Humbuckers: Better sound covered or uncovered?

ngativ

Member
Messages
1,024
Objectively speaking, since covers can add distortion and microphony to the signal then is better without them . But i think they look cool.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
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9,584
Sandwiches: better with mayo or mustard?

Pizza: better with pepperoni or sausage?

Guitar Picks: better heavy or medium?

etc etc etc.

I personally think the difference is kind of subtle....more subtle than pepperoni vs sausage. Maybe it takes just a touch of the high end away. One person will think, "less harsh", and the next will think, "sounds dead". Just listen to it both ways and trust your ears.

edit: btw, I just re-read this and it comes off as blowing you off. Not my intent...read it with a smile. It really is 100% personal preference...there's no wrong answer.
 
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zztomato

Senior Member
Messages
11,394
Sandwiches: better with mayo or mustard?

Pizza: better with pepperoni or sausage?

Guitar Picks: better heavy or medium?

etc etc etc.

I personally think the difference is kind of subtle....more subtle than pepperoni vs sausage. Maybe it takes just a touch of the high end away. One person will think, "less harsh", and the next will think, "sounds dead". Just listen to it both ways and trust your ears.

edit: btw, I just re-read this and it comes off as blowing you off. Not my intent...read it with a smile. It really is 100% personal preference...there's no wrong answer.
Congratulations on post number 6000!

I remember at one time (70s) people were removing the covers thinking it made the pickup brighter and clearer without them. I have an old patent sticker Gibson pickup in an LP neck position and would like it to be just a tad more open and bright. It's never had the cover removed though so I'm looking for input into the difference- if there is any at all.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,584
Here's a good comparison. Honestly, it sounds more different in these clips than I've noticed experimenting on my own, but it's a good comparison. Not a huge change in tone. Covers on just sounds slightly muddier....or smoother...or maybe covers off sounds a little clearer...or harsher.



6000 posts...WOW. I had no idea. I don't think I've ever looked at my post count. I better get back to work!
 

zztomato

Senior Member
Messages
11,394
Cool. I hadn't seen that. Pretty subtle for sure. I think in the neck position there's a bit more clarity. The very last clip with the distorted sound shows this I believe- or that's just what I'm wanting to believe. Occasionally I think we listen with our eyes.
 

Keyser Soze

Member
Messages
1,472
The humbuckers I've played with and actually pulled covers off of (generally inexpensive/no-name stuff) do seem to exhibit greater treble response.

Whether this is better is a matter of taste and desires.

Personally, given the wide variety of aftermarket pickups I'd go down that road before I started tampering with anything of potential value.
 

LarryOM

Guest
Messages
723
Brighter sounding without the covers. The difference is subtle but definitely noticeable, especially with a clean sound. I added covers to this low-end Ibanez SCA220 just to spiff up its looks. Being curious, I recorded the direct signal in my DAW before and after adding the covers and the difference is noticeable.
 

Mreilander

Member
Messages
124
The subtle-ness is going to vary depending on magnet strength, coils turn count and the type of metal used to make the cover. A brass cover can make low wind alnico 2 or 3 pickups sound warm, but make an alnico 5 pickup with the same coil muddy. Nickel silver will be fairly transparent with just a slight roll off in the top end...

Generally speaking though, the hotter the pickup, both with DCR and Magnet strength, the muddier a cover will make it.
 

Mreilander

Member
Messages
124
What exactly is the DCR/cover relationship?
The top end roll off is caused by eddy currents generated within the cover from the electrical signal being generated in the coil. A higher wind (thus higher DCR) coil will produce more signal than a lower wind coil (all other things being equal), therefor produce more eddy currents in the cover. A stronger magnet will also produce a stronger electrical signal in the coil than a weaker magnet in the same coil, therefor more eddy currents in the cover. Combine the high turn count and a strong magnet, and you have a recipe for mud city.
 
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zztomato

Senior Member
Messages
11,394
The subtle-ness is going to vary depending on magnet strength, coils turn count and the type of metal used to make the cover. A brass cover can make low wind alnico 2 or 3 pickups sound warm, but make an alnico 5 pickup with the same coil muddy. Nickel silver will be fairly transparent with just a slight roll off in the top end...

Generally speaking though, the hotter the pickup, both with DCR and Magnet strength, the muddier a cover will make it.
You wouldn't happen to know what magnets and cover were used in a late 60's Gibson humbucker, would you? Any predictions on the level of change if I remove the cover?

Thanks for all the replies.
 

Mreilander

Member
Messages
124
Late sixties should be Alnico 5 with a brass cover. Removing a brass cover on an alnico 5 based pickup will usually open up the top end fairly noticeably.
 

ngativ

Member
Messages
1,024
The top end roll off is caused by eddy currents generated within the cover from the electrical signal being generated in the coil..
Really? i thought that the edgy currents in the cover were generated by the variable magnetic flied coming from the string
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,584
I would guess you'd get eddy currents in the cover from the changing magnetic field you'd get from the changing current in the coil. The string probably has some contribution, but it's just a little string. I think the bulk of any effect would come from the thousands of winds in the pickup.

But I've never thought about it beyond the small change in tone you get cover off vs. cover on.
 

Mreilander

Member
Messages
124
Really? i thought that the edgy currents in the cover were generated by the variable magnetic flied coming from the string

There is no field coming from the string. The field is coming from the magnet connected to the polepiece. The string lies within that field and when vibrating, causes the field to move within the coil.
The vibration alters the flux within the magnetic field, inducing a voltage within the coil. A higher turn count coil will induce more voltage. The higher the induction, the more eddy currents will result.
If you remove the coil from the equation and just have a vibrating string, a magnet and a cover, you will not find any eddy currents. Therefor, the coils turn count, size and shape will play a roll in the amount of eddy currents produced.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,584
Well, there has to be SOME field in the string, because there has to be a current in the string....because it's moving through a magnetic field. That's a changing magnetic field too. I'm sure it's not significant to anything, but I wonder if anyone's ever bothered to measure it, just out of curiosity. I'm sure it must be down in the picoamps...or maybe even less.
 

Mreilander

Member
Messages
124
Well, there has to be SOME field in the string, because there has to be a current in the string....because it's moving through a magnetic field. That's a changing magnetic field too. I'm sure it's not significant to anything, but I wonder if anyone's ever bothered to measure it, just out of curiosity. I'm sure it must be down in the picoamps...or maybe even less.
Not sure if this is an urban legend or not, but...

I have heard of an early pickup prototype where the lead wires were connected to each end of the string. The vibration of the string within a horseshoe magnet generated the signal directly from the string to the amp. They were deemed too dangerous, as it was easy to electrocute yourself if you were in a place with dirty wiring.
 






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