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humbuckers vs. single coil for bass

SF audio

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OK, another ignorant question from a lefty guitar player. As I pursue the purchase of a better bass, I'm wondering what advantages humbucking pickups give over single coils on bass. Similar to guitar? Fatter, warmer, no noise? I've never played a lefty bass with humbuckers, so me not know to well....


I'm looking at Carvin and they offer an upgrade of stacked humbuckers over single coils for $10. Is that a no brainer????

thanks for any advice.....

The thoughts expressed in this post are the opinions of SF audio and MAY be used or misquoted anywhere you want, either in print,on the internet, or on the bathroom walls....
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As I posted before, I got a Carvin lefty 5 into NZ for a student. It came with the single coils while mine had stacked humbuckers and IMHO the single coils are a much nicer pickup. Not quite as warm but better definition and more open sounding.


Get the dual coil MM style in the bridge position with a coil tap switch with the single coil at the neck and get the best of both worlds.

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If you're playing on stage, around AC wiring and lighting, get humbuckers or dual coils installed, otherwise the hum and noise you pick up with a single coil will drive you nuts!
Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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I have the stacked humbuckers in my Carvin. They're pretty good, but they do compress the sound somewhat compared to single coils. However, as GeorgeR pointed out, with single coils you will encounter hum, especially under the playing conditions he described.


I plan on replacing my Carvin H50N humbuckers, though, with dual coil pickups (probably Bart Classic Bass Series dual coils, but another good example would be DiMarzio Ultra Jazz p'ups). Carvin doesn't offer this option. They do offer the side by side MM style humbucker in the bridge position, and you might want to consider that w/ either a J99 single coil or a H50N at the neck (as mentioned above).


For me, the decision between single coils and humbuckers comes down to my willingness to deal w/ the noise from single coils, but relish in the joys of their more open sound vs. the noiselessness of the humbuckers w/ their slight more compressed, less open sound.


Good luck figuring it out.



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There are ways of canceling hum besides using a pickup with two coils. For instance, I'm looking very seriously at the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickup, which works like a split-coil humbucker--two coils, one for two of the strings & the other for the other two strings--just like a P bass pickup, but in a J bass configuration. Haven't tried it, but it sounds like it should perform like a single but be quiet like a humbucker. (It also can be switched from parallel to series, which is pretty cool.) Their Model J is similar.


Also, on the Music Man Sterling & Stingray 5 the humbucker can be switched to single coil, w/ dummy "phantom" coil to cancel hum. It still sounds a bit like a humbucker, I guess, but it's a nice option.

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