How to Get Rid of Single Coil hum

How to Get Rid of Single Coil hum without Getting Rid of Single-Coil Tone

Turn up your StratŪ (or any guitar equipped with standard single-coil pickups) and you get a certain amount of hum and buzz, especially if playing under flourescent lights or near anything that creates a strong electromagnetic field. If you find this sound hideously irritating, as many do, you might consider a guitar with humbucking pickups. That's the extreme alternative...sort of like throwing the baby out with the bath water, because you get rid of the hum problem, but you also get rid of that twangy, out-of-phase tone that single-coils get. The classic Fender tone, as it could be described.

One way to beat the problem (still fairly radical) is to go active. With an active preamp system in your guitar and a set of such pickups as Duncan Live Wiires, you cure the problem.

But there is yet another solution, short of trading in your guitar or routing it out to make room for humbuckers or active electronics. There is a group of pickups designed to be hum-cancelling or "bucking," but which retain the essential single-coil sound. Seymour Duncan makes several. The "Classic Stack" has the dual coils of a humbucker, but they are stacked so that the pickup has the dimensions of a single coil. It also retains the sound of a single coil, but without the hum. Their Vintage Rail pickup is another that accomplishes the same mission, single-coil sound without the hum. Another pickup that is growing in popularity is the DiMarzio Virtual Vintage.

FenderŪ itself has several new designs that you can use as pop-in replacements on your StratŪ. These are Lace Sensors and Vintage Noiseless. Most of the Lace Sensors get a humbucker sound, but the Gold is designed for a vintage tone, a glassy, bell-like sound with crisp highs. Even closer in tone to your vintage single coils are Fenders new Vintage Noiseless pickups. In this case, Fender's noiseless technology has very successfully minimized the noise while retaining the tone.

This isn't an exaustive list, but long enough to show you that there are alternative ways to keep your single-coil equipped guitar "as is" vintagy, but with sweet silence, rather than buzz, between the notes.

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