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Thread: Silent single coil

  1. #71
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    Mike you're off in PAF land and my thoughts are strictly on matched coil buckers, stacked or side by side. Why is a stacked bucker with matched coils sound so sterile? Why is cancellation happening in those pickups, why do they sound flat when volume pot is rolled down. Thats what I am trying to get an answer to and it sounds like you're saying they are reproducing the full frequency range same as a single coil would? I misinterpreted Lemme but still doesn't explain stacked coils not sounding good enough for me to ever buy one. Somewhere around here I do have some Lace pickups and they ARE buckers, they have 2 coils set up vertically on each side of the pickup. I don't like them and they have a problem with the end poles not being very strong in sensing I'm told. The Suhr system is the only thing that makes any sense to me because it actually doesn't interfere very much with the single coils you use it with. But I did have one customer tell me after he tried it that it still takes away from the tone. Gibson PAFs were never evenly matched, though towards the end of them it looks like they made more of an effort to do so. With TTops they had counters and shutoffs and those WERE matched, and one of the reasons they are way less musical than PAFs. I did alot of research on those as well, but even those don't have matched winding patterns which is another way to go thats helpful....

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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.

    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.
    Yeah I agree about TVJones's stuff. He pretty much did the Gretsch thing so well that no one competes with him. I love the set of Classic Filtertrons I got from him that I put into my 5120 Electromatic.

    Greg

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    Tom is a really nice cool guy too, I like his covers alot also. Those pickups remind me alot of stuff I'm doing, I can literally hear the thought and attention to detail that went into them, couldn't find fault with them at all, they are way underpriced in my opinion....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Mike you're off in PAF land and my thoughts are strictly on matched coil buckers, stacked or side by side. Why is a stacked bucker with matched coils sound so sterile? Why is cancellation happening in those pickups, why do they sound flat when volume pot is rolled down.
    I'm not Mike, but I answered your questions Dave...

    Side-by-side humbuckers have two electrically out-of-phase coils. This is how they buck the hum. Because the magnets are reversed, they sense the strings in phase. But because the two coils are separated by a distance, each one hears the string at a different point in its vibration. While the string is vibrating you have nodes and antinodes. The higher harmonics end up getting picked up by both coils and canceled out slightly. If you wire a humbucker in-phase, you will hear the opposite, the harmonics and very little fundamental.

    The other thing that's going on is the common frequencies from both coils get added, so you get that big low end and mid boost.

    Stacked pickup are different because you have two out-of-phase coils occupying the same space. If you take any two pickup guitar and wire the pickups out-of-phase, you will get a thin sound with very little low end. The closer you move the two coils together, the thinner it gets.

    The only reason you get any sound from a stacked pickup is that the bottom coil sounds much different from the top. It has a very dark sound with little high end. So the highs from the top coil get heard, and the low end from both get canceled out.

    In both situations, unbalancing the coils works because you are hearing more of one coil than the other, so the phase cancelation is reduced, just as if you had two out of phase pickups on a Les Paul, and you turned the volume down on one.

    The newer stacks have a bottom coil with low resistance and fewer turns, and it's partially shielded from picking up the strings, so it doesn't phase cancel as much of the tone.

    But even the older stacks can sound nice. I had a set of the old Duncans in a Strat once, two vintage stacks and a hot stack, and they sounded very nice.

    Even the one I made for my Tele sounded good, but I wanted a hotter pickup for that guitar, so I went with a dual rail pickup.

    Stacks tend to have reduced output too, so you have to wind them hotter.

    What do you define as lifeless? Lack of highs? Lack of lows?

    Here's an old recording I did back in 1987. It was done on a Tascam Porta Studio, and the tape has a lot of dropouts. But in it you hear two guitars, the rhythm guitar is a real Tele with the stock pickups, and the lead/melody guitar is a Strat type guitar with Duncan stacks. The guitar also had a Floyd Rose, but even then it got a very lively tone. All the guitars were recorded direct, so they are a bit sizzly. The track was mostly improvised as I recorded it, so there are lot of flubs! For the curious, the bass is my '74 Rick with a Gibson mudbucker at the neck and a Hi-A (Bartolini) at the bridge. I think it had flats on it.

    They don't sound lifeless to me! That guitar used to get a great Hendrix tone from the neck pickup.

    Drums & Wires (my homage to XTC)

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    Last edited by David Schwab; 11-25-2009 at 03:23 PM.
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    Thanks Dave, Mike seemed to be insisting that buckers only have notched frequencies because of the coils hearing different areas of the strings, which stacked buckers don't. I was talking only of exactly matched coils. I'm still no fan of fake single coils that are "noiseless." I did hear a guy play some Kinmans and they were pretty impressive, but still no match for the dumbass single coils. The reason I like PAFs is because they were seldom exactly matched, and just the design details of each bobbin and associated steel parts guarantees they won't match. They are much more single coil/P90 sounding than perfect humbucking. Perfect humbucking is an engineer's ideal but a musician's disaster.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Thanks Dave, Mike seemed to be insisting that buckers only have notched frequencies because of the coils hearing different areas of the strings, which stacked buckers don't.
    Yep, and I will keep on insisting until someone makes a repeatable measurement showing what you claim and explains why it happens. That is what I find convincing.

    Stacked humbuckers work because there is more flux from the vibrating string passing through the top coil than the bottom coil; so when the coils are connected out of phase, the signals only partially cancel. This works at all frequencies.

    There is an interesting effect that changes the frequency response of a stacked humbucker when the coils are connected in phase. For the same reason that some flux from the string gets to the bottom coil, some flux produced by current in the top coil passes through the bottom coil, and vice versa. This means that the coils are coupled, but imperfectly. The total inductance of the seires combination is the sum of the individual inductances and the mutual. But the mutual inductance is a signed quantity. If the coils are connected in phase, the mutual inductance increases the total inductance; when they are connected out of phase, the mutual inductance decreases the total inductance. Thus, out of phase connection, the normal way for a stacked hubucker, has a higher resonance frequency, and is brighter, than in phase.

    A side by side humbucker generally has more inductance, and thus less highs, from the two cols connected in series than a single coil. The frequency loss introduced by the sampling is somewhat different. It is not really a low pass filter, but approximately a comb filter.

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    OK got it. The secret is don't match the coils. If you want single coil tone USE a single coil. I can see why maybe a sidewinder bucker might be a better idea? It wouldn't have these same problems correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    The reason I like PAFs is because they were seldom exactly matched, and just the design details of each bobbin and associated steel parts guarantees they won't match. They are much more single coil/P90 sounding than perfect humbucking. Perfect humbucking is an engineer's ideal but a musician's disaster.....
    To each his own, man. I personally don't like the tone of PAFs, not enough treble, not enough definition. Someone that plays with a pick and uses thinner strings they might be ok, especially with a good amount of distortion, but for me they still don't bring out all the nuances I'd like to hear. On the other hand, I find my EMGs to be perfect for my taste. I can see though that for someone who's only interested in copying old guitar tones and not wanting to find something new or different, PAFs and regular humming single coils are the perfect devices.

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    Have you ever actually played a real set of PAFs? It doesn't sound like you have, because there is no lack of treble and they have plenty of definition. You ought to actually visit my website sometime, half of what I make are my own unique designs of pickups that no one else makes and have nothing to do with vintage pickups. I recreate PAFs and love them because they are so very clear sounding and I don't see anyone doing them accurately. Big companies use alot of slick marketing verbage and say they've recreated them, blah blah, but I've dissected most of the best known ones and had all the metals in them analyzed and they are nothing like what you find in PAFs and are usually tailored for modern players who like dark pickups.....they're not PAFs

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    Pickup Maker David Schwab's Avatar
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    Yeah, PAFs are bright! I had some very early patent label pickups. The owner replaced them with DiMarzios because they were too bright and clear for him.

    That dark humbucker thing is a myth.

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    Well depends on what you call bright. I need more of the real highs and not just high mids.

    According to Bill Lawrence "As a general rule, the higher the inductance, the lesser the highs. For example, a traditional strat pickup has an inductance around 2.3 henry while a Gibson PAF has an inductance around 4.4 henry...", which explains my observations nicely.

    Also, something with that much metal around the coils will surely generate eddy currents, that's why removing the cover of a PAF style pickup will make it sound more open.

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    Do you think the age of the pickup and the fact that over time pickups move toward becoming more microphonic has something to do with the 'bright' character of PAFs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by StarryNight View Post
    Do you think the age of the pickup and the fact that over time pickups move toward becoming more microphonic has something to do with the 'bright' character of PAFs?
    No I don't. I don't think they are "bright" to begin with. To me, vintage bright is what Fender single coils are, especially strat pickups (no baseplate or cover).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vihar View Post
    No I don't. I don't think they are "bright" to begin with. To me, vintage bright is what Fender single coils are, especially strat pickups (no baseplate or cover).
    Exactly. Single coil pickups with no metal around are the brightest.

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    I think you just don't like humbuckers period. PAFs are not dark, average inductance is 4 henries, AC resistance 10-11K. Modern buckers are usually over that because face it, most guitar players are using printed circuit tube amps or solid state, now THOSE are bright amps, so you need dark humbuckers to work with them. There used to be a guy at our jam who brought this horrible Deluxe Reverb "reissue" and a couple of us finally asked him to leave it at home because it was shredding our ear drums and breaking glass, horrible little amp that sounds nothing like the real thing. Most cheap humbucker equipped guitars come with bright pickups but they use .047uf tone caps and really trashy wiring harnesses to dumb them down, this cuts out alot of the brightness. If PAFs were dark I would have zero interest in them. PAFs metal are actually VERY bright, it was the magnet wire that brought that down into usability. By comparison, original 1950's P90s were darker, usually 5-6 henrys, I've heard a set from '53 that sounded very strat-like. If you ever get a chance to play a real vintage PAF equipped guitar, dont pass it up, you might fall in love :-) The reason too many people think they are fat and dark is because guys back in those days actually used their tone controls and the amps were probably darker, without master volume controls, guitar cords were very high capacitance; they were able to dial in darker fat tones using those pickups, Clapton is a classic example of an extreme version of that, his pickups weren't that dark.

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    BTW I own what is probably a '61 PAF (long magnet), that came from a Gibson test guitar (335) from their Lab amp factory, never had a sticker on it, the guitar was a '62, but those usually had shorter magnets, so I"m assuming its an earlier pickup. I also have a '63, the only difference there being poly wire instead of plain enamel. I've also had some '60 PAFs here from the classic era, all these pickups are quite bright, and with the treble turned up on an amp could probably annoy some people. I"m not saying there weren't any dark PAFs because some of them had too much wire on them, and many as they age get partial coil shorts in them which dull them down substantially. But the majority of them were plenty bright, probably why they fell out of favor when DiMarzio came along and amps got brighter with master volumes.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    I think you just don't like humbuckers period.
    A fact does not imply a preference. I introduced PAFs into this discussion as an example of pickups that have considerable variation in the turns count on the two coils. The rest is in your head.

    Guitar tone controls: theory, measurement, and listening tests all show that whether the cap values is .022 or .047 does not matter over most of the range of the tone pot. This is because the impedance of either capacitor value at high frequencies is much less than 500K. When you turn down the pot from 10, you are lowering the resistive load on the pickup; that is why you cut highs. When you get closer to zero, then the value of the capacitor matters, for that really bassy sound.

    A tube amp using a pc board is not necessarily brighter than one wired point to point. It might be; perhaps many are, but it need not be so.

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    The value of your tone pot CAP DOES affect the treble range of the pickup, especially when the tone control is not being used. I know this first hand. I had forgotten during my prototyping tests last year that I had left the .047uf tone caps in my cheap LP, and was banging my head against the wall because I just could not force that pickup to hit a certain treble range, then I opened the control cavity and there sat two green .047uf monsters. Replaced them with .022's and suddenly they were sounding like the pickups in my other guitar which have same. There is no argument about this, its a real effect.

    Here is a set of real PAFs, you think these are muddy and dull?
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFAo-tFDRb4"]YouTube- 1959 Gibson Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty" # 9 0468[/ame]

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    Put a whammy on there and you'd have a (very quiet) Strat.

    What about played through a Gibson amp?

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    Those are very typical PAFs, put those in the hands of Jimmy Page and you get Zeppelin tone, Bloomfield, you get Bloomy tone etc. etc.. Admittedly that guitar is solid mahogany, no maple cap but most of those pickups are in that range. This is why I say if you've never played real ones before and only played Gibson or Duncans, you don't know what you're missing. They also have elements of P90 tone in them, and in middle position could be mistaken for middle position on a tele. God tone , there's so much you can do with pickups like that that the bad copies don't even come near. The closest I've heard so far have been some Gibson Burstbuckers in the hands of a pro, but lately, talking to Jon with what he's found about them vs. what I found, they aren't made consistenlty to a strict recipe and there's some that are real muddy, I hear that from customers alot...mud. Someone pointed me to a YT video where someone unwound some BB's quite alot and the tone improved alot, but they didn't follow the real details in real PAFs....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Here is a set of real PAFs, you think these are muddy and dull?
    Yes. They have high mids but not near as much treble as a strat.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cduarIbcrsE"]YouTube- Manuel Bastian and a 1959 Fender Stratocaster[/ame]

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    Nobody said they did, but people make those mistakes in listening to PAFs. Peter Green's "Albatross" I've been told by some people was recorded on his Les Paul. It was a strat, its very hard to tell which is which....

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    If you listen to this video with your eyes closed, you'd probably swear these guys are playing teles, I LOVE this group, they later did move to Fender guitars:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FALutagdHNw"]YouTube- The Tielman Brothers - Black Eyes (live 1960)[/ame]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    Nobody said they did, but people make those mistakes in listening to PAFs. Peter Green's "Albatross" I've been told by some people was recorded on his Les Paul. It was a strat, its very hard to tell which is which....
    According to Don Brown (world's largest collection of Peter Green recordings), Green said he played both guitars on that song, which is how it sounds to me too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    If you listen to this video with your eyes closed, you'd probably swear these guys are playing teles, I LOVE this group, they later did move to Fender guitars:

    YouTube- The Tielman Brothers - Black Eyes (live 1960)
    I would have guessed Gretsches, but yes, they sound quite bright in that one. Kinda like Duane Eddy. Not Fender sc bright though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vihar View Post
    According to Don Brown (world's largest collection of Peter Green recordings), Green said he played both guitars on that song, which is how it sounds to me too.
    The main melody was a strat, the unison bends was the les paul.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Possum View Post
    If you listen to this video with your eyes closed, you'd probably swear these guys are playing teles, I LOVE this group, they later did move to Fender guitars:
    Look where they are picking. That explains the treble sound, but Fender SC pickups do not sound like that when you pick there.

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    Hello everyone , my first test on the homemade version of the bpssc is working,
    i even found room in the regular strat control cavity to lodge it !

    I will post picture soon , with sound sample .

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbforrer View Post
    Hi,

    Thought I'd revisit the split-coiled, RWRP version of the SC (Newman?) and see for myself. Attached is a picture of my build.

    The windings are made with #42 SPN with a combined DCR=6K, L=2H, Fr=10KHz. This one was made with a StewMac kit cut in half and each section wound separately, then later re-assembled. Takes me about the best of an evening to fabricate one pickup as its somewhat labor-intensive and also needs working under magnification.

    Getting the magnets charged to correct levels was tricky, especially the G/D pair, but I sorted that out eventually.

    Sure, there is a some artifacts when doing heavy bends over the G/D poles, but thats not my playing style and is a non issue for me. These pickups sound great like my vintage sets and are absolutely quiet --- I can sit in front of my computer CRT with the guitar 12" away and, only when turned in a specific orientation to induce an overload of radiation, will one hear a tiny bit of buzz. In that position my regular SC pickups are unbearable.

    Trust this is of interest.

    Regards.

    JB.
    Without any bends, is there any hint of cancellations?
    How much bending can it take before something comes up?

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    Hi Amit,

    Hopefully I'm not overlooking some design/construction flaw that I introduced, but not overly enthusiastic about the results.

    If you're a shred-zone player, it does not take much to push the G/D strings in between the G/D pole zones at the neck pickup and experience a dropout. This is a serious issue with the Alnico rod version. There also are weird cancellation/phasing effects associated with the G/D poles, particularly noticeable at the neck pickup but also a bit at the middle pickup. This effect is a show stopper on bright-wooded solid-body guitars -- lesser on hollow-bodies.

    JBF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbforrer View Post
    Hi Amit,

    Hopefully I'm not overlooking some design/construction flaw that I introduced, but not overly enthusiastic about the results.

    If you're a shred-zone player, it does not take much to push the G/D strings in between the G/D pole zones at the neck pickup and experience a dropout. This is a serious issue with the Alnico rod version. There also are weird cancellation/phasing effects associated with the G/D poles, particularly noticeable at the neck pickup but also a bit at the middle pickup. This effect is a show stopper on bright-wooded solid-body guitars -- lesser on hollow-bodies.

    JBF.
    Most times for clean playing there isn't much need, in my view, for "single coil" humbucking, so yea, i'm talking about blues and rock bends
    It's still not clear to me what is the situation without any bands at all (at the neck pickup)?
    My thinking is that if WITHOUT bends there are NO dropouts (with the alnico version)... then maybe a 2-4 split (A/D) will do the trick
    I don't know anyone who bends the D upwards
    Though I can go downwards waco on the A when the mood strikes

    It of course won't be a 100% humbucker, but who cares, even an 80% drop in hum will be great if it will still beat ay other stacked for "natural single coil" sound. that way the purists will still have a bit of hum "spice" to enjoy

    Btw, how the "single coil size" sidewinders with laminated blade you showed on another thread came out?

    Cheers mate

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  32. #102
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    Hello Amid,

    I find that even without bends, say just picking notes on the D string, one can hear a slight drop in output for the D string. This is not the case with the regular SC pickup installed. Otherwise, the split pickup sounds great, much like a vintage SC and very quiet.

    Your 2-4 split idea may be worth trying.

    The sidewinder blade pickups turned out nice. An interesting mid-range response, especially noticeable at the bridge --- somewhat reminiscent of a Tele's bridge pickup tone. The neck and middle sound much like vintage Strat pickups. Mine have slightly less output than similar-wound single coils. Of course, they are quiet.. Here's a picture of the installed set of sidewinders on my test guitar.

    Regards.

    JBF.
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  33. #103
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    Hi some pictures ... better late then never ..

    Mark
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  34. #104
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    I'm a little late to the party, but I just ordered the back plate noise cancelling system from Ilitch. I bought the vintage system which has the coil wound to match the low impedance SC pickups that I got from Mr. Possum a few years ago - his Texas fifty nine set. The guitar is a made in Japan, E-model Squier Strat that I bought new in 1987. I'll give you my opinion once the BPNCS is installed.

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  35. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by mk1 View Post
    Hi some pictures ... better late then never ..

    Mark
    Clever way to wind the coil.

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