By Emely Greenfield. Guitar Electric. Published at Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 - 14:46:53 PM.
A solution to this hum was the development of a pickup which was created slightly differently to the normal ones. Instead of a single coil of wire wrapped round the magnets, two coils were used, but each wired to the opposite polarity, both electrically and magnetically. This meant that any electromagnetic noise that was detected by both if these coils was effectively cancelled out - like adding minus five and positive five, the answer is zero. This also had the added effect of creating a much fatter sound to the guitar too. Because these pickups were designed to cancel out the hum, they were named humbuckers, and are still extremely popular today.
It is a curious paradox of the music industry: guitarists, particularly rock guitarists, are often thought of as trendsetters when it comes to fashion and culture; but when it comes to their instruments, they are notoriously conservative. Innovations such as active electronics, guitar synthesizers and Steinberger's intrepid steps into the field of headless instruments in the 80's have failed to make much of a dent in the market. Gibson and Fender continue to dominate the electric guitar market much as they did in the 1950's and 60's. Even with the entry of new competitors into the market over the years such as Ibanez, Paul Reed Smith and CharvelJackson, the electric guitar has remained essentially unchanged with one to three magnetic pickups and a mess of wires connecting them to the controls. But things may be about to change!
The Variax is, according to the Line 6 brochure a "digital modeling" guitar that allows the musician to switch between a huge array of potential sounds on one instrument. The sounds of a 12-string acoustic, Fender Stratocaster style single coils, Les Paul humbuckers, banjo, chimes and dozens of others are all available at the flick of a switch. The best part about it is that all of these tonal variations are available completely hum free. For the working musician, this means not having to lug around five to seven separate guitars to provide him with the all of the sounds he requires. The true test, however, is hearing one of these fine instruments in action, so if you'd like to check one out, a list of authorized dealers is available from the Line 6 website. At an MSRP of around $1000 for the mid-line Variax 600 - it's also available in the 300 and 700 - it's not cheap, but for the professional or amateur with money to burn, it may be a worthwhile investment.
The middle position was something I really had to consider. It was going to be used only with the neck or bridge pickup, and never by itself. I chose a true single coil, the Seymour Duncan Five-Two. This uses Alnico II magnets for the treble strings, for a warmer tone, and the brighter Alnico V magnets for the bass strings. The bridge humbucker I chose was the ‘59Custom Hybrid. It is a little more powerful than most PAF-type pickups, and comes with 4-conductor wire which means the pickup can be split. This would be important because of the switching scheme used. Please check out Orpheo’s great article about splitting humbuckers.
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