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Split coil style pickups...

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Projectile, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    IMO Fender is the best example of non-standardized pickups. Just about every guitar they made had its own particular pickup; classic example is the Tele which has two different pickups, both of which are found on no other guitars (Esquire excluded). The Musicmaster bass is an example of something without its own pickup design, but that was a budget oriented instrument; no special design, no R&D expense. OTOH Gibson used the same HB's and P-90s on a very large number of models.

    Back to the split-P; I'd also guess that being able to arc the poles to match the fretboard radius to balance output was another consideration. He probably liked the sound of the wider coil with a bass and went that route; a HB with twin P-90 size coils would have been big and cost a lot more to make, and might not have sounded much (if any) better; and you'd still be left the string balance situation. Leo was very cost conscious.
  2. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    But Leo did implement this design in guitars, via the Z-coils in the awesome G&L Comanche.

    It's a little surprising more haven't taken this approach, because the beauty of split-coils is that they cancel hum, and yet each string is only sensed by one coil, so they provide clarity almost like single coils. There's no frequency cancellation from the pickup sensing each string at two points.

    One reason, however, is probably marketability: split-coils, at least staggered split-coils, aren't drop-in replacements is Strats or Teles, so pickup manufacturers have never taken this approach to providing hum-canceling pickups that duplicate a single coil sound. Also, some Strat players might not like the tonal change wrought by staggered coils. (But, as a Strat lover myself, I can attest to the excellence of the G&L Z-coils in the Comanche.)

    Now, I'm not sure why they haven't created Strat-sized linear humbuckers like some Jazz bass pickups, but perhaps those coils are just too small to manufacture easily, or maybe they simply don't sound right. That might explain the prevalence of stacked and side-by-side noiseless pickups for Strats. I'm sure the folks at Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio could explain.
  3. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    O.K. I guess I'm going to have to say this a little louder this time. ;)

    There were NO humbucker equiped guitars or basses on the market before 1957.
    NOTHING on the market had hum canceling pickups, not Gibson, Gretsch, Epiphone, Fender, Harmony, Kay etc. etc. etc. They didn't exist yet. Leo came up with one way to do it for bass, and Seth Lover came up with a different way to do it for Gibson guitars. There was not industry standard on how exactly to do it at the time. Both designs have been very successfull, and later variations work well too ie. stacked humbucker, split coil J p/u's, Filtertrons, Lace Sensors etc.etc.

    ... and again check out Leo's Z coil pickups in G&L guitars. I believe there was a split coil in one of the 60's vintage Fenders as well, but the name escapes me right now.

  4. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Found it. The Fender Electric 12 came out in 65, but must have been under development while Leo still owned the company.

    ...also the Fender Maveric a few years later.

  5. OneMoreRobot


    Jan 23, 2009
    Wow those are the ugliest Fenders I've ever seen in my life.
  6. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    The wikipedia article for the P-bass seems to suggest that one of the reasons Leo Fender designed the split humbucker the way he did was to avoid any patent infringement with the Gibson Seth Lover design.
  7. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    "There ain't nothing you can tell me I don't already know." :D
  8. Projectile


    Feb 5, 2009
    Wow Savit, that's beautiful! I'm going to have to try playing one of these z-coil guitars. I love the sound of the p-bass pickups, and I'm dying to hear what they sound like in a guitar.
  9. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    Here's another Leo HB. I've wondered what the deal is with the long magnets, they look like little legs.
  10. The thing I was always curious about is whether or not the 1st and 4th strings would only be picked up by a single coil?
  11. Projectile


    Feb 5, 2009
    The 2nd and 3rd strings should also only be picked up by a single coil, although there is probably a little bleed because they are closer to the pole pieces from the other coil.

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