemme: "Humbucking pickups have certain notches at high frequencies, because the vibrations of the strings are picked up at two points simultaneously."

    He is saying exactly what I am saying.

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    ...

    I just bit my tongue off, ouch....

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    ....

    There is still something not accounted for here though. Why do single coil stacked noiseless pickups sound as flat and lifeless with equal coils as a regular humbucker? Its only sensing the string at one point. I still think there is some kind of cancellation happening in the coils themselves. Unmatching regular humbucker coils is a solution and not always predictable results.

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Stacked pickups have a lot of low end phase cancelation. They come out very bright and thin sounding. So typically they are over wound to bring up the low end, and that of course changes the high end.

    The newer stacks like the Dimarzio virtual vintage sound a lot like single coils.

    On this track, the guitar parts are played on a Strat style guitar with Gibson scale length (a bit less chimey) and I used a virtual vintage solo pro (a bridge pickup) at the neck. This was a guitar a built for someone, and that's the way they wanted the pickup.

    Bass Head

    So you can hear that they sound just like real single coils.

    (the guitar in the recording)


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    The Gretsch Filtertrons are very evenly wound between the two coils, according to TVJones. Perhaps this is one reason why they are brighter than many humbuckers, aside from the narrower coil sensing area and lower winds?

    Greg

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    ....

    Now, this becoming contradicting. Why would there be low end phase cancellation in a stacked single coil if its only sensing the strings from one point? This is why I think there is something else going on with equally wound coils.

    Hard to say anything about TV Jones or old Filtertrons, I'd have to examine the real alloys and everything about them to figure them out. His pickups are oustanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    There is still something not accounted for here though. Why do single coil stacked noiseless pickups sound as flat and lifeless with equal coils as a regular humbucker? Its only sensing the string at one point. I still think there is some kind of cancellation happening in the coils themselves. Unmatching regular humbucker coils is a solution and not always predictable results.
    Traditional stacked humbuckers have lower resonant frequencies and Qs than SCs. They simply do not have the high frequencies.

    There are two major differences between SCs and humbuckers:

    1. Removal of high frequencies due to the circuit components, that is, more L from two coils causing a loss of highs.

    2. Removal of selected highs in a periodic comb filter due to the spacing of the two sampling points on the string.

    Suppose you buffer a standard humbucker in the guitar. The resonant frequency rises because you have removed the effect of the capacitance of the cable. You have removed the first effect, and if you want, you can use a selected C to put the resonance where it would be with a single coil. But the second effect remains.

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  26. #61
    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Now, this becoming contradicting. Why would there be low end phase cancellation in a stacked single coil if its only sensing the strings from one point? This is why I think there is something else going on with equally wound coils.
    Because the two coils are out of phase. They don't have the opposite magnets facing the strings, so they are sensing the same part of the string, but out of phase.

    If you switch them in phase, the pickup gets much louder, with more low end, but then it hums. Duncan calls that a "power boost". I had made a stacked Tele lead pickup, and wound it to about 14K, and it was bright and clean like a Tele. When I switched the coils in phase it sounded like a 14K single coil.

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    ...

    This is contradictory information. Have you ever heard a Kinman noiseless strat or a Lace? Those things are very bright. What I'm saying is that a traditional humbucker with equal wound coils and a stacked humbucker both suffer from the same problem of not having a full frequency response because the coils are equally wound. I'm not talking about single coils at all here, only equal wound noiseless coils of both types. ONe sense the strings at two points the other doesn't yet they have the same problems. I haven't worked with noiseless stacked coils but I am assuming that like traditonal buckers, that if you don't wind both coils equally you will get a more full spectrum tone. If that is so, then where the sensing is happening isn't the main cause of notched dropouts.....clear?

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    I think you've lost the thead of what I was trying to say, that EQUAL WOUND DOUBLE COILS in any kind of bucker BECAUSE THEY ARE EQUAL, are trimming out stuff besides extraneous noise, no matter what kind of bucker idea it is, stacked, or side by side. And this is why when you turn down the volume pot they sound lifeless and flat. The idea of string vibration phase cancellation can't happen in a stacked bucker because its not sensing two seperate areas of the string. So WHAT IS happening? I don't know, I just know its there and by unmatching the coils frequencies start coming back. WHY?

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    Last edited by Possum; 11-24-2009 at 07:24 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    I think you've lost the thead of what I was trying to say, that EQUAL WOUND DOUBLE COILS in any kind of bucker BECAUSE THEY ARE EQUAL, are trimming out stuff besides extraneous noise, no matter what kind of bucker idea it is, stacked, or side by side.

    Applying science and engineering to a humbucker does not show such an effect.

    Anyway, aren't you kind of shooting yourself in the foot? From all accounts, Gibson did not control the relative number of turns on the two coils of PAFs with any accuracy at all. So if your effect is real and significant, the sounds of PAFS should vary a lot. So there would not be much reason to sell or buy a product that claims to duplicate it. Which "it" would be correct?

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  30. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    This is contradictory information. Have you ever heard a Kinman noiseless strat or a Lace? Those things are very bright.
    Lace sensors are single coils. I don't think Lace makes any stacked pickups, but they do have the Holy Grail side-winder.

    Yeah, I said stacked pickups are bright sounding. When I wound a 14K pickup, I was expecting a fuller tone with more mids, but I got glassy bright vintage-Tele-land. This is why you see stacks wound like 24K on the DiMarzio HS-3 and the older Duncan stacks.

    What I'm saying is that a traditional humbucker with equal wound coils and a stacked humbucker both suffer from the same problem of not having a full frequency response because the coils are equally wound.
    But.. a humbucker loses highs, and a stack loses lows. The reason you have to unbalance the coils is because they are out of phase, so making them mismatched puts them slightly back in phase.

    As a test, make a humbucker with two coils with the same magnet polarity facing the strings, and with both coils in phase. It will sound very different (and hum too).

    I haven't worked with noiseless stacked coils but I am assuming that like traditonal buckers, that if you don't wind both coils equally you will get a more full spectrum tone. If that is so, then where the sensing is happening isn't the main cause of notched dropouts.....clear?
    If you will get more low end. The low end is notched out. With a regular humbucker the highs are notched out. If you move the two coils closer together, like a mini rail Strat pickup, the notch moves up and they sound brighter.

    Any time you combine two pickups, even if they are in phase, you will get cancelations and reinforcements, because the vibration of the string is not sensed in phase by both pickups at all frequencies.

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    It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. Albert Einstein


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    ...

    Mike you totally missed the point again My point is that a perfect noise cancelling pickup sucks!
    Science and engineering falls short in alot of pickup areas especially in this one, where for some reason no one here has really explained, why perfectly matched coils don't sound good unless you have your guitar's volume pot dimed all the time. I'm not a fan of flat sounding tones and thats exactly what they do, stack or side by side. Sure, through a cranked amp at high volume they cut right through, but for expressive more full tones, they don't do it for me.
    I wasn't even talking about PAFs. All over the place, well yes and no. The ones that were just plain bad were just a happenstance combination of everything gone wrong, but I think the good ones were more common than not. They did have a recipe, Seth Lover said they were wound to inductance in a rare interview I have, they weren't just willy nilly. Wire gauge sizes changed, some steel things changed, so early year PAFs and later could sound different. All the good ones all sound very similar to me and thats what I shoot for, those tones are shared by all the famous guys who made those guitars famous, all very close sounding, the differences being the artist and their rig mostly. Allman for instance used his tone controls alot more than most others did.

    There is a "sweet spot" in mismatching coils in an accurate PAF reproduction and it depends on how many total winds the pickup is and goes from there. There will probably be several sweet spot ratios, just takes agonizing amounts of time to find, and it also depends on how your coils are wound, how many turns per layer. Science and engineering can't tell you anything about that, it takes ears. I don't mean any disrespect and I learned something here, but my experience isn't what you are telling me it should be, sorry. None of my bucker sets use identical wound coils.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Mike you totally missed the point again My point is that a perfect noise cancelling pickup sucks!
    You are claiming that there are frequencies missing when the coils are perfectly matched. That is not correct.

    Gibson may well have changed the number of turns to keep the inductance the same when steel or wire size changed in different production runs, but that is not what I am referring to. I am referring to the accuracy with which the number of turns in the two coils was constrained to match within a production run. From all accounts, it was not that good. Therefore, you have some that match well, and others, not so well. You say that all but a few bad ones sound good. That contradicts your statement that the coils of a pickup cannot match well if you want the pickup to not suck.

    Yesterday you were using what Lemme (a guy who does kind of engineering analyses) wrote to justify what you are saying. But now that you have realized that he was not saying what you thought, engineering cannot explain what you hear. And you think I am confused!

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    I've noticed nobody has mentioned one effective method, that of using an electronically buffered parallel inductance. Basically you have a small inductor (usually by opamps), with a buffer in an inverting configuration. The inductor is kept small with gain applied at the buffer to match the level of the hum from the pickups.

    The advantage to this system is that it can be matched to virtually any pickup, and it does not change the electrical characteristics of the pickups so the tone is totally unchanged. The active components are not in the signal path of the pickups, and the whole system is small and fairly flexible in how it can be mounted.

    Unfortunately, ernie ball holds a patent on this system (which I imagine a fair number of people, including myself, have independently devised) and they do not sell their system aftermarket at all. But it is not a difficult circuit to build, just a battery, an inductor (probably something in the 100mH range), an opamp, a few resistors, maybe some coupling caps if you're very picky.

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    uvacom,

    Yes, I do not know how one can be granted a patent for using an op amp buffer. I bet it would not stand up in court if anyone cared to challenge it.

    In any case, using a small inductor and then an amp (op or otherwise) with gain is not such a good idea if you play the guitar with a lot of gain. The op amp on the dummy becomes the main contributor of noise (hiss) since you have more total gain on the dummy than the pickup.

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    Yeah, I mostly play clean and cavity space on a tele is short so that's the tradeoff I make. But certainly it's possible to use a larger inductor with less gain, and obviously the quality of the opamp matters too.

    I'd say that probably most people who are concerned enough about single-coil tone to not use some kind of hum-cancelling pickup aren't piling on the gain anyway, but nonetheless that is one of the biggest drawbacks to the design.

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