Are All Humbuckers The Same Size?

Are all Humbuckers the Same Size? What you Need to Know – Comprehensive Guide

Humbuckers are an essential component of the electric guitar, and many guitarists have questions about them. One common question is: Are all humbuckers the same size? While there has been much debate over this subject, it is important to understand that not all humbuckers are created equal.

In this article, We will explore what makes different humbuckers unique and how to choose the right fit for your needs.

The Short Explanation

Humbuckers are a type of guitar pickup that uses two coils instead of one to produce a fuller sound with more depth and power. While they come in many different shapes and sizes, they all have the same basic design. 

Humbuckers come in single-coil and double-coil configurations. Single-coil pickups have a narrower magnetic field than double-coils, giving them a brighter sound. Double coils are typically larger than single ones and offer a thicker, heavier tone with less noise interference. 

Most humbuckers are also equipped with adjustable pole pieces, which can fine-tune the pickup’s tone even further.

What are Humbucking Pickups?

Humbucking pickups are a type of guitar pickup that originated in the 1950s. They were designed to eliminate the hum and buzz caused by single coils and have since become one of the most popular types of pickups today. 

Humbuckers are two coils wired together out of phase, which cancel out any external interference while simultaneously producing a thicker sound than single-coil pickups.

The “Classic” Humbucker Pickup Design – Are All Humbuckers The Same Size?

Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know
With Pickup Cover
Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know
Pickup Cover Removed

The classic humbucker pickup design has been a staple in the electric guitar world since its debut in the 1950s. Known for its loud, full-bodied sound, countless musicians across various genres still use this type of pickup today. Its defining feature is two single-coil pickups wired together out of phase, resulting in reduced interference and higher output than a standard single-coil design.

Humbuckers are most often associated with rock and metal music because of their bigger sound.

Humbucker Variations:

The classic humbucker is usually made up of two coils wound in opposite directions, giving it its signature warm, smooth sound. It excels at producing bluesy tones and works great in rock genres. 

But even more, variations are available that give players more options when choosing their tone. Here are some types of humbucker.

  • Mini Humbuckers
Are All Humbuckers The Same Size
Seymour Duncan Mini-Humbucker

Mini humbuckers are electric guitar pickups that use two coils to create a fuller sound than traditional single-coil pickups. These pickups provide the player with a wide range of tones ranging from bright, clean sounds to thick and heavy distortion. 

Mini humbuckers are often found in semi-hollow body guitars, providing the player with more warmth and clarity than single coil pickups.

Unlike traditional full-size humbuckers, mini-humbuckers have smaller coils that produce weaker magnetic fields. 

  • Single-Coil Sized Humbuckers

Single coil-sized humbuckers come with more versatility than their traditional counterparts. While they still maintain the bright, twangy tone that single coils are known for, they also feature increased output and more clarity than conventional pickups – making them great for higher gain genres like metal or hard rock. 

Additionally, since they easily fit into any existing humbucker space, they’re easy to install without needing modifications to your guitar.

  • Vertically-Stacked Humbuckers
Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know
Noiseless Telecaster pickups

The stacked humbucker pickup comprises two coils sitting side-by-side, with one “stacked” on top of the other. This configuration allows for a fuller sound that retains the classic tone characteristics of single-coil pickups. It also eliminates some noise issues associated with single coils and increases the output level for added sustain and power.

  • Adjacent-Coil Humbuckers
Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know
SD “Little ’59”
Strat Humbucker
Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know
SD “Hot Rails”
Strat Humbucker

They provide an array of unique tones, allowing musicians to create a signature sound that stands out from the crowd. Generally speaking, these pickups consist of two single-coil pickups mounted together in the same housing but with opposing magnetic polarities. This combination results in a warmer and more powerful tone than either pickup would have. 

The most common type of adjacent coil humbucker is a “stacked” or “side-by-side” configuration – each pickup is placed directly next to one other. This allows for more control over the output signal as you can easily adjust the volume and balance between each pickup individually.

Double-Coil Configuration Comparison

Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know

Take note of this table, which compares various aspects of double-coil pickups of different sizes and configurations. (Note: The Tone, Signal Strength, and Metal categories chart typical answers, but exceptions do exist, depending on the pickup design of the individual pickup.

ItemHorizontal (Adjacent) Coils
“Humbucker” Design
“Mini-Humbucker” DesignVertically Stacked Coils
“Noiseless” Design
Fits In “Humbucker” Pickup Cavity?YesNoNo
Fits In Single-Coil Pickup Cavity?NoNoYes
ToneFat with most bass and midrange, with very high outputMore balanced toward the midrange than a full-size humbuckerTighter and more focused toward midrange and treble
Typical Signal Output StrengthHighestHigherHigh
Good For Playing Heavy MetalBestBetterGood

Beware Of Changing Pickups

Changing pickups in guitars can have a powerful and dramatic effect on the instrument’s tone, but it is important to understand the nuances of your guitar before making any changes. Humbuckers are one of the most common types of pickups used in electric guitars today, and they offer a wide range of tones for players to explore. 

Humbuckers are known for providing more output than single coils and reducing hum and interference that often plagues single-coil pickups. As such, they provide a clearer and fuller sound.

Are You Qualified To Make Guitar Adjustments Or Modifications?

Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know

Making modifications or adjustments to your guitar can improve the playability and sound of your instrument. A certain skill and experience are needed to modify a guitar successfully.

To start, you must understand basic guitar repair and maintenance issues, such as changing strings, replacing pickups, setting intonation properly, etc. You should also know the various materials used for making guitars and the different types of wood that affect tonal quality. 

Final Thoughts – Are All Humbuckers The Same Size?

Humbuckers come in all shapes and sizes, offering different tones and sounds. While humbucker pickups are generally the same size, some variations depend on the type of guitar they are installed in. 

Knowing which size is right for your instrument can make a difference in sound quality. It’s important to research the specifications for your particular guitar model to get the best-sounding humbuckers possible.


Are All Humbuckers The Same Size? What You Need To Know

Do humbuckers fit any guitar?

Yes, humbuckers can fit in any proper guitar pickup route. Humbuckers are generally larger than single-coil pickups, so some guitars may need to have the pickup routings enlarged to accommodate them. Depending on the type of guitar, this can be done either by sanding down the area or routing out a larger cavity. 

Are Gibson and Fender humbuckers the same size?

No, Gibson and Fender’s humbuckers are not the same sizes. Gibson humbuckers typically measure around 2.2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, while Fender humbuckers tend to be smaller at about 1.7 inches long and 1.2 inches wide. 

Are humbuckers better for jazz?

Humbuckers are great for jazz, as they provide a warmer tone than single-coil pickups, which can often be too bright for jazz. Humbuckers also have more output, so you can get extra power out of your amp if needed. 

What size humbucker do I need?

The size of the humbucker you need depends on the type of guitar and sound you are looking for. 

For most electric guitars, a standard-size humbucker is recommended, which is usually around 50 mm in length. This size balances output and clarity, allowing you to get the desired tone from your instrument.

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