P-pups:single coil/humbuckers?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by BigWig Will, May 29, 2002.

  1. I'm thinking of getting some new pickups for my P, but I was curious. There are both single coil and humbucking pickups, I was wondering if you can replace a single coil pup with a humbucking? and if not, how do I tell the difference?Any help is appreciated.
  2. The split-P pickups are hum cancelling, not humbucking. All of them are single coil. The hum cancelling part of the split-P comes from it being split into two separate coils. One is wound north-going, the other is south-going. This opposing winding is the same technique used in the single coil J pickups. They are also hum cancelling when both pickups are on. Since the split-P is always "on" with both sections, it is always hum cancelling.

    The single coil P pickups are generally referring to the straight line Telecaster type used in the very early P basses. These are not hum cancelling. To get a humbucker in this type, it would have to have a second coil on top of the first (stacked) or side by side (bi-lateral). The bi-lateral method is used by DiMarzio Model J pickups, and they are true humbuckers.

    The pickup you get will be dictated by the shape of the one currently installed. I will assume it is the split-P type. Grab my spread sheet and check out the PICKUPS and PICKUP REVIEWS tabs. I have a lot of information on them.

    Check into the DiMarzio Split-P, and the Will Power Middle in addition to the usual suspects from Seymour Duncan, etc. The Will Power Middle looks like DiMarzio's gnarliest pickup.

    FWIW, I have a SD Hot P that is going into my MIM P.
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    That's odd, bgavin, I've always heard of P pickups referred to as "humbuckers", and usually in the sense that they have one pickup, as opposed to a pair.
  4. It's all semantics I suppose, because the split-P is two separate pieces that work together as a single set. Humbucking or hum cancelling, the end result is the same, because both halves of the split-P operate at all times.

    The hum cancelling effect of my two single coil J pickups in my MIM J fretless is very obvious when both pickups are operating. The hum is also very obvious when either pickup is turned off or down.

    Each of my two new DiMarzio Model J pickups are a pair of bi-lateral (side-by-side) coils that DiMarzio calls "humbuckers". One coil handles E-A and the other coil handles the D-G strings. By definition I suppose these are not true humbuckers because they don't have two coils operating on the same string. The bi-lateral DMs are the same idea as the split-P, but without the physical offset. And, the DMs are in a single housing.

    The bi-lateral pickups claim to have all the tone benefits of single coil (non-humbucker) types, but they still offer the hum cancelling properties. One has to admire Leo Fender's genius so many years ago with his split-P design: single coil tone without the hum. I opted for the DM Model J because they are bi-lateral single coils, and can be switched into Series or Parallel mode, same as my RB5.
  5. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Very interesting... the only reason I brought it up is that in the Newbie FAQ that's going to be posted soon (I hope ;)) I classified the P-style pickup as a humbucker.

    In my own Jazz bass I put in some Bartolini pickups with side by side coils, and, seeing as they were wired together in a fashion that bucks hum, if you will, I considered them to be humbucking.

    In all honesty I've never heard anyone distinguish between humbucking and hum cancelling. I remember a while ago on the Epiphone webpage, they were describing the split-P pickup as a humbucker, so, as you said, it's just semantics. Again, as you said, the effect is the same, no hum=happy bass player. :)

    PS- How are you digging those DiMarzio pickups? When I decided to swap out the stock p'ups it was either Barts or those, and the Barts presented themselves first. But I'll always wonder what if...
  6. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    Don't fergit...each section of a DiMarzio Split-P (DP127) IS a humbucker :)
  7. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    It is a humbucker, a split one. Its not really a "trad" humbucker, but in a sense it is....
  8. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    :confused: Juh?...one of these days, I'm gonna have ta' try wirin'
    each section (E/A, D/G) to a stereo jack (as suggested in
    the instructions).