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Article: 5 Ways to get a Single Coil sound out of a Humbucker

5 Ways to get a Single Coil sound out of a Humbucker

Whether you are looking for something more from your favorite guitar, or you need that distinct single coil sound for a song. Here are 5 ways to achieve it.

1.Coil cutting

Coil cutting is often called by other names like Coil tapping, Coil Splitting. But it's all the same idea. How it works is by grounding the Series link on your humbucker. Basically, cutting that second coil out and giving you a “True Single Coil” pickup. Couple cons with this circuit is by getting rid of that second coil you will be dropping the overall output of the pickup by half. Also, every pickup is different, some cut well where others sound bad.

2.Filtered Tap

Depending on the manufacturer they can call this circuit different names. "Fat tap", "Tuned Tap", "Partial tap" But these are all fancy names for adding a capacitor or resistor to the series link to filter one of the coils. This setup basically is a great alternative for getting the EQ of a single coil while not losing the hum cancelling properties or overall output. One negative is this set up really requires you to "tune" the value of the cap to your taste and pickups

3.Out of phase

Now before the "well actually" guy chimes in. Stock, Humbuckers are technically "out of phase" but in this set up we are just changing the pickup to be out of the correct phase. haha. Basically, it makes the humbucker out of phase with itself so any frequencies the 2 share gets cancelled out, leaving a lot of high end sparkle. Just like coil cutting, an out of phase pickup has 2 key disadvantages. first a drop in overall signal since shared eq is cancelled out. That and not all pickups sound good out of phase. Those with "matched coils" or overly "Mismatched" will effect the sound in either too much signal loss or the pickup is not truly out of phase.


This one is basically turning the single humbucker into 2 individual single coils. You keep the hum cancelling properties but gain some of the EQ of the individual coils. The biggest disadvantage in this circuit is a drop in output since the output will be close to the average of the 2 individual coils.

5.High Pass filters Volumes

Okay, this sounds funny but a lot of people probably don't realize this. By using the Voltage Divider aka your volume on a high pass filter like 50s, or Volume Bleed, you can "clean up" your signal to get some good "single coil" sounds.
And that's it. i'll be the first to tell you that these circuits are never as good as a real single coil but by themselves can get you some really awesome sounds!

1 comment

Hello, Just wanted to say thanks for the article you sent me with the ideas on getting single coil sounds from a humbucker. Appreciate the ways each method is explained. Thanks again, John Colee

John Colee

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