A Humbucker By Any Other Name

Humbucker… What’s in a word?

The basic construction of a “traditional” humbucker style pickup hasn’t changed much over the years, but the various recipes yield vast differences in tone

The term humbucker probably brings to mind the “Gibson” sound, or rather – and more specifically –  the “Patent Applied For” or “P.A.F.” sound. The pickups made by Gibson in this narrow time frame, spanning from the late ’50s to early ’60s (though the patent was officially awarded in 1959) have become synonymous with what a humbucker “should” sound like. Never mind the fact that rarely would you ever find two P.A.F.-era pickups that share the same exact sound, but that’s a whole other topic unto itself. Because of this, what is now considered a traditional humbucker has become as much form as it is function.

P.A.F. (Patent Applied For) style pickups have become the ubiquitous humbucker, even though today, many humbuckers that may look similar to the original sound very little like the source of inspiration.



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Best Selling Lollar Humbucker Style Pickups

This is the fourth article in a series about best selling Lollar pickups. In this post we will talk a little about best selling Lollar Imperial® humbuckers, plus give you an overview of the three full sized, stock humbucking pickups that we build. For this discussion we’ll stick to our full sized humbuckers only.

Lollar Imperial® Humbuckers:

We build three general categories of Lollar Imperial® humbuckers. They are categorized based on their output levels, using the standard wind Imperial as the “baseline” or point of reference. The three categories are the Lollar Imperial (considered our standard wind), the Low Wind Imperial, and the High Wind Imperial.

As the name implies, the Lollar Low Wind Imperial is a slightly lower output pickup as compared to our standard wind Imperial. Our High Wind Imperial is a slightly higher output pickup as compared to our standard wind Imperial. For detailed descriptions and sound clips of the three different full sized humbuckers we build, follow this link to read about Lollar Imperial® humbuckers.

On a side note, this is a good opportunity to clarify the word “wind” as used in the names Low Wind and High Wind. This word refers to the amount of copper wire that is wrapped – or wound – around the humbucker bobbins to form a “coil.” The wire is wrapped around and around the bobbin, literally thousands of times to make each coil. The number of times the wire is wrapped around the bobbin is called the “turn count.” The turn count is the number of times the copper wire is “wound” around the bobbin. The term Low Wind refers to the fact that there are fewer times the copper wire is wound around the bobbin to make a coil. The term High Wind refers to the fact that there are more times the copper wire is wound around the bobbin to make a coil.

A favorite: standard Lollar Imperial humbuckers, with nickel covers and traditional single conductor leads.

A favorite: standard Lollar Imperial humbuckers, with nickel covers and traditional single conductor leads.

Getting back to best selling Lollar humbuckers: Our standard Lollar Imperial is our best selling humbucker – by far. We sell roughly 50% more Lollar standard Imperials than Low Wind and High Wind Imperials combined.

Each of our humbucker models is available in eight different “finishes.” These include nickel, chrome, gold, aged, heavy aged, double-black, zebra, and reverse zebra. In addition, each of these is available in your choice of either the traditional Gibson style single conductor lead wire or 4-conductor lead wire. So in other words, you have 16 different choices of standard Lollar Imperial sets to choose from.

Among all of these choices, our nickel covered single conductor Lollar Imperial sets are the top sellers. The second most popular Imperials are (again) our nickel covered Imperial sets, but with 4-conductor leads. Our third best selling full sized humbucker is our Low Wind Imperial neck, with nickel cover and single conductor lead wire. This item is popular for two reasons. First, our Low Wind nickel single conductor sets are popular with archtop players. Second, our Low Wind nickel single conductor necks are great for tele applications. The Low Wind Imperial neck (usually nickel, single conductor) is frequently combined with the Lollar Special Tele bridge.

Now, like we have mentioned throughout this series, there really is no “wrong” answer. All of our pickups have their own advantages. The best approach is to know what your specific goals are, and then make your selection based on what you’d like to accomplish for the particular project or guitar you are working on.

Next week’s discussion will be about a few other popular “miscellaneous” items.

“Bucker Bling” Available from Lollar Pickups

Check out the new addition to our selection of humbucker pickups.  We have added several new options for those of you who want to add a little more “bling.”  These are the same full sized Lollar humbucker pickups, built with an open top surround, plus the addition of a top inset of pickguard material.

They are available in all of our six-string humbucker models: our standard Imperial, our Low Wind, our High Wind, and our F-spaced humbucker pickups.

If you “just gotta have it” they are available on our web site.

You’ll find them on the Lollar Humbucker Pickups page.  Simply click on the style of humbucker you are interested in, then scroll down to the photos of pickup cover options.