The Humbucker was invented in 1934 by a man named Seth Lover, who worked for Gibson guitars. The idea was to cancel out the hum you get from single-coil pickups when you play near an amplifier. This is done with two coils that are wired together but are out of phase with each other. You get the same signal and no hum.
Humbuckers were first used by jazz guitarists, but they eventually got used by punk rockers and heavy metal rockers too. Humbuckers are usually bigger than single-coils, so they tend to take up more room on a guitar body, which means they’re less common on solid-body guitars like Stratocasters and Telecasters. But they’re much more common on hollow body guitars like Les Pauls and Flying Vs.
The last thing you want in a heavy metal or punk rock guitar is a weak, fizzy sound. But that’s what you get if your pickups aren’t powerful enough to drive the amp hard.
After trying every kind of pickup we could find, I figured out why all the good ones were expensive: because they’re made by winding thousands and thousands of turns of fine wire onto a bobbin. So I built a new kind of pickup that was twice as powerful as any other at the time. (The reason it took so long to improve on conventional pickups is that the guitar companies didn’t care about sound; they cared about looks.)
Humbuckers are now used in all kinds of guitars; but when I built them, everyone thought I was crazy for putting them on a Stratocaster, which was supposed to be strictly reserved for single-coil pickups. But there was no getting around it: if you wanted the power and sustain of two coils, you had to have two coils.
What is a humbucker? A humbucker is a pickup that is quieter than a single coil pickup. It has a unique sound that’s often described as warm, fat and rich. When Gibson guitars introduced the PAF (Patent Applied For) in the late 1950s, it was the first commercially successful humbucking pickup. The PAF design has been copied by many other manufacturers and humbuckers are now widely used in all kinds of music, especially rock, punk and heavy metal.
Why is it called a humbucker? Because it was designed to “buck” or cancel out the 60-cycle hum that you get with single coil pickups. Humbuckers are usually mounted on electric guitars with two of them, one near the neck and one near the bridge. The neck pickup produces a warm mellow tone while the bridge pickup produces a bright “twangy” tone. When both pickups are used together they produce a thick rich tone which can be heard on many popular rock recordings from the 1960s to today.
Gibson began using pickups with adjustable pole pieces around 1955 but didn’t give them an official name until 1957 when they called them “Humbucking Pickups.” They did this because the bucking effect could be
The humbucking pickup is a type of electric guitar pickup that uses two coils to “buck the hum” (or cancel out the interference) picked up by coil pickups caused by electromagnetic interference, particularly mains hum. Most pickups use magnets to produce a magnetic field around the strings, and induce an electrical current in the surrounding coils as the strings vibrate (see electromagnetic induction). The alternating current pulsates at a frequency similar to that of the string (its fundamental frequency), and its wavelength is long enough that it picks up everything around it — including unwanted noise generated by other electrical devices. Humbuckers work by pairing a coil that has opposite magnetic polarity and wiring the coils together. Each coil is wired in reverse polarity of the other, and this effectively cancels out any outside interference.
Gibson Guitar Corporation introduced the humbucker in 1955, with several models designed by Seth Lover. Gibson’s president Ted McCarty claimed that LOVER’s design eliminated 60 cycle hum and was “completely noise-free”. Gibson also claimed humbuckers were less prone to microphonic feedback than PAF (patent applied for) single-coil designs, which were prone to feedback, especially if used at elevated volume levels.[
A humbucker pickup for an electric guitar consists of two single-coil pickups wired together in series, but with opposite magnetic and electric polarity. The purpose is to cancel “hum”, the sound produced by a 50 or 60 Hz AC power source (the mains electricity) which is picked up by the guitar’s electronics as 50 or 60 Hz hum, hence the name of the pickup.
Because magnetic pickups are sensitive to electrical interference from nearby objects, such as amplifier tubes and transformers, they tend to pick up this hum as well. In single-coil pickups, this can be quite noticeable; in most situations it is tolerable but objectionable when amplified. Because the humbucker has two coils with opposite polarity, their outputs are additive rather than subtractive when they are in phase. When they are out of phase, their outputs partially cancel each other, greatly reducing 50/60 cycle hum and other noise sources that are picked up by both coils.
Humbuckers were originally developed for use in electric guitars but have been adapted for use with many other instruments like bass guitars. They have become extremely popular with metal players in particular for their ability to handle high gain settings without breaking up.
The term humbucker was coined by the Gibson Guitar Corporation to describe its line of pickups that were designed to eliminate the hum that plagued many guitarists. When two single-coil pickups are placed side-by-side, the magnetic fields produced by their coil windings will interfere with each other and create a low level of noise. This effect is called “hum”.
The humbucker was invented in 1934 by Electro-Voice engineer Ralph Keller as a solution to this problem. The humbucker used two coils, wired out of phase with each other, which cancelled out the interference generated by the two coils, thus eliminating the hum. The first commercially successful humbucking pickup was introduced by Gibson in 1955 in their new Gibson Les Paul guitar model.
At the beginning of this century, rock’n’roll was a freak genre played by freaks. Today it is one of the world’s most popular forms of music, but there is still something freakish about it. Rock is hardly ever played in elevators, or as background music in boutiques. There are more rock songs than there are pop songs, but they get less radio play.
Rock music is fundamentally a minority taste. It is not supposed to be enjoyed by everyone. If you like rock, you’re supposed to like all of it, from Chuck Berry to the Sex Pistols, and if you don’t like some particular piece of it you’re supposed to blame your own ignorance and make yourself like it anyway. (The exception that proves the rule: country music.)
You might think that would make rock musicians less ambitious than other musicians–that they’d be happy just playing for their fans–but the opposite has happened. In many genres, the most popular artists are also the best; in rock, the best artists are usually the least popular. The biggest bands may sell millions of records; smaller bands may sell hundreds of thousands; but only a handful will reach even those humble heights. The rest struggle even to pay their rent.