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Humbucker

A type of guitar pickup where two coils of wire and two magnets are used, as opposed to a “single coil” pickup. The humbucker is made so the two coils of wire are out of polarity with each other and each is wound around a magnet of opposite polarity. The humbucking pickup has two distinct advantages over standard single coil pickups. They are higher output and less hum and noise. The higher output occurs simply by having two pickups working in conjunction with one another, even though the two coils and magnets are of opposite polarity. This works because it’s sort of a double reversal (like two negatives make a positive), which leaves the two voltages created by the string’s vibration over each coil in polarity with each other. The backwards magnet throws it out of polarity, but the coil being wound backwards as well reverses it again, leaving it in phase with the voltage on the other coil. But hum and noise that can be induced into the coil of wire through electromagnetic radiation (EMI) — as opposed to moving a string through the magnetic field created by the magnet — get canceled when the two signals are combined because the two coils are out of polarity with each other. Humbucking pickups are known for a certain type of “thicker,” heavier sound and aren’t preferred by guitarists in all situations.

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