Are single coils less responsive to picking dynamics?

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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 3592
    +Whatever to the folks saying single-coils are more dynamic.

    Also depends upon strings - 10s are good if you like to get physical.
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 5237
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    prowla said:
    +Whatever to the folks saying single-coils are more dynamic.

    Also depends upon strings - 10s are good if you like to get physical.
    Single coils usually have less turns of wire than humbuckers ... a Strat has typically around 8000 ... whereas even a low output humbucker has around 10,000. The more windings you add the more natural compression a pickup will have, therefore the more the pickup will 'smooth' playing dynamics. 
    A 10,000 turn single coil using the same gauge wire as a 10,000 turn humbucker will have a similar degree of natural compression. It is true then that humbuckers and single coils have the same dynamics as humbuckers ... if all else is equal ... but all else seldom is. Typically single coils will have less windings, often of thicker wire, and add to that 'directly' applied magnetic fields, rather than magnets sat between the coils ... this will mean that most single coil pickups will have a potential dynamic range bigger than many humbuckers ... however this is not due to them being single coils, as if you make a super low wind humbucker, it will display dynamic capabilities similar to a equally wound single coil ... the Filtertron is a case in point.

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    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • it reminds me of the velocity curve sensitivity settings on a midi piano instruments:

    when "turn up" the curve from "normal", most notes are near the max velocity, so there is less variation in volume and tone, and most notes sound the same

    to me this is what (most) humbuckers are like compared to (most) single coils:
    SC seem to have more light and shade for me, the difference between quietest and loudest note is larger than with a HB. Also there is more variation in tone - it feels more like an acoustic guitar in that respect
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 53966
    prowla said:

    Also depends upon strings - 10s are good if you like to get physical.
    11s are better :).

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ICBM said:
    prowla said:

    Also depends upon strings - 10s are good if you like to get physical.
    11s are better :).
    9s are fine for me :)
    It's not a competition.
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 5237
    edited September 2017 tFB Trader
    it reminds me of the velocity curve sensitivity settings on a midi piano instruments:

    when "turn up" the curve from "normal", most notes are near the max velocity, so there is less variation in volume and tone, and most notes sound the same

    to me this is what (most) humbuckers are like compared to (most) single coils:
    SC seem to have more light and shade for me, the difference between quietest and loudest note is larger than with a HB. Also there is more variation in tone - it feels more like an acoustic guitar in that respect
    This is generally right ... but this isn't a function of them being humbuckers, it's a result of the design route the have taken to be humbuckers. 
    The P90 was 10,000 turns, and when Gibson produced the PAF to be in essence a humbucking replacement for it, they split those 10,000 turns over two coils to make a humbucker. As it happens the P90 has very similar natural compression to a low wind humbucker, but the twin magnet design and coil size and shape help to make the P90 'different' to it's 'replacement' in many ways.
    When Ray Butts designed the Filtertron he came from another perspective, and made both coils only total about the same wind level as one Gibson coil. As we know, classic 50s Filtertron's are only about the same output as a Strat pickup, so the dynamic range is is far more like a single coil. He kept the output up by using a big magnet ... around twice the size of a Gibson HB magnet.


    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • Three-ColourSunburstThree-ColourSunburst Frets: 1134
    edited September 2017
    Thanks for all the great comments. I now understand much better what I was experiencing. Having played around a little more I do agree that single coils (at least low output single coils) have a wider dynamic range that a hot humbucker (i.e. are less compressed) allowing finer control over the dynamics of one's output. In comparison a hot humbucker is much more compressed, giving a high signal strength even when playing a single string or  using lighter picking, and having a smaller difference in output between a single string and full chord.

    What I took for a reduced dynamic range was simply the effect of the higher output of a humbucker over a typical single coil, which will tend to drive the pre-amp harder when you really dig in by virtue of its sheer output.

    Is have also learned that, in order to get the best out of both types of pickups one must adapt one's playing style, which is something I have never even considered before.

    Again, thanks!
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 5237
    tFB Trader
    Thanks for all the great comments. I now understand much better what I was experiencing. Having played around a little more I do agree that single coils (at least low output single coils) have a wider dynamic range that a hot humbucker (i.e. are less compressed) allowing finer control over the dynamics of one's output. In comparison a hot humbucker is much more compressed, giving a high signal strength even when playing a single string or  using lighter picking, and having a smaller difference in output between a single string and full chord.

    What I took for a reduced dynamic range was simply the effect of the higher output of a humbucker over a typical single coil, which will tend to drive the pre-amp harder when you really dig in by virtue of its sheer output.

    Is have also learned that, in order to get the best out of both types of pickups one must adapt one's playing style, which is something I have never even considered before.

    Again, thanks!
    Glad all us folks could be of help ... :-)
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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