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Single coil pups vs double coil..What should I expect?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Ellery, Mar 6, 2016.


  1. Ellery

    Ellery

    Mar 25, 2015
    All my basses have had 2 double coil pups on them (w/ active electronics). They have punch and definition with plentiful bottom end, heavy without being too muddy, and I have achieved great stage sound with these basses. I would however like to clean up the mud a bit more. What kind of sound characteristics would I get from a bass with a single coil at the bridge and a split coil at the neck? Better definition? Would I be losing some of that bottom end? Or do they just give a bright jazzy tone? General application will be extreme metal (and yes it does matter, people actually do hear me on stage).
     
  2. uOpt

    uOpt

    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Compared to what?
     
  3. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    You would get single coil hum for starters.
     
    blindrabbit, Growlmonkee and Ellery like this.
  4. As long as you keep them both on full volume,or equal volume,you will not get 60 cycle hum.Depending on where you stand in relation to your amp,or lights,especially florescent lighting,and one pickup is on alone,you will get hum. As you turn the volume up on the second pickup,the hum will disappear.I have a set of Nordstrand NJ4s and I leave them both wide open,and they are really hard hitting and full sounding,but completely quiet,no hum,buzz,anything when I'm not playing.You can back off the volume on the neck or bridge pickup about a quarter turn,YMMV,before the hum starts to get loud.I love the sound of them both on full,and on this particular bass I won't hesitate to back off the volume on one pickup or the other to get the sound I want.When you are playing live with a Marshall next to you ,you will not hear it.These are the only pickups,in over forty years of playing,that band members and sound men have commented about my sound.This has been my number one since I put these in.
     
    Ellery likes this.
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    This is not correct. If there is nothing to balance the single coil it will get hum regardless, you have an odd number of coils.

    For what it's worth, I currently have a single coil neck pickup and a humbucker bridge pickup in one of my basses. I play pretty much exclusively on the humbucker to remove the hum (plus I like the added bite.)
     
  6. I misread the post and thought the OP wanted to go with 2 single coils as my post implied.You are correct that an odd number of coils will always hum.
     
    Ellery and DiabolusInMusic like this.
  7. Ellery

    Ellery

    Mar 25, 2015
    Compared to the double coils I have now
     
  8. Ellery

    Ellery

    Mar 25, 2015
    So you believe the humbucker does have more bite?
     
  9. Ellery

    Ellery

    Mar 25, 2015
    I understand the humming issue, my question is about tone. What compels players to use these pickups? It must be something more than price point, because I've seen some very expensive basses with this arrangement.
     
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    No, I do not. I think it has a lot more to do with position and the particular pickup than it has to do with it being a humbucker.

    You lose a degree of highs going to humbuckers, that is why people still use single coils regardless of the noise. I'm not technical enough to give you an in-depth explanation, sorry.
     
    Ellery likes this.
  11. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Good discussion. In my experience, there is a "presence" in the high end of a SC that no humbucker quite gets, though they rule the low end. Years ago I tried lots of dual (usually stacked) coil J pickups in search of one that copped the SC sound without hum. ...no luck. I think it's perhaps still the holy grail of J-pickups, unless somebody knows of a new development in this area. The Lane Poor J-style offering came pretty close, but they were low output and are now scarcer than hen's teeth. So, to answer your question, you can expect "bite", and you can also expect "hum". :)
     
    Ellery likes this.
  12. Growlmonkee

    Growlmonkee

    Jan 30, 2013
    Florida, U.S.
    My main bass is a P/J, (it plays the best, of what I own, and is the most comfortable). I've tried several p/u combos on it...all of the single/dual combos had 2 problems...the hum did drive me crazy, and the impedance mis-match never made for a good blend to my liking. The first dual coil I tried was a stacked coil jazz, ..it was the worst sounding jazz pickup I've heard. After several combos, and some reading here I bought a GZR p/j set...great balance, the j cuts through a mix very well, and growls and snarls with the best of 'em. Though it does not sound like a single coil, the bass has completely useful blend now, a lot of versatility, and just sounds great, with no hum. I'll not try single/dual coil again, if I do another p/j it may not be the GZR's (I probably won't want 2 basses that sound identical), but, I'll go for a set of humbuckers that sound great, there's so much available, and a lot of variance in sound to be had, (with no hum). My Jazz bass with Super 55's doesn't hum either, they don't sound like singles, but that bass has all the sparkle, and zing it ever had, with excellent top end clarity, and the p/u's don't have to be at the same volume to sound good anymore.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    Ellery likes this.
  13. Ellery

    Ellery

    Mar 25, 2015
    That's exactly what I was trying to clarify, thanx. Don't worry I don't need a tech course as to why, I just wanted some third-party input so I know I'm not imagining things.
     
    DiabolusInMusic likes this.
  14. Teacher

    Teacher

    May 3, 2012
    There ARE noise-free single coil pickups out there. Some might argue they don't have quite the mojo a true single coil have, but some of them have been very well received by jazz bass players.
     
    Ellery likes this.
  15. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Could you name some names? Thx.
     
    Ellery likes this.
  16. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    Well, what you mean is there are "jazz-style" pickups out there that cancel hum. In other words they have a single line of poles that pickup the strings at just one place. However, while single coil pickups do indeed have just one coil, these have two coil arranged either side by side or one above the other. So technically they aren't 'single coil" pickups.

    The problem and challenge of them is that by having two coils instead of one, you end up changing the inductance and so forth and that changes the tone. Hence they tend to not sound quite like true single coil pickups. So pickup makers use their "art" to somehow try to get them to sound like true single coil pickups. Some are more successful than others.

    Two that I like best are Nordstrands (get out wallet) who also make true single coil jobbies and SCN pickups which are a stacked coil type. Of course what tone you like best is all about your preference which is why people still like single coils in spite of the hum.
     
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  17. Teacher

    Teacher

    May 3, 2012
    Wilde J-45, for example
     
    Ellery likes this.
  18. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    Are you certain the Wilde's are single-coil? Bill's site calls them "air-gap noiseless", which sounds like a dual coil (similar to Fender, et al). If you're right though, then I'm interested!
     
    Ellery likes this.
  19. Teacher

    Teacher

    May 3, 2012
    No, they are not a strictly speaking "single coil." However, they are a SC for factor that, accordance to many, have a single coil sound with a single coil form factor.
     
    Ellery likes this.
  20. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Vermont
    If that's the case, then these should sell like hot cakes. I tried all kinds of dual-coil j products over the years (DiMarzio, Seymour Duncan, Fender, etc) and ended up back at my rewound '64 single coils, since none of the humbuckers copped "that sound". Though I resigned myself to living with hum (not a huge deal) it would still be nice to find that SC sound in a humbucker. Maybe I'll need to give a Wilde a whirl!
     
    Ellery likes this.

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