This installment, I’d like to discuss pickup choice with you, as I know this has become a very hot topic over the last two decades. Many people now feel free to change out their pickups in favor of new, or hotter, or different sounding ones made by many great pickup makers out there. The truth is, you must keep in mind that most of what is being made these days by “boutique” pickup makers is either a play on something that already has existed, or some kind of improvement on an existing type of pickup.
As far as Gibsons go, there have always been the “big three”: The P-90, the humbucker, and the mini-humbucker. I have found lately that I tend to gravitate towards the mini-humbucker, as I like the slightly clearer, more crystalline tone compared to the regular humbucker. Still, there is an amazing kind of true vintage tone that can be gotten from the P-90 pickup, and it has also really found favor in recent times, after being so overshadowed by the humbucker for so many years! Still-of course, when I play through a guitar that has a great set of traditional humbuckers, I am always amazed at the true range one can get from these “tried and true” classics!
I like having an arsenal of various guitars to highlight different sounds with different pickups, and single-coil verses double-coil is really the “great divide” when it comes to pickup choice on a large scale of opinion.
Single-coil has always been the “voice” of the edgy, bright sounding Fender-type instruments, and though they create more buzz and hum as the result of not having double-coils like humbuckers, they also possess a very distinct tone that’s hard to mistake for anything else.
In the long run, it’s really all about how well YOU handle these varying pickup sounds, as it will literally determine your touch, tone, and even the musical choices you may make in the course of playing. So, be sure to try a whole lot of these, and even check out guitars that have had some of the popular, and not-so popular replacement pickups installed in them, and start to educate your ears to all of their differences. You’ll be amazed at the subtle and not-so subtle variations between them!