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Guitar Music Theory

Sep 11, 2021

Can you hear the difference between a single-coil guitar pickup and a humbucker? Test your ear by listening to my blind samples played in the style of familiar songs. You should notice that the lower output single-coil pickups sound thinner, brighter, and with less depth but more clarity. The higher output humbuckers sound thicker with more midrange, depth, and sustain. The twangy, snappy sound of single-coil pickups typically work better for clean tones and when light to moderate overdrive is in use. Humbucking pickups typically work better for higher gain tones. Humbuckers are actually two single-coils wired together. Humbuckers get their name because they cancel the 60-cycle hum that can be an issue with single-coil pickups in some settings where electronic interference is present. All these sound samples are played through a Kemper Profiling Amplifier using profiles from Tone Junkie and Top Jimi. I used the same settings for both guitars in each example. What are your favorite tones? Let me know in the comments!

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Squier Classic Vibe '50s Telecaster (hardware, pickups, and wiring upgrades by Bluesman Vintage Guitars)
PRS McCarty 594 (Seymour Duncan SH-1 59 pickups)
Kemper Profiling Amplifier
Top Jimi '68 Sup Ld Profile Pack (1968 Super Lead)
Tone Junkie PLEXI SL KEMPER PROFILE PACK (1971 Marshall Super Lead 1959SL)
Tone Junkie TWEED DELUXE KEMPER PROFILE PACK (Fender Tweed Deluxe)
Tone Junkie 67 PRO VERB KEMPER PROFILE PACK (Fender Pro Reverb)