Wondering about mini-humbuckers?

Discussion in 'Pickups' started by Clifdawg, Jan 25, 2017.

  1. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    So, I had been kinda playing both my Epi SG with Alnico Classic Pros with Alnico 5 magnets, and my Gibson Special with 495R and 495T mini-humbuckers with Alnico 2 blades. One of the things I noticed was how much more clarity and character I get out of the Alnico Classic Pros for a pure clean sound and for light overdrive, and how tinny and bright the mini-humbuckers we're in comparison. That said, when I pour on the gain, I get so much more character out of the mini-hums... I found this unexpected, as I assumed the mini-hums would be more like less powerful PAFs in tone. Imagine my surprise to look up the guitar on Gibson's website to find the neck wound to a smoldering 17k, and the bridge wound to a positively volcanic 26k... When other mini-humbuckers by the likes of Lollars, Fralins, Duncan, etc. Show DC resistances in the 6-7k range.

    I realize the mini-humbucker design is different than the PAF design, but why is there so much difference in tone and in resistances? I've heard of some pretty crushingly hot metal-voiced passive humbuckers around the 20k mark, but what makes this design create so much resistance? And while I'm sure these aren't actually as hot as standard overwound buckers, these seem actually quite well suited to the heaviest of tones, which is something I honestly wasn't expecting when I bought them.
     
  2. Norton

    Norton Well-Known Member

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    Mini hb's, just like regular hb's, come in a TON of different flavors.

    Standard minis ARE built just like a small humbucker. Firebird minis are a totally different build style.

    BasicAlly... what it comes down to is that when you're dealing with small electro magnetic devices like pickups....little things become magnified in importance. Coil size, coil spacing, wire type, size etc are all pretty significant factors in how a pickup behaves.

    Pickups are kind of like camera lenses that "see" string vibration. Lots of kinds of lenses (fisheye, pinhole, telephoto etc) With wildly different qualities of image. Same thing with pickups.

    smaller more narrowly placed coils give a tighter, brighter more focused sound (generally). That flavor, even if overwound and super distorted is still going to come through.
     
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  3. Paul G.

    Paul G. Well-Known Member

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    495R&T have ceramic magnets, known for their harshness, and are ridiculously overwound. They are not representative of mini humbuckers which are clear but warm. They are designed assuming that buyers of moderately priced Gibsons are kids who will play at maximum distortion all the time.

    Normal mini hums and real Firebird mini hums should drop right in. Seymour Duncan has a few different versions, with and without adjustment screws. Plenty of other makers do mini hums.

    I yanked the 495R&T set out of my 2014 Firebird and got some custom pickups from Chris Klein. The originals sounded ok -- the neck was pleasant and spanky, but the bridge sounded quite flat and characterless with the added attraction of fizz. They measured 21k/14k when I pulled them.

    Some people like them, not disparaging tastes, but you aren't getting actual mini-humbucker sound with those things.

    P.
     
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  4. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that information. I had heard these sound brighter than a humbuckers but fatter than a single-coil, but my impression (likely due to the overwinding) is that they're really mean, aggressive, biting humbuckers, only brighter. Which isn't a bad thing - but it's not really what I was expecting, especially compared to the warm, civilized tone of my Epiphone.

    Thanks for the info. These are apparently unique in that they use Alnico II magnets instead of ceramic (at least, according to Gibson) which might temper these a bit. I actually really like the neck pickup, and could almost get any tone, bright to dark, just by twisting the tone knob. The bridge, on the other hand, is virtually unusable with the tone above 7 - extremely shrill.

    If anything, I might see if I can find a true mini sometime that has a slight overwind to replace the bridge and keep the neck. I'm just worried about having an 8k mini-PAF that's hopelessly unbalanced with the 17k rawkfest that is the 495r...
     

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